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Inexpensive Family Dinner Ideas

Updated on November 29, 2012

Family Cooking on a Budget

Got a family you cook for regularly? Have a tight budget to work with? Here are some recipies that are easy on the wallet.

These are all recipies I use commonly with our household of 2 adults and 3 children. Most of these make enough for an additional adult or 2.

I understand that recently the price of food has been on the rise. Some of these dishes may now be not as cheap as they were. But in all, they are still cheaper for the amount of food that can be produced compaired to the price of enough boxed meals to feed a family of 5 growing people. I will post prices of the items and an over all price for each recipe as I do my shopping. Please keep in mind the price I list is the price I pay in my area and is usually store brand. Pricing will also not include seasonings or spices as those are long term investments and are generally found in most family spice racks. I am sorry if these don't seem as inexpensive as you were hoping for. Thank you.

I am trying to add new dishes every chance I get.

***I will get pictures up of all the recipes the next time they are made here. I am sorry for any inconvinience. I have placed some CC pics resized for some recipes until I have made the dish again.***

Thank you! I hope that you will continue to enjoy this lens!

Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

For when you feel like having Chinese (Estimated Cost: about $4.83)


  • 2 packages Ramen Noodles (any meat flavor) ($0.17/pack)
  • 1 bag of generic (store brand)frozen vegetables ($1.00)
  • 1 pound of meat to match the noodles (varies $1.99-$?/pound)
  • some water or orange juice (OJ gives it a nice flavor...Sunny D works well ($1.50)


  1. Cut the meat into small chunks.
  2. Heat a bit of oil in a large pan or wok (if you have one). Brown the meat.
  3. Boil the noodles.
  4. Remove meat from pan and set on a paper towel to remove excess grease.
  5. Heat vegitables in pan adding the ramen noodle seasoning packets with a splash of water or orange juice. Mix well. Stir constantly.
  6. Add meat to the vegtables. Then add noodles. Mix well.

Pictured by Ravyn: Chicken Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Just like Momma used to make! (Estimated Cost: $6.48)


  • Skinless boneless Chicken breast (enough to feed the family)($3.50/pound)
  • 1 ½ cups Long grain rice ($4.49/5 pound bag)
  • 2 2/3 cups water (free from tap)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom ($0.99)
  • 1 can cream of celery ($0.99)
  • paprika and ground pepper to taste


  1. Stir soups, water, rice,paprika and black pepper in 13x9 cassrole dish.
  2. Top with chicken. Sprinkle with additional paprika and black pepper.
  3. Cover and bake in pre-heated oven at 375 for 45 minutes.

Pictured by Ravyn: Half recipe with just cream of mushroom.

Shepherds Pie

Very simple. Very Good. (Estimated Cost: $4.09)


  • hamburger ($1.99/pound)
  • potatoes ($1.50)
  • corn or green beans ($0.60)


  1. Brown the hamburger.
  2. Mash the potatoes (adding milk helps make them more fluffy)
  3. In the bottom of a casserole pan add green beans or corn. Spread evenly.
  4. Add hamburger on top and spread evenly.
  5. Top it all with the mashed potatoes and spread evenly.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 300 for about 20 minutes.

Pictured by Ravyn: Shephard's Pie made with green beans

Chicken Noodle Soup

For those cold winter nights (Estimated Cost: $9.98)


  • Skinless boneless chicken breast (enough to feed the family)($3.50/pound)
  • egg noodles ($2.29)
  • 1 chopped onion ($1.90)
  • 2 chopped carrots and 1 can of peas (or 1 can of carrot and pea mixed) ($0.79/can)
  • any seasonings you prefer
  • 1 can of chicken broth, or 7 cubes of chicken broth concentrate ($1.50-$3.50)


  1. Boil chicken in a large pot making sure the water completely covers the chicken.
  2. When chicken is done, do NOT discard water.
  3. Take chicken from water and shred.
  4. Add all ingredients (including the shredded chicken) to the water.
  5. Boil until noodles are cooked thoroughly.

Pictured by Ravyn: Wonderful texture of my Chicken Noodle Soup

Taco Salad

Mexican styled favorite (Estimated Cost: $13.52)


  • 1 lb ground beef ($1.99/pound)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning ($0.89)
  • ½ head lettuce($1.98)
  • 1-2 large tomatoes($1.98)
  • 1 cup chopped green onions (scallions)($1.99)
  • 1 ½-2 cups shredded cheese ($2.50/block)
  • sour cream ($1.19)
  • 1 bag tortilla chips ($1.00)


  1. Brown meat following instructions on taco seasoning packet.
  2. Cool slightly and add beef to large bowl.
  3. Break lettuce into small pieces or shred if prefered and add to bowl.
  4. Chop or dice tomatoes. Add to bowl.
  5. Add green onions and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add shedded cheese. Mix if prefered but no required.
  7. Serve ontop of chips and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Pictured by Ravyn: The different colors in my Taco Salad

Beef and Rice Skillet Casserole

A kids favorite! (Estimated Cost: about $5.57)


  • 1 pound hamburger ($1.99/pound)
  • 2 cups rice (long grain) ($4.49/5 pound bag)
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup ($0.99)
  • 1 package powdered Onion Soup mix ($1.69/2 packets)
  • 4 cups water (free from tap)


  1. Brown the hamburger and drain.
  2. Add everything else. Stir together well.
  3. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 mins.

*Pictured by Ravyn: Beef and Rice*

Tortilla Pizza

Mexican... Italian.... Delicious (Estimated Cost: $6.48+)


  • 1 Package of Flour Tortillas($2.99)
  • 1 Jar/can of Pizza sauce ($0.99)
  • Shreaded cheese ($2.50/block)
  • Optional toppings of choise


  1. Set a couple tortillas on a cookie sheet (as many that will fit without overlapping)
  2. Drop sauce into center of tortilla. (1 spoonful for taco sized, 2 for burrito sized).
  3. Spred sauce to about 1/4 inch from the edge of the tortilla.
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top of the sauce.
  5. Add toppings of choise.
  6. Cook in oven pre heated to 350 for 5 minutes.

*Picture borrowed until I have taken one*

Mac & Cheese

Most Every Child loves it (Estimated Cost: $3.88)


  • 1 pound box of macaroni ($1.89)
  • 1 pound block of cheese (Velveeta or similar) ($1.99)
  • ¼ cup milk (aprox)


  1. Boil the macaroni in a large pot until soft.
  2. Cut the cheese into small 1/2-1 inch cubes.
  3. Pour the milk into the second pot. Bring to a boil.
  4. Slowly add the cubes to the milk.
  5. As the cheese melts stir constantly.
  6. When the noodles are ready, drain. Rinse with warm to hot water.
  7. Return noodles to large pot and add the cheese mixture.
  8. Stir together, making sure to coat evenly.

*Picture borrowed until I have taken one*

Not Quite "Hamberger Helper"

Makes much more than the little box. (Estimated Cost: $7.17)


  • 1 pound of ground beef (or other meat)($1.99/pound)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ onion (chopped) ($1.90)
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 can of cream of ** soup (chicken, mushroom, celery, etc) ($0.99)
  • ½ cup water
  • egg noodles ($2.29)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. Saute onions and garlic in some oil.
  2. Add meat and brown.
  3. Drain extra grease.
  4. Add soup, water, salt, and papper. Heat thoroughly.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Boil noodles til soft.
  7. Serve meat mix over noodles or combine together.

*Picture borrowed until I have taken one*

Pizza Bake

A little twist to the delivery favorite. (Estimated Cost: $10.48)


  • 1 pound ground beef ($1.99/pound)
  • 16 ounces pizza sauce ($0.99)
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (optional) ($1.00)

    pepperoni (optional) ($2.50)

  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 cups rotini noodles ($1.50)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ($2.50/block)


  1. Brown beef in skillet and drain.
  2. Stir in pizza sauce, mushrooms, oregano, and garlic salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. In seperate bowl, combine rotini and milk.
  4. In a casserole pan, layer 1/2 the meat mix, rotini mix and cheese. Repeat with remaining half.
  5. Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Egg Noodle Lasagna

A slow cooker recipie. (Estimated Cost: $10.59)


  • 7-8 cups egg noodles ($2.29)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef ($1.99/pound)
  • 2 ½ cups spaghetti sause ($1.82)
  • 7 ounces diced cheese (like Velveeta, preferably store brand)($1.99)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella($2.50/block)


  1. Boil noodles until softand drain. Add butter and toss to coat.
  2. Brown the beef and drain of excess grease.
  3. Spread 1/4 of the sause in bottom of slow cooker.
  4. Layer with 1/3 of the noodles then 1/3 of the beef and then 1/3 of the remaining sause and finally with 1/3 of the cheeses.
  5. Repeat step 4 two more times (should have nothing left).
  6. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Now you have had dinner. Let's try a dessert!

Monkey Bread

Because dinner isn't complete without dessert. (Estimated Cost: TBA)


  • can of refrigerated biscuits
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4; cup of butter
  • 1 cup cinnamon and sugar mixed


  1. Cut the biscuits into quarters and roll in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  2. Melt butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan.
  3. Place half the biscuits in a bundt pan.
  4. Pour half the butter mix on top.
  5. Place remaining biscuits in bundt and top with 1/2 the remaining butter mix. Make sure to have some butter mix left over.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Keep the remaining butter mix warm on the stove top with the heat from the oven.
  7. Remove bread from the bundt and drizzle with remaining butter mix.

*Picture borrowed until I have taken one*

Banana Pudding Pie

Gotta feed the monkey right? (Estimated Cost: $5.06)


  • 1 package Banana Cream pudding ($0.59)
  • 1 package Chocolate pudding (or a second box of Banana cream)($0.59)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • Nilla Waffers ($1.89)
  • bananas
  • mini marshmellows ($1.99)


  1. Line the bottom of a 9x9 casserole with Nilla waffers
  2. Top waffers with banana slices.
  3. Mix Chocolate pudding according to directions (using 2 cups of the milk)
  4. Spoon the chocolate milk over the waffers and bananas.
  5. Let this stand for 5 mins. Mix the Banana Cream pudding while waiting.
  6. Line the edge of the dish with more waffers making sure to stick them deep into the Chocolate pudding.
  7. Place more banana slices on top of the pudding.
  8. Spoon the Banana Cream pudding over the bananas and Chocolate pudding.
  9. Let stand about 5 mins.
  10. Toss some marshmellows on top.
  11. Place in fridge for about an hour.

Pictured by Ravyn: Marshmellows floating on top of layers of pudding

Edible Delights

Did you find a recipie that you liked alot? Which one? Vote for your favorite!

Which recipie satisfied your palate best?

See results

Tell me what you think. Did you try something out? Did you like it? Did you hate it? Maybe it was just alright. Let me know.

Food For Thought

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    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 

      6 years ago

      A great lens with very nice recipes!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the ideas. I'm always looking for quick and easy meals.

    • Scraps2treasures profile image


      6 years ago

      We have a family of 6 so I am always on the lookout for budget-friendly meals. Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • dexter yarbroug1 profile image

      dexter yarbroug1 

      7 years ago

      Great recipes. I will be utilizing many of them. Thanks!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow, everything looks so good.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      10 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Enjoyed your lens. We make the Egg Noodle Lasagna but add a layer of a mixture of sour cream, cream cheese and green onion. My family loves that. 5*

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      10 years ago

      Yummy! Welcome to Culinary Favorites From A to Z.

    • Teacher Adez7 profile image

      Teacher Adez7 

      10 years ago

      Great food, and great recipes! *****

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 

      10 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      You've good some of my favorites up there.


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