17 Budget-Friendly Dinner Recipes for $3 or Less per Serving

By , SparkPeople Blogger
For three dollars, you can get a cheeseburger and a large order of French fries at McDonald's. It will also buy a Gordita Supreme from Taco Bell, or an order of chicken nuggets and onion rings from Burger King.
 
Easy on the wallet, sure—but you'll pay a steep premium in terms of calories, fat and lack of nutrition.
 
What if we told you that for the same amount of money, you could prepare a healthier and far more satisfying meal at home? While it might cost a bit more to assemble all of the ingredients, when you break it down to the per-serving price, the creators of these budget-friendly recipes say they won't cost any more than a drive-thru value meal.

Picadillo (Mexican Beef & Potato Stew): Perfect for the frugal meal planner, this hearty ground-beef staple uses only a few ingredients and costs just pennies per serving, says Steph from Cheapskate Cook.


Image courtesy of Cheapskate Cook


Easy Homemade Chili: Chef Sandi of The Welcoming Table estimates that her hearty homemade chili costs around $20 to make and feeds 10–12 people.


Image courtesy of The Welcoming Table

Avocado Taco Bowl: According to the chef, this flavorful, plant-based and nutrient-packed recipe is less than $3 per serving.


Image courtesy of Avocado Taco Bowl

White Bean Chili: Comforting, inexpensive, simple and full of real food, this hot meal can be prepared via slow cooker, Instant Pot or stovetop.


Image courtesy of Cheapskate Cook

Spicy Chicken Patties: Use these protein-packed cuties in wraps, salads, sliders, with a sauce or alongside some eggs with breakfast.


Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

The Original & Best Jambalaya: This is a great one to prepare in larger batches and freeze for easy, affordable weeknight meals.


Image courtesy of Home Faith Family

Meatless Chickpea Wraps: Not only does this vegetarian meal pack a big nutritional bang for the buck, it's also easy enough for the kids to make.


Image courtesy of Kitchen Stewardship

Honey Butter Chicken: Nothing fancy, but super flavorful, this easy, family-friendly recipe uses just a few simple ingredients.


Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Chicken Nicolina: Chef Cindy named this recipe after her grandmother because she was great at making one-pot meals and utilizing what she had in the house. "Even if you serve this simple and affordable recipe with rice or pasta, you will not go over $3 per person," she says.


Image courtesy of Cindy's Table

Cumin Beans and Cornbread: "One of the first ways my family learned to enjoy a bowl of beans was with cumin beans and cornbread," says chef Steph. "Easy to make on the stove top, in the slow cooker or with your Instant Pot, the recipe feeds six people with real food for around $3 and five minutes of work."


Image courtesy of Cheapskate Cook

Veggie Burger Scramble: This quick-and-easy one-pan meal is ready in about 20 minutes—great for a light but filling weeknight dinner, says chef Kathryn.


Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Hamburger Vegetable Soup: We're all about easy slow cooker and Instant Pot meals, especially when they're loaded with inexpensive but flavorful ingredients.


Image courtesy of Cheapskate Cook

Hobo Stew: This budget-friendly, insanely easy recipe calls for only ground turkey (or Thanksgiving turkey leftovers), beans and veggies, and serves up plenty of flavor.


Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Cajun Sausage Beans and Rice: This fast, simple dinner costs around $4 and feeds four to six people—and besides the kielbasa, you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.


Image courtesy of Cheapskate Cook

Easiest-Ever Chicken Stir Fry: Way cheaper than takeout, this effortless homemade chicken and veggie stir fry comes together in minutes.


Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Amazing and Easy Sloppy Joes: Packed with protein and healthy veggies, this inexpensive meal fills up a lot of bellies on the cheap.


Image courtesy of Home Faith Family

Low Histamine Sweet Potato Soup: This recipe is made from lots of delicious and filling veggies, and comes to a little over $2.00 per person (serves 4). Stir in a 12.5 ounce can of cubed chicken breast and it would still be under $3.00, says Chef Autumn.


Image courtesy of Lectin-Free Mama



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Comments

SNUZYQ2 6/25/2020
What wonderful recipes! Thank you so much! Report
LAURALLANCE 5/23/2020
Thank you for sharing these great recipes! Report
DEE107 4/20/2020
thanks Report
KITTYHAWK1949 4/9/2020
thanks Report
GEORGE815 3/6/2020
Thanks Report
ELRIDDICK 11/3/2019
Thanks for sharing Report
LRCOTE 10/2/2019
I’m sticking to my fave recipes. Too many allergens in these for me. Report
WALKZWDOGZ 9/5/2019
I'm sorry, but $3 a serving isn't exactly some people's idea of a cheapskate budget. Some tasty looking recipes though.
Report
thanks Report
ARNETTELEE
thanks Report
Yummy recipes! Report
HEALIN1
so glad to see some vegan/vegetarian options. Thanks Report
JOAN542
Thanks for recipes Report
Looks Great! Report
Great looking meals Report
Great dinner ideas. TY! Report
ARNETTELEE
great Report
Eating less meat and using vegetable or dairy protein sources is a cheap idea. Report
I'm going to try the ground chicken patties tonight. Report
DWSTEPHENS
Great recipes! They really open the door for flexibility and creativity. Report
CD23999688
This look good but I need meals that are lower in sodium so would have to modify the recipes. Report
Great suggestions Report
Great suggestions Report
Great suggestions Report
SUNSET09
They look delish, SparkFriend and would probably be more filling than any fast food meal. Thank you Report
ARNETTELEE
thanks! Report
KHALIA2
Thanks for these great swap recipes! Report
thanks Report
Some of these sound quite intriguing!! Cant wait to try them! Report
ARNETTELEE
great ideas Report
EVIE4NOW
Thanks for the ideas. Report
Great tasting recipes Report
Thanks! Report
I wouldn't mind trying some of the jumbalia Report
Yummy...thanks... Report
Good read. YUMMY recipes. Thanks! Report
These look like some great recipes. I have several I want to try. Thank you. Report
Our family has been making hamburger soup for over a century. Yum. Report
Thanks Report
TOOK TIME TO SAVE A FEW OF THESE. THEY LOOK GREAT Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
WOW! I've found several I'd like to try right off the bat, and others I'd play with. Thanks! Report
Great ideas! Report
JCCN96
Great recipes! I've just written a blog featuring 3 cheap and cheerful vegan dishes! They're fun, quick and easy to make (and absolute PACKED with nutrition!). See if they tickle your fancy! https://healthmachine.blog/2018/12/
03/the-3-best-easy-to-make-vegan-lu
nch-recipes/ Report
Thanks. Some great recipes for a diabetic! Report
We eat a lot of chicken so I can't wait to try the "Honey Butter Chicken" and the "Easiest Ever Stir Fry." I also printed off the sloppy joe recipe to try. Report
Thank you Report
AZMOMXTWO
thank you Report