Between the planning and the cost of ingredients, dinner time can seem like a daunting task.  Especially with so many fast food options around.  Below are a list of 10 inexpensive dinner ideas that are also easy to make.  As an added bonus, when you cook at home you can be sure of the quality of the ingredients going into your family’s meals.

1. Sesame Soy Meatballs

Sesame-Soy Meatballs Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • green onions
  • brown sugar
  • low-sodium soy sauce
  • dark sesame oil
  • chile paste
  • salt
  • garlic cloves
  • ground sirloin

This recipe is not only easy on the wallet, but also easy to make.  You can substitute the ground sirloin for ground turkey, if you’re avoiding red meat. Get the whole family involved and have the kids shape the meatballs, just make sure they wash their hands! Check out the full recipe here.


2. Pan Fried Pork Chops with Homemade Applesauce

Pan-Fried Pork Chops and Homemade Applesauce

What you’ll need:

    • butter
    • apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
    • water
    • sugar
    • fresh lemon juice
    • salt
  • PORK:
    • flour
    • bone-in center-cut pork chops
    • salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • canola oil

This recipe has the benefit of taking care of both your main dish and your side. The sweetness of the applesauce is a great compliment to the savory flavors of the pork. Check out the full recipe here.


3. Quick Meatloaf

Quick Meat Loaf Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • chopped green onions
  • breadcrumbs
  • minced garlic
  • salt
  • dry mustard
  • ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • ground sirloin
  • egg
  • ketchup
  • Cooking spray


The author recommends an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with this meatloaf.  Personally, I would go with a lighter choice, like a moscatto.  (Only if you’re over 21, of course).  Check out the full recipe here.

4. Rotini and Cheese

Rotini and Cheese Recipe


What you’ll need:

  • bacon
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • chopped onion
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • all-purpose flour
  • Dijon mustard
  • low-fat milk
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • cooked rotini
  • peas
Cubed ham would work great as well, if you’re like me and don’t like bacon.  This is a one pan recipe that includes your meat and vegetable, meaning less dishes to do.  Check out the full recipe here.

5. Quick and Easy Chili

Quick And Easy Homemade Chili Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • canned tomato soup
  • water
  • cooked hamburger
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder and onion powder
  • Salt and pepper

This is obviously a very mild chili, if you need to spice it up a bit check out Touring America Hot Sauce Collection Gift Set.  Seven different sauces to please any taste bud.  Check out the full recipe here.


6. Fresh Vegetable Lasagna

Fresh Vegetable Lasagna Recipe

What you’ll need:
  • zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • sliced fresh mushrooms
  • garlic
  • cloves
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • red bell pepper
  • yellow bell pepper
  • yellow onion
  • salt
  • fat-free ricotta cheese
  • egg
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • Marinara sauce
  • no-boil lasagna noodles
A savory dish sure to please any vegetarian’s palate; the use of fresh produce means this entree is packed with vitamins.  Check out the full recipe here.

7. Stovetop Chicken Pie

Stovetop Chicken Pie Recipe

What you’ll need:
  • frozen buttermilk biscuits
  • sweet onion, diced
  • canola oil
  • fresh mushrooms
  • cooked chicken
  • cream of mushroom soup
  • low-sodium chicken broth
  • dry white wine
  • cream cheese
  • Italian dressing mix
  • baby peas

This recipe has comfort food written all over it, and using frozen biscuits helps cut prep time in half.  Check out the full recipe here.

8. Nashville Style Hot Catfish

Nashville-Style Hot Catfish Recipe

What you’ll need:
  • buttermilk
  • catfish fillets
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • Vegetable oil

This recipe kicks it up a notch with some good ol’ Southern soul food. While you have the oil hot, fry up some hushpuppies to go with it.  Check out the full recipe here.

9. Big Batch Veggie Chili

Big-Batch Veggie Chili Recipe

What you’ll need:
  • carrots, diced
  • onion, diced
  • vegetable oil
  • chili seasoning kit
  • tomato sauce
  • tomato juice
  • diced tomatoes
  • black beans
  • great Northern beans
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • corn
Top it with your favorite chili toppings, like fresh cilantro, sour cream, or shredded cheese.  Check out the full recipe here.

10. MexiCali Meatless Tostadas

Mexicali Meatless Tostadas Recipe

What you’ll need:
  • meatless burger crumbles
  • taco seasoning
  • tostada shells
  • ready-to-serve whole-grain Santa Fe rice
  • refried beans
  • shredded Mexican four-cheese blend
Another option, instead of the meatless crumbles, is lentils.  They have a great texture that easily replaces meat in any dish.  Check out the full recipe here.