14 Cheap and Healthy Dinner Ideas (Meals on A Budget)

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Many healthy and delicious meals are also budget-friendly. We’ve collected our favorite Cheap and Healthy Dinner Ideas that you can try at home. Here you’ll also find the most common inexpensive and healthy ingredients to create more meals on a budget.

Cheap and Healthy Ingredients

  • Canned Tuna and Salmon: I love canned fish and always store a bunch of them at home. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Best of all, they’re much more affordable than fresh seafood.
  • Beans: Rich in protein and fiber, beans such as black beans, pinto beans, and lentils are excellent choices for cheap and healthy meals.
  • Frozen Vegetables: They’re more affordable than fresh veggies, but still retain their nutrients well. 
  • Canned Vegetables: Canned tomatoes, corn, and other veggies are an economical way to add veggies to your meals.
  • Cabbage: Cabbage is a cheap, nutritious vegetable that has a long shelf time. Add it to stir-fries, soup, and coleslaw for a delicious meal.
  • Tofu: This is a versatile and affordable source of plant-based protein for your budget-friendly meal.
  • Canned Soup: They’re convenient and inexpensive, but can add a lot of flavors to your meal. 

Cheap Healthy Meals For Family

Quick And Easy Pepper Steak And Rice

Quick And Easy Pepper Steak And Rice
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I love a good pepper steak and this recipe is better than restaurant quality! You get tender flank steak cooked with bell peppers, garlic and other ingredients for an irresistible dinner the whole family will love!

Key Ingredients: flank steak, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, cornstarch, sugar

Ranch Style Beans

Ranch Style Beans

This dinner is quick and easy to prepare either on the stovetop or in the crockpot! You get pinto beans with rich seasonings in a savory gravy. Tasty, easy and budget-friendly too!

Key Ingredients: pinto beans, tomato paste, garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, brown sugar

Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

Ready for some Southern comfort food? This broccoli, cheese and rice casserole hits the spot. It’s a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dinner idea with mouthwatering flavors. Perfect for the entire family!

Key Ingredients: broccoli, rice, onion, butter, flour, garlic, black pepper, milk, mustard, paprika, cream cheese, cheddar cheese

Cabbage And Noodles

Cabbage And Noodles

You may not have tried cabbage and noodles, but it’s a fabulous combination. You get tender noodles with crisp cabbage and juicy sausages. All told, a delicious combination of flavors and textures!

Key Ingredients: noodles, sausage, butter, onion, bell pepper, cabbage, garlic, soy sauce

Easy and Cheap Meals for Weight Loss

Black Bean And Corn Salsa

Colorful and refreshing black bean and corn salsa served with tortilla chips in a bowl

Salsa can be a great addition to a dinner menu, so why not try this one vegan salsa? It has black beans, corn, jalapeno peppers, red onion, cilantro and seasonings. So good!

Key Ingredients: black beans, corn, jalapeno, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, cumin

Cabbage Soup

Cabbage Soup

Cabbage soup has a reputation for being a weight loss soup, but it’s great all-around for dinner. It’s nutritious, flavorful and pairs well with other dishes too.

Key Ingredients: cabbage, vegetable broth, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, oregano, canned tomatoes, basil

Easy Refried Beans

Easy Refried Beans

Refried beans are a Mexican staple you can use to make burritos, tacos, enchiladas and so many other dishes. Skip the canned varieties and learn to make your very own the way you like!

Key Ingredients: canned pinto beans, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, lime juice

Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry

My favorite way to cook Chinese cabbage! This stir fry has a balanced savory, tangy, and sweet flavor with a kick of heat. The cabbage is nicely caramelized with a tender but still crunchy texture. and so easy to make! Enjoy it as a side dish, or add it to soups or noodles for a complete meal. Ready in 10 minutes, serve over fluffy rice or noodles!

A Chinese cabbage stir fry is a budget-friendly dinner idea that’s tasty and easy to make. Enjoy it as a side dish or light dinner!

Key Ingredients: Chinese cabbage garlic, red chilies, cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar

Crispy Tofu With Balsamic Tomatoes

Crispy Tofu With Balsamic Tomatoes

Calling all tofu lovers! This crispy tofu with balsamic tomatoes is perfect for a light dinner served with other dishes. You get tender pieces of tofu with fresh flavors.

Key Ingredients: tofu, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar

Korean Tofu Soup

Korean Tofu Soup

If you love Asian flavors, then try this Korean soup. Made with tofu and kimchi, it’s affordable, healthy and flavorful. The best part? You only need 30 minutes to make it!

Key Ingredients: tofu, kimchi, onion, garlic, ginger, chili flakes, sesame oil, tamari, kimchi juice, chicken broth

Budget-Friendly Meals for Two

Old Fashioned Salmon Patties For Two

Old Fashioned Salmon Patties For Two

Ready for a quick dinner idea for two? These salmon patties make a terrific burger that comes out crisp with old-school flavors! Serve them with your favorite toppings and side salad for a complete meal.

Key Ingredients: canned salmon, milk, egg, cracker crumbs, olive oil or butter

Guacamole Quinoa Salad

Guacamole Quinoa Salad

This salad has crisp lettuce, quinoa, cherry tomatoes and guac for the win! It’s vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free with no compromise on flavor. Perfect for a potluck.

Key Ingredients: quinoa, parsley, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, avocados, tomatoes, vegetables, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic

Ham And Cabbage

Ham And Cabbage

Ham and cabbage is a classic pairing you can make for an easy and inexpensive dinner. Ham hocks simmer in a slow cooker and the cabbage is added during the final hour. Everything comes out tender and flavorful!

Key Ingredients: ham, celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, green cabbage, dill


How to make a meal for under $5?

You can use budget-friendly staples like rice, pasta, beans, and seasonal vegetables as the main ingredients. If you’d like to add more protein, you can add eggs, canned tuna, or chicken

Plan ahead and buy in bulk will help too. You can also look for sales, use coupons, and buy store brands to stay within your budget.

How can I eat healthy and cheap for two?

Plan your meals ahead of time so that you can minimize waste. Use frozen vegetables and canned food to cut costs. 

Opt for cheaper proteins like chicken, turkey, or tofu, and add grains like rice and pasta. Check out the recipes above and get inspired.

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This Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry is crunchy, flavorful, and so easy to make! Enjoy it as a side dish, add it to soups or noodles for a complete meal.

Quick and Easy Chinese Cabbage Recipe

By: Izzy
This Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry is crunchy, flavorful, and so easy to make! Enjoy it as a side dish, add it to soups or noodles for a complete meal.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 ½ lbs Chinese cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 dried red chilies, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar, or stevia if you are on a Keto diet
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • salt, to taste


  • In a wok over high heat, add the oil. Once hot, add the garlic and chili, reduce the heat to medium, and stir-fry for a minute. Do not let the garlic burn.
  • Add the cabbage, wine, soy sauce, sugar, and water.
  • Increase the heat to high, cover the wok and let the cabbage cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Uncover the wok and stir in the vinegar, scallions, and salt to taste. The cabbage should be wilted, but still slightly crunchy and caramelized. Serve hot and enjoy!


Calories: 36kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Net Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Sodium: 272mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 508IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate only and will vary based on ingredient brands and cooking methods used.

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About Izzy

I'm Izzy, a food lover and photographer. Here you’ll find a collection of simple recipes that are perfect for busy people. My blog aims to help you make and enjoy delicious and healthy food at home.

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