Listen, we know: Feeding the family can cost an arm and a (chicken) leg. That's why we developed these easy and affordable recipes—all $3 or less a serving!
Bookmark this page now, because it will become your new go-to source for easy, budget-friendly dinner recipes that you’ll want to make again and again. Everyone is looking for cheap and easy weeknight dinners, so we rounded up our very favorite dishes from the Southern Living Test Kitchen. Even though these affordable recipes don’t require much money or time, they are fresh, flavorful, and designed to satisfy even the heartiest eaters. Take your pick from filling soups and stews, crowd-pleasing lasagna, macaroni and cheese, comforting casseroles, pizza, and more. Best of all, most of these dinner recipes are under $5 a serving. Eating well on a budget just got much easier!
Fresh Vegetable Lasagna
Recipe: Fresh Vegetable Lasagna
$3 per serving
There's a reason moms love Italian night: Pasta is fast, easy, and cheap. This cheesy, veggie-packed lasagna is no exception. What makes this dish even better is that it cuts costs without cutting taste. You’ll love the flavors of the fresh zucchini, mushrooms, and bell peppers, and the no-boil lasagna noodles help to keep preparation simple. It’s also reduced-fat, so you can savor every mouthful. Topped with two types of cheeses—freshly grated Parmesan, and part-skim mozzarella—this lasagna emerges from the oven melted, golden-brown, and delicious, and only tasting like it came from a white-tablecloth restaurant: not costing like it did.
Chicken-and-Brisket Brunswick Stew
This recipe mixes together two delicious tastes: the richness of barbecued beef brisket and the tender juiciness of perfectly cooked chicken breasts. The fire-roasted tomatoes add an extra touch of smoky flavor, while the chili sauce brings just a bit of heat. A dash of brown sugar keeps it sweet. If you need a little more zest, you add as much hot sauce to your serving as you like. However you fill your plate, you won't be able to get enough of this hearty stew! And with a price that won't hurt your wallet, you may want to make extra for the freezer.
Stovetop Chicken Pie
Recipe: Stovetop Chicken Pie
$3 per serving
Simple and delicious truly mean the same thing when it comes to preparing this Stovetop Chicken Pie. A family-size rotisserie chicken (usually around $6.49) yields the perfect amount of chopped cooked chicken for this quick twist on traditional chicken pot pie. The recipe calls for buttermilk biscuits, but they’re just to have something to serve this delicious pot pie over, so be prepared to drench your biscuits in this then use every bite of buttermilk goodness to sop up every bit of chicken filling richness. Be honest—you’ll wipe your plate clean. This recipe keeps its ingredients simple, but on the plate it looks fantastic, and in every bite it tastes great.
Nashville-style Hot Catfish
Recipe: Nashville-style Hot Catfish
$1.50 per serving
Few dishes say Southern more than fried catfish, and this Nashville-style Hot Catfish simply shows why Southerners have known this was a delicacy for so long. Once you have your first bite, you simply won’t be able to put the fork down. It’ll take 24 hours to soak the catfish in buttermilk and hot sauce, but when it comes out and gets covered in flour it is ready to go into the hot oil and come out crisp and ready to be devoured. Your fish will fry to a light and flaky wonder. Give it just a light dusting of salt, and if you think it needs a little more heat, drizzle on as much hot sauce as you dare. Grab some napkins, and dig in.
Hearty Veggie Chili
Recipe: Hearty Veggie Chili
$1.25 per serving
This chili is a vegetable delight. Packed with carrots, onions, and beans, a simple chili seasoning kit brings just the right amounts of spice and heat. Black beans and great Northern beans are our choices for this chili, but we’ve also added in zucchini, squash, and corn. Once everything is stirred in, this can be ready in under 40 minutes. You will love this savory vegetable chili. Enjoy a bowl on a cold winter evening. It is simple to get together after a day at work, and tastes even more incredible topped with cilantro, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, and green onions.
Kentucky Hot Browns
Recipe: Kentucky Hot Browns
$3 per serving
Now a Kentucky Hot Brown isn't your run-of-the-mill sandwich. You’ll be preparing this sandwich in the broiler which means it will be coming out hot and fast. What’s even better about this sandwich is that it is served open-faced. This sandwich is piled high with turkey, bacon, and a rich Mornay sauce. You’d better be ready for a bubbly, cheesy delight thanks to the Parmesan cheese. When it comes out of the oven, top it with thick slices of fresh tomato, and toss on some slices of crunchy, smoky bacon. Get it on the table immediately and have a bite. You’ll love the taste of a Kentucky Hot Brown. This is a sandwich.Now a Kentucky Hot Brown isn't your run-of-the-mill sandwich. You’ll be preparing this sandwich in the broiler which means it will be coming out hot and fast. What’s even better about this sandwich is that it is served open-faced. This sandwich is piled high with turkey, bacon, and a rich Mornay sauce. You’d better be ready for a bubbly, cheesy delight thanks to the Parmesan cheese. When it comes out of the oven, top it with thick slices of fresh tomato, and toss on some slices of crunchy, smoky bacon. Get it on the table immediately and have a bite. You’ll love the taste of a Kentucky Hot Brown. This is a sandwich.
Hearty Italian Soup
Recipe: Hearty Italian Soup
$2.50 per serving
Since we believe you should never let good food go to waste, we know you'll love sopping up every last bit of this tasty sausage-and-bean soup with our Parmesan-Pepper Cornbread Biscotti (only $0.75 per serving). This Hearty Italian Soup blends mild Italian sausage with garlic, onion, and cannellini beans, then mixes in diced tomatoes and baby spinach. In a little more than half an hour you will have a hot and delicious soup ready to be ladled into bowls and topped with some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. This fresh, fast soup will go from stovetop to table in a matter of minutes, and will taste fantastic with every bite.
Ham-Hash Brown Casserole
Recipe: Ham-Hash Brown Casserole
$2.75 per serving
Think outside the eggs-and-bacon rut when you want to reinvent "breakfast for supper" with this easy Ham-Hash Brown Casserole. Loads of veggies make it a more substantial, but still inexpensive, meal for dinner. This recipe uses packaged, frozen shredded hash browns, a few cups of chopped cooked ham, potato soup, and shredded cheese to create a rich, and delicious take on the perfect one-dish casserole. The crushed crackers create the perfect topping, giving you the perfect crust with every mouthful. Salty, crunchy, cheesy, and delicious will be the words you use to describe this Ham-Hash Brown Casserole. Make one tonight, and you’ll love what you taste.
Mexicali Meatless Tostadas
Recipe: Mexicali Meatless Tostadas
$1 per serving
This is a great way to get your favorite tastes of Mexican-style food without the meat. Get the flavor of beef, but without the fat, with meatless burger crumbles. It takes only 15 minutes to get this meal on the table. You simply layer the beans, crumbles, and rice together, with cheese on top, and bake these in the oven. Your family will love the crunch and taste of tostada shells, while you will love how simple they make it to put this delicious meal together. Add a little pico de gallo for some added spice. Sprinkle on a little cilantro too if you like
Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese
$2.25 per serving
Macaroni and cheese is a great, filling, low-cost dinner, and this Baked Smokin’ Macaroni and Cheese takes it to the next level with some chopped smoked ham mixed in. You can even mix it up a little by substituting Pepper Jack cheese for the gouda and cheddar cheeses, and adding in a can of chopped green chiles. Or, sauté some prosciutto and mix in some frozen green peas. This macaroni and cheese recipe is the perfect base for making great dinners in the kitchen. Follow these family friendly and budget-friendly recipes and everyone around your table will savor every bite.