7 Budget-Friendly Dinner Ideas in 30 Minutes or Less

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Family Eating

Thanks to our valued readers looking for budget-friendly recipe ideas for their families, we’ve put together some options that cost under $3 per serving and take just 30 minutes or less.

From Baked Smokin’ Mac and Cheese to Slow Cooker Paleo Chili, we’ve got seven budget-friendly dinner ideas for those crazy-busy weeknights.

Turkey and Balsamic Onion Quesadillas
Marinating the onion in balsamic vinegar gives this family favorite a tangy twist!
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Turkey and Balsamic Onion Quesadillas
Marinating the onion in balsamic vinegar gives this family favorite a tangy twist!
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Servings4people
Prep Time15minutes
Cook Time5minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 8 slices turkey deli, preferably smoked
Servings4people
Prep Time15minutes
Cook Time5minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 8 slices turkey deli, preferably smoked
Recipe Instructions
  1. Combine onion and vinegar in a bowl; let marinate for 5 minutes.
  2. Drain, reserving the vinegar for another use, such as salad dressing.
  3. Warm two tortillas in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 45 seconds, then flip.
  4. Pull the tortillas up the edges of the pan so they are no longer overlapping.
  5. Working on one half of each tortilla, sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese, cover with two slices of turkey and top with 1/4 of the onion.
  6. Fold the tortillas in half, flatten gently with a spatula and cook until the cheese starts to melt, about 2 minutes.
  7. Flip and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  8. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  9. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and tortillas.
Recipe Notes

Courtesy of EatingWell.com

Easy Sloppy Joes with Secret Veggies
By adding chickpeas, you’ll reduce the fat content while upping the fiber and protein to this popular dinner mainstay.
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sloppy joes
sloppy joes
Easy Sloppy Joes with Secret Veggies
By adding chickpeas, you’ll reduce the fat content while upping the fiber and protein to this popular dinner mainstay.
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Servings6people
Cook Time25minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion finely chopped
  • 8 ounces ground sirloin 90% lean
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 each whole-wheat hamburger buns toasted
  • 1 15.5 ounce can unsalted chickpeas drained
  • 18 each bread-and-butter pickle chips
Servings6people
Cook Time25minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion finely chopped
  • 8 ounces ground sirloin 90% lean
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 each whole-wheat hamburger buns toasted
  • 1 15.5 ounce can unsalted chickpeas drained
  • 18 each bread-and-butter pickle chips
Recipe Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until almost tender.
  2. Add sirloin; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, sugar and salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add 1/4 cup water and tomato sauce; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Place chickpeas in a bowl; partially mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir chickpeas into sirloin mixture.
  5. Spoon about 1/2 cup sirloin mixture onto bottom half of each bun; top each with three pickle chips and top half of bun.
Recipe Notes

Courtesy of MyRecipes.com

Baked Smokin’ Mac and Cheese
Weeknight meals just got a whole lot easier with this kid-friendly dinner option.
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Baked Smokin’ Mac and Cheese
Weeknight meals just got a whole lot easier with this kid-friendly dinner option.
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Servings8people
Cook Time30minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound uncooked cellentani pasta corkscrew
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 12-oz. can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded 1.5% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 ounce fat-free cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper divided
  • 1 8-oz. package smoked ham chopped
  • vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal crushed
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
Servings8people
Cook Time30minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound uncooked cellentani pasta corkscrew
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 12-oz. can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded 1.5% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 ounce fat-free cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper divided
  • 1 8-oz. package smoked ham chopped
  • vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal crushed
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
Recipe Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cellentani pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Whisk in Gouda cheese, the next three ingredients, and 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in ham and pasta.
  3. Pour pasta mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Stir together crushed cereal, 1 tablespoon melted butter and remaining 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper; sprinkle over pasta mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Courtesy of MyRecipes.com

Tuna Melt with Avocado
Zip up tuna with this simple dinner idea. Serve with light ranch dressing for dipping.
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Tuna Melt with Avocado
Zip up tuna with this simple dinner idea. Serve with light ranch dressing for dipping.
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Servings4people
Cook Time15minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 6-oz. can solid white tuna in water; drained and flaked
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 each avocado
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1/3 cup Swiss cheese shredded
  • 2 pieces French bread halved lengthwise and toasted
Servings4people
Cook Time15minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 6-oz. can solid white tuna in water; drained and flaked
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 each avocado
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1/3 cup Swiss cheese shredded
  • 2 pieces French bread halved lengthwise and toasted
Recipe Instructions
  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well to coat. Place juice in a small bowl.
  3. Peel, seed and chop avocado. Add avocado to juice; toss.
  4. Add avocado mixture and tomatoes to tuna mixture; toss well to combine.
  5. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread slices and broil for 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  6. Divide tuna mixture evenly among bread slices, cheese side up.
Recipe Notes

Courtesy of MyRecipes.com

Garlic Sesame Meatballs
Pairing with rice and sugar snap peas will keep this recipe affordable, healthy and delicious.
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Garlic Sesame Meatballs
Pairing with rice and sugar snap peas will keep this recipe affordable, healthy and delicious.
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Servings4people
Prep Time10minutes
Cook Time12minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup minced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce reduced-sodium
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil dark
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 each garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • Cooking spray
Servings4people
Prep Time10minutes
Cook Time12minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup minced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce reduced-sodium
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil dark
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 each garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • Cooking spray
Recipe Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add beef; mix gently to combine. With moist hands, shape beef mixture into 20 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs to pan; cook 4 minutes, turning to brown meatballs on all sides. Arrange browned meatballs in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Repeat procedure with remaining meatballs.
  5. Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or until done.
Recipe Notes

Courtesy of: MyRecipes.com

Effortless Chicken Enchiladas
Enchiladas make a perfect weeknight meal, and this is one dish the whole family will love.
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Effortless Chicken Enchiladas
Enchiladas make a perfect weeknight meal, and this is one dish the whole family will love.
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Servings6people
Prep Time15minutes
Cook Time40minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 10 ounce can reduced-fat condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup picante Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups cooked chicken chopped
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 6 6-inch flour tortillas warmed
  • 1 small tomato chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green onion sliced
Servings6people
Prep Time15minutes
Cook Time40minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 10 ounce can reduced-fat condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup picante Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups cooked chicken chopped
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 6 6-inch flour tortillas warmed
  • 1 small tomato chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green onion sliced
Recipe Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir the soup, sour cream, picante sauce and chili powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir 1 cup soup mixture, chicken and cheese in a large bowl.
  4. Divide the chicken mixture among the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas and place seam-side down in an 11x8x2-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining soup mixture over the filled tortillas. Cover the baking dish.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling. Top with the tomato and onion.
Recipe Notes

Courtesy of: Campbell's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Paleo Chili
Fall is upon us and crisp evenings summon this warm, flavorful dish that’s Paleo-diet friendly.
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Slow Cooker Paleo Chili
Fall is upon us and crisp evenings summon this warm, flavorful dish that’s Paleo-diet friendly.
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Rating: 4
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Servings8-10 people
Prep Time20minutes
Cook Time6hours
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 medium red and green bell pepper both diced
  • 1 cup carrots finely diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1 small jalapeno minced
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes crushed or stewed
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes diced
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Garnish
  • 4 strips bacon cooked, crumbled
  • 2 medium avocados diced
Servings8-10 people
Prep Time20minutes
Cook Time6hours
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 medium red and green bell pepper both diced
  • 1 cup carrots finely diced
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 1 small jalapeno minced
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes crushed or stewed
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes diced
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Garnish
  • 4 strips bacon cooked, crumbled
  • 2 medium avocados diced
Recipe Instructions
  1. Sauté onions and garlic together in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add in ground beef (or turkey) to the saucepan and cook just until browned. Drain excess fat.
  3. Transfer the cooked onions, garlic and meat to your slow cooker.
  4. Add all the above vegetables and spices (except garnish ingredients) to the slow cooker.
  5. Give the pot a good stir.
  6. Set slow cooker to low, cover, and cook for about 6 hours.
  7. Spoon into individual bowls. Garnish with crumbled bacon and avocado slices.
Recipe Notes

Adjust jalepeño, cayenne and chili powder to suit your own personal taste.

Courtesy of PaleoNewbie

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