Cheap Recipes That Are So Much Better Than Fast Food

Cheap and Easy Ideas for Budget Meals with Pizzazz

Cheap recipes don't have to start with packaged foods or use boring ingredients. These budget meal ideals prove just how easy it is to enjoy a good meal without going the fast food route and without breaking the bank.

  • 01 of 09
    Sloppy Joes
    Sloppy Joes. Paul Poplis/Getty Images

    Not only are sloppy joes a great cheap recipe, they're fun, easy and kid-pleasing, too. What more could you want?

  • 02 of 09
    Baked Ziti with Spinach
    Baked Ziti with Spinach. © Sam Stowell/Getty Images

    This baked ziti recipe makes clever use of frozen spinach souffle -- it goes right in the casserole. This baked ziti one of those cheap recipes that's tasty enough to serve to company.

  • 03 of 09
    Salmon Patties Recipe
    Salmon Patties. Stephanie Gallagher

    Canned salmon is not only cheap, it's uber-healthy, and these salmon patties are a great way to enjoy it. If you can't find Panko bread crumbs (or they're too expensive), feel free to use homemade fresh bread crumbs (tear 1-2 slices of day-old bread into pieces, then pulse in a blender or food processor).

  • 04 of 09
    beef fried rice
    Beef Fried Rice. Stephanie Gallagher

    Fried rice is a terrific way to use leftover rice and vegetables. In this cheap recipe for fried rice, you can use leftover beef from beef stew or frozen cooked beef, such as Trader Joe's carne asada.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Chicken Parmesan with Mozzarella Cheese
    Chicken Parmesan with Mozzarella Cheese. Diana Rattray

    Whenever chicken breasts are on sale, I stock up. And whenever I can't figure out what to do with them, my family asks for this chicken parmesan. It's cheap and easy, and everybody loves it.

  • 06 of 09
    cheap recipes - spaghetti pizza recipe
    Spaghetti Pizza. Stephanie Gallagher

    Like a baked spaghetti recipe, this spaghetti pizza is one of my "go to" cheap recipes for busy weeknights. The kids love it, and it's hardly any work at all to throw together. Top with your favorite pizza toppings, if desired.


  • 07 of 09
    Chicken Fingers
    Chicken Fingers. Stephanie Gallagher

    These chicken fingers are crispy, just like the ones you'd find in restaurants, but this recipe is cheaper and healthier, because the chicken fingers are pan-fried, not deep-fried. If Panko bread crumbs are expensive where you live, just take a few pieces of stale bread and pulse in a blender. Voila - bread crumbs just like Panko!

  • 08 of 09
    cheap recipes - Mexican Quesadillas
    Mexican Quesadillas. Stephanie Gallagher

    With just five ingredients, these Mexican quesadillas are one of those cheap, easy recipes you'll find yourself making again and again. Serve with tomato salsa, guacamole and chili con queso.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Sausage Potato Frittata Recipe
    Sausage Potato Frittata. Stephanie Gallagher

    Breakfast for dinner is a cheap, fun way to mix things up. This sausage frittata is made with sausage, eggs and cheese, and it all bakes in one cast iron skillet. Easy!