101 Frugal Meals You'll Actually Want to Eat

101 Frugal Meals You'll Actually Want to Eat


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A few months ago, I became the owner of a new InstaPot. My husband has been an enthusiastic user, trying out lots of different recipes. I have to admit that it’s been fun for me to learn how to use it too. I’ve been learning to cook better over the past few years (does the InstaPot count?) as well as cutting back on my food spending and food waste.

Time will tell if the InstaPot helps me do more of those things. But in celebration of more home cooking, I decided to put together a roundup of 101 tasty budget-friendly meals that you’ll actually want to eat.

While looking through this list, you may find a recipe that you like but feel is beyond your budget to make, perhaps because of the price of the main ingredient or the number of items required. I believe that most meals can be made even more budget-friendly with some adjustments.

Try to keep these tips in mind when thinking about what to make and buy:

  • Buy items when they’re on sale.

  • Buy what’s in season.

  • Check your pantry for ingredients you already have before you go shopping.

  • Substitute ingredients with what you have at home or items that cost less.

  • Leave out garnishes and ingredients that won’t make much difference to the flavor of the dish.

  • Adjust the recipe a bit to use up extra ingredients. This could be adding more peas or corn to a dish to use up the package and give you more to eat.

  • Make larger batches and refrigerate or freeze the rest for leftovers.

  • Spices can be expensive. Stick to recipes that have common spices, spices you have on hand, and spices you know you will use again.


Chicken & Turkey


1. Bang bang chicken lettuce wraps - Kirbie Cravings (pictured)

2. One pan chili lime chicken & rice – The Recipe Critic

I’ve made the above dish three times including just this past Monday. It’s delicious! I added frozen vegetables and cut up broccoli I had in the freezer to make this dish even tastier and healthier.

3. Easy baked pesto chicken - The Recipe Critic

4. Chicken sausage, spinach, and cauliflower rice skillet - Mrs. Happy Homemaker

5. Thai peanut chicken - Budget Bytes

6. Grilled turkey burgers with cucumber salad - Skinny Ms.

7. Spinach stuffed chicken breasts - Basil and Bubbly

8. One-skillet balsamic chicken and vegetables - Averie Cooks (pictured)

9. Baked chicken teriyaki - Valerie's Kitchen

10. Parmesan crusted chicken - What's in the Pan


11. Firecracker chicken meatballs - Little Spice Jar (pictured) 

12. Chicken fried rice - A Pinch of Healthy

13. Southwest chicken casserole - Graceful Little Honey Bee

14. Quick and easy chicken burritos - Gimme Delicious

15. Mediterranean chicken panini - Le Creme de la Crumb

16. Chicken ranch wraps - Gimme Delicious

17. Favorite chicken pot pie - Lil' Luna

18. Baked coconut chicken tenders - Yellow Bliss Road

19. 30 minute lighter turkey tetrazzini - Savory Nothings


20. Chicken noodle soup casserole - Wine and Glue (pictured)

21. Sweet and sour chicken - The Seasoned Mom

22. Best teriyaki chicken - Weary Chef

23. Lemon rosemary chicken thighs - My Recipes

24. One pot creamy garlic chicken and rice - Tablespoon 

25. Creamy chicken and wild rice soup - All Recipes

26. Pesto chicken kebab with cool quinoa pilaf - A Spicy Perspective

27. Grandma's one pan hamburger helper - The Seasoned Mom




28. Cajun 15 bean soup with ham - Dear Crissy

29. BBQ sausage, beans and greens - Iowa Girl Eats

30. Grilled pork tenderloin - Iowa Girl Eats

31. Skillet sausage and white beans with spinach - Valerie's Kitchen

32. Pork chops - Cafe Delites

33. Pork chop and hashbrown casserole - Coupon Cravings

34. Prosciutto and gruyere grilled cheese - Sage to Silver

35. Split pea soup - Spend with Pennies 

36. Balsamic instant pot pork tenderloin recipe - Eating on a Dime

37. 30 minute pozole - Budget Bytes

38. Pork cutlet parmigiana - Genius Kitchen




39. Easy two meat chili recipe - Sage to Silver (pictured)

40. Bell pepper tacos - Mrs. Happy Homemaker

41. Instant pot beef and broccoli - Don't Waste the Crumbs

42. Lasagna cups - Mrs. Happy Homemake

43. One pot spicy taco rice skillet - Sweet CS Designs

44. Steak and potato bowls - Iowa Girl Eats

45. Bibimbap – the ultimate bowl meal - Budget Bytes

46. Cheese steak quesadillas - Easy Peasy Pleasy 

47. One pan steak and veggies with garlic herb butter - Damn Delicious

48. Chunky beef cabbage and tomato soup - Skinny Taste

49. Slow cooked simple pork lasagna - Recipe This

50. Beefy cheesy tortellini bake - Five Heart Home


51. Navajo tacos - A Heart Full of Joy (pictured)

52. Ground beef stroganoff hamburger - Spend with Pennies

53. Homemade Sloppy Joes - Five Heart Home

54. Budget shepherds pie - Divas on a Dime

55. Home-style meatloaf stuffed poblanos - Call Me PMC

56. Cheese beef goulash - Lil' Luna

57. Stuffed French bread - Life in the Lofthouse

58. Baked ziti - The Country Cook

59. Salisbury steak meatballs - The Pioneer Woman

60. Asian beef with snow peas - All Recipes




61. Spicy grilled shrimp with coconut lime rice and peach salsa - Floating Kitchen (pictured)

I first made this dish four years ago and have loved it ever since. It’s so easy to make and a hit with family and friends. Sometimes I made only one part of it when I don’t have all the ingredients.

62. Grilled salmon potato and tomato kebabs - Floating Kitchen

63. Sheet pan teriyaki salmon - Damn Delicious

64. Sweet chili sesame shrimp and zoodles - Iowa Girl eats

65. Seafood rice skillet - Budget Bytes

66. Lemon butter garlic shrimp with angel hair pasta - Averie Cooks

67. Best ever tuna noodle casserole - A Dash of Sanity

68. Garlic butter baked salmon in foil - Little Spice Jar

69. Tilapia fish tacos - Easy Peazy Mealz

70. Sheet pan fish and chips - Simply Recipes


71. Grilled salmon potato and tomato kebabs - Floating Kitchen (pictured)

72. 5 ingredient garlic parmesan tilapia - The Seasoned Mom

73. Tuna white bean salad with red wine vinaigrette - Noshtastic

74. Tuna patties - Simply Recipes

75. Savory lemon white fish fillets - Skinny Ms.




76. Crispy quinoa patties - Sally's Baking Addiction (pictured)

77. Spaghetti aglio e olio - Damn Delicious

78. Spinach lasagna rolls - Cake Whiz

79. Ratatouille frittata - Budget Bytes

80. Charred corn red pepper farro salad - Joyful Healthy Eats

81. Lentil mushroom stew over mashed potatoes - Minimalist Baker


82. Honey sriracha tofu - Pickled Plum (pictured)

83. Baked quinoa black bean falafel  - Minimalist Baker

84. Baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella - Smitten Kitchen

I’ve made the above dish at least ten times in the past few years. It’s really versatile because you can add and omit whatever you’d like. When I made it earlier this month, I added leftover spinach to give it even more vegetables.

85. Zesty lentil spinach salad - Gimme Some Oven

86. Southern baked macaroni and cheese - Basil and Bubbly

87. Creamy tomato spinach pasta - Budget Bytes

88. Curried satay veggie bowls - Gimme Some Oven

89. Zucchini and eggplant tomato gratin - SImply Recipes


90. Chickpea, spinach & sweet potato brown rice bowl - Green Evi (pictured)

91. Sweet chili sesame tofu - Plant Based Jane

92. Vegetarian chili - Cookie and Kate

93. Caprese pasta salad - Coco and Ash

94. 10 minute black bean corn quesadillas - Dashing Dish

95. Quick and easy vegetable quiche - Living Well Spending Less

96. Garden vegetable lasagna - Taste Lovely

97. Easy 30 minute black bean soup - Perfect Pending


98. Harissa roasted vegetables with couscous - Caroline's Cooking (pictured)

I made this dish and loved it. I ate it for days! If you make it, just be careful not to use too much harissa. I like my food hot but extra harissa here had me running for milk and yogurt to cool my tongue.

99. Fajita gnocchi skillet with avocado salsa - She Likes Food

100. Curried lentil quinoa soup - She Likes Food

101. Shashuka - Smitten Kitchen

I’m a big fan of Smitten Kitchen. Some friends recently made this dish for us and I went back for seconds because it was that good!

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Happy eating!

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