When you're trying to stick to a budget, meal planning and cooking at home can help you save some serious cash. In this 7-day meal plan, recipes use cheap and easy-to-find ingredients to create delicious dinners for less than $3 per serving. With Americans spending, on average, $7,023 (or 12.5 percent of income) to feed a family of four annually, making more budget-friendly meals is key to cutting down on total food costs. Combine this dinner plan with cheap breakfast and lunch recipes to save even more during the week.
$1.82 per serving
Budget Tip: Budget-friendly canned fish, like tuna and wild salmon, are cheap and convenient options for fast and healthy dinners. At a fraction of the price of fresh or frozen fish, you'll get the same health benefits from canned options (think healthy omega-3 fats and protein). You can still plan to check out the fish counter when you do your grocery shopping to see what fresh seafood options are on sale. Frozen fish may be the better option as it's often less expensive, and you can defrost it when you're ready to use it so you know it's fresh.
$2.91 per serving
Budget Tip: Going meatless a few times a week is good for your health, good for your wallet and good for the environment. This vegetarian spaghetti squash lasagna, with 18 grams of satisfying protein and 7 grams of filling fiber, is a great budget recipe you'll turn to time and time again.
$1.53 per serving
Budget Tip: Fried rice with plenty of vegetables and a little meat is an obvious choice when you want to make a quick and healthy dinner that's easy on your wallet. If you have a little extra onion or half a leftover zucchini you want to use up, all the better: just throw in whatever veggie odds and ends you have in your fridge. Being versatile and using what you have on hand helps you save money and minimize food waste.
$1.53 per serving
Budget Tip: Canned beans are an affordable, healthy and convenient ingredient and add satisfying protein and fiber to your meals. Here, canned chickpeas replace the more-expensive chicken but still deliver satisfying Buffalo flavor. Stock up when beans go on sale and use in wraps, salads, soups, stews and more for a healthy and cheap plant protein.
$2.56 per serving
Budget Tip: Canned black beans, precooked rice and whatever veggies you have on hand is all it takes to whip up this fast and flavorful bean and veggie taco bowl. Use pantry staples to whip up this low-cost meal and skip an extra trip to the grocery store.
$1.98 per serving
Budget Tip: Chicken often goes on sale, so when it does, stock up and keep it in your freezer. This one-pot pasta uses less-expensive and flavorful chicken thighs combined with veggies, dried herbs and cheese for a delicious and creamy one-dish dinner.
$2.46 per serving
Budget Tip: Tougher cuts of meat (like the beef chuck used in this easy beef stew recipe) are affordable options that simply need more cooking time to become tender and juicy, making them perfect for the slow cooker.