7-Day Meal Plan: Easy Cheap $3 Dinners

By: Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., Digital Meal Plan Editor

You (and your wallet) will love these budget-friendly dinner recipes.

Cheap & Healthy $3 Dinners

Making budget-friendly meals healthy and delicious is easy with this 7-day meal plan. Each of these cheap dinners rings in at $3 or less per serving and is ready in no more than 40 minutes. The recipes use classic pantry staples like pasta, beans and dried spices, plus a mix of fresh ingredients that make for fast and fresh meals, like the One-Pot Italian Sausage Kale Pasta, and Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl. You (and your wallet) will love these low-cost dinner recipes.


Day 1: Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

$2.38 per serving

Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl

Mediterranean Chickpea Quinoa Bowl: Quinoa and chickpeas pack this vegetarian grain bowl with plenty of plant-based protein. Whip up this quick recipe for dinner, and make an extra batch to pack for an easy, healthy grab & go lunch this week.


Day 2: Salsa-Black Bean Burgers

$2.13 per serving

Salsa-Black Bean Burgers

Salsa-Black Bean Burgers: Salsa and some budget-friendly pantry staples give this vegetarian bean burger recipe tons of flavor. We use crushed tortilla chips to bind the burgers together, making them a great vehicle for using up those crumbs that inevitably fall to the bottom of the bag.


Day 3: Fish Fillets with Pineapple & Jalapeño Salsa

$1.53 per serving

Fish Fillets with Pineapple & Jalapeño Salsa

Fish Fillets with Pineapple & Jalapeño Salsa: Serve simple sautéed fish fillets with jalapeño-spiked pineapple salsa for a Caribbean-inspired meal. Serve with black beans and brown rice—two cheap pantry staples—to round out your meal. Instead of buying a small pineapple like this recipe suggest, go for a larger one as you'll use pineapple again later this week in the Sesame Ginger Pork Patty with Grilled Pineapple recipe.


Day 4: BLT Chopped Salad with Avocado

$1.95 per serving

BLT Chopped Salad with Avocado

BLT Chopped Salad with Avocado: Turn a classic sandwich into a healthy salad with this easy BLT-inspired recipe. Didn't think a BLT could get any better? Add creamy avocado to punch up the flavor and texture. Ringing in at less than $2 per serving and ready in just 15 minutes, this recipe is one you can always turn to for an easy dinner or quick weekday lunch.


Day 5: Sheet-pan Chicken Fajitas

$2.73 per serving

Sheetpan Chicken Fajitas

Sheet-pan Chicken Fajitas: One sheet-pan is all you'll need to whip up these zesty chicken fajitas. They're quick and easy to make and cleanup is even faster! This recipe uses classic pantry staples you likely have on hand, which helps to keep your shopping list short and your grocery bill small.


Day 6: Sesame Ginger Pork Patty with Grilled Pineapple

$1.91 per serving

Sesame Ginger Pork Patty with Grilled Pineapple

Sesame Ginger Pork Patty with Grilled Pineapple: Ditch the bun and serve this Asian-inspired pork burger with sweet grilled pineapple on top of a zesty watercress-and-carrot salad. We like the taste and texture of fresh pineapple for this recipe, but canned pineapple rings work well too. Serve this alongside short-grain brown rice or another pantry-friendly whole grain.


Day 7: One-Pot Italian Sausage Kale Pasta

$1.15 per serving

One-Pot Italian Sausage Kale Pasta

One-Pot Italian Sausage Kale Pasta: For a fast weeknight pasta dinner, why not cook your sauce and pasta all at once? By using the exact amount of water you need to cook the pasta—no colanders here—the starch that cooks off into your pasta water, which you usually drain away, stays in the pot, giving you delectably creamy results. At just $1.15 per serving, this budget recipe is a balanced and delicious choice for dinner.


Watch: How to Make Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas


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