20 Delicious Dinners Under $10 for Four People

Jess Richardson | May 24, 2019 Food & Party
20 Delicious Dinners Under $10 for Four People
Image: iStock

enchiladas
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We totally get needing to feed a family on a budget. And while $10 may not seem like a lot, it's a significant amount when making a meal for four -- a lot of the following recipes are even in the $5 range for four! 

For budget-friendly meal inspiration, consider casseroles to keep the family satisfied. Casseroles may sound old-school, but they use up leftover veggies and proteins, and they're also great for reheating the next night for a fast weeknight option. Plus, many of them freeze remarkably well. Other family-friendly budget dinners can round out the week's dinners, while make-ahead breakfasts help everyone get out the door faster in the morning.

A few tips for getting started with budget cooking: It's a wise idea to buy some spices (and it's easy to DIY spice blends instead of buying them, which can be needlessly costly!). Instead of buying expensive premade salad dressings, make up a simple vinaigrette that can be stored in the fridge for a while. Another smart option is to make broth and stock at home with leftovers, which means instead of paying $1-3 for a can or box, it's basically free. It may seem time-consuming, but really, it's just the small step of throwing carrot peels and ends, celery ends, mushroom stems, tips of onions, leeks, and garlic in a freezer bag. 

Then, as soon as there's a bag or two full of ends in the freezer, take the bones from a whole chicken and throw them in a pot with all the ends/peels of carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, and garlic, and simmer for a few hours. This is such a cost-saver, and it's more healthful and delicious than premade stocks and broths, too. For a richer broth, leave some meat on the bone, and for a veggie version, just omit the chicken! Both broths and stocks freeze beautifully, too. 

Once you have a few basics on hand, staying within budget starts getting easier.

  • French Lentils With Poached Eggs

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    French Lentils with Poached Eggs
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    We absolutely adore this totally kid-friendly recipe for French lentils with poached eggs. Lentils of all kinds are good sources of protein and fiber, but even the fancy French lentils du puy (which are especially delicious and hold their shape well) are totally affordable, at around $7 for a whole pound of them, which yields about 7 cups cooked -- and only 1/2 cup is needed for a serving. 

  • 1-Hour Vegan Shepherd's Pie

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    1-Hour Vegan Shepherd's Pie
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    If you're making lentils, cook some extra, because 1-hour vegan shepherd's pie is a smart use of leftover, next-day lentils. And even starting from scratch, the ingredients in this list should still add up to only about $7 to feed a family of four.

  • Skillet Roast Chicken With Vegetables

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    Skillet Roast Chicken With Vegetables
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    It's easy to find whole chickens for about $1.30 a pound -- a whole one, even on InstaCart, is only $3.19. Roasting them is simpler than many people think and takes less specialized equipment, too -- check out this recipe for skillet roast chicken with vegetables, which costs about $7 for four people and uses a cast-iron skillet.

  • Perfect Steak & Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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    Perfect Steak and Roasted Brussels Sprouts
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    This recipe, perfect steak and roasted Brussels sprouts, calls for a fancier -- and more expensive -- cut of meat, but we've regularly seen absolutely delicious sirloin steaks for $8 a pound. Figure on 1/4 pound steak per person and a serving of Brussels sprouts will still land under $10 total. 

  • Breakfast for Dinner Night

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    Breakfast for Dinner Night
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    Breakfast for Dinner Night is everybody's favorite night, and it's a fun tradition to make dollars stretch, too. Pancake mix is inexpensive, but DIYing it is even cheaper -- and really easy. Eggs cost as little as $2 for a dozen, and even with a couple of slices of bacon per person lands this meal at under $7 total.

  • Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup

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    Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup
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    This black bean-pumpkin soup is so delicious and nutritious -- full of vitamins, protein, and fiber. We love adding curry powder to it. Plus, the recipe makes eight servings, and freezes beautifully -- all told, four servings should cost in the neighborhood of $5-6 -- serve with a side salad for a healthy treat, or upgrade the sour cream to Greek yogurt for an added protein boost.

  • Homemade Vegetarian Chili

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    Homemade Vegetarian Chili
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    We love this recipe for homemade vegetarian chili. It's incredibly inexpensive to make, it freezes well (we frequently double the recipe in order to freeze it for later), and even if it's served with a tray of Jiffy cornbread, it'll still come well under $10 for four people. 

  • Healthy Delicious White Chicken Chili

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    Healthy Delicious White Chicken Chili
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    Healthy delicious white chicken chili is a treat and also cost-effective. Cut down on the cost even more by making the chicken broth -- just use the bones from the rotisserie chicken (or from a home-cooked chicken!) and simmer them with carrot peels, celery ends, and onion scraps for a couple of hours.

  • Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bake

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    Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bake
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    This sweet potato black bean quinoa bake is incredibly budget-friendly, and also packed full of nutrients. All told, this recipe should cost around $5-6, and can cost even less with a DIY vegetable broth, which is super easy to make. 

  • Weeknight Enchiladas

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    Weeknight Enchiladas
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    We love this recipe for weeknight enchiladas because it costs less than $7 for four servings and it takes so little time, it's the perfect weeknight meal! Plus, enchiladas are always a family favorite. This is a great vegetarian meal, or it's an awesome way to use up some leftover rotisserie chicken or ground beef.

  • Shrimp Scampi

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    Shrimp Scampi
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    Shrimp scampi may feel like a fancy meal that doesn't belong on a budget list, but use a bag of frozen shrimp and a bottle of inexpensive white wine, and this can be as cheap as $7 for four people!

  • Pork Chops With Apples & Onions

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    Pork Chops With Apples and Onions
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    This is another fabulous weeknight dinner because it comes together so quickly. Walmart offers pork chops for $4.88 a pound, so a package can be $6.83. While this recipe for pork chops with apples and onions calls for fresh herbs -- which are inexpensive to grow in the garden but pricey to buy in the grocery store -- dried herbs are just fine, or choose just one and then use it for the rest of the week (we love buying a package of thyme to last for at least 10 days' worth of cooking). So wonderful with roasted Brussels sprouts, too!

  • Pork & Peanut Dragon Noodles

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    Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles
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    Pork and peanut dragon noodles are everything -- sweet and salty, deliciously crunchy, packed full of protein. And at only $1.25 a serving, it's also an opportunity for balancing out by roasting a whole pan of fresh veggies for a great, healthy side dish. 

  • Cheesy Cottage Pie

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    Cheesy Cottage Pie
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    Is there anything that says "home-cooking" quite like cheesy cottage pie? It's a family favorite that everyone is sure to ask for over and over, and it's as cheap as $1.10 a serving. While the filling has both peas and carrots, this is still an opportunity to enjoy a little side salad.

  • Chorizo-Stuffed Bell Peppers

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    Chorizo Stuffed Bell Peppers
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    Chorizo-stuffed bell peppers are such a lovely way to use up leftover chorizo. Stuffing bell peppers (or sweet potatoes) is also a way to use up the last of a batch of chili or a quinoa casserole that nobody feels like eating. Just add hot sauce for those who like spice!

  • Fish Tacos With Cumin Lime Slaw

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    Fish Tacos With Cumin Lime Slaw
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    At $1.36 for a serving of two tacos each, these fish tacos with cumin lime slaw are great for families -- and even if there are hungry teenagers in the mix who want four tacos each, this still lands at under $10 for four. 

  • Philly Cheesesteak Pasta Skillet

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    Philly Cheesesteak Pasta Skillet
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    All budget-conscious home cooks know pasta stretches a food budget, but classic spaghetti and meatballs -- while delicious and cost-effective! -- can get old. Try out this Philly cheesesteak pasta skillet that's sure to become a quick family favorite.

  • One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

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    One-Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
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    This one-pot cheesy taco pasta won't cost more than $7 for a family of four, and while the recipe calls for ground beef, it also works with leftover rotisserie chicken. The flavors are so familiar and kids will absolutely love it. 

  • Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl

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    Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl
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    This chicken teriyaki rice bowl is such a yummy, healthy option -- and so much cheaper than ordering takeout, at less than $8 for four servings. This is a complete meal unto itself -- but some extra veggies in there wouldn't hurt!

  • Creamy White Bean & Spinach Quesadillas

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    Creamy White Bean and Spinach Quesadillas
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    Creamy white bean and spinach quesadillas are a fantastic weeknight meal because they're so quick and easy, and a complete meal with veggies, protein, and carbs all together. While these are vegetarian, this is a fitting way to use up leftover sausage, chicken, or ground turkey or beef, too -- not to mention any veggies in the fridge that look good. 

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