18 Budget-Friendly Meals to Add to Your Meal Plan

updated Jul 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

While the focus of my meal plan might shift a little from week to week, the overarching idea always stays the same: easy dinners that embrace the season without totally killing my food budget for the week. Right now, during the hottest days of summer, I want nothing more than refreshing meals full of summer’s best produce that come together with minimal effort.

From crispy chicken thighs with blistered tomatoes and basil to a veggie-packed enchilada casserole, here are 18 budget-friendly dinners to keep in your meal plan for the rest of summer.

Pasta Night Dinners

Pasta night is a reliable budget-friendly dinner, and one that can even be fitting on sweltering summer nights. Set the heavy sauces and baked pastas aside for now, and instead keep dinner feeling light by tossing lots of fresh veggies or opting for an herby pesto sauce.

Eggs for Dinner

On those nights you have next to no energy for cooking, eggs are there for you. Bulk them up and make a truly satisfying meal with the help of a humble can of beans from the pantry or the extra summer veggies you have hanging around.

Meaty Summer Meals

Remember that getting a meaty meal on the table doesn’t have to be a pricey affair — especially when you lean on budget cuts like chicken thighs and flank steak. Sandwiches are another smart way to take a single pound of meat, like sirloin steak, and stretch it into dinner for the whole family.

Veggie-Friendly Dinners

Relying on pantry staples like beans, tortillas, rice, and noodles is always a smart way to get filling veggie-heavy dinners on the table without killing your food budget for the week. You’ll also keep costs low by sticking with in-season produce, like greens, cabbage, and eggplant.