20 Budget-Friendly Meals That Don’t Involve Pasta

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When you’re cooking on a tight budget, it’s so easy to fall into a pasta rut. Been there, done that more times than I care to remember! Pasta is a quick, inexpensive, and easy meal with limited cleanup required, which makes it pretty enticing, but it also gets boring fast.

Good news, though — cooking on a budget doesn’t have to mean pasta for dinner seven nights a week. From stir-fry to burritos to chili, here are 20 delicious, budget-friendly dinners that don’t involve pasta.

Stir-fries are such a great low-cost meal, and they’re a great way to use up extra veggies and any leftover meat or tofu that’s in the fridge. Plus, the leftovers make a great lunch the following day. Also, consider inexpensive meals built around tortillas, beans, and rice, like burritos, tacos, and enchiladas.

Soup, Chili & Stew

No matter the season, soup and chili are always favorites. Both are comforting, easily adaptable to swap in seasonal ingredients, they make great leftovers, and they’re easy on your wallet. Want to make your soup, stew, or chili a little heartier? Add quinoa or freekeh for some extra protein.

Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are always a great choice of meat, and in my opinion they’re totally underrated. Whether you like skin-on or you prefer boneless and skinless, chicken thighs are inexpensive, easy to cook, and the meat is so tender and full of flavor.

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