Snapshot Cooking

These 3-Ingredient Dinners Are Quick, Easy, and Cheap

updated Jun 11, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

When it comes to getting dinner on the table, ease and affordability are top of mind. Whether you’re adjusting to the new task of homeschooling your kids or you’re an essential worker with little time to cook, a cheap yet delicious meal that makes smart use of pantry staples is the ultimate weeknight win. That’s why I’ve come up with five budget-friendly, incredibly easy recipes that are sure to satisfy with minimal stress.

 5 (3-Ingredient) Dinner Recipes Under $10

  • The ingredients: Each of these recipes calls for just three ingredients (excluding oil, salt, and pepper) that are readily available in most grocery stores. In most cases, we’ve included optional upgrades or serving suggestions.
  • The cost: Each recipe costs less than $10.
  • The time: Each recipe is ready in 45 minutes or less.
  • The serving size: Each recipe serves 4.
Credit: Photo: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

Sheet Pan Chicken Marinara

Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven according to the chicken tender package instructions. Divide 2 (8-ounce) boxes frozen chicken tenders between two rimmed baking sheets and bake according to package instructions. Meanwhile, place 1 1/2  cups marinara sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Keep at a lower simmer until the chicken is ready.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 450ºF. Meanwhile, spread the marinara sauce on the chicken tenders, then sprinkle with 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the cheese edges are crisp and browned, about 5 minutes.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

Chickpea Coconut Curry

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add 1 tablespoon curry paste and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and deepened in color, about 2 minutes. Add 2 (15-ounce) cans drained and rinsed chickpeas and stir until well-coated. Add 2 tablespoons curry paste, 1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk, and 1/4 cup water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a maintain a simmer and cook until the flavors meld, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve over cooked rice if desired. 

Get the recipe: Chickpea Coconut Curry

Credit: Photo: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

One-Pot Pesto Tortellini with Broccoli

Trim stems from 1 pound broccoli and cut florets into 1/2-inch pieces. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add broccoli florets and cook until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer florets with a slotted spoon into a strainer and run under cool water.

Bring the broccoli water back to a boil. Add 2 (about 10-ounce) packages fresh or frozen cheese tortellini and cook 2 minutes less than package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the tortellini. Place 3 tablespoons basil pesto and 3 tablespoons pasta water in the now-empty pot over low heat. Add the tortellini and broccoli; gently toss until warmed through, adding more pesto or pasta water as needed for the desired sauce consistency. Taste and season with kosher salt as needed. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

Refried Bean and Cheese Tostadas

Heat the oven to 450ºF. Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Fry 6 (5-inch) corn tortillas in the oil in 2 batches until golden-brown and crisp, about 4 minutes per batch. Pierce any bubbles that form on the tortillas with the tip of a paring knife. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with kosher salt. Remove the paper towels. Spread 1 1/4 cups refried beans on the tostadas, then sprinkle with 3/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese. Bake until the beans are warmed through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

The Easiest Skillet Chili Mac

Heat the oven to 450ºF. Bring about 5 cups heavily salted water to a boil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the macaroni from 1 (11 to 14-ounce) box deluxe macaroni and cheese with cheese sauce (not cheese powder) and cook for the minimum amount of time on the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain the macaroni and return to the skillet. Add the cheese sauce and 2 tablespoons pasta water, and stir until evenly coated. Add 1 (15-ounce) can chili and stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water a little at a time as needed. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Bake until heated through, about 5 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and broil until the cheese on top is browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes.

Welcome to Snapshot Cooking, the home of Kitchn’s easiest recipes. These mini recipes are so simple you can practically cook from the before-and-after snapshot itself.