15 easy budget-friendly meals

Beat the grocery bill blues! A few key swaps and staples make budget-friendly meals that are loaded with flavour.

15 easy budget-friendly meals

Photo: Andrew Grinton

Lentil, Barley and Sweet Potato Soup

Barley is a good buddy to have in the pantry. Its nubby texture mixes with the smoothness of the tomato-y broth perfectly. Even the most avowed meat-eater won't be mad about dipping into a pot of this. Get the recipe: Lentil, Barley and Sweet Potato Soup

Pot of vegetable soup with barley, sweet potato and lentilPhoto: John Cullen

Double Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner

Chicken leg quarters are less expensive than the breast and they go on sale often. Darker meat promises to always stay juicy, so cook it up on a tray with your veg for the easiest dinner around. You can use the leftovers in a risotto or on top of a salad. Get the recipe: Double Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner

Sheet pan with chicken leg quarters, carrots, potatoes and lemon roasted on a trayPhoto: Erik Putz


Over-Easy Egg Burrito

We’re not trying to blow anyone’s mind with breakfast-for-dinner, but here’s a fresh take on eggs. Scrambled or fried, they tuck into a tortilla nicely with veg, cheese and a bit of hot sauce. Get the recipe: Over-Easy Egg Burrito

Tortilla wrap filled with eggs, cheese, avocado and tomatoPhoto: Andrew Grinton

Oven-Roasted Crispy Chickpeas

Check out this cheap protein. Roast up a can of chickpeas and you’ve got an addictive snack or the perfect mate for a bed of lettuce that's been topped with a fried egg. Get the recipe: Oven-Roasted Crispy Chickpeas

baking tray with roasted chickpeasPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Monte Cristo Panini with Creamy Tomato Soup

The union of soup and sandwhich is a love story as old as time. Well, maybe not, but it’s a cheap and satisfying dinner. This grilled cheese is fancy, but if you’re not feeling the luxe of Swiss and ham, forgo it in favour of your fave cheese. You’re the boss, man. Get the recipe: Monte Cristo Panini with Creamy Tomato Soup

Cup of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich with swiss and hamPhoto: Andrew Grinton


The New Tuna Casserole

It pays to stock canned tuna in the cupboard for fast, lean, low-cost protein. Frozen peas are just as nutritious as fresh produce and are easier on the wallet. Get the recipe: The New Tuna Casserole

15 easy budget-friendly mealsPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Baked Falafel Nuggets with Tomato-Cucumber Salad

Have you met falafels? They’re perfectly seasoned fluffy chickpea cakes that taste mighty fine wrapped up in a warm pita or drunked in tzatziki. Get the recipe: Baked Falafel Nuggets with Tomato-Cucumber Salad

falafel with tahini dressing and a tomato and cucumber salad

Lentil and Beef Mini Meat Loaves

Lentils are affordable, cook up fast and have a great hearty texture. Using half lentils and half ground meat for meatballs and taco filling is a healthy choice for your budget (and for you!). Get the recipe: Lentil and Beef Mini Meat Loaves

plate with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beansPhoto: Roberto Caruso


Sheet Pan Sesame Tofu and Veggies

Vegetarian and vegan cooking isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your wallet, too. A one-sheet dinner is a saviour for feeding the troops quickly and this saucy glazed tofu and veggie medley fits the budget-friendly bill, too. Get the recipe: Sheet Pan Sesame Tofu and Veggies

Plate with roasted tofu with glaze and roasted veggies with ricePhoto: Erik Putz

Kitchen Sink Cheese Omelette

Eggs are a universal fave and breakfast-for-dinner is a fun and budget-friendly route to go on a busy weeknight. This simple omelette uses up all those veggies in your crisper that are on their last leg. Get the recipe: Kitchen Sink Cheese Omelette

skilled with omelette with cheese and veggies

Curried Lentil Coconut Soup

This soup is so stinkin’ inexpensive, so easy and so hearty and delicious that it will become a weekly meal in your house. The curry is mild and the addition of coconut milk and a bit of honey gives it a touch of sweetness. Sop it up with whole wheat pita. Get the recipe: Curried Lentil Coconut Soup

thermos filled with lentil soup


Tuna Puttanesca

There’s nothing dirty about this dish. That cheap can of tuna in your cupboard acts as your protein in this briny pasta that’s drenched in saucy tomatoes and salty olives. Make a big batch because this is one dish that tastes even better after a few days in the fridge. Get the recipe: Tuna Puttanesca

plate of pasta with tuna, basil, capers and tomatoes

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Beans are a thrifty cook’s best friend. Canned ones may be fast, but dried beans are even cheaper. A big batch made in the slow cooker yields a few meals—use them in tacos, over rice or along with eggs and toast. Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Baked potato on a plate topped with baked beans and grated cheddar cheesePhoto: Roberto Caruso

Easy Butter Chicken

Chicken thighs are more tender and flavourful than chicken breasts—and they’re always cheaper, too. Dark meat is super versatile and perfect for saucy dishes. Get the recipe: Easy Butter Chicken

butter chicken on top of rice with piece of naanPhoto: Roberto Caruso


Slow Cooker Braised Brisket

Brisket is a humble cut of beef—inexpensive and easy to prep. All it asks for in return is a little time. Braised over hours, brisket comes out succulent and tender. Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Braised Brisket

Saucy braised beef and pickles on a sesame seed bunPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Read more:
10 yummy recipes using tomato sauce 25 super-cheesy recipes 6 easy French toast recipes

This article was originally published on Mar 01, 2020

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Amy is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto, Ontario. Her work can also be found in publications like Chatelaine, Toronto Life and The Globe and Mail