21 Delicious Budget Meal Ideas for When You’re Strapped for Time

Are you looking to find some cheap and easy budget meal plans? In this post, you’ll find 21 delicious budget meals which you can cook in a short amount of time!

When you’re juggling a career, family, hobbies and a social life, it can be difficult getting a delicious meal on the table.

Sometimes it seems like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we want – including making a healthy, from scratch dinner.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of tasty, delicious meals that can go from kitchen to table in 45 minutes or less.

They’re as easy on your brain as they are on your wallet.

Here are 21 delicious, quick meal ideas for when you don’t have a lot of time (or cash).

I’ve split up the post into multiple sections – you can navigate to each one using the list below (or scroll):

Below, you can click on the recipe images to go to the website with each recipe.


Budget Breakfast for Dinner Meal Ideas

Breakfast is a wonderfully delicious way to have dinner.

Not only is it generally inexpensive, it usually comes together quick and uses ingredients most people already have on hand, like milk, flour, eggs, and butter.

Whether you’re whipping up some fresh pancakes or feeding a crowd with a casserole, having breakfast for dinner is a great way to save time and money.

Add some fruit or eggs to make it a complete meal!

Here are three breakfast recipes to make when you’re low on time and money:

Photo by Jillian Guyette


Photo by Lauren Miyashiro


Photo by Park Feierbach


Can’t get enough of warm, fluffy pancakes?  Check out these 55+ pancake recipes for when you’re looking to change things up.

Budget Pasta Meal Recipes

Pasta is one of the world’s most perfect foods – it cooks quick, is versatile, and can be as healthy or indulgent as you want.

Nothing seems to satisfy like a big bowl of hot noodles smothered in rich sauce. Topped with a protein like grilled chicken or meatballs, and it makes a hearty meal.

Here are three pasta recipes to try when you’re short on time but want to pack in the flavor.

Photo by Parker Feierbach


Photo by Parker Feierbach


Photo by Beatriz de Costa

Love pasta but hate cooking?  Here are 20 mouth-watering pasta recipes that can be made in an Instant Pot.

Budget Sandwich Meal Recipes

Sandwiches can be the ultimate comfort food – they’re also super easy to prepare, making them a great lunch or dinner.

Here are three wonderful sandwich recipes for when you’re craving that gooey comfort-food goodness and don’t have a lot of time.

Photo by Parker Feierbach


Photo by Ethan Calabrese


Photo by Parker Feierbach

Need more sandwich ideas?  Here’s a list of 85+ sandwich recipes that are great for lunch or dinner!

Budget Tacos Meal Recipes

Tacos are one of America’s favorite foods, and for good reason – they’re tasty, cheap, and come together pretty quick.

Whether they’re filled with chicken, beef, pork or fish, tacos are a delicious weeknight meal when you need to get something on the table fast.

Here are three taco recipes that can go from stove to table in 35 minutes or less.

Photo by Park Feierbach


Photo by Erika Lapresto


Photo by Ethan Calabrese

Can’t get enough tacos?  Check out this list from Delish that has 50+ tacos recipes that are perfect for Taco Tuesday!

Budget Soup/Chili Meal Recipe Ideas

There’s nothing like warming up with a big bowl of soup or chili on a brisk Fall day.

It’s also the perfect dish for busy families, as all the ingredients can just be thrown into a pot and cooked while you’re at work or watching the kids, with minimal prep work.

These can all be made specifically in the slow cooker/crock pot for extra convenience. They also go great with sandwiches – another easy dinner idea!

Here are three soup and chili recipes to use when you’re short on time.

Photo by Parker Feierbach


Photo by Charlie Gillette


Photo by Ethan Calabrese

Want more soup?  Whether you need to cool down or warm up, Delish has you covered with over 100 soup recipes and ideas!

Budget Stir-Fry Meal Recipes

Stir fries are a great weeknight meal, as they don’t take long to whip up and are chock-full of veggies and protein.

The best part?  It takes less time to make than ordering take-out!

Here are three delicious stir fry meals to try when you’re craving Chinese take-out – without the waiting.

Photo by Laura Rege


Photo by Ethan Calabrese


Photo by Ethan Calabrese


Can’t get enough Chinese inspired dishes?  Check out this list of 70+ authentic Chinese food recipes from Delish.

Budget Wrap Meal Recipes

Wraps, while closely related to the taco, have their own wide variety of mouth-watering flavors to try.

Wraps are perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time, as they can be made in under 30 minutes.

They’re also perfectly portable for when you need to take a meal or snack on the go.

Photo by Hurry the Food Up


Photo by Parker Feierbach


Photo by Chef Savvy

Want more wrap recipes?  Check out this list of 22 sandwich wraps by Taste of Home!

Eat Great and Save Money at the Same Time!

Getting a delicious, healthy meal on the table doesn’t have to be complicated, time consuming or a chore.

Simply use one of these easy to make recipes, and you can have a tasty, hearty meal that’ll be on the table in less than 45 minutes!

Bon Appétit!