25 Best Budget Recipes

Save money on meals without sacrificing taste or nutrition with these 25 best budget-friendly recipes.

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Pork Chops with Cherry Couscous

Photo: John Autry

Best Budget-Friendly Recipes

In honor of our 25th anniversary, we compiled a collection of our readers' best-loved budget recipes from the past 25 years. Based on research from MyRecipes.com, we pulled the Cooking Light recipes that received the most votes and highest star ratings. What makes these recipes budget-friendly? Each recipe will feed a family of 4 for $10 or less.

First up is Pork Chops with Cherry Couscous.

Price: $2.39 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Olive oil
• Bone-in center-cut pork chops
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Cooking spray
• Uncooked couscous
• Water
• Cherries
• Green onions
• Dry-roasted almonds
• Lemon rind
• Lemon juice

View Recipe: Pork Chops with Cherry Couscous

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Bacon Pierogi Bake

Photo: John Autry

Bacon Pierogi Bake

Price: $1.84  per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Frozen potato and onion pierogies
• Cooking spray
• Bacon
• Garlic
• 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
• Fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
• Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
• Green onions
• Plum tomato
• Black pepper

View Recipe: Bacon Pierogi Bake

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Edamame Succotash

Photo: John Autry

Edamame Succotash

If you can't find frozen, shelled edamame (green soybeans), substitute the more traditional lima beans. Serve with a baguette and Neufchâtel cheese.

Price: $2.47 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Center-cut bacon
• Butter
• Sweet onion
• Fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
• Frozen, shelled edamame, thawed (16-ounce bag)
• Red wine vinegar
• Salt
• Black pepper
• Sugar
• Plum tomatoes
• Red bell pepper
• Basil

View Recipe: Edamame Succotash

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Blue Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Pears

Photo: Randy Mayor

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Pears

Price: $2.41 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Boneless center-cut loin pork chops
• Crumbled blue cheese
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil
• Butter
• Ripe pear

View Recipe: Blue Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops with Pears

Top-Rated Budget: Tuna Melts with Avocado

Photo: John Autry

Tuna Melts with Avocado

Price: $2.41 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Olive oil
• Shallots
• Dijon mustard
• Black pepper
• Salt
• Solid white tuna in water (1 can)
• Lemon juice
• Avocado
• Cherry tomatoes
• Swiss cheese
• French bread

View Recipe: Tuna Melts with Avocado

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Pork Tenderloin, Pear, and Cranberry Salad

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Pork Tenderloin, Pear, and Cranberry Salad

Eating inexpensively doesn’t mean being deprived. Here crisp pears, ruby-hued cranberries, and pork top spinach in a pretty, filling salad.

Price: $2.38 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Cider vinegar
• Dijon mustard
• Brown sugar
• Minced fresh garlic
• Dried thyme
• 1 pound pork tenderloin
• All-purpose flour
• Olive oil
• Dried cranberries
• Sliced shallots
• Cranberry juice cocktail
• Baby spinach leaves
• 1 ripe red Anjou pear

View Recipe: Pork Tenderloin, Pear, and Cranberry Salad

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Mushroom and Sausage Ragù with Polenta

Photo: John Autry

Mushroom and Sausage Ragù with Polenta

Cook the polenta while the ragù simmers so everything will be ready and hot at the same time. Use mild sausage, if you prefer.

Price: $2.49 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Olive oil
• Hot turkey Italian sausage
• Onion
• Cremini mushrooms
• 2 garlic cloves
• Kosher salt
• No-salt-added diced tomatoes (14.5-ounce can)
• Fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
• Water
• Uncooked polenta
• 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
• Butter

View Recipe: Mushroom and Sausage Ragù with Polenta

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Gingery Pork Meatballs with Noodles

Photo: John Autry

Gingery Pork Meatballs with Noodles

Wide rice noodles are available on the ethnic-foods aisle at most major supermarkets and at Asian grocers. If you can't find them, any rice noodle or even spaghetti will work in this dish. You can also use ground sirloin, if you can't find pork.

Price: $2.06 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Fresh cilantro
• Dry breadcrumbs
• Red onion
• Lower-sodium soy sauce
• Fresh ginger
• 3 garlic cloves
• Lean ground pork (1 pound)
• Large egg
• Uncooked wide rice noodles
• Dark sesame oil
• Red bell pepper
• Julienne-cut snow peas
• Salt
• Crushed red pepper
• Green onions

View Recipe: Gingery Pork Meatballs with Noodles

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Beef-Barley Soup

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Beef-Barley Soup

If chuck roast is on sale, buy a large one and freeze the rest for later. (Or ask your butcher to cut off only the amount you need.)

Price: $2.41 per serving

Pantry Checklist: 
• Boneless chuck roast (3/4 lb.)
• Carrots
• Celery
• Onion
• Mushrooms
• Beef broth (4 cups fat-free, less sodium)
• Pearl barley
• Bay leaf

View Recipe: Beef-Barley Soup

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Price: $1.62 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Minced garlic
• Dried rubbed sage
• 1 (3½-pound) roasting chicken
• Red potatoes (12 ounces)
• Butternut squash
• Butter

View Recipe: Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Butternut Squash

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Beer-Braised Beef with Onion, Carrot, and Turnips

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Beer-Braised Beef with Onion, Carrot, and Turnips

Ask your butcher to cut a 1-pound roast for you, or buy a larger one (especially if it’s on sale) and freeze the rest for later.

Price: $2.32 per serving

Pantry Checklist: 
• All-purpose flour
• Boneless chuck roast (1 lb.)
• Beef broth (less-sodium)
• Garlic
• Dark beer
• Bay leaf
• Carrots
• Turnips
• Onion
• Flat-leaf parsley

View Recipe: Beer-Braised Beef with Onion, Carrot, and Turnips

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken

Serve with 3 cups cooked egg noodles tossed with 2 tablespoons butter and green onions.

Price: $2.49 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• 2 slices white bread
• Chopped green onions
• Presliced mushrooms
• Dried thyme
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
• 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• All-purpose flour
• 2 large eggs
• Olive oil

View Recipe: Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Onion Tart

Photo: John Autry

Onion Tart

The earthy flavor of this tart, with touches of feta tang, pairs beautifully with a peppery, nutty salad. With that in mind, we suggest serving with our Arugula and Walnut Salad.

Price: $2.45 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Olive oil
• Onion
• Thyme
• Kosher salt
• Black pepper
• Refrigerated pie dough
• Crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
• Shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
• Large egg

View Recipe: Onion Tart

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Butternut Squash Soup

Serve this creamy soup with a spinach salad and slices of French bread toasted with thinly sliced Swiss cheese.

Price: $2.08 per serving

Pantry Checklist: 
• Butternut squash
• Carrot
• Sweet onion
• Chicken broth (fat-free, less sodium)
• French bread
• Swiss cheese

View Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Be sure to use inexpensive medium-size shrimp in this garlicky, spicy classic.

Price: $2.47 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Linguine
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Minced garlic
• Medium shrimp (1 pound, peeled and deveined)
• Diced onion
• Crushed red pepper
• Dried basil
• Dried oregano
• Tomato paste
• Fresh lemon juice
• Canned crushed tomatoes
• Diced tomatoes (1 can)

View Recipe: Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Sesame-Soy Meatballs

Photo: John Autry

Sesame-Soy Meatballs

Serve these garlicky, spicy meatballs with steamed sugar snap peas and two cups cooked rice tossed with 1 tablespoon chile paste—you'll find it on the ethnic aisle of most supermarkets or at Asian grocers.

Price: $2.50 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Green onions
• Brown sugar
• Lower-sodium soy sauce
• Dark sesame oil
• Chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
• Salt
• Garlic cloves
• Ground sirloin (1 lb.)

View Recipe: Sesame-Soy Meatballs

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Chicken and Rice Casserole

Photo: John Autry

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Although the yellow and green squash give this one-dish meal a colorful appearance, you can use one or the other, if you prefer.

Price: $2.16 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Cooking spray
• Onion
• Bone-in chicken breast half, skinned (8-ounce)
• Black pepper, divided
• Fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (14-ounce can)
• Butter
• Zucchini
• Yellow squash
• Long-grain white rice
• Fresh rosemary
• All-purpose flour
• 2% reduced-fat milk
• Pecorino Romano cheese
• Salt

View Recipe: Chicken and Rice Casserole

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Linguine with Spicy Shrimp

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Linguine with Spicy Shrimp

The combo of Cajun seasoning and ground red pepper really packs a punch of heat in this dish, but the creamy sauce takes the edge off. Decrease the ground red pepper or simply omit it for a milder version of the dish. Serve with sliced French bread.

Price: $2.46 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Uncooked linguine
• Butter
• Onion
• 3 garlic cloves
• Plum tomatoes
• Peeled and deveined medium shrimp (1 pound)
• Cajun seasoning
• Ground red pepper
• Salt
• Half-and-half
• Fresh flat-leaf parsley

View Recipe: Linguine with Spicy Shrimp

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb

Photo: Randy Mayor

Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb

Price: $2.33 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Olive oil
• Lean ground lamb
• Red curry powder
• Ground cumin
• Kosher salt
• Red pepper
• Onion
• Carrot
• Jalapeño pepper
• Garlic
• Tomato paste
• Brown lentils
• Fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
• Water
• Light coconut milk
• Whole peeled tomatoes
• 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
• Cilantro

View Recipe: Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Chicken Enchiladas

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Chicken Enchiladas

Price: $2.46 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Olive oil
• 4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
• 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
• Chopped cilantro
• Chopped onion
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• Chili powder
• Ground red pepper
• Ground cumin
• Fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
• 9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
• Shredded cheddar cheese
• 2 green onions

View Recipe: Chicken Enchiladas

Top-Rated Budget Recipes: Greek-Style Pork Chops

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Greek-Style Pork Chops

Cut two pita rounds in half, and cut each half into quarters and toast. Serve the pita wedges with the pork chops.

Price: $2.46 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Red wine vinegar
• Dried oregano
• Olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops
• Plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt
• Fresh dill
• Salt
• Diced plum tomatoes (about 2 medium)
• Seeded cucumber
• Red onion
• Cooking spray

View Recipe: Greek-Style Pork Chops

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Adobo Chicken

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Adobo Chicken

Serve this tangy Philippine dish with two large navel oranges cut into wedges.

Price: $2.50 per serving

Pantry Checklist: 
• Canola oil
• Chicken thighs (8)
• Onion
• Garlic
• Soy sauce (low-sodium)
• White vinegar
• Honey
• Bay leaf
• Long-grain rice

View Recipe: Adobo Chicken

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

Photo: John Autry

Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

Speed up prep by marinating only 30 minutes. Serve with cabbage-carrot slaw.

Price: $1.91 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Brown mustard
• Brown sugar
• Yellow mustard
• Maple syrup
• Onion
• Cider vinegar
• Lower-sodium soy sauce
• Black pepper
• Garlic
• Bone-in chicken thighs
• Kosher salt
• Cooking spray

View Recipe: Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

Photo: John Autry

Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

Claw meat tends to be slightly darker than pristine lump crab, but it lends a robust flavor. Serve with corn muffins. Purchase a boxed corn muffin mix for maximum efficiency.

Price: $2.41 per serving

Pantry Checklist:
• Poblano chile
• Butter
• Onion
• Salt
• Sugar
• Ground red pepper
• Frozen corn kernels, thawed (16-ounce package)
• Half-and-half
• Russet potato
• Water
• Flour
• 2% reduced-fat milk
• Crab claw meat (8-ounce container)

View Recipe: Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

Top-Rated Budget Recipe: Bistro Braised Chicken

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Bistro Braised Chicken

Price: $2.10 per serving

Pantry Checklist: 
• Butter
• Bone-in chicken thighs (8)
• Carrots
• Onion
• Celery
• Dried pitted plums
• Thyme
• Sage
• Dijon mustard
• Chicken broth (1 can fat-free, less-sodium)
• Egg noodles

View Recipe: Bistro Braised Chicken

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