6 Insanely Quick and Delicious Budget Family Meals for Busy Weeknights

Cassandra Smet
by Cassandra Smet

Welcome everyone, today I'll be sharing some of my favorite quick and simple dinner ideas that are perfect for weeknights. As a busy parent, I know how challenging it can be to come up with tasty, satisfying meals that won't break the bank. That's why I've put together this list of budget family meals that are easy to make.

So, let's get started and make dinner time stress-free and delicious!

Whole corn and popcorn chicken on a plate

1. Corn and popcorn chicken

Our first dinner of the week is simply corn and popcorn chicken.

Corn cooking in a pot

I stopped at the farmer’s stand and got some corn. It was the first time we were able to do that this season, so that was exciting. 

Popcorn chicken in the pan of an air fryer

I got the popcorn chicken cooked in the air fryer.

Mashed potatoes in a pot

As a side to the meal, I decided to make a really small batch of potatoes. I had a box of instant mashed potatoes with only a little bit left in it and wanted to get it used up.

So, that’s tonight's budget family meal: mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and good old popcorn chicken. 

Twice baked potatoes in a pan

2. Twice-baked potatoes and salmon

Our next dinner is twice-baked potatoes and salmon.

I made the twice-baked potatoes the lazy way; I baked the potatoes in my microwave, took them out of the peel, then mashed them with butter, chives, and bacon bits, and finally, I topped them with cheese and baked them in the oven. It’s really great.

Two pieces of baked salmon on foil

I made some filets of salmon for me and my husband. My kids will probably eat a couple of bites of salmon too, but they don’t like it enough that they’ll eat a whole protein helping. So, I made some chicken popcorn for the kids to have.

Green beans and broccoli in a bowl

Then as a vegetable, I steamed some green beans and broccoli from the garden in my Instant Pot. This is the first time I have steamed vegetables in the Instant pot, so we are going to try them tonight and see how we like them. I just topped them with butter, salt, and pepper. 

Hamburger meat ground up in a pan

3. Spanish rice

Dinner number three is Spanish rice. I figured I would just walk you guys through how I made it because this is hands down the recipe I get asked about most.

In this pan, I have two pounds of hamburger. You will only need one, I’m just doing two to prep for meals this week. 

Cooked rice in a pot

I have three cups of cooked rice there.

Packet of Chili seasoning mix

All you are going to need is a packet of chili seasoning and a little bit of tomato juice.

Mixing tomato juice into the cooked rice

I am going to take my tomato juice and dump in about half a bottle with my cooked rice. You can have this as soupy or as thick as you like it. It’s totally your preference.

If you wanted to, you could take this mixture, stuff it in bell peppers, and bake over the top with some cheese and make stuffed peppers.

What I am doing tonight is taking the hamburger meat and throwing it in the pot with the rice and throw in my chili seasoning.

Spanish rice topped with cheese, sour cream and guacamole

This is what my bowl looks like. I topped it with a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese – you can use whatever kind of cheese you want. I have a little dollop of sour cream there, and then, on top, I had one of these little guacamole packets that I used half of yesterday for lunch (we had nachos). So, I took the other half and topped it on here.

Budget friendly family meals

4. Pulled barbeque chicken sandwiches

I was going to make my mother in laws baked mac and cheese. Well, guess what, she made it, and sent me home with two Tupperwares full. We will use it for a side tonight.

Pulled barbecue chicken in a bowl

So, I decided to make some pulled chicken barbecue sandwiches.

Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce next to a bowl of pulled barbecue chicken

I just cooked the chicken in my Instant Pot, shredded it in my KitchenAid, and then threw in some Sweet Baby Ray’s, and we are going to have pulled barbeque chicken sandwiches.

Jars of pickles and a bag of rolls

I pulled out some homemade pickles. This is the first batch of the pickles from this season. We also have the last of the store-bought pickles to use up.

Jar of applesauce and bag of rolls

Some of my kids asked for applesauce as a side, so I pulled out a jar of cinnamon flavored from Aldi's.

Pulled barbeque chicken sandwiches, pickles, and some of this mac and cheese as a side makes a quick family meal on a budget.

Hot dogs in a pot

5. Budget summer family meal

Dinner tonight is going to be really simple: hot dogs. 

Cubed watermelon and sliced apples on a glass plate

I have watermelon and an apple sliced up.

French fries in the air fry pan

Then, I air-fried some french fries. 

It’s a really easy summer night dinner, and the best part about this is whatever we don’t eat of the watermelon and apples tonight, I’m just to cover with tin foil, put in the fridge, and tomorrow morning for breakfast, I can pull this out and it’s ready to go.

This is going to be dinner tonight. Something really quick and easy, so we can get back outside and enjoy the nice weather we are having. 

Healthy family meals on a budget

We only ate half the apple and a third of the watermelon. So, I’m just going to put tin foil over it and I can pull this out after the kids play outside for a while. They may want some pieces of watermelon as a before bedtime snack.

Or, I’ll leave it till tomorrow and we’ll eat it for breakfast, snack, or lunch. If we go to the park, I might just throw this in a Tupperware and bring it with me. There are lots of premade, fresh options for me with this leftover.

Baked lasagna in an oven dish

6. Lasagna

This is going to be dinner tonight and tomorrow as well. I made this lasagna with mozzarella cheese slices from Aldi’s. I’m very excited and nervous to try it. 

Quick family meals on a budget

The consistency of the mozzarella felt like ricotta and I also shredded some of this parmesan cheese that I got from Walmart on top. I’m excited to see how it goes because this is the first time I’m doing this.

Freshly canned pickles

Also, I got some canning done today. I have eight pints of dillies. I also have tons of pickles and more dillies I’m hoping to can tonight after the kids go to bed, hence why the lasagna is going to be for the next two days. Plus, gardening will be tomorrow, unless I get rained out.

Lasagna and corn on a plate

I told you guys yesterday that the lasagna would be enough for two dinners, and I was definitely right. This is lasagna night number two. We also finished off the sweet corn we bought from the farmer's market. 


Budget family meals

We still have quite a bit of lasagna left, so I can use these for lunches for the rest of the week. 

Budget family meals

Making family dinners doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. What are your favorite budget family meals? Leave a comment and let us know.

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