Quick and Easy Budget Family Meal Ideas

Kristin Stepp
by Kristin Stepp

Looking for budget friendly family meals? I've got you.

Today, I am sharing all the dinners I made for my family this week. Here are the recipes for five delicious budget friendly meals that you will enjoy both eating and preparing.

Creamy taco soup

Creamy taco soup

1. Brown a pound of ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat, breaking it up as you go. Spoon out the excess fat.

2. Add 4 cups of chicken or beef broth, 20 ounces Ro-tel diced tomatoes & green chilies with juices, 14 ounces of black beans drained & rinsed, 12 ounces of corn drained, half a red bell pepper chopped, 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin and smoked paprika.

3. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then turn it down and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Cut a block of cream cheese into smaller pieces and add it in. Stir until the cheese is fully dissolved.

5. Season the soup with salt & pepper and serve with toppings as desired. I recommend blue corn tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream.

This is the best taco soup recipe I have tried. It comes together really quick, and a definite crowd pleaser.

Chicken scampi

Chicken scampi

1. Before you begin, measure out all ingredients so that they are ready to go, as this recipe goes quick.

2. Cut up a pound of chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and ½ tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Sprinkle with flour (3 tablespoons) and toss to coat.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Once fully cooked through (or above 165 F internally), remove and set aside, tenting with foil to keep it warm.

4. Decrease heat to medium and melt 1 tablespoon of salted butter in the same pan. Add 5 cloves of fresh garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.

5. Optionally, add in ½ cup of dry white wine and cook for 3 minutes, until reduced by half and no longer smells of alcohol.

6. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the pot. Add the cooked chicken, some red pepper flakes, and chopped parsley. Toss to coat, reduce heat to low, and swirl in a tablespoon of cold butter.

7. Boil angel hair pasta and reserve 1/2 cup water. It takes four minutes to cook angel hair pasta.

8. Take a covered jar or Tupperware container and mix ½ cup of pasta water, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and ½ cup each of shredded Parmesan and Asiago cheeses. Cover and shake well to combine.

9. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the chicken and pour the mixture on top. Use kitchen tongs and toss to coat. Season with additional salt/pepper if needed.

10. Serve with fresh tomatoes (optionally), extra Parmesan cheese and parsley on top. Feel free to squeeze in some more lemon, too.

The chicken was incredible, and the sauce felt light, so this is a new family favorite.

Cuban sandwich

Cuban sandwiches

1. Poke 4 lbs of pork shoulder all over with a knife to create slits through which the marinade will be able to seep. Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks and place in a large slow cooker.

2. For the marinade, juice two oranges and two limes. This is what is going to make the pork so tender and delicious.

To the juice, add fresh garlic, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 3/4 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for about 7 hours.

3. When the meat is ready, take it out of the liquid and shred it with a fork. It should be coming undone easily. You can save the liquid to dip the sandwiches into, as it is super flavorful.

4. For the sandwich, cut a loaf of French bread in half, spread mayonnaise on the bottom side and mustard on both sides. Layer on two slices of Swiss cheese, four slices of honey ham, a good amount of shredded pork, some sandwich style pickles, and finish with two more slices of Swiss cheese, then cover with the top side of the bread.

5. Melt some garlic, Parmesan & basil butter on a skillet and toast your sandwich in it, until the cheese has melted. A Panini press would come in really handy for this.

6. Serve with fries and enjoy! Half a sandwich makes a decent portion for a kid or an adult.

This is my number one favorite crock pot recipe, and hands down one of the best things that I have ever made in my kitchen.

Pork burrito bowl

Pork burrito bowls

I had all of that leftover shredded pork, so I decided to make another meal out of it.

1. Make some cilantro lime rice in an instant pot, or just cook up the premade version.

2. Prepare some chili beans.

3. Begin assembling the bowls: add in plenty of rice, heated up pork and beans, and top with some shredded cheddar cheese, a good dollop of sour cream and some homemade guacamole.

Add a couple lime wedges to squeeze over everything and some chopped up lettuce, and drizzle chipotle lime sauce all over the bowl.

4. Mix it all together and scoop it up with tortilla chips.

This makes an amazing healthy family meal on a budget.

Chicken smash tacos

Chicken smash tacos

1. In a bowl, mix a pound of ground chicken, a packet of ranch seasoning and a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Divide into portion sized pieces and form meatballs.

2. Heat up some small tortillas on a grill for a few seconds on each side, then place down the chicken burger and place that tortilla over the top. Use a burger press to flatten those out, and let them cook for just a couple of minutes.

3. Garnish with shredded lettuce and drizzle with ranch.

These were delicious, and I want to make them again on my Blackstone in the summer, and add some buffalo sauce to the mixture as well.

Budget family meals

Try these and let me know how it goes! What are your favorite family meals on a budget? Share your best recipes in the comments.

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