There are a few approaches to follow when a quick, budget-friendly dinner solution is needed. This is not the time to fall back on takeout from your local Chinese restaurant or pizza place; in fact, cooking the meal yourself is not only more economical than ordering in, but it’s also healthier, too. Instead of picking up the phone, rely on streamlined recipes like the ones in this carefully curated selection. Once you have a few good recipes in your back pocket, you’re halfway there.
Several of the quick dinner recipes here rely on products that will make meal prep faster and more effective; be it a bag of frozen shrimp, a tube of pre-cooked polenta, or a bottle of fish sauce. When planning meals, it’s important to know where to spend your money and where you can save. Doing the cooking yourself and keeping the recipes simple and fresh is the first step. Then you can justify opening your wallet for a nice piece of Parmigiano Reggiano, which is a good example of where quality really makes a difference. You’ll use it for 30-minute pasta dinners as well as the finishing touch on soups like the Shortcut Italian Wedding Soup shown here. It’s also delicious over top of polenta and adds a little something extra to many other meals.
There’s something for pretty much everybody in this set of quick dinner recipes, whether they are meat lovers, vegans, or vegetarians. Choose from these fast, family-friendly recipes, and—if you set up your pantry, fridge, and freezer accordingly—you’ll have a whole new repertoire of meals you can pull off quickly. Other strategies to help you get dinner on the table fast and under budget include using local, seasonal vegetables when possible (they will always taste better and should be less expensive than those that have traveled across the world) or those that have been pre-cut for you. Once in a while, though, a tropical ingredient like fresh pineapple can give you the license to break out of your rut or make your favorite dish from the Thai place you used to have on speed dial.
Let these quick, budget-friendly dinner recipes inspire you to create delicious meals all year long.