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20 Dinners That Cost 5 Dollars or Less

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Are you low on funds this week? Read this list of 5 dollar dinners to give you ideas for cheap meals!

Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or just looking to save some money, I think we all need ideas for cheap dinners. Ways to stretch our grocery budget every week.

Back when we ate for $37 a week, I felt like the master of coming up with cheap meals! I’ve come up with a list of 20 dinners you can make for $5.00 or less, almost all of which are kid friendly!

Picture of a Sloppy Joe

Are these recipes healthy?

Keep in mind that some of these may not fit in with your lifestyle; that is, they may not be the healthiest option for your family. If you don’t like plain cheese quesadillas, add a can of beans or some chicken, keeping in mind that may take you over $5.00.

There are always healthier options, but when you’re low on money, you do what you can with what you have!

These are also all main dishes, which means you can add any vegetable you may have in your house for a more well-rounded dinner.

Do these recipes really only cost 5 dollars or less?

Disclaimer: I live in Ohio and have access to an Aldi. Your prices may not be this low, so do your research!

The prices I’ve come up with below are based on what I’ve found at Aldi; your store’s prices may vary. I’ve also tried to stay true to the actual cost. Some recipes elsewhere may say they only cost $5.00, but don’t take into account that you pay $2.00 for cheese but only use about $.50 worth for the recipe.

The prices below also don’t include seasonings. My local Dollar Tree sells jars for $1.00 each and they’re bigger than what I can find at Aldi!

I’ve tried to make sure each recipe stays around $5.00 even after buying more than what you need. Look at it this way: you now have leftover food to create another meal! Another great way to save money.

Looking for other healthy meal ideas? Be sure to download my FREE Healthy Meal Plan!

20 Dinners That Cost 5 Dollars or Less

Image of pancakes sitting on a plate, topped with berries

1.) Pancakes- We like cooking these with our griddle because we can fit 6 at a time!

  • Box of pancake mix: $2.00
  • Bottle of syrup: $1.59
  • Eggs (as a side, for protein): $.48-$1.00

2.) Sloppy Joes

  • Ground turkey: $1.89
  • BBQ sauce: $1.00
  • Hamburger buns: $1.00

3.) Grilled cheese and tomato soup

  • Bread: $1.00
  • Cheese: $2.00
  • Can of soup: $.89
  • Butter/Margarine: $1.00

4.) Salad- Adding protein with this helps but will take you over $5.00

  • Iceberg lettuce: $1.00
  • Tomato: $.99
  • Shredded cheese: $2.00
  • Dressing: $1.29

5.) Grilled ham and cheese

  • Bread: $1.00
  • Deli ham: $2.49
  • Sliced cheese: $2.00
  • Butter/margarine: $1.00

6.) Spaghetti

  • Box of spaghetti: $1.00
  • Jar of spaghetti sauce: $1.00
  • Small bag of meatballs (Optional): $2.50-$3.00

7.) Mac and cheese with tuna and peas

  • Box of mac and cheese: $1.00
  • 1 can of tuna: $.69
  • Bag of frozen peas: $1.00

8.) Spanish rice with ground turkey and diced tomatoes

  • Box of Spanish rice: $1.00
  • Ground turkey: $1.89
  • Can of diced tomatoes: $.59

9.) Baked potatoes

  • Potatoes: $1.99
  • Sour cream: $.99
  • Bag of frozen broccoli: $1.00
  • Butter: $1.00

10.) Egg noodles with butter and Parmesan

  • Egg noodles: $1.29
  • Butter: $1.00
  • Parmesan cheese: $2.49
Image of shredded chicken in a large bowl

11.) BBQ pulled chicken- easily made in our slow cooker and shredded using our KitchenAid mixer!

  • 1 pound of chicken: $1.99
  • Bottle of BBQ sauce: $1.00
  • Hamburger buns: $1.00

12.) Quesadillas

  • Tortilla shells: $1.49
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: $2.00
  • Can of black beans: $1.00
  • Sour cream: $1.00

13.) Tuna melts- Will take you over $5.00 if you don’t have butter

  • Bread: $1.00
  • Can of tuna: $.69
  • Mayo: $2.00
  • Cheese: $1.79
  • Butter/margarine: $1.00

14.) Smoked sausage and potatoes- Use leftover potatoes as baked potatoes above!

  • Smoked sausage: $2.50
  • Potatoes: $1.99

15.) DiGiorno pizza- Yes, frozen pizza counts! It’s a good, fast weeknight dinner.

  • $5.00

16.) Chicken and fries

  • Frozen chicken nuggets: $2.50
  • Frozen fries: $2.00

17.) Beans and rice

  • Can of black beans: $.69
  • Bag of rice: $1.79- We cook rice in our rice cooker to save time and energy!
  • Diced tomatoes: $.59
  • Onion (Optional): $1.59

18.) Cheesy beef skillet

  • 1 box of mac and cheese: $1.00
  • Ground turkey: $1.89
  • Diced tomatoes: $.59
  • Taco seasoning: $.39
  • Brown ground turkey as the macaroni boils. Add macaroni to the turkey, as well as the cheese powder, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Image of pizza bagels, topped with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and jalapenos

19.) English muffin/bagel pizzas- Can be easily made in a toaster oven for a quick meal!

  • English muffins/bagels: $2.00
  • Pizza sauce: $.99
  • Mozzarella cheese: $2.00
  • Pepperoni: Optional, but will take you over $5.00

20.) Two timin’ pasta

  • 1 box of pasta: $1.00
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce: $1.00
  • 1 jar of Alfredo sauce: $1.29
  • Mozzarella cheese: $2.00
  • Mix both jars of sauce together, then pour over boiled pasta in a casserole dish. Top with Mozzarella cheese, then bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes

Would you add anything to this list? Share recipes with us below!

Like this post? Be sure to check out 20 MORE dinners that cost 5 dollars or less!


Monday 21st of June 2021

This is great, just what I was looking for-thanks!


Friday 26th of March 2021

I remember having lentil spaghetti sauce in college. Cheap, vegetarian, and served a group. Also, went to Smart and Final and bought a number 10 can of corn for about 3 dollars and mixed it with a number 10 can of chili for about 7 dollars, and served about 30 high school kids. Pork loin has been under 2 dollars a pound locally. I soak the meat in brine for several hours so it isn't tough.


Friday 26th of March 2021

Nice! Cool idea on the chili. =)


Tuesday 31st of March 2020

Chili Mac 2 boxes of shells and cheese 1 can of chili (with or without beans) Feeds 4 comfortably


Tuesday 31st of March 2020

Oh yum! That's a good idea!


Monday 16th of March 2020

I’ve found some really good ideas here! I like to slice up smoked sausage and sauté it with chopped cabbage in olive oil with salt and pepper.


Tuesday 17th of March 2020

Oh man, that sounds really good!!


Monday 7th of October 2019

You can cut the chicken and pAnnaut some to the side to make home made shredded chicken easily, that way with the chicken, you can use it for more meals.


Monday 7th of October 2019

That's a good idea! I've found that shredded chicken stretches your food farther, too. =)

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