Cheap and Easy Weeknight Dinner
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Dump-and-Bake Dinners You Can Make for $5 or Less

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Cheap and Easy Weeknight Dinner
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Eat Cheap Without the Work

We all need a break sometimes when it comes to making dinner. Here are ways to still get dinner on the table without too much time or money invested in the task with dump-and-bake dinners that are often also freezer-friendly if you make enough for a future meal. Take note that most of the suggested items can be repurposed for other recipes in this collection to stretch your dollar further. If you don't have a good dutch oven or baking dish, now might be a good time to invest. The investment will quickly pay for itself.


Prices and availability are subject to change.


Related: 100 Cheap & Easy Dinners

Chicken and Dumplings
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Chicken and Dumplings

What is a more time-tested and foolproof comfort food than chicken and dumplings? For this quick and easy version, just throw bite-size pieces of chicken, whether breast or thigh ($1.69 per pound at Target), into an oven-safe dish along with cubes of frozen biscuit dough ($2.14 for 7.5 ounces at Walmart), vegetables to your liking, and stock, and then watch an episode of your favorite TV show until your house smells like chicken soup.


Recipe: The Seasoned Mom


Related: 25 Dump-and-Bake Casseroles You Can Make in Minutes

Biscuit Casserole
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Quesadillas in Pan
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Stuff n' Bake Quesadillas

The good thing about quesadillas is you can customize them to your liking as much as you can to your budget. The cheapest way to go here would be to stuff quesadillas with refried beans ($1.49 per can at Target) and shredded cheese, slide them onto a sheet pan and into the oven, and wait till that cheese is bubbly and lacey around the edges. But feel free to upgrade to ground beef, chicken breast, or meat alternatives.


Recipe: 5 Dollar Dinners


Related: 30 Cheap and Easy Recipes From Canned Goods

Tater Tot Casserole
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Sloppy Joe Tater Tots

Here's one that'll feed an army. Just throw some lean ground beef ($5.88 per pound from Walmart) together with sloppy joe sauce, any add-ins you might be craving (like sweet corn or some classic vegetables), and top with frozen tater tots. You could also easily replace the beef with mushrooms if you are trying to make it vegetarian.


Recipe: Buns in My Oven


Related: 50 Slow Cooker Family Recipes Under $20

Homemade Chili
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Low-Fat Chili

This dinner isn't just a breeze to throw together, it will also freeze well, making this dish perfect for getting you through the chilliest of winter nights. All you will need are a few cans of beans (99¢ per can from Target), diced tomatoes (99¢ per can from Target), an onion, some lean beef, chili seasoning, and chicken or vegetable stock ($2.89 for 32 ounces from Target). This would be great paired with the quesadillas mentioned above. Although the recipe recommends a slow cooker, there is no reason not to do this in a 300F oven.


Recipe: My Table of Three


Related: 13 Regional Chili Recipes to Try This Fall

Chicken and Vegetable Sheet Pan
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Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potato

You may need to cut a couple of vegetables for this recipe, but it will take no more than five minutes to get in the oven. A kick of heat is added to this chicken recipe from harissa ($2.74 for 12.5 ounces from Walmart), a Tunisian chili paste, but you could also replace it with your favorite hot sauce. Throw all the ingredients on a sheet pan until golden brown, and delight in your rewards.


Recipe: Feasting at Home


Related: 55 Big-Batch Meals That Will Last for a Week

Nachos
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Sheet Pan Nachos

By combining the right pantry ingredients, this sheet pan dinner will make you feel like you are eating out, especially paired with a light beer or a margarita. Simply break open a bag of tortilla chips ($2.98 per bag from Walmart) and scatter with ingredients of your choosing, like pickled jalapeños ($1.39 per jar from Target) or canned corn ($2.64 for 6 cans from Walmart), cheese, and refried beans. This is a quick bake, too.


Recipe: Damn Delicious


Related: 50 Cheap and Easy Chicken Recipes

Tortilla Pizza
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Fish and Vegetables
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Sheet Pan Tilapia with Vegetables

The good thing about fish is that it cooks quickly. And the good thing about frozen vegetables is that they are already cut and blanched, ready to be reheated in the oven. Combine these two on a sheet pan and you have yourself a perfectly rounded dinner that feels Mediterranean and worth way more than you paid. Tilapia is an economical choice ($12.24 for 3.5 pounds from Target), and we do highly recommend the frozen veggies ($1 for 11 ounces from Target).


Recipe: Taste of Home


Related: 40 Cheap and Easy One-Pot Meals

Potato and Corn Chowder
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Corn Chowder

If you have any corn left over from your cheesy nachos, it can go straight into a pot of corn chowder. Bulk it up with some diced potato, celery, a can of evaporated milk ($1.29 per can from Target), and chicken or vegetable stock. If you are done with cutting your veg, the frozen stuff will do just as well and was frozen at the height of its season. Instead of a crock-pot, just throw this in a covered baking dish and into the oven at 300 F for an hour.


Recipe: Pure Wow


Related: 30 Easy Soup Recipes That Last for Days

Chicken Schnitzel
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Chicken Milanese with Lemon and Potatoes

Milanese, schnitzel, breaded chicken — whatever you want to call it, it is always a big mess to make. It's much easier to buy frozen, ready-made cutlets ($6.99 for 20 ounces from Target) and bring them back up to a crisp in the oven alongside some potatoes. For added luxury, sprinkle some grated parm ($2.36 for 8 ounces at Walmart) over the cutlets before they go in the oven. As soon as it all comes out of the oven, drizzle with some freshly-squeezed lemon juice.


Recipe: Cafe Delites


Related: 40 Cheap Air Fryer Recipes to Cut Calories Not Flavor

Baked Dumplings
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Baked Chicken Breasts
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Cooked Cabbage, Sausage and Potatoes
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Shrimp Baked in Foil
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Foil-Packed Shrimp Scampi

Foil-packet cookery is a dump-and-bake miracle because it means there are no cooking dishes to clean up: just throw that foil away. In this shrimp scampi recipe, all you need to do is grab a portion of shelled and frozen shrimp ($5.78 for 12 ounces from Walmart

https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwjt2r-66_HuAhWx7LUKHcA8CfEYABAUGgJxbg&sig=AOD64_21DP7fmbepliAqH-PWnm3lt3OG6w&ctype=46&q=&ved=0ahUKEwiJxri66_HuAhUGF1kFHVT1CNYQ_-QECNAE&adurl=

), toss them with garlic, herbs, and butter, and throw them under the broiler for about 15 minutes.

Recipe:Damn Delicious


Related: 15 Themed Dinner Party Recipes Under $5 a Person

Baked Zucchini
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Zucchini Parmesan Foil Packets

This is a great vegetarian option if you want to meal prep for the week ahead. Just wrap individual zucchini ($2.96 for a 2-pack from Walmart) halves mounded with Parmesan in foil and bake them. Once they are ready, you have individual packets that you don't even have to transfer to new containers. These would be great with a bowl of rice or pasta.


Recipe: Damn Delicious

Ravioli Lasagna
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Stuffed Peppers
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Pressure Cooker: Frittata
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Frittata

A frittata is your best friend. It will use up any leftovers or shine simply as seasoned eggs gently fluffed in the oven. In Italy, they often throw leftover pasta into a frittata — an easy way to kill two birds with one stone, if you have an obnoxiously small portion of anything left over. All you need are a few eggs ($1.51 per dozen on average).


Recipe: Cookie + Kate


Related: 30 Creative Rice and Beans From Around the World

tuna casserole
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Tuna Casserole With Potato Chip Topping

This casserole is much improved by the crunchy potato chips ($3.78 per large bag at Walmart) lining the surface, giving a contrasting texture to the chewy noodles and meaty tuna. You can use any noodle you like and throw in vegetables like frozen peas (99¢ from Target). And if you have any cheese left over from these other recipes, why not make it a tuna melt casserole?


Recipe: AllRecipes


Related: 21 Casseroles Your Grandma Could Make Without Opening a Cookbook

Risotto
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Tortilla Casserole
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Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

If you can't stand the thought of carefully rolling up every single enchilada, this is the recipe for you. It swaps out rice for the tortillas, and you don't even need to cook it before you throw it into a baking dish with some beans, enchilada sauce ($2.98 per can from Walmart), some frozen peppers ($2.33 for 20z from Walmart), and some shredded cheese. Wrap all that up tightly in foil and bake away.


Recipe: Megan vs Kitchen


Related: 25 Dishes Under 100 Calories Per Serving

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
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Chicken Fingers and Veggies
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