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Dinner ideas | 150+ beaut budget dinner ideas

by Penina

Dinner ideas are easy with some fast and fabulous tips from the Savings Room. Dinner has been a dilemma for scores of people across the country, who scratch their heads in the evening staring blankly at packets of pasta and cans of tuna in the pantry. Frustrated home cooks have written countless books about solving the dinner dilemma, as have gourmet cooks the world over.
At most houses, dinner is a social event. Dinner time is an opportunity to stare at loved one’s across a table and discuss matters like who got stuck in traffic and who did what to who in the school yard. In our family, we iron out problems like how we are going to get Saxon to training Wednesday nights when his parents are working and he’s stuck in After School Care.
Dinners are much like a casual family meeting we do while eating.
We discuss how it went last week at Little Athletics and how it might go this Saturday. Did Saxon think his new running shoes make him run faster? Is he enjoying the sport?
We talk about work. My hubby will discuss his business clients and projects related to his painting and home renovation business. I’ll talk about work, my projects and how I heard from my mum (Nanna) today. She’s thinking about taking a trip to Italy and might stop into Melbourne on the way next year. We’ll talk about upcoming events like Christmas and impending camping adventures we might go on.
Other nights, we simply won’t make it to the table. Our three-turning-thirty will have had too long a day and we’ll have to whip her meal up at turbo speed. We’ll sit her on the couch to chill out to Peppa Pig. At the same time our eight-almost-nine will be over at the park because ‘it is still light.’ He’ll be ruminating with his friends about the best way to get a mod on Minecraft. He’ll tell us he’s ‘coming in a minute.’
So that leaves hubby and I. We are not hungry yet and we’re enjoying a wine. It has been a long day and there’s much to discuss.
Dinners in the modern family are different. Depending on busy lives and different family circumstances, not all families table time the same as we did in prior eras. There are also a large percentage of single-parent families, whose circumstances are also very different and varied depending on the time of the week.
With families under more financial pressure, working longer hours and coming home at odd hours, sitting at the table for dinner is becoming a treasured tradition. In our home, we are trying to make a habit of it and we do it as often as we can, but sometimes it is just not practical. The best we can do is to be organised and have a ready freezer and list of quick, ready budget meals that get dinner on the table fast. These tactics will assure that we get our quality table time where we trade family wisdom and stories, which are all important for the character and growth of everyone in our family.
So I’ve put together this quick list of budget dinner ideas. This list is designed as a quick reference when putting dinner menus together. Keep it as a reference when writing a personalized grocery list depending on your family’s likes and tastes.

How to use this budget dinner ideas cheat sheet

Simply pick five or six meals from the list and you will have dinners organised! Don’t spend excessive money on groceries when you don’t have to. If you stay organised you will achieve ways to save money throughout the year. Happy cooking and enjoy the savings!


  • Beans and rice
  • Beans as filling or stuffing
  • Green bean salads
  • Mixed bean salads


  • Avocado and tomato on toast
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Bruschetta
  • Burgers using frozen patties
  • Canned dinners on toast
  • Canned meats on toast
  • Cheese and bacon omelette
  • Chip butty sandwiches
  • Devon and cheese toasties
  • Fish finger sandwiches
  • Homemade pizzas
  • Hot dogs
  • Leftovers toasted sandwiches
  • Open cheese and avocado subs
  • Parmesan on toast
  • Scrambled eggs on toast
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Spaghetti on toast
  • Thick canned soups on toast
  • Tuna and cheese open subs


  • Bean and rice burritos
  • Bean chilli con carne
  • Cheese and tomato burritos
  • Leftover meat cheese melts
  • Leftover meat sandwich
  • Mexican bean burritos
  • Mince burritos
  • Refried beans in burritos

Breakfast as dinner

  • Muesli
  • Oats
  • Weetbix

Canned tuna

  • Tuna and corn pasta
  • Tuna fried rice
  • Tuna pasta bake
  • Tuna patties (burgers)


  • Meals with chips
  • Nachos
  • Tacos
  • Vegetarian nachos
  • Vegetarian tacos


  • Baked eggplant in tomatoes
  • Baked eggplant Parmesan
  • Cheesy eggplant bake
  • Eggplant tomato pasta
  • Osaka


  • French toast (savoury)
  • Frittata
  • Omelettes – various
  • Quiche
  • Scrambled eggs on toast
  • Spinach omelette


  • Cheese and bacon pancakes
  • Chicken and corn pancakes
  • Homemade pizza
  • Mince pancakes
  • Soup with cheese scones
  • Soup with cheesy ham muffins
  • Stew and dumplings
  • Tempura vegetable


  • Budget baked chicken breasts
  • Crumbed chicken and fish
  • Frozen fish fillets
  • Frozen patties and pies


  • Canned corned beef
  • Corned beef
  • Meatloaf
  • Mince based dishes
  • Roasts for leftover value
  • Sausages


  • Chicken legs
  • Chicken loaf
  • Chicken thighs
  • Roast chickens
  • Whole frozen chickens


  • Chicken and instant noodles
  • Chinese Chop Suey
  • Noodles and packet veggies
  • Ramen
  • Sapa Sui (Samoan Chop Suey)


  • Bacon pasta
  • Basic pesto pasta
  • Broccoli and chickpea macaroni
  • Carbonara
  • Chilli, garlic, parsley spaghetti
  • Creamy pasta dishes
  • Creamy pasta with asparagus
  • Macaroni cheese
  • Macaroni cheese with tuna
  • Mushroom pasta
  • Parmesan topped pasta
  • Pasta salad
  • Pasta with herbed tomatoes
  • Pastas with oil and herbs
  • Peppered spaghetti
  • Pesto chicken pasta
  • Sauce free pastas E.g. Oil based
  • Simple gourmet pastas E.g.Salmon and capers
  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • Spaghetti puttanesca
  • Spinach and ricotta pasta
  • Tomato basil pasta
  • Tuna and corn pasta
  • Tuna and pineapple pasta
  • Tuna pasta bake
  • Vegetarian lasagna


  • Bubble and squeak
  • Chicken and potato casserole
  • Fish fingers and mash
  • Homemade wedges
  • Lentil and potato curry
  • Potato bakes
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Stuffed baked potatoes


  • Beans and rice
  • Fried rice
  • Mushroom risotto
  • Rice stuffed capsicums
  • Rice stuffed tomatoes
  • Rice stuffed zucchini
  • Sushi
  • Tuna fried rice


  • Bean salads
  • Coleslaw
  • Garden salad
  • Greek salad
  • Noodle salads
  • Potato salad
  • Rice salads
  • Taco salad


  • Sausage and egg bake
  • Sausage casserole
  • Sausage stews – slow cooker
  • Sausage tomato penne
  • Sausages and mash
  • Tomato sausage pasta


  • Bacon hock soup
  • Barley soup
  • Basic vegetable soup
  • Black bean soup
  • Chickpea soups
  • Creamy canned corn soups
  • Lentil Soup
  • Minestrone
  • Potato soup
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Split pea soup
  • Tomato barley soup
  • Tomato based soups


  • Herbed tomato cous cous
  • Tomato barley soup
  • Tomato basil pasta
  • Tomato sausage pasta
  • Tomato soup and toast


  • Bulgur with veggies
  • Chickpea curries
  • Chickpea curries
  • Coconut vegetable curry
  • Curried lentils on rice
  • Fake lentil meatloaf
  • Falafels
  • Polenta based dishes
  • Ratatouille
  • Stuffed capsicums
  • Stuffed tomatoes
  • Stuffed zucchini
  • Vegetarian shepherd’s pie
  • Vegetarian spaghetti

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