20 Budget-Friendly Dinner Ideas for 2
Just like families with four, five, or more people, families of two may not have a lot of flexibility in their monthly budgets, but that doesn't mean we aren't looking for delicious, filling, and creative dishes to put on the weekly meal plan. The Allrecipes community of cooks has created dozens of budget-friendly recipes designed for just two people. Here, we're highlighting 20 of those inexpensive dinners so you can make an impressive dinner date meal, an easy weeknight option, or try something new for you and your roommate.
Open Faced Egg Sandwiches with Arugula Salad
Eggs are a budget-conscious cook's best protein. They're inexpensive, and they can be used to elevate simple dishes like rice bowls or a simple open-faced sandwich like this one. "This was so easy and delicious. I toasted the bread first, and since I had no mayo or arugula, I used yogurt and baby spinach. Yum, I will definitely be making this again!" writes reviewer Lynne Curran.
"Great flavors and easy to make! I love the serving size for two it was perfect. This is a recipe that delivers a great range of flavors and in such a short amount of time. Spaghetti may work for a substitution but the Bucatini is the way to go," writes Allstar Howard. Use pancetta or bacon if you can't find the pork cheek.
Lazy Chicken Parmesan Grilled Cheese
If you love the flavors of chicken Parmesan but need to shave some time off the prep, Cindylee Bloomer's sandwich version of the classic Italian-American dinner will surely hit the spot.
Mushroom and Black Bean Quesadillas
Quesadillas are a great way to make one dish that allows for customization. Keep the filling simple and inexpensive with mushrooms and canned black beans. Then you can add salsa, sour cream, guac, or any other of your favorite toppings.
Tuna Panini Melt
Elevate the timeless tuna sandwich to a dinner recipe by boosting flavor with balsamic vinegar. Then press it on a grill pan or panini griddle until warm. "I was quite skeptical about the balsamic vinegar but after everything was done it turned out to be a very flavorful panini," writes Allstar bd.weld.
Fresh From the Vine Tortellini
Even if you're trying to keep your meals within your monthly budget, you can enjoy decadent dishes like this tomatoey tortellini. Jarred pesto is a budget-friendly way to boost the flavor in sandwiches, salads, soups, and more.
Zucchini e Pomodori Gratinati (Zucchini and Tomato Gratin)
Here's another beautiful example of how budget-friendly cooking doesn't have to be just beans and rice. This layered gratin-style dish is stacked with zucchini, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese and baked until warm and toasted.
Chef John's Chicken and Mushrooms
Elegant and rich, Chef John's recipe for a mushroom-studded chicken dish is wonderful for a night-in or a special occasion. Chef John manages to coax immense flavor out of humble (and inexpensive) ingredients. "Succulent and chicken breast are seldom found in the same sentence, but you can find them together here in this delightfully simple recipe, composed of a few common ingredients," writes Allstar Bibi.
Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)
Whether you buy a jar of the fermented cabbage or you make your own kimchi, you'll soon find this funky, flavor-packed condiment is a terrific way to get a major impact with an inexpensive ingredient. (A little goes a very long way.) Here, it combines with budget-friendly staples like rice, ground beef, and an egg for a special spin on fried rice.
Cheesy-Crust Skillet Pizza
What does a pizza without a crust look like? This! The all-cheese pizza is great if one of you is avoiding grains, but it's also excellent if you just want to try something different with that stash of shredded mozzarella still in your fridge at the end of the month.
Authentic Thai Basil Chicken (Very Easy and Fast)
If a trip to your favorite Thai restaurant is out of your budget right now, you can still enjoy your favorite dish with this cheaper alternative. "Very tasty and the kids ate it up without any complaints. I did add some grated ginger because I'm a huge fan and it added a great flavor to the dish! This is great for quick weeknight dinners," writes home cook Rashmi Dixon.
Chicken Breasts with Chipotle Green Onion Gravy
This clean-out-the-fridge gravy is a great topping for any chicken you might have on hand to cook at the end of the week. With pantry staple ingredients like flour, broth, and chipotle chile powder, you really need only supply the chicken and green onions — and the sides, too, of course. "Awesomely delicious and easy prep. I didn't change a single thing. Just wish I had increased the servings. Next time is a sure thing," writes cook Gail Cobile.
One Pan Orecchiette Pasta
This pasta recipe from Chef John is great for the end of the month when you need to use up what's left in your pantry and fridge but still need something filling and wholesome. No sausage? Use ground beef. No orecchiette? Try elbows or penne. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can easily be swapped for Parmesan or mozzarella.
Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
Fusilli with Rapini (Broccoli Rabe), Garlic, and Tomato Wine Sauce
Call on a few pantry staples and go-to herbs like pasta, dried Italian herb mix, and diced tomatoes to bring this broccoli rabe-studded pasta dinner together easily and inexpensively. Can't find broccoli rabe? It's more common in the spring, so broccolini will work well.
Shakshuka (Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish)
While technically a breakfast dish, shakshuka is warm and inviting and inexpensive enough you may want to make it a few times per month. It comes down to letting cheap ingredients like garlic, onion, zucchini, and canned tomatoes simmer until well combined and softened. Then top with an egg or two, and grab some crusty bread for swiping up every last drop.
Chicken and Kale in Parmesan Cream Sauce
Kale is quite inexpensive — a bundle is about $2. But it helps stretch (and add nutrients) to soups, stews, and pasta sauces. Here, it combines with whipping cream and butter to form a decadent pasta sauce. Some reviewers suggest you can use half and half if you happen to have some in your fridge already for your morning coffee.
Ultra Easy Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
"We doubled the chicken and the bell pepper, using several colors of bell pepper because that's what we had and using fresh pineapple. Delicious. We'll definitely make this again. I'll try it with additional vegetables as suggested," writes recipe reviewer Elle.
Avocado Pesto with Zucchini Pasta
If you pick any vegetable to turn into a noodle, zucchini is the one you want. Not only is it budget friendly — most zucchini are less than $1 each — but you can use the savings to make the sauce extra decadent. Here, one avocado is combined with flavor-packed pesto and a bit of Parmesan cheese for a special but low-carb dinner option.
Don't miss these great collections of budget-friendly recipes. These can help you make dinner every night without blowing your family's grocery budget for the month in just one week.