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Effortless Weeknight Dinners: 5 Budget-Friendly Recipes for Busy Families and Singles

Updated: Feb 26

Weeknights can be hectic, leaving little time or energy for elaborate meals. Whether you're juggling the demands of family life or navigating the world as a single adult, having quick and budget friendly recipes can be a lifesaver. In this blog post, we'll share five easy weeknight meal recipes that cater to both families and individuals or couples. Additionally, we'll offer product suggestions to streamline mealtime preparation, saving you both time and money. Everything is so much more expensive so the saying, "we have food at the house," has a whole new meaning these days!

A woman standing at counter cutting vegetables

Juggling three kids is no joke so I am always looking for 30 or less minute meals. Here are some of my favorites that are kid approved.

Budget Friendly Recipes:

Recipe 1: One-Pot Pasta Primavera


  • 8 oz penne pasta

  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (such as bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish


  1. Combine Ingredients: In a large pot, combine the pasta, mixed vegetables, minced garlic, and vegetable broth.

  2. Cook: Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10-12 minutes.

  3. Add Cheese: Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese until melted and creamy.

  4. Season and Serve: Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.

Recipe 2: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced

  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 packet fajita seasoning mix

  • Flour tortillas, for serving

  • Optional toppings: salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese


  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

  2. Prepare Chicken and Veggies: In a large bowl, toss the sliced chicken breasts, bell peppers, and onion with olive oil and fajita seasoning mix until well coated.

  3. Arrange on Baking Sheet: Spread the chicken and vegetable mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet.

  4. Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.

  5. Serve: Serve the chicken fajitas with warm flour tortillas and your favorite toppings.

Recipe 3: Veggie Stir-Fry with Rice


  • 2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)

  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (such as broccoli, carrots, and snap peas)

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp ginger, minced

  • Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


  1. Prepare Rice: Cook the rice according to package instructions and set aside.

  2. Stir-Fry Vegetables: In a large skillet or wok, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger, then stir in the mixed vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

  3. Combine with Rice: Add the cooked rice to the skillet, along with soy sauce. Stir well to combine and heat through.

  4. Garnish and Serve: Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish, if desired. Serve the veggie stir-fry hot.

Recipe 4: Easy Stuffed Pepper Casserole


  • 1 lb Ground Beef or Sausage

  • 3 cloves Garlic

  • 1/2 cup Green bell pepper

  • 1/2 Onion

  • 1/2 cup Red bell pepper

  • 14 1/2 oz Tomatoes

  • 2 cups Beef broth

  • 2 tbsp Tomato paste

  • 3/4 cups Minute white rice

  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper

  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp Salt

  • 1 1/2 cups Cheese (optional)


  1. Cook Ground Beef/Sausage: In a skillet over medium heat, cook the ground meat until browned and cooked through. Drain excess fat, if needed. Add minced garlic and onion.

  2. Saute: Stir in diced bell peppers and sauté. Add tomato paste, saute and then add canned tomato and beef both.

  3. Mix: Add seasonings, mix in Minute rice, and cover to cook according to rice instructions.

  4. Serve: Serve immediately, with optional cheese toppings.

Recipe 5: Quick Veggie Quesadillas


  • 4 large flour tortillas

  • 1 cup shredded cheese (such as cheddar or Monterey Jack)

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (such as bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms), diced

  • Olive oil or cooking spray

  • Optional toppings: salsa, guacamole, sour cream


  1. Prepare Ingredients: Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Place one tortilla in the skillet and sprinkle half of it with shredded cheese. Top with diced mixed vegetables.

  2. Fold and Cook: Fold the tortilla in half to cover the filling, creating a quesadilla. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy.

  3. Repeat: Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas, cheese, and vegetables.

  4. Slice and Serve: Once cooked, slice the quesadillas into wedges. Serve hot with your favorite toppings on the side.

A clear calendar board on refrigerator

Products to Make Mealtime Easier For Effortless Weeknight Dinners:

  1. Fridge Calendar: This clear magnetic refrigerator calendar is perfect to plan your meals for the week and identify which ingredients you need to make them. It also helps you save money by planning meals with similar ingredients so you can buy bulk size products and save more that way.

  2. Instant Pot: The Instant Pot is a versatile kitchen appliance that can significantly speed up cooking times for a variety of meals, from soups and stews to rice and pasta dishes. I personally have the Instant Pot Dutch Oven which is similar to the traditional instant pot but is not a pressure cooker and can be used inside of an oven like a traditional instant pot.

  3. Pre-cut and Frozen Vegetables: Opt for pre-cut, canned and frozen vegetables to save time on meal prep. These convenient options can be quickly added to stir-fries, soups, and casseroles.

  4. Non-stick Skillet: Invest in a quality non-stick skillet for easy cleanup and hassle-free cooking of recipes like stir-fries, quesadillas, and fajitas. I love this set from Caraway that I have had for years (I have the color Sage) and this nonstick griddle that is like an indoor blackstone dupe!

  5. Meal Prep Containers: Stock up on meal prep containers to portion out leftovers or prepare meals in advance. These containers are ideal for storing leftovers or packing lunches for work or school. I always prefer glass and have had these one's for years!

A woman standing over a plate of food with ladle

Conclusion: With these five easy weeknight meal recipes and product suggestions to streamline mealtime, you can enjoy delicious and budget-friendly dinners without sacrificing time or flavor. Whether you're feeding a family or cooking for one or two, these recipes are sure to become go-to favorites in your weekly meal rotation. Let me know in the comments below how you save money and time with food these days!

The words with love, angel in script

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