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5 Quick Dinner Ideas That Don't Break the Bank

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Updated Post: 3/14/23 - Original Post: 6/11/22

These quick dinner ideas are great for a family dinner or for entertaining guests. And the best part? They only cost a few bucks a serving!

Short on time but still want delicious meals at a reasonable price? Click here to skip the recipes and check out my favorite time-saving food hack!

Stir Fry

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min

Stir Fry Mix

1 lb chicken (diced or cubed)

2 cloves minced garlic

Veggie ideas

  • 1 cup broccoli florets

  • ½ yellow or red bell pepper (sliced)

  • ½ cup baby carrots

  • ½ cup peas

  • ½ cup onions


  • 1 tbsp corn starch

  • 2 tbsp cold water

  • ¼ cup chicken broth

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil


  • Whisk your sauce ingredients together and set aside.

  • Season your chicken however you’d like. Cook it in a wok or pan on medium to high heat. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

  • Add your veggies to the pan and cook until they’re nice and crisp. Throw in your garlic and let it cook. (This shouldn’t take long - 30 seconds to a minute.)

  • Add your chicken back into the pan and throw in the sauce. Toss your chicken and veggies in the sauce and bring it to a boil.

This recipe is pretty straightforward - just chicken, veggies, and sauce! You can substitute the chicken for beef, tofu, or whatever protein you prefer. You can also get creative with the veggies to make this dish perfect for you and your family.

Honey Bourbon Salmon

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min


  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

  • 4 salmon filets

  • 2 cloves minced garlic


  • Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, and lemon juice to make your sauce.

  • Add your salmon to a pan on medium to high heat. (Gray side down, skin-side up.) Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes.

  • Flip your salmon and add the garlic. Cook for another 30 seconds to one minute.

  • Throw in your sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Scoop up the sauce and glaze the salmon several times before serving.

This dish is great for the seafood-loving family. If you want a more flavorful glaze, try throwing in some red pepper flakes, ginger, or sesame seeds. You can even buy a honey bourbon glaze from the grocery store for a quick sauce. Don’t forget to cook your salmon skin-side up!

Chicken Alfredo

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 20 min


  • 1 pound chicken breasts

  • ½ cup butter

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 1 clove minced garlic

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

  • 2 cups parmesan cheese


  • Cook the fettuccine noodles in boiling water to your preference.

  • Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like. Cook on medium to high heat for 5 minutes on each side. Shred the cooked chicken or cut it into cubes or strips.

  • Add the butter, cream, garlic, and seasonings to a pan on low to medium heat. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and runny.

  • Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it thicken. Stir in your parmesan cheese a little at a time.

  • Toss your pasta, chicken, and sauce together and enjoy!

Fettuccine Alfredo is a classic dish that’s easy to make at home. You can season your boiling water with a good pour of salt and throw a tablespoon of olive oil in there to keep your noodles from sticking together. Feel free to top your finished dish with basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, or garlic salt. You can also buy a jar of Italian herb seasoning at the grocery store!

Shrimp Tacos

Prep time: 10-15 min (if deveining the shrimp)
Cook time: 5 min


  • 1 lb raw shrimp

  • Taco tortillas


  • Season your shrimp however you’d like and cook in a pan on medium to high heat.

  • Put your tortillas on a plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Throw them in the microwave for one minute or until they’re warm.

It really doesn’t get much simpler than this. These shrimp tacos are a super quick and easy dish, plus you can top the tacos with whatever you’d like! If you want to stick with a savory Mexican flavor, you make your own seasoning mix with cumin, paprika, and chili powder, then top with lettuce, tomato, beans, and shredded cheese. If you want to go more tropical, you can use mango salsa, pineapples, and avocado.

BBQ Chicken Nachos

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min


  • 2-3 chicken breasts

  • ¾ cup your favorite BBQ sauce I often use Sweet Baby Ray's

  • Bag of tortilla chips

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 1 can black or pinto beans

  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion

  • 2 ½ cups shredded cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350º F.

  • Cook the chicken in a pan or instant pot and shred with a fork.

  • Coat the chicken with your barbecue sauce.

  • Place the tortilla chips onto a baking sheet covered with a sheet of aluminum foil.

  • Top the tortilla chips with the chicken. Cover with your tomatoes, beans, onions, and cheese.

  • Bake for 10 minutes.

These delicious nachos make a great family meal or party platter. If you have a pressure cooker, throw in some pineapple juice and cook your chicken in it - the chicken will come out super easy to shred!

You can also throw your favorite loaded nacho toppings on the chips, like salsa, corn, chives, or green onions.

My Favorite Time-Saving Food Hack: Gobble

6 Reasons I use Gobble

1. It’s a guarantee that our family will eat 3 tasty, convenient, and reasonably priced meals a week. It makes meal planning and the grocery shopping I need to do each week much easier.

Here is how our eating schedule typically goes:

  • Gobble: 3 days a week

  • Eating out or casual dining: 0-2 day a week

  • Something on the grill or smoker: 2-3 days a week

  • A lazy prepackaged meal we toss in the oven: 0-2 days a week

2. No leftovers, but always finish full! My family will not eat leftovers. I have to eat all of them or they just go bad. It’s an aggravation and a waste of money.

3. Packaged odd items and spices. Our spice cabinet looks about the same it did 5 years ago. We don’t use much in it, but we never seem to have all of the right spices. I also don’t have to worry about excess condiments which filled our fridge for years.

4. We don’t have the time to regularly eat out at casual dining establishments or to make meals from scratch. We also refuse to eat fast food or frozen pizzas every meal.

5. I don’t have to dirty many dishes making these meals.

6. All of their options are clearly marked to accommodate children like mine who have food allergies.

How I would improve Gobble

You have to go back on two different pages to see the price of each meal. I wish they put the price under each meal.

As it is now you have to look under View Order to see the price. I wish each meal was a couple bucks less. I tried a couple of other services at this price point, but the food options weren’t as good and food went to waste.

Final Thoughts on Gobble

Gobble is my favorite time-saving solution for delicious, easy family meals.


My Gobble Rating



  • Including the price of shipping it is about the same price as casual dining or good food from the grocery.


5 = Ramen

1= Restaurants where ties are required

Portion size

  • The amount of food is just right for a growing family of four. We have never finished a meal needing more food, but rarely are there leftovers.


5 = Gobble

1 = Thanksgiving dinner leaves enough leftovers for a week; Lean Cuisine leaves me hungry until the next meal.

Convenience and time saved

  • I can’t rely on fast food, order pizza, or throw boxed food from the freezer in the oven for every meal.

  • You can order your meals three weeks in advance, and edit your selections if you change your mind.


5 = Ordering food or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven.

1 = Making a meal from scratch


  • My picky kids like most of the meals. Outside of chicken nuggets and fries, this is unusual.


5 = Restaurants where ties are required

1 = Fish from a can.

Healthy options

  • Even if you choose the Classic plan rather than the vegetarian plan, there are always very healthy options.


5 = Gobble

1 = Checkers, Rallys, and White Castle


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