Dirt Cheap Meals That Don't Taste Like Dirt

Economic Dinners Your Kids Will Love – And You Will, Too

We’ve all read the studies: families who eat dinner together raise kids who are less likely to be ax murderers, more likely to get into bragging-rights colleges and won’t leave us penniless and alone in our old age. So how do you prepare nutritious dinners that the kids will actually eat without whining, that you’ll enjoy, too – and that won’t require selling the heirloom china? Here are some great-tasting recipes that won’t cost a lot, that use relatively few ingredients – which you either already have at home or can find easily in any supermarket – and that are quick and easy. Trust me, if I find them quick and easy, you will, too. Good, fast and cheap. The holy trinity of family dinners. Read on. Photo: gregor_y

1. Leftovers Pizza – A Favorite No Matter How You Slice It

The key to this recipe’s success is flexibility to the max. Not only do you get a long list of possible toppings (basically whatever’s in the fridge), but also a variety of combinations that would work especially well together. Use up your leftovers and get a pizza with toppings you know your family likes. Use ready-made crust. What could be easier? Photo: The Punch Pizza

2. Baked Mac and Cheese – Look Up “Comfort Food” in the Dictionary…

Mac and cheese is as comforting – and as affordable – as it gets. This recipe adds some spice and crunch to the traditional dish. As the comments demonstrate, there are lots of easy variations that can make this mac and cheese even more of a favorite for your family. Add more milk. Substitute whole wheat pasta. Throw on some leftover chicken. Mmm… I’m feeling the comfort already. Photo: jspatchwork

3. Tuna Melt with Carrot and Raisin Salad – Gee Whiz, That’s Tasty!

This tuna melt on rye recipe comes with a carrot and raisin salad that’s as quick and easy as it is filling and heart-warmingly delicious. If that sounds like an ad from decades ago, that’s appropriate, because this is an old-fashioned meal that just might bring back memories of your childhood. Choosing cheddar will of course make for a very different-tasting melt than swiss. I’d go with muenster because I like how the saltiness of the cheese goes with the tuna. I’d also substitute whole wheat bread or a baguette for rye, but what do I know? Photo: zrail

4. Chicken Enchiladas That Are Faster Than Ordering In

These chicken enchiladas are as easy as it gets and still have it count as cooking. Have you ever met a kid who doesn’t love chicken in a tortilla with gooey cheddar cheese? For that matter, have you ever met an adult who doesn’t love it? Plus, you can always keep the ingredients for this simple dinner in the house, so you’ll never have to order in an overpriced meal. And you can keep the delivery tip for yourself. Photo: avlxyz

5. Make a Better Burger

Maybe you think you don’t need a recipe to make hamburgers. But this amazing burger is as good as it gets because the variety of sauces and toppings add up to a juicy, tasty burger that’ll be a hit with the kids and the adults in your family. This recipe doesn’t mention pickles, which I think are non-negotiable for burgers. And of course, a burger without fries is just, well, very wrong. At least get some chips. I won’t get involved I the ketchup vs. mustard controversy. Photo: ingridjee

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