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  • Writer's pictureZachP

#42. Five Inexpensive, Easy Weeknight Dinners

Updated: Mar 7, 2023


When we started really focusing on our food spending, two things really surprised me. One - You can save a lot of money per month just by focusing on how much you spend on food (even with inflation). And two - You do not have to make any extreme changes to do so.


My food spending advice articles have now officially become a trilogy. First, I explained how to use unit pricing instead of retail price when shopping. Second, I took everyone grocery shopping with me by walking through the process of how we pick our meals for the week.


Now, in this potential finale, I want to share with everyone some plug-in meals we add to our weekly list in a pinch (NOTE: if you guys enjoy this list, we do have some other easy meals we put in this category as well).


Remember, I like to buy ingredients in bulk and use each one for multiple meals. But, when I get to the end of the week when meal planning and have one vacant spot, I just plug in one of these meals if I cannot think of something else.


These meals are as follows:

  1. Teriyaki chicken, veggie, and rice

  2. Grilled cheese and tomato soup

  3. Tuna crescent rolls

  4. Quesadillas w/ chips n' salsa

  5. Pancakes and air fried potatoes



One. Teriyaki chicken, veggie, and rice


This is all you will need for this one:

  • Chicken (buy in bulk if possible and spread over two or three meals)

  • Soy sauce and brown sugar for simple teriyaki sauce (we usually have these ingredients at home, so we only have to pay for these every so often. Play around with ratio to make it as sweet as you like.)

  • Raw veggie (broccoli crown, carrot sticks, bok choy, etc)

  • Rice (just like chicken, I suggest buying rice in bulk. We eat a dish with rice almost weekly, but we still only have to buy rice about once a month)

Simple procedure:

  1. Cook the rice per container instructions.

  2. Dice the chicken and raw veggie. Season everything with salt and pepper.

  3. Cook chicken in a skillet or wok with some sesame oil if you have it (any other oil is fine though). You want the pan and oil really hot before adding in the chicken. Then, let the chicken cook for a couple minutes before stirring the first time to get some color to it. Set chicken aside once cooked through.

  4. Add a little more oil and cook raw veggie until it softens to your desired consistency. Remove veggies.

  5. Add soy sauce and brown sugar to skillet and heat until sugar is dissolved (a 2 to 1 ratio is usually how I like it - for every one part of brown sugar, add two parts soy sauce. Warning - it is pretty sweet this way!)

  6. Add back in veggie and chicken and stir enough to coat completely.

  7. Serve over rice and enjoy!



Two. Grilled cheese and tomato soup


What you will need:

  • Sliced bread

  • American sliced cheese (best for melting in my opinion)

  • Butter or mayonnaise

  • Can of tomato soup

What you will need to do:

  1. Heat can of tomato soup per instructions on can.

  2. Spread butter or mayonnaise on BOTH sides of each slice of bread (trust me with the mayonnaise. I thought it was weird at first, but I really enjoy them with mayonnaise instead of butter).

  3. Put one slice of American cheese between two slices of bread (sometimes I use two slices of cheese . . . )

  4. Heat up a skillet to medium or medium/high.

  5. Spray skillet with cooking spray.

  6. Cook both sides of sandwich about 2 minutes until golden brown.

  7. Eat grilled cheese after dipping it in the tomato soup :)



Three. Tuna crescent rolls


What you will need:

  • 1 10oz can of tuna

  • 1 package of cream cheese

  • Ranch seasoning packet

  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

  • Raw crescent rolls (the Kroger brand tastes great as well!)

What you will need to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Mix all ingredients together except soup (make sure to drain tuna can).

  3. Roll out of the crescent rolls and add the mixed ingredients to the crescent rolls. Then, roll the crescent rolls up trying to keep as much filling as you can on the inside.

  4. Put filled crescent rolls onto aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

  5. Heat canned soup per instructions on can.

  6. Serve crescent rolls with canned soup poured over top. Enjoy!



Four. Quesadilla w/ chips n' salsa


What you will need:

  • Buy whatever fillings you like! Some we like are shredded chicken, ground turkey, Mexican shredded cheese, and grilled peppers

  • Tortilla shells (again, we like Kroger brand)

  • Tortilla chips

  • Jar of salsa

What you will need to do:

  1. Pre-make whatever raw fillings you chose.

  2. Heat up a skillet with some oil on it.

  3. Add fillings to one tortilla shell and fold in half (think of a flat taco).

  4. Put filled tortilla shell on skillet (Tip: Sometimes a put a lid on the skillet to help the cheese melt)

  5. Flip once it starts to brown (about 2 to 3 minutes).

  6. After it is slightly browned on both sides, remove from skillet.

  7. Slice quesadilla into three pieces and serve with tortilla chips and salsa.



Five. Pancakes and air fried potatoes


What you will need:

  • Pancake mix (look at back of container to see what other ingredients you will need)

  • Syrup

  • Raw potatoes

What you will need to do:

  1. Dice your potatoes (no need to peel potatoes, but make sure to wash them. Use about one potato per person eating).

  2. Coat potatoes in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  3. Spray basket of air fryer with cooking spray.

  4. Cook diced potatoes in a single layer in air fryer for about 15 minutes on 380 degrees (stop half way through, shake potatoes, then finish cooking).

  5. While homemade potatoes cook, cook the pancakes per the instructions on the box.

  6. Serve both together! I love homemade fried potatoes as a side for breakfast because of how good they taste with a little syrup :).


Who knows if this trilogy will stop here. I have almost become obsessed with our food spending, so I have wanted to write about it more. Inflation has been brutal. But, once we really started focusing on our food spending, we have been saving money on food costs while many others complain about their grocery bills being higher.


Make sure to comment if you have any questions about these simple recipes or want more of them! I have cooking on my Top 13 List of things I want to do more of. I love cooking. I am not a chef by any means, but I like to think I may be able to compete on those home chef cooking competition shows :).



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