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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

The older I get the more attention I begin to pay to the price of groceries. Sure, I probably should have been doing that the whole time, but it becomes very easy to disregard the price of food when you don’t have to worry about cooking every meal. However, now that the price of groceries has drastically increased, it is harder than ever to shop on a budget. Simply switching from name brand to generic no longer makes as much of a difference as it used to, you have to choose the best store that has the lowest prices to get a week’s worth of groceries for a reasonable price. With that in mind, here are five dinner ideas that are cost-effective and can make multiple servings.

Baked Feta Pasta

Everything in this dish can be purchased for around $4 (assuming you have most of the seasonings already at home). This recipe requires a block of feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, and pasta noodles. It is a three-ingredient recipe that is great by itself, but if you want to add some garlic you can do so for under two dollars. You can easily make multiple servings out of this dish to eat throughout the week. It is deliciously simple.

Shredded Chicken Tacos

For this, I recommend getting a rotisserie chicken. You could also buy uncooked chicken, but I’ve found that the rotisserie chicken gives the most bang for the buck. For this, you’ll need an array of seasonings including garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and cajun seasoning (optional). However, I think many people already have most of these in their cabinet at home so that shouldn’t cost any extra. Then you’ll need tortillas, diced tomatoes, and cheese. This meal costs around $20. Depending on how much of the chicken you shred, this can create anywhere between two to ten servings.

Fusiontempura And Shrimp Tacos
Tiffany Meh / Spoon
DIY Pizza

Another quick and cheap meal would be a do-it-yourself pizza. This meal can cost anywhere between $15-$20 depending on the number of toppings. A simple pepperoni pizza would run around $15. Most stores have ready-made crust for under $5, you could always make your own but for the sake of saving money, ready-made is the best bet. This is still cheaper than ordering a pizza by the time you add tips and delivery fees. It’s also an easy-to-store meal so you can enjoy it multiple days of the week.

Taco Salad

One of my favorite cheap meals is a taco salad. It’s super easy to make using what you have at home, you can put just about anything in it and it’s a good way to use up some of your extra ingredients. Personally, I add lettuce, sour cream, black beans, and beef. It’s easily customizable and can be switched around for taste preferences as well as budgeting requirements. In other words, it can be whatever you want it to be. Typically, this costs me around $15 to make with beef being the bigger spend.

Cheesy Ranch Chicken Rice

This meal usually costs around $10; in my opinion, it is both the cheapest and easiest meal out of the five. For this, I grab a pack of chicken breast tenders and season them with the same spices used for the shredded chicken tacos. I also buy a pack of Knorr Rice Sides in the chicken flavor. After cooking both, I cut up the chicken and place it on top of the rice and drizzle ranch dressing on top. It is an easy-to-assemble meal that will not break the bank.

If you were keeping track of the prices, an entire week’s worth of meals (if you cook something new every day) would cost about $70. I find that using meals such as these helps me to stay under my budget of $100 for groceries every week. All of these meals can be changed depending on your price range, but this is what has worked best for me and mine! If you decide to try any of these, I hope you enjoy them.

Leah Copeland

Virginia Tech '24

Leah is a senior at Virginia Tech. She is studying Political Science and English with a minor in Women and Gender Studies.