Meal planning is such a great way to save time and money. And planning your meals can happen so much quicker when you use themed dinner ideas. Today I’m sharing some great ideas for your next Thrifty Thursday themed dinner. I hope you love this collection of budget friendly meal ideas!
This list of Thrifty Thursday or budget friendly meal ideas will help you save money on your grocery budget and plan this week’s menu!
I love themed meal planning because it helps me come up with ideas without thinking too hard and long about it. For instance, when planning your menu for the week, your thought process might look like this:
This Thursday our themed dinner menu will be Thrifty Thursday. What can I make that’s a favorite meal from my childhood?
Be sure to check out The Ultimate List of Themed Dinner Ideas here.
I became a vegetarian in 1998 and my family is vegetarian. In fact a large majority of my extended family is vegetarian as well. Sometimes I make vegetarian dinners that are just you know, naturally vegetarian. However, sometimes I take recipes that call for meat and replace the meat with a vegetarian option.
Being a vegetarian has many health benefits.
Vegetarian substitutions for meat:
You’ll find these products in the freezer aisle or health food section of your local grocery store. You can also find these products at most health food stores like Whole Foods.
- ground beef or turkey > vegetarian burger crumbles
- chicken > Quorn Meatless Pieces
- chicken breast > Quorn Meatless Filets
- shredded chicken or pork > canned jackfruit
- beef, chicken, or pork > black beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas
- deli meats > Lightlife Deli Slices
- sausage > Gimme Lean Breakfast Sausage, Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage
- tuna > chickpeas
- bacon > Morning Star Farms Veggie Bacon
- pepperoni > Veggie Pepperoni
Thrifty Thursday Themed Dinners
How to plan your menu in 4 easy steps:
- Select your main dish.
- Choose 2 – 3 side dishes that compliment your main dish.
- Think about variety of food groups. Try to choose something from each of the main food groups.
- Focus on providing well rounded, nutritious meals.
45 Thrifty Thursday Recipes | Budget Friendly Meal Ideas
Here are 45 budget-friendly meal ideas for your next Thrifty Thursday-themed dinner.
Homemade Sloppy Joes
Homemade Sloppy Joes is a classic dinner recipe that is easy to make and economical too! It takes less than 30 minutes to make and costs just $9.34 for six servings! That’s just $1.56 per serving!
Ghugni Recipe | Street Style Ghugni
This white peas curry is light, fulfilling, yummy , and easy on the pocket.
20 Minute Sweet and Spicy Noodles
+These Sweet and Spicy Noodles are a Thai inspired fast, easy weeknight dinner that can be ready and on the table in just 20 minutes!
5 Minute Vegan Chickpea Curry Pantry Meal
This budget-friendly vegan chickpea curry is the ultimate dump and go meal. It’s made from basic pantry ingredients and comes together in less than 30 minutes.
Perfect Vegan Sloppy Joes
Mouthwatering, delicious vegan sloppy joes are the perfect addition to your vegan sandwich collection! Look no further to satisfy your craving for comfort food, with a healthy, vegan twist.
Gluten-Free + Vegan Chickpea Nuggets (Allergy-Free, Grain-Free)
An easy and healthy meatless nugget that the kids will love! Gluten-free & Vegan Chickpea Nuggets that are top 8 allergy-free, grain-free, and have a secret dose of veggies too! A deliciously fun plant-based recipe for little hands at lunchtime or dinner!
Homemade Spaghetti O's (Allergy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Kick the can and make this healthy recipe for the kids instead! Homemade Spaghetti O’s that are allergy-free, gluten-free, and vegan! A super easy lunch or dinner that’s kid-friendly and mom-approved!
How to Make this Easy Salmon Patties Recipe
Salmon patties are one of those unique menu ideas that is versatile in not only that they are frugal, they can also be made using fresh salmon.
10 Minute Gluten-Free Chicken Fried Rice
This recipe for 10 Minute Chicken Fried Rice is such an easy budget friendly recipe to throw together after a busy work day! Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free and healthier than take out.
Easy Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cabbage Soup
This budget friendly crockpot cabbage soup is a simple and healthy recipe that is packed with veggies and naturally gluten-free.
Sweet Potato Curry
Creamy coconut sweet potato curry made with simple ingredients in less than half an hour! This family-friendly sweet potato curry is comforting, easy to make, frugal and delicious!
One Pot Pasta
This easy 15-minute one-pot pasta made with very basic ingredients! This pasta recipe is perfect for busy people, or those of you who don’t like spending time in the kitchen, and the lazy cooks! It’s simple, frugal, and delicious!
This vegetarian meatloaf comes together quickly and is made with simple ingredients.
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
Add this easy Chicken Pot Pie Casserole to your quick weeknight dinner idea list. Pot Pies make for a comforting meal during the fall and winter months. Since this recipe uses store bought crescent rolls for the crust, it comes together quite easily. You can grill a few chicken breasts or use a store bought rotisserie chicken too!
Chicken and Stuffing Casserole Topped with Tomatoes
This tomato topped chicken and stuffing casserole only takes ten minutes to prepare. It’s creamy and delicious – the whole family will love it!
Chicken Karahi Recipe
This delicious, immune system-boosting, Indian chicken recipe is easy to make at home. Enjoy your own restaurant-style Indian dish from the comfort of your home.
Peanut Tofu Satay Curry (Vegan + GF)
This Peanut Tofu Satay Curry is really easy to make, super satisfying, and so full of flavour. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
This simple and delicious lentil dhal is made with just a few pantry ingredients. Red lentils are cooked with fragrant spices, and creamy coconut milk until a creamy and thick texture is reached.
Taco Tater Tot Casserole
This taco tater tot casserole is easy to make, delicious, and can be made on a budget!!
The Best Vegan Bolognese
All you need is 20 minutes and a love of Italian food with this vegan Bolognese. Gently simmered with classic Italian herbs, fragrant garlic, and roasted tempeh “meat” this is sure to become your favorite vegan spaghetti sauce!
Mediterranean Instant Pot Chicken and Potatoes
Mediterranean Instant Pot Chicken and Potatoes is a perfect family meal. This is a one-pot dish that is affordable, quick and easy to make, yet full of amazing Mediterranean flavors.
Instant Pot Chicken and Rice [Recipe + Video]
You are going to want to add Instant Pot Chicken and Rice to your dinner rotation! An old fashion family favorite comfort meal enjoyed by the whole family.
Vegan Peanut Butter Noodles with Crispy Tofu
Flavourful peanut noodles are paired with crispy baked tofu and colorful vegetables. Ready in under 30 mins and is super filling and satisfying.
Quick and Easy Summer Vegan Corn Chowder Recipe
It’s light, sweet, savory, and gets bonus points because the kids actually eat it. The best part is that it requires minimal ingredients.
One Pot Margherita Pasta | Rosalynn Daniels
This recipe for my One Pot Margherita Pasta is a true dump and go type of recipe. Plus it’s Mom approved because it’s an inexpensive dish!
Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff With Mushrooms
If you want a delicious meal with very little effort! Make this slow cooker beef stroganoff with mushrooms. With tender juicy chunks of meat in a rich and creamy sauce, this dish is full of flavor.
Brazilian Chicken and Rice: Galinhada Recipe
This one-pot chicken and rice dish is a delicious budget dinner that you and your family will love! Get the recipe!
Easy Vegan Leek And Potato Soup
Delicious vegan leek and potato soup. Easy to make and the ingredients are cheap for a smaller budget.
Pasta e Fagioli aka Pasta and Beans (and a Little Rant About Using Quality Ingredients)
Only three inexpensive ingredients are needed for this winner of a budget dish! Kids absolutely love it, too, so it's a win, win, win!
Vegan Instant Pot Dal Palak
Dal palak is a vegan dish that is easy to make and cheap. Like most Indian dishes these are inexpensive and packed with healthy antioxidants and nutrients to build immunity and promote heart health!
Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta
This Greek Pasta Salad recipe is super simple to make and is very cheap! It also makes a lot of food so its perfect for meal prep saving you even more money!
Easy Tuna Casserole
This easy 4 ingredient Tuna Casserole is made with pantry items like canned tuna, macaroni and mushroom soup. Made without bread crumbs, it's crowning glory is melted cheese; simple comfort food at its finest!
Open faced Tuna Melt | no mayo
These quick and easy Open-faced Tuna Melts are made with cream cheese, no mayo, a little kick from the jalapenos and are the perfect last minute dinner or lunch. You can make them ahead and reheat, so they're also perfect for the lunch bag!
Sliced Egg Sandwich Recipe (Step by Step) | Boiled Egg Sandwich
A simple, quick, extremely delicious egg sandwich that can be made within 10 minutes if boiled eggs are already in hand.
Egg Tadka Recipe | Dimer Torka
Mixed lentils and egg tadka that is easy, flavorful, extremely delicious.
Easy Indian Lentils (Dal) - Indian Lentil Curry
This Indian Lentil Curry is warm and comforting, loaded with protein, and a great frugal meal to add to your rotation.
Egg Roll in a Bowl--easy, healthy, and delicious!
This Egg Roll in a Bowl is a super frugal family-friendly meal you can whip up in a flash. Tastes amazing too!
Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup (hearty & healthy!)
This Instant Pot vegetable beef soup filled with tender beef chunks and a variety of veggies is the ultimate version of a family classic. Pure comfort food with only 20 minutes cook time!
Spicy Cheesy Pinto Bean Bowls (or bean dip)
Need a tasty, easy recipe to use your dried pinto beans? Try this spicy cheesy pinto bean bowls!
Mum’s Easy Tuna Mornay Recipe
For a budget friendly meal that can serve a little few or a crowd quite easily, you can’t go past this classic family tuna mornay. Serve with pasta or rice to make it go further or enjoy on it’s own.
Maid-Rite Copycat Recipe
Maid-Rites are loose-meat sandwiches that have ground beef simmered in beef broth and seasoning until it’s tender and served on a warm bun with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.
Easy Homemade Bean Burritos| Freezer-Friendly Recipe
Delicious homemade pinto beans perfect for freezer bean burritos! A nutritious and tasty budget-friendly meal!
Quick and Easy Tuna Pasta
This cheap and quick tuna pasta recipe is what we always turn to when the cupboard is bare of fresh food. We always have pasta and canned tuna available.
Hearty Lentil Mushroom Loaf with Walnuts
This easy and satiating lentil loaf is stuffed to the prim with healthy plant based protein and incredibly budget friendly! Fool-proof family friendly centerpiece.
What of my favorite ways to feed my family on a budget is with these yummy Squash Patties!
Side Dishes Ideas
Use two or three of of these budget-friendly side dish options to round out your Thrifty Thursday meal.
- steamed frozen vegetables (corn, broccoli, etc.)
- white or brown rice
- baked potatoes, fried potatoes , or boiled potatoes
- beans or peas
- fruit salad or sliced fruit
- garden salad
- bread, rolls, or toast
- lima beans
- macaroni and cheese
- buttered noodles
- corn on the cob
- mashed potatoes and gravy
- sweet potatoes
- tater tots, French fries
Theme Day Menus: Thrifty Thursday
Let’s put it all together. I’ll show you how I would create menus based on the Thrifty Thursday-themed dinner ideas (budget-friendly meal ideas) I’ve shared above.
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Wish someone would do all your menu planning for you? Good news! Eat at Home Meal Planning service is a simple solution for busy women just like you.
8 Thrifty Thursday Menu Plans
These budget friendly meal plans will help you figure out what to cook this week!
Themed Dinner Idea #1
- Homemade Sloppy Joes
- macaroni and cheese
- frozen broccoli
Themed Dinner Idea #2
- Vegan Chickpea Nuggets
- mashed potatoes and gravy
- frozen peas
Themed Dinner Idea #3
- Sweet Potato Curry
- brown rice
Themed Dinner Idea #4
- Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
- mashed potatoes
- garden salad
Themed Dinner Idea #5
- Tater Tot Casserole
- frozen broccoli
- sliced fruit
Themed Dinner Idea #6
- Corn Chowder Recipe
- yeast rolls
Themed Dinner Idea #7
- Easy Tuna Casserole
- frozen broccoli
- frozen corn on the cob
Themed Dinner Idea #8
- One Pot Pasta
- garden salad
- garlic toast