Woman with long brown hair smiling with daughter on her lap, who is eating food at the table; images of food and piggy-banks float around the mom and daughter against a yellow backdrop

Looking to tighten up your weekly grocery bill? Good news: Kid-friendly dinner ideas on a budget can still be healthy and delicious. Our favourite recipes use fresh yet inexpensive produce, affordable proteins and versatile pantry staples.

To help you plan, we’ve gathered seven satisfying meals that are easy to cook up (your children can even help!) for about $1 to $4 per serving.

From hearty spaghetti Bolognese to crispy coconut chicken, this meal plan offers a week’s worth of cheap dinner ideas your whole family will love.

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homemade chicken meatball noodle soup Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Approximate cost per serving: $1.50

Ready in: 35 minutes

Why we love it: This kid-friendly dinner on a budget will satisfy everyone at the table. While we love to serve up homemade meals, we still appreciate a good shortcut so we can get dinner ready fast—and this recipe has a couple of those secret ingredients. The bouillon powder and premade spice mix give this soup big flavour so it can be ready in just over half an hour from start to finish.

How kids can help: Kids love getting their hands messy, so let them roll up their sleeves and help you shape the meatballs. Just make sure to wash up well before and after handling the raw chicken.

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
This soup is packed with vegetables including carrots, celery, spinach and onion, but if your kid is a picky eater they might not appreciate large chunks of veggies. A stealthy way to hide them is to shred them into the meatball mixture.

Approximate cost per serving: $2.50

Ready in: 35 minutes

Why we love it: Canned fish such as tuna and salmon are way cheaper than the fresh stuff—you just have to know how to dress ’em up. This kid-friendly dinner idea on a budget is simple to throw together at the end of a long day, and goes perfectly with a side salad or cooked greens.

How kids can help: This recipe is so easy, you can sit back and relax till it’s time to fry the patties. (Well maybe not relax, but at least sit down!) Get your kid to whisk the eggs and milk and stir in the pieces of bread. They can also mash in the salmon, add the herbs and shape the fish cakes all by themselves.

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BUDGET WATCH
This recipe uses an easy and affordable protein: You only need one 213-gram can of salmon—which costs about $4 or less—for this cheap dinner recipe.

Missing any ingredients? Order canned salmon, Dijon mustard, fresh dill and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Spaghetti bolognese Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Approximate cost per serving: $2

Ready in: 40 minutes

Why we love it: Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic kid-friendly dinner recipe that only requires a few cheap ingredients. And everyone can agree it’s delicious.

How kids can help: Kids as young as toddlers can start practicing their chopping skills with a plastic serrated knife. (Even the take-out kind will do!) Once they’re older and more comfortable with cutting, around nine or so,[1] you can start letting them practice with a real kitchen knife—under strict supervision of course!

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TIME-SAVING TIP
The sauce for this easy dinner recipe freezes very well so it’s always a good idea to make an extra batch. Just thaw it in the fridge the night before you want to use it.

Missing any ingredients? Order ground beef, celery, diced tomatoes and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Shakshuka in a blue pot with a slice of bread on the side Image source: My Miaou

Approximate cost per serving: $3.50

Ready in: 15 minutes

Why we love it: This quick and easy, low-budget dinner recipe has it all—an aromatic tomato stew, runny eggs and a side of crusty bread for dipping. What’s not to like? If you’re not into oozy yolks as much as we are, you can just cook the eggs for a few minutes longer.

How kids can help: Bubbling stews aren’t the most kid-friendly recipes for little ones to help make, but under a watchful eye, you can ask them to crack the eggs into the pot at the end. (Just make sure to pick out any shell pieces if they make a sneaky escape!)

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BUDGET WATCH
When you want something quick, tasty and budget-friendly for dinner, just add eggs. Each nutritious egg in a carton of a dozen costs about a quarter!

Missing any ingredients? Order eggs, sourdough, yellow onions and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Coconut chicken fingers with a side of Great Value brand stirred yogurt Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Approximate cost per serving: $4

Ready in: 30 minutes

Why we love it: This chicken-finger recipe is a cheap dinner idea that is way better than anything you can buy ready-made or frozen. And it’s definitely not just for the kids. The shredded coconut makes it super crispy and the yogurt, lime and sriracha in the dip is so good that you can leave the ketchup in the fridge.

How kids can help: Kids will love mixing up the dip ingredients and they can also help coat each piece of chicken before you start frying. Just make sure they wash their hands well before and after! (And if you’re looking for more easy chicken dinners, check out these 7 chicken breast recipes that kids can help make.)

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BUDGET WATCH
This recipe is one of those great family dinner ideas on a budget, but if you want to drive the cost down further—or make more for the same price—you can swap chicken breasts for juicy chicken thighs.
Vegetarian roasted cauliflower and spinach quesadillas Image source: Today's Parent

Approximate cost per serving: $3

Ready in: 50 minutes

Why we love it: If you’re looking for more family dinner ideas on a budget, quesadillas are always a great place to start. They’re super kid-friendly and endlessly versatile. You can fill them with whatever vegetables and proteins you have on hand.

How kids can help: Your kid can toss the cauliflower pieces with oil and spices before they go into the oven (that way they’ll be more inclined to eat ‘em!). Then, let them assemble each quesadilla before you pop it on the frying pan.

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HEALTH HIGHLIGHT
This kid-friendly dinner idea on a budget is a nutritious option. These vegetarian quesadillas have 18 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre per serving.

Missing any ingredients? Order shredded cheddar, cauliflower, tortillas and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Slow-cooked lentil stew with sweet potato Image source: theHUB from Walmart.ca

Approximate cost per serving: $1.50

Ready in: 6 hours and 15 minutes

Why we love it: You can’t really get more affordable than this cheap dinner idea—a hearty, healthy stew that will feed the whole family and then some.

How kids can help: This is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of recipe, but your kid can still get involved. Get them to gather all the ingredients, including the lentils, veggies, spices and water—and then dump them in one at a time before you turn the slow cooker on.

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TIME-SAVING TIP
This easy and cheap dinner idea is all about low and slow, but if you’re in a hurry, you can make the exact same recipe on the stove or in a pressure cooker.

Missing any ingredients? Order dried lentils, canned tomatoes, curry powder and more through Walmart.ca Grocery Pickup & Delivery.

Shop Kid-Friendly Dinner Ingredients on a Budget

Prices shown are subject to change. Please check Walmart.ca for the latest pricing.

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