Cheap Meal Ideas When You’re Too Tired to Cook

Looking for fast cheap meal ideas? Busy moms often do not have the energy at the end of the day to cook a family meal from scratch. Our busy lifestyle makes it hard to put 4-course meals on the dinner table every night like our mothers did. Wouldn’t it be nice to cook a fast meal that even the kids will enjoy. Children are notorious for being picky eaters and most budget recipes include things that kids don’t like

Noodles are typically the fastest cooking recipe ingredient because it only takes 10 minutes to have a plate of hot, steaming noodles ready to top with your favorite sauces. Cheap meal ideas can be made delicious and healthy by adding vegetables, protein like chicken, beef or eggs and cheese.

Make your own kid-friendly meals by adding some meat, leftover vegetables and your favorite toppings or sauces and you have a custom made dinner that took less than 30 minutes from kitchen to table. There are few pots to use so cleanup is easy too. Here are a few cheap and easy meal ideas using noodles:

Spaghetti and Chili


Cooked spaghetti noodles

Canned Chili

Shredded cheese

Cook spaghetti noodles in boiling, salted water for approximately 10 minutes. Heat 1 or 2 (15 oz.) cans of chili over medium until heated through. Drain noodles and toss with butter, season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle 1 scoop of chili onto each plate of noodles, top with shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese.

Noodle Stir-Fry


Leftover hamburger, beef or chicken

Bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables

Hot cooked noodles

Favorite stir-fry sauce

Chopped onion and garlic

Soy sauce

Thaw vegetables in a colander under running water for 5 minutes or until softened. Cook over medium heat in a tablespoon of oil. Add chopped garlic and onion to vegetables and cooked until onions are translucent. Pour stir-fry sauce into pan, add leftover meat and cook until heated. To serve, spoon sauce mixture onto a plate of hot noodles and top with soy sauce and your favorite condiments. Sliced almonds or sesame seeds make a nice garnish to the finished plate.


Cook a batch of hot, buttered noodles and let the kids top it with their favorite toppings like shredded cheese, chili, canned chicken, seasoned taco meat, jarred alfredo sauce, creamed soups or any other topping or sauce you can think of. In my family, we have a leftover night where we pull everything out of the fridge and dish it up buffet-style and let everyone serve themselves. I make a pot of noodles or rice and some garlic bread to make a filling meal.