Eating out on a Friday night marks the perfect end to a long work week. But that doesn’t mean it’s a smart budget decision. Nowadays, two people can’t grab a decent dinner for under $40, and when you add in that glass of wine or a tempting dessert, you’re probably peering at a bill of $70 or $80.
Those dinners add up quickly. If you’re determined to save money and cut back on unnecessary costs, try these five delicious yet simple meal ideas instead. Put on your chef’s hat when the weekend rolls around so that you aren’t tempted to eat out.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Is there anything more mouthwatering than tender pulled pork and crunchy slaw on a bun? This crowd-pleaser is extremely simple to make, but will still leave you feeling as satisfied as a restaurant meal. Pair it with homemade sweet potato fries for a special touch.
Blend the following ingredients together and rub onto a bone-in pork butt or shoulder roast that’s been browned in an oiled skillet over medium-high heat for five minutes per side:
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper
Next, add one sliced white onion, three cloves garlic, and pork butt into the slow cooker. Mix ½ cup beef stock, ½ cup ketchup, and ⅓ cup cider vinegar with any leftover spice rub, then pour over pork. Let it cook on low for eight to nine hours or high for four to five hours, or until it’s tender enough to slice with a fork.
You’ll be drooling as you smell the wafts of this meal throughout the day, making it taste even better when you pile it high on a bun and top with coleslaw for dinner.
Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
Perfect for a football weekend in the fall, but equally as delicious any other weekend of the year as well! You can whip this dinner up in just 20 minutes, so it’s no hassle at all.
- Shredded chicken (rotisserie or home-cooked, whichever you want)
- ½ cup buffalo wing sauce
- 2 tbsp ranch dressing
- 2 tbsp oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tortillas, shredded cheese, and sour cream
Simply combine chicken, buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, cheese, salt, and pepper. Heat a skillet, place one tortilla on the bottom, load with a portion of the chicken mix, place another tortilla on top, and cook and flip until crispy on both sides. Garnish with sour cream.
This is the ultimate cool-weather recipe. Make enough to freeze leftovers for future low-maintenance meals.
- 1-2 pounds lean ground turkey
- Spices: 4 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 cans of beans (like red kidney beans or pinto beans)
- 15-ounce can sweet corn
- Toppings like cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, and sour cream
Brown turkey and onions on the stove, then add all ingredients into slow cooker. Cook six to eight hours, add your toppings, and enjoy your feast.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
If you’re in the mood for something ethnic, these Asian chicken lettuce wraps will hit the spot. Inspired by P.F Chang’s classic menu item (but costing a fraction of same), this recipe will have you licking the plate clean.
- 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly grated ginger, to taste
- 1 pound chicken (ground or shredded)
- ½ cup water chestnuts, drained and sliced
- Green onions, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
If you already have some Asian cooking ingredients on hand, this is an easy recipe to make. Simply whisk the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and sesame oil together in a bowl. Set aside and heat onions in olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, ginger and cook another minute before adding chicken. Pour in the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and check that chicken is cooked. Finally, remove from heat add the chestnuts and green onions, and get ready to feast.
Scoop onto lettuce and wrap, then pair with white rice for the full Asian experience.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese Lasagna
Sometimes you just need something rich. This recipe definitely meets the bill.
- Lasagna noodles
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 stick butter
- ½ cup flour
- 5 cups milk
- Salt and pepper
- 10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees while you boil a pot of water and cook the lasagna noodles until al dente. Drain and use a few drops of olive oil to keep the noodles moist.
Now blend three tablespoons olive oil with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Set aside and blend butter and flour in saucepan. Add milk and whisk until combined, then season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
Almost done! Layer the noodles, cheese mix, panko mix, and bacon until you have a mouth watering lasagna ready for the oven. Cook 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and panko looks a perfect golden color.
See that? Who needs to step out—those restaurants don’t have anything on your own kitchen!