Cheap Recipes: A Good Ol' Southern Dinner for 4 for Under $5


Holle loves to cook. She creates a lot of delicious recipes and enjoys sharing them.

Many of my cheap dinner ideas include chicken.

Many of my cheap dinner ideas include chicken.

Cheap Dinner Ideas

I’m all about some cheap dinner ideas, especially when I’m feeding the grandkids. Even though they’re young, they often eat as much as Hubby and I do. Sometimes we treat the kids to something special, but more often, my meal ideas include cheap recipes. As any good southerner knows, cheap meals don’t have to be bland and boring. Use some creative seasonings and a tasty cooking method or two to turn cheap recipes into delicious, nutritious, and inexpensive meals for your family. Be sure to take advantage of local sales and discounts, too. I search for bargains at butcher shops, supermarkets, and local farmers’ markets. Try out these cheap dinner ideas the next time you want to keep your family and your pocketbook happy!

Oven-Frying Over Conventional Frying

Practically everyone in the South loves fried chicken, but fried foods don’t often qualify as easy recipes for dinner. But what if you can have the same flavor of fried chicken without standing over a stove? The solution is to try out some oven fried chicken recipes. I’ve tried several, and the one I’m sharing here is one of my faves. The chicken turns out tender and juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside.

Hubby loves French fries, but when I think of easy recipes for dinner, I think more along the lines of oven roasted potatoes. When seasoned and cooked properly, they’re incredibly yummy, and like my oven fried chicken, no skillet-tending is required. It’s also convenient that the chicken and potatoes can cook at the same oven setting and for the same amount of time. When it comes to easy cheap meals, this one is hard to beat!

I use lots of easy recipes for dinner, like this sausage, rice, and beans.

I use lots of easy recipes for dinner, like this sausage, rice, and beans.

Oven Fried Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

With the right timing, the recipe for oven roasted potatoes, oven fried chicken, and green beans will all be done at the same time. If you want to add a little spicy heat to the recipe for oven roasted potatoes, include some cayenne or chili powder in the seasoned oil coating. Follow the steps I include to make the most of your time.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

45 min

1 hour 5 min

4 servings


  • 2 pounds chicken thighs or legs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons Lawry's garlic salt with parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, powdered
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking pan with foil. I make two sections with the foil – one for the chicken and one for the potatoes.
  3. Rinse chicken in cool water and blot dry with paper towels.
  4. Place flour in a Ziploc bag.
  5. Combine bread crumbs, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and sage in a pie plate. Set aside.
  6. Shake chicken parts in flour, then allow to sit at room temperature while you cut the potatoes.
  7. Cut potatoes into wedges and place in large bowl.
  8. Cover potatoes with oil, garlic salt, onion powder, and rosemary. Toss well to coat.
  9. Arrange potato wedges in a single layer on baking pan.
  10. Place butter in a microwave-safe container and heat until butter sizzles. This took 45 seconds in my microwave.
  11. While the butter heats, whisk together egg and milk in a small bowl.
  12. Remove butter from microwave and pour into section of pan for chicken.
  13. Dip floured chicken parts in egg wash. Roll pieces in seasoned bread crumbs.
  14. Place skin-side down in butter. Bake for 25 minutes, along with potatoes.
  15. Remove pan from oven. Turn chicken over, stir potatoes, and continue baking for 20 minutes longer, or until chicken juices run clear. Use this time to cook the green beans.
  16. Drain chicken on wire racks or paper towels. Serve with roasted potatoes, green beans, and sliced tomatoes.

Southern Green Beans


  • 2 cans green beans
  • Ham, bacon, OR 1 packet jamon powdered ham flavoring
  • Diced onion, onion flakes, or onion powder, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or Splenda
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Drain beans and pour liquid into a large pot.
  2. Add small pieces of ham, bacon, or ham seasoning to pot.
  3. If you use the powdered jamon, add a tablespoon of oil or butter.
  4. Bring pot to a rolling boil and add onion and sugar.
  5. Add beans and salt and pepper.
  6. Cover pot and reduce heat to low.
  7. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
The grandkids don't mind inexpensive meals, as long as they're tasty.

The grandkids don't mind inexpensive meals, as long as they're tasty.

Coming Up With Your Own Cheap Dinner Ideas

How do you come up with cheap dinner ideas? I pour over the weekly circulars from the local supermarkets. I find out which meats are the best value, and I find items on sale that can be used as sides. When I saw chicken thighs and drumsticks on sale this week, I thought about what would go well with chicken. A different store had ten-pound bags of potatoes for $2.99, so I grabbed a bag. That’s only 29 cents a pound! The same store had their brand of green beans for two for a dollar, and their fresh tomatoes were $1.69 a pound, so I purchased almost a pound, which was two medium tomatoes. I was all set to make some cheap recipes!

I was able to make a great meal for four for less than $5. Here’s the breakdown of my budget-friendly meal:

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs or legs...$1.98
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes………...$0.58
  • 2 cans green beans..……………...$1.00
  • 2 medium tomatoes………………..$1.30
Chicken thighs are great for meals on a budget.

Chicken thighs are great for meals on a budget.

Chicken Is a Wonderful, Cheap Protein

Many of us have to create meals on a budget. Even so, we want the entire family to enjoy the meal ideas we come up with, and we want to make sure the meals are nutritious. My typical meals include a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. The most expensive part of any meal is usually the meat or other protein, but there’s a huge range of prices for these items, and high prices don’t always mean high quality.

Take chicken, for example. Boneless, skinless breasts are often about four bucks a pound, while bone-in breasts with skin attached are usually about two dollars per pound. Legs and thighs are even cheaper, yet they provide the same quality protein as the more expensive chicken parts. If you don’t want the added fat of the skin, remove it yourself.

When compared to most other flesh, chicken is perfect for meals on a budget. Since poultry is so adaptable, you can make lots of different cheap meals with chicken. These might include baked chicken, grilled chicken, broiled chicken, stewed chicken, chicken and rice, chicken and dumplings, chicken and dressing, barbecued chicken, stir fries, casseroles, and fried chicken. I make all these inexpensive meals on a regular basis.

How cheap is chicken in your neck of the woods? This week, one of our local stores had legs and thighs on sale for 99 cents a pound. If you want to save even more money, buy a bag of leg quarters and cut them apart yourself. I can usually find a large bag of leg quarters for 69 cents per pound. When I get them home, I separate them into meal-size portions and freeze them.

Rate my recipe! Thanks!


Kathy Andres from Lansing, Michigan on April 08, 2013:

Thank you! That's my kinda cooking! The little guy looked like he was enjoying dinner too!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

That's cool, Papa. Hope you enjoy my cheap recipes!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

@Pamela, such kind words - thanks!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

Old Firm, great to see you again!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

Many, many thanks, Deborah!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

Bpop, is it yummy in your tummy? lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

Scribe, the thigh is my favorite piece of the chicken. Hubby is a breast man, and the grandkids like the drumsticks, so it works out well.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 21, 2013:

Many thanks, Prasetio!

Coolpapa from Florida on February 21, 2013:

Wow, my mouth is watering! I love creative cooking with a variety of spices. I am going to try this dish over the weekend. Thanks!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 30, 2012:

I don't know why, but I never got an email for this hub and I checked; I am still a follower. This is a really great meal for the price and it has all the Holly know how. It is good to read one of your hubs again. Rated up and awesome.

The Old Firm from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand on June 28, 2012:

Another one for me to save Holle, - and I can adapt it to cook while camping.



Deborah Neyens from Iowa on June 27, 2012:

I could eat chicken and roasted potatoes every night of the week! Thanks for sharing your recipes. They sound delicious and the pictures are great.

breakfastpop on June 27, 2012:

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on June 27, 2012:

Yum. Chicken thighs are so good and economical. Sausage,beans and rice are also a tasty treat...I have used both extensively when watching my budget and felt just as satisfied as with any other treats!

Great Hub for those needing to find ways to economize without sacrificing quality!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on June 26, 2012:

I love your recipe, habee. It sound delicous as well. Thanks for writing and share the step by step pictures with us. Voted up :-)


Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2012:

Thanks, Hubert, for the kind words!

Hubert Williams on June 26, 2012:

Holle, you always have such great recipes, thanks for sharing them.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2012:

Lol, Billy. My hubby isn't much into foo-foo recipes. I make them occasionally, but for the most part, we like simple southern cookin'.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2012:

Thanks, Doc. Good to see ya!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2012:

Marlene, I like time savers! It also makes cleanup a snap. Thanks for reading!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2012:

Mary, I have done the Lipton soup thing - it's delish! Have you tried using dry ranch dressing mix? It's good, too.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 26, 2012:

Thanks a bunch, Dink!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 26, 2012:

Now that's a meal I would eat! Beats the heck out of some of these foo-foo recipes I have seen this month. Well done my friend!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 26, 2012:

Thank you, Holle, for these delicious recipes at great prices. Your photos are neat, too.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on June 26, 2012:

I absolutely love the idea of baking the chicken along with the baked potato wedges. What a time saver! Now, I'm hungry for some chicken and potatoes. Great hub.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 26, 2012:

I know better than to read one of your recipes right before suppertime! Makes my mouth water. Have you ever mixed a package of Lipton Onion Soup with a little oil to do roasted potatoes. That's good, too.

Great Hub, I voted it UP, etc. and gave me lots of stars.

dinkan53 from India on June 26, 2012:

Enjoyed the way you presented the hub. The pictures are really wonderful, especially the plate with fried brownish chicken thighs. Really mouth watering and made me hungry too. I love this recipe, an economical one. Rated up and interesting.

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