Budget-Friendly Mexican Dinner Recipes

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Enjoy Mexican food? Looking for some great recipes that are easy and cheap? Check out these Mexican dinner ideas and tips for making great Mexican food every week.

taco holder with three carnitas tacos for a Mexican dinner idea

Nowadays, you can find a decent taco almost anywhere. Even Europe. (Well, Chipotle in London is trying…)

But this wasn’t always the case. When I was a kid visiting my grandmother in Minnesota, tacos, burritos, and taquitos were few and far between. Gramma John was stunned when I found tortillas in her local Hy-Vee. She didn’t know you could get such exotic fare in Owatonna.

Times have changed, and for the better, particularly where Mexican food is concerned.

Not only are ingredients such as cilantro, chiles, and masa more readily available, but they haven’t met the fate of inflated prices that happens with some cuisines. Couple that with the fact that Mexican food is prepared with whole foods that are generally some of the more affordable ingredients to buy and you find that it’s a very frugal fare.

And worthy of including in your meal plan on the weekly!

Which I do.

Having been born and raised in Southern California, I lean toward Mexican-American food as my favorite cuisine. I’m not the only one.

Even though my dear Gramma John, bless her Norwegian heart, prepared lefse every year, I am more familiar with a tortilla than the flatbread of my forefathers.

My parents weren’t born adventurous eaters. But, upon their migration west, they made friends early on with folks who took them to Olvera Street and showed them the basics of Mexican-style cooking. For my part, I was blessed with many friends in college to teach me more tricks.

(Elva, thanks for showing me how to make that rice!)

dad and girls making tortillas for Mexican dinner

I married a fellow Southern Californian who shared my love of chips, salsa, and everything goes with. 

In fact, one of the first kitchen gadgets he purchase for us as a couple was a tortilla press

And then he proceeded to figure out how to make corn tortillas at home. Clearly, I married up!

How do you learn to make Mexican dinner recipes?

Without Mexican grandmothers to show us the ropes, Bryan and I have taught ourselves some things along the way, too, like how to make tamales or homemade tortillas or enchilada sauce.

In the days even before Google, we found a way to make our favorite Mexican food dishes at home for cheap.

One of my favorite resources for Mexican dinner ideas has been this book: the Sunset Mexican Cookbook. It is long since out of print, but you can find used copies for cheap. Snag one because this is the portal to some good cheap eats!

Aside from trial and error and cooking through a vintage cookbook, we’ve also been known to peek into taqueria kitchens and ask endless questions of Mexican restaurant owners in our quest to make Mexican food at home.

We leaned on these skills during our stint in Kansas City where we had a really hard time finding California-style Mexican food. Now that we’re back home, we still make these things ourselves, enjoying Mexican-inspired fare multiple times a week.

Mexican dinner idea of queso fundido tacos

Queso Fundido

What are the best Mexican dinner recipes?

To choose the best Mexican dinner idea is probably impossible. It really depends on your experience: who prepared it, where did you eat it, how happy were you in that season of life.

Food, as we know is subjective.

But, generally speaking, some popular Mexican dinner ideas include: chilaquiles, pozole, enchiladas, guacamole, tostadas, tamales, quesadillas, salsa, carne asada, tacos, and ceviche.

The best is defined by what you like. What are your favorites when you go out to eat? Chances are you can make them better and more cheaply at home.

As Cinco de Mayo approaches, now is a great time to explore more Mexican dinner ideas and your favorite Mexican food recipes.

What goes on sale for Cinco de Mayo that I can use for a Mexican dinner recipe?

One of the things I love about Cinco de Mayo is that many grocery stores offer great deals on ingredients you might want to use to prepare Mexican dinners. Real ingredients.

Consider the sales from my local stores this week:

  • Tri-tip, top sirloin steak, or flap meat (for carne asada): $4.77/lb
  • pork shoulder: $0.99/lb
  • boneless, skinless chicken breast: $1.77/lb
  • avocados $0.69/each
  • strawberries $0.88/lb
  • mangoes $0.69/each
  • roma tomatoes or white onions $0.99/lb
  • jalapeno peppers $.50/lb
  • Mission chips $2.50/18 oz bag

Keep an eye out for the ingredients you see on sale and stock up to prepare a Mexican dinner on the cheap. As the budget allows, buy more than you’ll need this week. Mexican food belongs in your weekly meal planning rotation!

Here are some Good Cheap Eats Mexican Dinner Recipes:

Budget-Friendly Mexican Dinner Recipes

Enjoy your favorite tacos, burritos, and other Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes at home with these budget-friendly recipes.

Creamy Turkey Enchiladas

The result of a pantry challenge, this recipe comes together with things you probably already have on hand. No canned sauces.

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Homemade Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Chiles

If you’re not entertaining a crowd, just freeze the extra pan before baking.

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Poblano Chile Enchiladas

Photo Credit: lifeasmom.com

Poblano Chile Enchiladas – rich and spicy enchiladas filled with roasted poblano chiles and topped with a salsa verde-sour cream sauce – are a must-make for your meal plan this week!

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Bean and Meat Crockpot Enchilada

Photo Credit: lifeasmom.com

Let the slow cooker do the work for you with these lazy cook enchiladas. Simply layer beans, meat, tortillas, cheese, and sauce, for the simplest delicious Crockpot Enchilada.

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Easiest Cheese Enchiladas Recipe (Freezer Friendly)

Photo Credit: lifeasmom.com

Cheese Enchiladas are quick and easy to prepare, but they taste like something special. They are a delicious, meatless meal you can make in a snap, freezer-friendly and even worthy of packing for work or vacation.

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Pork Carnitas Tacos

Love the Pork Carnitas Tacos that you order at the local taco shop? Bring that delicious goodness to your home kitchen. Using the slow cooker makes the process super easy. You will wow your crowd with these delicious homemade pork carnitas tacos.

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Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

If you’ve been buying those envelopes of taco seasoning mix, it’s time to just stop. Save money, yet enjoy great flavor with a homemade taco seasoning mix. It’s great for taco fillings, casseroles, marinades, and soups.

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Paso Mom Tacos with Home Fried Taco Shells

Home fried taco shells make the best tacos. Ever. They’re a bit of work, but the flavor can’t be beat! You won’t stop at just one of these Paso Mom Tacos.

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Shredded Beef Tacos: A Good Cheap Eat

Shredded beef tacos are a deliciously simple way to make taco night terrific. The tender beef cooks in the slow cooker while you assemble fresh toppings.

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Chicken Street Tacos

Enjoy an easy dinner with this recipe for Chicken Street Tacos. So simple, but so delicious, these tacos can easily feed a crowd or be adapted to a grain-free lettuce wrap.

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Red Burritos with Beef and Beans

Red Burritos, particularly those stuffed with savory beef and beans and topped with luscious enchilada sauce and cheese are so tasty. Even better, you can make them and freeze them in advance!

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Green Chile Burritos

Make up a batch of these Green Chile Burritos for supper or to stash in the freezer at a later date. Either way, you’ll eat good and cheap.

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Chicken, Bean, & Cheese Burritos

Tender chicken, seasoned beans, and melting cheese, all wrapped up in a large flour tortilla, make for one quick and easy, and totally delicious supper.

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Cheesy Corn & Chile Tamales

Traditional tamales can be a bit tedious to prepare, but these lazy cook tamales take some shortcuts to get you to tamale goodness more quickly.

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One-Pan Chicken Nachos Recipe

Feed a crowd and your hunger for loaded nachos all in one fell swoop. This One-Pan Chicken Nachos recipe will have you set for success.

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Easy Chicken and Cheese Flautas

A flauta is similar to a taquito, and these filled with chicken and cheese are absolutely delicious.

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Homemade Corn Tortillas that Will Rock Your Taco Night

Homemade corn tortillas are not difficult to make and best thing — they will transform your taco night into something out of this world!

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Pinto Beans And Rice

Pinto beans and rice are a good cheap eat, especially when you top them with chips, salsa, and some other goodies. They make a filling meal to help you save money and eat well.

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Healthier "Refried" Beans

Traditional refried beans are cooked pinto beans that are mashed and fried in oil, often times lard. Cook up a pot of healthier “refried” beans to serve as a side dish, to fill burritos, or to top nachos.

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Easy Instant Pot Black Beans

Beans are a frugal food, full of fiber and a good option for protein. Dry beans are cheaper than canned, but can be intimidating and time-consuming to prepare. These Easy Instant Pot Black Beans will transform your bean game.

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Homemade Salsa - It's Easier than You Think!

If you’ve been buying salsa in a jar, it may be time to think about making Homemade Salsa. It’s cheaper and tastier than the commercial varieties. And so easy!

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Mexican Rice

Photo Credit: lifeasmom.com

This recipe for Mexican sopa seca, dried soup, is basically a rice pilaf. Mexican rice makes for a fantastic side dish, a base for Burrito bowls, or a delicious filling for burritos or chimichangas.

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About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Cherie says

    You know as I sat in bed last night looking at pinterest recipes after an evening of being ‘challenged’ by my 14yo son LOL, I was hit with the complete assurance that I must make a mexican feast for Mother’s Day [I host our families]. I won’t say that came from the place of ‘I don’t make enough mexican food because 14yo son doesn’t care for it’ but whatever it is – that’s what I’m going to do – thanks for the immediate inspiration today!

  2. Vanessa B says

    Wow, this is an extensive collection of Mexican style dishes! I have tried several of your recipes and my husband loved every one. I am inspired to try a few new ones.
    We have chicken fajitas about every 2 weeks. That is by far our favorite with all the fixins; guacamole, creamy salsa verde or black bean salsa. We also like taco pizza with a mix of refried beans and enchilada sauce as the base layer. We like a number of copycat recipes from an unmentionable fast food chain. 😉 NACHOS! ‘nough said lol!

  3. Kristi says

    Now I’m in the mood for Mexican! Good thing we have leftovers from last night’s tacos for lunch. We LOVE your Mexican rice! It’s a regular thing on our menu rotation. I am inspired to try the poblano chili enchiladas this week. I noticed the sales on the Mexican food ingredients when I ran to the store yesterday. I think I’ll bookmark this page so I have a handy reference of these recipes. Thanks!

    • You don’t know how hard it was to write this list. I was so hungry. We had tostadas when I was done. 🙂

  4. Amber says

    Thanks for all the mexican recipes!! I was wondering if you ever make your own flour tortillas. My family loves them, but when I look at the package ingredient list, I think, “I can’t buy these anymore!” They are filled with preservatives and bad fats! Every single brand of them. My attempts to make my own have not gone over too well with my family. I can find corn tortillas with only three ingredients and I saw you posted a recipe, but my family doesn’t like them as well. What are your thoughts on flour tortillas? Have you ever attempted to make them?

    • I have tried and not been satisfied with the results. We much prefer corn tortillas homemade, though.

      Trader Joe’s has an ingredient list that I like much better than others I’ve found.

  5. Michelle K says

    I need some help w/ the refried beans. Mine tend to get very dry if they aren’t consummed immediately. Should more water be left in the pot when mashing them?

    • You can add water if it gets dry, either cooking liquid, or just plain water. That helps, especially on reheat.

  6. Pat says

    What an awesome list! I bookmarked it too so it will be easy to find for Mexican night 🙂 !
    I’m making taco meat in the crockpot right now with some ground beef I scored for 5lbs for $8.45 with your taco seasoning. Next week could be a very Mexican week with the meal plan.

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