I used to think of Mexican food as one of the cheapest types of cuisine to consider for eating out. That opinion might still hold water. At the same time, almost all restaurants, cafes, and even fast food joints have gotten more expensive lately. When the craving for Mexican spice hits, spend about 20 minutes baking and prepping this recipe for an awesome pan of easy and cheap enchiladas.
You can enjoy at five generous servings of gooey goodness for about half the price of takeout or dining in at even the most modestly priced Mexican joints. You can make this recipe for cheap and easy enchiladas with leftover or fresh meat, but it also lends itself very well to vegan or vegetarian meal choices.
Most of all, this cheap and easy enchilada recipe lends itself very well to using up leftovers, plus, you should be able to buy the ingredients you need for a few bucks, and you might already have them in the pantry. Otherwise, you should have an easy time finding everything you need to surprise your family with a restaurant-quality meal at the dollar store.
Ingredients and Supplies for Cheap and Easy Enchiladas
The ingredient and supply list provides a basic outline. One of the primary advantages of this affordable, simple enchilada recipe includes its flexibility. If you don’t have the specified ingredients on hand, you can easily make substitutions.
- 1 9×13 cake or roasting pan, greased
- An oven or toaster oven (The toaster oven’s size might affect the size of the pan you use.)
- A microwave or frying pan to warm the tortillas to make them easier to roll
- A 28-ounce can of enchilada sauce or two smaller cans (You can also use plain tomato sauce with a teaspoon or two of chili powder and other seasonings to taste. In a pinch, I’ve even doctored up Italian pasta sauce, and it worked fine. I like a little cayenne, garlic, onion, and cilantro.) This shouldn’t cost more than $2.
- About 1/4 cup of grated cheese or non-dairy alternative cheese (Optional but suggested) This shouldn’t cost more than $1.
- 15 corn tortillas (Flour tortillas are also fine. If you have to use a smaller pan, adjust the number of tortillas). The tortillas should cost $1 or $2.
- Filling: Fantastic fillings include rice and beans, leftover chicken, about 1/2 pound of ground beef, spinach, diced potatoes, other veggies, etc. Cook rice, beans, and protein before rolling. The cost varies, but it shouldn’t cost more than $3 or $4. Remember that many leftovers make great fillings.
- Spray oil (Of course, you can use non-spray oil, but spray oil is easier.
I spent about $6 on my last batch. I bought store-brand enchilada sauce and tortillas for about $1 each, and used rice, beans, and leftover chicken and spinach. I managed to get 18 enchiladas (not 15) crammed in my roasting pan. Figure most people will feel stuffed on three enchiladas. Thus, generous servings only cost about $1 a person, which is amazing.
Preparing Your Enchiladas
- Cook proteins, rice, potatoes, or beans. You don’t need to cook veggies, like spinach, because they’ll cook while the cheese is melting.
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- Oil the pan.
- Warm up the tortillas to make them easier to roll. You can fry them for a few seconds in a pan, or if you’re lazy like me, stick them all in the microwave for a minute or two.
Roll the fillings inside the tortillas. Place them in the pan with the folded side down.
Cover the entire batch with enchilada sauce.
Sprinkle the top with grated cheese or cheese alternative. Other topics some people like include diced onions, olives, parsley, cilantro, or tomatoes. Finish by spraying the top with a light coating of oil if you have it. The oil helps the cheese spread.
Bake until the sauce bubbles and these cheese melts. This should only take about 10 or 15 minutes in a hot oven.
Serve warm with veggies, guacamole, sour cream, Greek Yogurt, a salad, or rice and beans. If you don’t have a side, don’t worry. These enchiladas can provide a complete meal on their own. They’re filling, fast, and very inexpensive to make.
Tip: If rolling each individual enchilada frustrates you, simply lay them in the pan in layers, almost like noodles for lasagna. Then you’ve got enchilada casserole, which is even easier than enchiladas.