Food Recipe

Cheap Dinner Ideas: Delicious Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

Hands up if like me, you’re trying to shave a few dollars off your grocery bill by looking for cheap midweek dinner ideas? An oldie but a goodie, this porcupine meatballs recipe fits the bill. It’s delicious, belly-warming and perfect for cooler nights. PLUS it uses just 500g of mince and makes the most of cheaper pantry ingredients!

Everything old is new again

Some of you might remember this classic meat and rice meatball combo hitting our childhood dining tables in the 80s, with your mum or grandparents dishing up porcupine meatballs with gusto. I’m not sure where it may have disappeared to over the years, but I’m bringing it back and serving it up with crusty white bread and extra cheese (of course).

A cheap dinner idea for $14… or less!

According to my calculations, you can dish up this winner of a meal for approximately $14. Of course, if you can buy supermarket own-brand products, ingredients on special or even grow your own parsley – it’s a dinner that can cost even less! If you’re feeding a brood of teens or your family just needs more, cook a pot of spaghetti noodles to turn these porcupine meatballs into a hearty pasta dish or some yummy meatball subs.

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All you need to create this delish porcupine meatball recipe! YUM!

LIKE IT SAUCY? It’s also worth noting if you want more sauce with your meatballs, it’s fine to add an extra tin of soup or even a tin of diced tomatoes in step 3 of the recipe below.

Porcupine meatballs recipe


  • 500g mince meat (any sort you like – beef, chicken, turkey, pork!)
  • 1 small brown onion, grated
  • ½ cup Basmati rice
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 420g tin condensed tomato soup
  • 1 soup tin of water

to serve

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated, extra
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, extra
  • crusty bread and greens


1. Preheat the oven to 210°C. In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced meat, grated onion, basmati rice, parmesan cheese, parsley, paprika and the beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper and mix well with clean hands.

cheap dinner ideas, meatballs recipe

2. Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a plate until you’re ready to cook them. Alternatively, place them straight into a greased casserole pot.

cheap dinner ideas, meatballs recipe

3. In a jug, mix together the soup and water and then pour over the meatballs in the casserole pot. Resist the urge to stir – stirring will disturb the build integrity of your meatballs!

cheap dinner ideas, meatballs recipe

4. Bake in the oven, with the lid on for one hour for the meatballs to cook through and the sauce to reduce.

cheap dinner ideas, meatballs recipe

5. Remove from the oven and take the lid off the casserole pot. You’ll notice the meatballs will have little spikes – that’s the rice – hence the name porcupine meatballs!

cheap dinner ideas, meatballs recipe

6. Carefully remove the meatballs with a large serving spoon and place them in a serving bowl. Top with extra parmesan cheese and extra parsley. Serve with crusty bread and greens such as broccolini or salad.

cheap dinner ideas, meatballs recipe

This porcupine meatballs recipe is a really yummy one for all ages, is super versatile AND freezes well, so if you freeze the meatballs in portions, they’re an easy quick meal to get out when you need it!

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When it comes to cheap dinner ideas, a meatballs recipe is a must!

We want to hear your cheap dinner ideas too!

What do you think? Will you be giving this meatballs recipe a go? We’d love to hear your family’s favourite cheap dinner ideas – drop your suggestions in the comments below so you can inspire others with their meal planning!

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Avatar of Lexi Klaebe

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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