Try some of the Weight Watcher Recipes. I had found they often use not many core ingredients but herbs and spices... A lot work out to be quite cheap too!
My fav cheap and cheerful would have to be Pumpkin Penne... Can cost only a few dollars!
Chop up half a Jap pumpkin into small cubes,
Then toss in bowl with some crushed (I use jar) garlic and a little bit of olive oil,
place on bake paper on tray in 180-200 degree oven along with an onion cut it small wedges
Lots of cracked pepper and a bit of sea salt! Roast until good amount of colour on pumpkin as that makes it nice and sweet!
While that's baking boil your water and cook your Penne pasta... Once cooked drain out saving about 1/4 cup of the water in the pot.
To this water add a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of garlic and either some dried chilli flakes or minced if you like... Heat these up stirring together and add back your pasta and your pumpkin/onions, toss through and serve with grated Parmesan cheese... Yum!
With kids that don't like as much heat serve adults first then add some tinned tomatoes to it to bring down the chilli! One pot.. For all tastes :-)