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Healthy Family Meals on a Budget

We know that many families are feeling the pinch right now.

We want to help you provide your family with a nutritious, hearty meal, even when budgets are tight.

Just by making a meal plan for the week you’re likely to save money. We’ve gathered some of our favourite budget recipes together; enough for a full two weeks if you use all of them!

Read through until the end for some extra tips on saving money at mealtimes.

Budget meal ideas to feed the whole family

Budget doesn’t mean boring! Cheap family meals can still be nutritious and delicious.

These are a handful of our favourite budget meals.

Vegetable and lentil stew

It’s so important to eat your five-a-day, and while fruit is expensive, vegetables are one of the cheaper meal staples out there. A vegetable stew is a fantastic way to feed a whole family on a budget.

Stews are often made from cheaper ingredients and are quick to make, but vegetable stews are particularly budget friendly.

This winter stew from Budget Bytes is a delicious recipe and a healthy meal for the family – and the recipe costs less than £5 to make. You can view the type of vegetable as more of a guideline than a rule; you could throw in butternut squash, red onion, cherry tomatoes or any other delicious combo of veggies you can find!

Sausage and potato casserole

Sausage casserole has always been a real crowd pleaser. Pork sausages, a few veggies, and a couple of other budget-friendly ingredients are enough to make a full meal for the family.

This casserole recipe from delicious magazine is a simple one-pot affair that’s easy to whip up any time of the week. Tinned tomatoes and paprika help add some flavour to a warming, hearty meal that’s both nutritious and simple to make.

You can substitute the sausages for a meat-free alternative if necessary.

Homemade pizza

Forget the pizza from the supermarket and definitely forget pizzas from a takeaway. Making a pizza at home is far cheaper and healthier than anything you can buy ready-made.

As this Save the Student recipe shows, you could make a whole pizza for as little as £1.50. Load up on the vegetables for toppings and you can make pizza 1 of your 5 a day!

Blog Homemade Pizza

Cauliflower mac n cheese

Mac n cheese is a great budget option, but usually isn’t a contender for healthiest meal of the week. Cauliflower mac n cheese, however, just about passes the suitably nutritious test to be acceptable for an occasional mealtime.

Jamie Oliver’s recipe for cauliflower mac n cheese is so good you’ll hardly notice the addition of cauliflower.

It’s also a great recipe for using up leftover bits and bobs, as it doesn’t matter which pasta shapes you use, or if you use cheddar cheese or soft cheese. Just use what you have in the cupboard!


Famously a staple of any student’s cookbook, pasta is a go-to for anyone on a budget. This simple stroganoff recipe is basic, but delicious.

While we’re sharing a recipe that starts from scratch, there’s no harm in just buying an own-brand pasta sauce from the supermarket when you’re really stretching the budget. Just chuck the sauce on your cooked pasta, adding plenty of vegetables (like tomatoes, mushrooms, diced onion etc), and you’re good to go!


We know, we know, kids and spice don’t normally mix well. The great thing about making a homemade curry is that it allows you to control the heat. Go for a medium heat in curries with spice, or choose a mild curry like korma, or a tikka masala.

Curry is also relatively quick to make, and you’ll usually go from frying pan to serving up within 20 minutes. If you prefer a curry with a tomato sauce, a bhuna would work well; if not, a very mild coconut curry usually goes down well.

Tomato baked chicken

We all know the feeling – when it gets to mid-week, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen whipping up a chef’s special. This recipe is quick, cheap and delicious, with a rich tomato sauce and tender, flavoursome chicken sure to go down a treat with the whole family.

You can use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this meal, but chicken thighs are generally cheaper.

All you need to do is fry the chicken until it’s lightly browned, then chuck it into a casserole dish with the rest of the ingredients. This recipe takes 35 minutes from prep to plate!

Shepherd’s pie or cottage pie

A family favourite! There are few things better than a warming cottage pie after a cold winter’s day.

Cottage pie with a side of veg is a filling meal that doesn’t cost a fortune. If you want a more interesting side dish, throw vegetables like sweet potato, green beans and tomatoes into a baking tray with a little olive oil, and you’ll end up with delicious roasted veggies.

Whether you use beef mince or lamb, making it a shepherd’s pie, or a vegetarian alternative, you can easily enjoy this British classic on a budget.

Sloppy joes

Bringing a slice of Americana into your kitchen, this cheap and cheerful dish will soon become a messy family favourite.

This delicious recipe only has a handful of ingredients – most of which should already be in your cupboard. Serve your sloppy joes with roasted sweet potato, corn on the cob and a side of BBQ sauce to complete your culinary trip across the pond! If you’re feeling a bit naughty, chuck some cheese slices into the mix as well.

Bacon and pea risotto

Simple and warming, this bacon and pea risotto is quick to make and great value. It’s definitely one for fans of milder flavours!

Using only six ingredients, which, barring the risotto rice, don’t get more unusual than frozen peas, this BBC good food meal idea is an easy win.


If you’re searching for easy dinner ideas, look no further than fajitas. Quick, healthy and budget-friendly; this is the perfect mid-week meal.

It’s a simple ingredient list. Tortilla wraps, chicken breast, onion, red pepper – or any mixture of colours really – and some spices and sour cream (or a low fat natural yogurt if you’re being careful). This simple recipe is a great budget meal absolutely bursting with flavour!

If you don’t have all the spices that you need (and don’t want to spend a fortune purchasing them all at once), seasoning packets from the supermarket will do the job almost as well.

Blog Fajitas

Fish pie

Fish provides some essential nutrients that are hard to come by elsewhere. Making a fish pie is a great, inexpensive way to get those vitamins into your family’s diet.

Here is a budget-friendly recipe that is a great dish for the family year-round.

Chilli con carne

Chilli con carne is a classic family meal, which just so happens to be budget friendly.

This BBC chilli con carne recipe keeps the ingredient list simple, including the essentials like mince, onion and kidney beans, without going too overboard on spices and expensive extras.

Spaghetti bolognese

Larger packs of mince are usually better value, so having a few meals with mince in a week (or freezing leftovers) can be cost-effective. In this list alone, bolognese, chilli, cottage pie and sloppy joes all use mince!

Spag bol is a popular Italian dish that can be as basic or complex as you want it to be. Some recipes are little more than chopped tomatoes with seasoning, others use red wine and an ingredient list as long as your arm. This recipe is low-cost and sure to please even the fussier eaters!

More tips on meal budgeting

Beyond the recipes themselves, there is more you can do to save a few pennies at mealtimes. These are just a handful of tips to help you keep to a strict budget.

A no-waste policy

Being strict on a no-waste policy can save you a surprising amount of money. Many of us have the unfortunate habit of throwing away a lot of food; cooked or otherwise. 9.5 million tonnes of food waste is produced by the UK every year, though this isn’t all produced by households.

There are simple changes you can make to reduce the amount of waste in your home. Freezing leftovers and batch cooking can help a lot, but just changing your attitude to waste makes a big difference.

If you have a bag of carrots and only use half of them, don’t throw the rest away; ensure you have a meal plan that uses all of the food you buy, or at least freeze what you don’t manage to use. If you cook too much rice, don’t throw it away. Put the cooked rice in the fridge and you can make it into egg fried rice the next day.

Use seasonal veg

Seasonal produce is cheaper as there are fewer costs associated with sourcing it. Try to change your meal planning according to the time of year; e.g. in October, carrots and many root vegetables are in season, which are perfect for stews.

Check out this seasonal calendar from BBC good food to find out what’s in season right now.

Slow cookers

Energy bills are soaring, making us all acutely aware of how much every appliance costs to run. The oven and the hob are some of the worst offenders.

It does depend on the appliances you have and their respective wattage, but barring extreme examples, a slow cooker uses less energy than either the oven or the hob, despite being on for much longer. They average at less than 5p an hour; a slow cooker could help you save on your energy bills long-term.

Don’t be afraid to swap out ingredients

An easy example of this is if a recipe says use olive oil, but you only have vegetable; just use what you have! This happens so often with people trying new recipes. Don’t feel that you have to buy an entire new cupboard of spices because a recipe says so.

You should choose recipes that are more aligned with what you already have, but don’t be afraid to swap out the odd ingredient i.e. a beef stock cube with a chicken one in a stew.

Stock up on store cupboard ingredients

We know this is easier said than done when budgets are tight, but making it a gradual process with one or two items a week can help. For long-lasting items that you know you’ll use again and again, stock up when they’re on offer (or choose the larger, better value option).

If olive oil is on offer, buy a few bottles. For rice and pasta, buy the largest bags. These may seem obvious tips, but many people only buy what they need for the week; looking ahead could save you a surprising amount.

Do you have any budget recipes of your own to share?

We hope that you can add at least some of these meals to your recipe book, and relieve some of the burden the food bill is creating every week!If you have any budget recipes of your own, please share them with us on Instagram and Facebook. We’re always looking for other meals that are low-cost, nutritious and generally taste great!