If you’re trying to cook on a budget and are looking for cheap, quick and easy meals to feed the family, that are under £1 a head, then this is for you.
Before the kids, it never even crossed my mind to eat on a budget, but now, with four mouths to feed and my self-employed income, we need to be thriftier, so we can live the life we want (aka live mortgage free, well, that’s the dream anyway.)
It’s easier than you think to cook on a budget, especially if you can shop around, and even if you have fussy little eaters like me!
My kids like the basics think risotto, sausages, pasta bake and the humble fish cake, which is lucky for me, as I’m not a great cook.
That’s what I love about all these recipes. That you don’t need Masterchef skills to be able to produce good food for the family on a budget.
Cutting down your spend doesn’t mean cutting down on quality either, it just means thinking a little differently when you do your weekly shop.
I’ve priced out exactly what it would cost you to buy the items, so you won’t necessarily use the whole item, but may need it for other, bringing the cost of the recipe down a bit. Win!
So here are some of my families’ favorite meals that come in at under a pound a head.
Easy sausage and potato casserole
This Sausage and potato casserole is so easy to make and really cheap to buy. A lot of these ingredients, including the sausages and puree, can go toward other meals too.
Items: Onion 22p, Tin of New Potatoes 32p, Frozen Sliced Peppers (600g) £1, frozen Value pork sausages (20 pack) 99p, Chopped Tomatoes 29p and puree (80g) 75p.
Spicy sausage and cheese bake
As long as you have butter, flour, and milk in your cupboards, then this sausage and cheese bake comes in way under budget.
Items: Smartprice pasta shapes (500g) 30p, Smartprice thick sausages (12 per pack – 681g) 88p, Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (200g) £1.27, Smartprice mozzarella (125g) 44p
This carbonara goes down a treat in my house. I use cheddar instead of parmesan so it can be used throughout the week, and any streaky bacon left can be chucked in something else.
Items: Smartprice spaghetti (500g) 20p, Unsmoked Streaky Bacon (275g) £1.04, Smartprice Mixed weight eggs (6) 89p, Extra Mature Cheddar (250g) £1.50.
Pasta with cherry tomatoes
This is one of those “chuck in whatever you have” recipes. It’s mega easy and even grilling the tomatoes only takes minutes.
Items: Wholemeal penne (500g) 55p, cherry tomatoes (250g) 53p, dried basil (14g) 69p.
Penne pasta arrabbiata
Now, this arrabbiata is my go to recipe if I fancy a bit of spice. I tame it down a bit for the kids, so might add some chili flakes in at the end for myself and my husband. It takes 20 minutes to boil down but is so worth it.
Items: Wholemeal penne (500g) 55p, onion 22p, Chillies (60g) 55p, Smartprice Passata (500g) 35p, Asda Vegetable stock (12x10g) 50p.
Spaghetti and meatballs
I tend to chuck the meatballs and sauce in my slow cooker, but if you prefer to cook it fresh, then it takes about 30 minutes or so to simmer down.
Items: Asda Butchers selection (500g) £1.66, onions 20p, Smartprice chopped tomatoes (400g) 31p, Smartprice spaghetti (500g) 32p, tomato puree (142g) 35p.
Bacon and cheese pasta
This bacon and cheese pasta is my little one’s favorite dinner. She’d eat this every night if we let her, and I have to say, at just £3.41 for the four of us, this is a bargain!
Items: Mushrooms 22p, English medium Cheddar cheese £1.74, Smartprice unsmoked middle bacon £1.04, Smartprice Pasta 31p, Onion 8p, Garlic 24p
Fake Away Recipes
Fish and double-cooked chips
This is a huge hit in our house. It does take a while to double fry the chips, I normally do this in a large pan with sunflower oil but if you have a deep fat fryer than all the better.
Items: Frozen pollock portions (368g) £2.50, White baking potatoes (1kg) £1, Smartprice mushy peas (300g) 20p.
Mango and tomato curry
Who needs a takeaway when you can cook this mango and tomato curry for less at home. This is so simple and is a hit with the whole family.
Items: Red onion 17p, green chillies (50g) 65p, loose tomatoes 60p, small mango £1.15, Organic 2% Fat natural yogurt (150g) 49p, Basics long-grain rice (1kg) 40p.
I love making our own pizzas. You don’t have to leave pizza base to rise either, depending on how many people it has to stench too.
Items: Taw Valley Mature Cheddar (approx 100g) 85p, onion 10p, Chopped tomatoes (400g) 31p, 2 x mozzarella (125g) 44p each, loose closed cup mushrooms 20p.
Lamb kebabs in pitta
No more kebab takeaways needed with this recipe around. Try it. You won’t go back!
Items: Lamb & mutton mince (500g) £1.59, Paxo natural breadcrumbs 65p, Natural Greek-style yogurt (200g) 65p, Garlic 25p, Cucumber portion 38p, White Pitta (6) 25p
Basil and mozzarella cheeseburger
The kids love helping me make these cheeseburgers.
Items: Smartprice mince (454g) £1.36, fresh basil (31g) 70p, spring onions 50p, Chosen by You soft white rolls (6) 65p, mozzarella (125g) 68p.
Chilli potato cakes with fish fingers
Ok, so this comes close to the head count, but the kids love it. I tame it up and down with dried chili flakes and with the added fish fingers, the kids don’t seem to mind the potato element.
Items: Tin of Baby potatoes (550g) 32p x2, Mature White Cheddar (385g) £1.89, Dried Coriander (13g) 69p, Smartprice fish fingers (10 per pack – 250g) 65p
One pot chicken pepper bake
With little washing up involved, this one pot chicken pepper bake is one of my personal favorites. It’s great for Sunday lunch or if extended family comes round.
Items: Chicken Thighs (1kg) £2.75, Green Pepper 50p, Tin of Baby potatoes (550g) 32p.
Quick and simple, this stir fry can be made in ten minutes flat. You can add any meat you have left over, or any vegetables you have going off in the fridge.
Items: Frozen peppers (600g) £1, Asda Egg Noodles (250g) 92p, onion 22p, spring onions 49p, Asda Soy Sauce 58p.
This is a classic cottage pie recipe! Just chuck it all in and grill at the end.
Items: Tin of New Potatoes (550g) 32p, Pork mince (500g) £2, onion 22p, carrots x2 9p, Mushrooms 68p, Everyday Value soft cheese (200g) 49p.
Homemade chicken nuggets and chips
Ok, so this chicken nugget recipe does rinse my kitchen staples, but it gets inhaled up by the kids every single time.
Items: Frozen breast fillets (500g) £2.50, Smartprice fry or oven chips (1.5kg) 93p.
I do these burritos when I know friends are coming over. I love the idea of everyone helping themselves and tucking straight in.
Items: Onion 10p, long-grain rice (1kg) 40p, Red kidney beans in water (400g) 21p, Tortilla wraps (8) 92p, Little Gem lettuce (2) 75p, fresh basil (31g) 80p, Salsa (300g) 69p.
If you have the right spices, you can even ditch the seasoning mix and make your peri-peri. I don’t make mine overly spicy for the kids, but you can go crazy if you want to DIY it.
Items: Chicken wings (approx 900g) £1.88, Colman’s Season & Shake Piri Piri Chicken Seasoning Mix (29g) £1, lemon 30p, ginger 10p, couscous (500g) 69p.
Chicken Pesto Panini recipe
If you have strong flour and yeast in your cupboards, then ditch the bread mix and make your own. It tastes so much nicer and can be used for the rest of the week. If not, then the mix will do.
Items: Green Pesto (190g) 80p, baby plum tomatoes (325g) £1, cooked sandwich chicken (115g) £1, mozzarella 125g) 44p, crusty white bread mix (500g) 75p.
Crushed potatoes with tuna and sweetcorn
This tuna and sweetcorn recipe is our classic midweek meal. I bung it all in and leave it to it so I can sort the kids out. Perfect if we get in late!
Items: Smartprice potatoes 87p, Onions 16p, Tuna in spring water (2) £1.56, Sweetcorn 44p, Fresh parsley 50p
Sweet potato and carrot soup
I whizz my potato and carrots up after they have been roasted. You can make it as smooth as you want.
Sweet potatoes (1kg) £1, carrots (500g) 29p, 2x Onions 22p, Vegetable stock (12x10g) 50p, Crème Fraiche (300ml) 95p.
Cheesy ham eggy bread
These cheesy ham eggy breads are a Friday night favorite. After a busy week rushing around, the kids enjoy a snacky dinner, and these go town a treat.
Items: White bread (800g) 47p, sliced cooked ham (154g) 75p, British Mature Cheddar (approx 100g) 68p, mixed eggs (10) £1.30.
This is another chuck it all in recipe. Go crazy, the kids will love you for it.
Items: Smartprice Chicken wings (1kg) £1.65, Tomato & garlic pasta sauce (560g) 92p, Smartprice British small potatoes (1kg) 50p, Baby button mushrooms (150g) 86p
Notes to add:
All the prices are average and were calculated via mysupermarket.com using Asda as the base on Tuesday 11th July 2017. Always shop around to get the best deal. I’m also assuming that you have the cupboard basics like oil, pasata, puree and stock.
With most of these recipes you can chuck in whatever you have and it won’t compromise on taste or cooking time.
All these recipes serve 4 unless I’ve stated it doesn’t elsewhere.