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35 Budget Family Meals Costing Under £1 a Head

35 Budget Family Meals Costing Under £1 a Head

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Here are budget family meal ideas for under £1 a head

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!

If you are looking for more £1 a head family meals then have a look at:

The Ultimate £1 Per Head Budget Meal Planning List – This is our biggest list of £1 a head family meals that you can use when meal planning.

£18 a Week Food Budget Shopping List UK – This is an £18 meal plan that you can use on and off depending on your budget. This isn’t for every week, but could help you to come up with your own budget menu.

41 Store Cupboard Recipes to Try – These are £ 1 head family meals that can help you to save money on your weekly shop. They are all easy to cook and great for beginners.

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The best budget family meals

These are our best budget family meals that can help you fill up your weekly meal plan. They are set for four people but you can add an extra can or vegetables or some frozen vegetables if you need to bulk anything out.

We use frozen meat as it’s cheaper and plan everything, right down to the snacks the children eat to desserts. This way, the price of our weekly shop stays low.

Chickpea curry

This is a great chickpea curry that is great for weekdays when you don’t have a lot of time. All the ingredients are from your store cupboard. Read how to make our chickpea curry here.

For the paste
2 tbsp oil 5p
100g frozen onion 25p
5g dried chilli 5p
9 garlic cloves 25p
5g ground ginger 5p
5g ground coriander 5p
7g ground cumin 5p
5g garam masala 5p
10g tomato purée 11p

For the curry
2 x 400g tin chickpeas £1.10
400g tin canned tomatoes 42p
100g tin coconut milk (optional) 18p
100g spinach (optional) 20p
250g rice 40p
Total: £3.21 that’s 80p for 4 people.

Smoky beans on toast

150g rashers streaky bacon 95p
100g frozen onion 16p
400g can baked beans 29p
1 teaspoon brown sugar 6p
1 teaspoon English mustard 5p
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 5p
1 teaspoon ground cumin 5p
10g chopped chillis 5p
250g ciabatta bread £1
Total: £2.66 that’s 66p per person.

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.

Onion 22p

Tin of New Potatoes 32p

600g Frozen Sliced Peppers £1

20 pack frozen Value pork sausages 99p

Chopped Tomatoes 29p

85g puree 75p

Total: £3.57 that’s 89 per family of four.

Spaghetti bolognese

This is the best spaghetti bolognese recipe that you will ever taste. It’s so easy to make and can be put into the slow cooker too. Read how we make The Best Ever Slimming World Spaghetti Bolognese here.

Low-calorie cooking spray 5p
1 onion, grated 10p
2 carrots, grated 8p
1 garlic clove, grated 5p
500g 5% lean beef mince £2.59
400g can chopped tomatoes 39p
2 tsp dried oregano 2p
1 beef stock cube 5p
350g dried spaghetti 30p
Total: £3.63 (that’s 91p a head for four people)

If you are vegan or vegetarian then have a look at our post here called Quorn Spaghetti Bolognese for Under £1 a Head.

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.

500g Smartprice pasta shapes 30p

Smartprice thick sausages 88p

200g Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar £1.27

125g Smartprice mozzarella 44p

Price: £2.89 that’s 72p a person.

Chicken and pepper pasta

This chicken and pepper pasta recipe is great for the whole family. It uses only frozen vegetables and chicken so is really cheap to make. Read how to make our Easy Creamy Chicken and Pepper Pasta here.

100g Lightest Philadelphia 80p
125g Wholemeal pasta 14p
125g Frozen peppers 25p
125g Cherry tomatoes 25p
10g Garlic 2p
400g Frozen chicken breasts £2.54
Total: £4 that’s £1 a head.

Spaghetti carbonara

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.

500g Smartprice spaghetti 20p

275g Unsmoked Streaky Bacon £1.04

Smartprice Mixed weight eggs 89p

250g Extra Mature Cheddar £1.50

Total: £2.39 that’s 59 per person.

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.

500g Wholemeal penne 55p

250g Cherry tomatoes 53p

14g Dried basil 69p

Total: £1.77 that’s 44p per person.

Eggless pancakes

This eggless recipe makes 10 pancakes which can be frozen then grilled back to warm. They take about 5 minutes to make and about 2 minutes to cook. Read how we make The Best Eggless Pancakes Recipe Ever here.

150g self-raising flour 10p
1 tablespoon baking powder 2p
1/2 teaspoon salt 2p
2 spoonfuls of maple syrup, or granulated sugar 10p
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted 15p
250ml soya milk 17p
Total: 56p that’s 14p per person.

Firecracker chicken

This firecracker recipe is based on four people. It takes only takes about 10 minutes to actually cook the sauce but the rice could take up to 20 minutes. Read how we make our Firecracker Chicken For Just 99p a Head here.

3 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts (defrosted) £2.10
2 onions 20p
3 garlic cloves 15p
5g ground ginger 5p
1 red pepper 45p
1tbsp lemon juice 10p
1 bunch of spring onions 37p
2 tbsp tomato puree 5p
4 tbsp soy sauce 6p
2 tbsp hoisin sauce 6p
1 tbsp plain flour 10p
1 tbsp low cal cooking spray 5p
150g wholemeal rice 25p
Total: £3.99 (prices correct at time of publishing)

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.

500g Wholemeal penne 55p

Onion 22p,

60g Chillies 55p

500g Smartprice Passata 35p

Asda Vegetable stock 50p

Total: £2.17 that’s 54p per person.

Katsu curry

It’s a great curry recipe that is easy for beginners and doesn’t take too long to cook. This is based on the traditional Japanese curry. It is packed full of flavor and makes a great Friday night or weekend treat meal instead of ordering in. Read how we make our Katsu Curry Recipe For Under £1 a Head here.

4 frozen chicken breasts £1.40
100g frozen onion 16p
400g tin carrots 47p
3 garlic cloves 5p
1 egg 10p
900ml chicken stock 10p
2tbsp soy sauce 5p
1tsp honey 5p
3tbsp plain flour 5p
100g breadcrumbs 55p
200g wholemeal rice 15p
Total: £3.13 that’s 78p per person.

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!

Mushrooms 22p

English medium Cheddar cheese £1.74

Smartprice unsmoked middle bacon £1.04

Smartprice Pasta 31p

Onion 8p

Garlic 24p

Total: £3.41 that’s 85p per person.

Chicken tikka massala

This serves four and is a medium heat. This really does just take 10 minutes to make but does take up to 40 minutes to cook so make sure you have some time as it’s worth it. Read how to make our Chicken Tikka Masala Curry For Under £4 a Head here.

Ok, so the cream is extra but you can add natural yogurt if you prefer.

We make our homemade naan bread with this too.

4 frozen chicken breasts £1.40
100g frozen onion 16p
2 garlic cloves 6p
200ml tinned tomatoes 28p
100ml single cream 60p
1 tsp lemon juice 5p
4 tbsp low cal spray 20p
1 tsp salt 3p
180g Rice 24p
Total: £3.17 that’s 79p for a family of four.

Southern fried chicken

We use frozen chicken breasts as they are cheaper and you only need to use what you need. The breadcrumbs are made from the end of the loaf that’s normally thrown away. This is a family favourite that the kids can’t get enough of and costs under £1 a head.

This is how we make our Southern Fried Chicken.

4 chicken breasts £1.40
150g breadcrumbs 65p
2 eggs 20p
4 tbsp plain flour 15p
4 tbsp milk 10p
2 tbsp low cal spray 10p
4 potatoes 40p
4 corn of cob 52p
Total: £3.52 that’s 88p for four people.

Homemade burgers

These are gourmet burgers that can be spiced up or down depending on what your family like spice wise. We also cook our homemade chips and add cheese slices.

Here’s how we make our Homemade Burgers. You can make them in the morning if you don’t have time in the evening.

500g minced meat £1.99
1 frozen onion 8p
2 garlic cloves 6p
1 egg 10p
Pinch of salt 3p
6 burger buns 56p
Lettuce leave 25p
Tomato 50p
Cheese slices 35p
4 potatoes 40p
Total: £4.32 that’s £1.09 for four.

Chinese chicken curry

This family-friendly meal is a great fakeaway recipe for a Friday night. It’s not very spicy and you can use frozen vegetables and tins that are in your cupboard.

Here’s how we cooked our Chinese chicken curry.

2 chicken breasts 65p
2 onions 16p
Small piece of ginger 15p
2 garlic cloves 6p
400ml stock 3p
2 tbsp low cal spray 10p
3 tbsp plain flour 10p
1 tsp sugar 5p
180g rice 24p
Total: £1.54 that’s 38p a person.

Chicken fajitas

Making your own fajitas is a great family treat! Make sure you marinate the chicken and peppers before you cook as it does make them taste amazing! Here’s how we cook our yummy fajitas.

This takes about 40 minutes to cook. If you like it spicy then add some chillis too.

4 frozen chicken breasts £1.40
200g frozen peppers 30p
200g frozen onion 16p
3 garlic cloves 9p
1 tbsp salt 2p
1 tsp sugar 5p
Tortillas £1
Total: £3.08 that’s 75p a person.

Spaghetti meatballs

This meatball recipe is packed full of goodness and is really easy to make. It’s cheap and can be made with any vegetables you have leftover in the fridge or freezer. Read how we make our Spaghetti Meatball Recipe For 73p a Head here.

500g minced meat £1.99
2 onion 16p
3 glove garlic 7p
1 egg 10p
1 tsp salt 2p
2 tsp low cal spray 10p
1 tin passata 32p
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 3p
Half tablespoon sugar 5p
Half tablespoon salt 3p
210g Spaghetti 8p
Total: £2.95 = 73p a head for four people.

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.

368g Frozen pollock portions £2.50

1kg White baking potatoes £1

300g Smartprice mushy peas 20p.

Total: £3.70 that’s 92p per person.

Vegan shepherds pie

This is a great recipe if you need to feed a lot of people quickly. Make this in the morning and just chuck it in the oven when you need it. Read how to make our vegan shepherd’s pie here.

1 tin chickpeas 33p
1 tin lentils 55p
2 large tin potatoes 20p
1 frozen onion 8p
4 tin tomatoes 20p
5 mushrooms 40p
2 carrots 14p
2 celery sticks 60p
2 garlic cloves 5p
300ml vegan stock 3p
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 6p
2 tbsp tomato puree 10p
2 tbsp low cal spray 10p.
Total: £3.31 that’s 82p for four people.

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.

Red onion 17p,

50g green chillies 65p

Tomatoes 60p

Small mango £1.15

150g Fat natural yogurt 49p

Basics long-grain rice 40p

Total: £3.46 that’s 86p per person.

Homemade pizza

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.

100g Mature Cheddar 85p

Frozen onion 10p

400g Chopped tomatoes 31p

125g mozzarella 44p each

Closed cup mushrooms 20p

Total: £2.34 that’s 58p per person.

Lamb kebabs in pitta

No more kebab takeaways needed with this recipe around. Try it. You won’t go back!

500g Lamb & mutton mince £1.59

Paxo natural breadcrumbs 65p

200g Natural Greek-style yogurt 65p

Garlic 25p

Cucumber portion 38p

6 White Pitta 25p

Total: £3.77 that’s 94p per person.

Basil and mozzarella cheeseburger

The kids love helping me make these cheeseburgers.

454g Smartprice mince £1.36

31g dried basil 70p

Spring onions 50p

6 soft white rolls 65p

125g Mozzarella 68p

Total: £3.86 that’s 96p per person.

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.

550g Tin of Baby potatoes 32p

385g Mature White Cheddar £1.89

13g Dried Coriander 69p

Fish fingers 65p

Total: £3.87 that’s 96p per person.

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.

Chicken Thighs £2.75

Green Pepper 50p

550g Tin of Baby potatoes 32p

Total: £3.99 that’s 99p per person.

Stir Fry

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.

600g frozen peppers £1

250g Asda Egg Noodles 92p

Frozen onion 22p

Spring onions 49p

Soy Sauce 58p

Total: £3.21 that’s 80p per person.

Cottage pie

This is a classic cottage pie recipe! Just chuck it all in and grill at the end.

550g New Potatoes 32p

500g Pork mince £2

100g frozen onion 22p

2 x carrots 9p

100g mushrooms 68p

200g soft cheese 49p

Total: £3.89 that’s 97p per person.

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.

500g frozen breast fillets £2.50

Smartprice fry or oven chips 93p

Total: £3.43 that’s 85p per person.


I do these burritos when I know friends are coming over. I love the idea of everyone helping themselves and tucking straight in.

100g frozen onion 10p

500g long-grain rice 40p

400g Red kidney beans in water 21p

8 tortilla wraps 92p

100g Little Gem lettuce 75p

31g basil 80p

300g Salsa 69p

Total: £3.87 that’s 96p per person.

Peri-peri chicken

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.

400g chicken wings £1.88

29g Piri Piri Chicken Seasoning Mix £1

Lemon 30p

Ginger 10p

500g couscous 69p

Total: £3.97 that’s 99p per person.

Chicken Pesto Panini

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.

190g Green Pesto 80p

325g baby plum tomatoes £1,

115g cooked sandwich chicken £1

125g mozzarella 44p

500g crusty white bread mix 75p

Total: £3.99 that’s 99p per person.

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!

100g potatoes 87p

100g frozen onions 16p

150g Tuna in spring water £1.56

Sweetcorn tin 44p

10g parsley 50p

Total: £3.53 that’s 88p per person.

Tomato-baked chicken

This is another chuck it all in recipe. Go crazy, the kids will love you for it.

1kg Smartprice Chicken wings £1.65

560g Tomato & garlic pasta sauce 92p

500g potatoes 50p

150g baby button mushrooms 86p

Total: £3.95 that’s 98p per person.

Notes to add:

All the prices are average and were calculated via Aldi. 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.

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Laura x

If you enjoyed this post and would like some more family friendly budget recipes or meal plan ideas, then head over to the budget food section here on Savings 4 Savvy Mums where you’ll find over 30 cheap posts dedicated to helping you cook and shop wiser for less. There’s enough tips to help you save over £300 a month! You could also pop over and follow my family food Pinterest boards for lots more ideas on how to eat well and spend less; Family Meal Plans on a Budget, Budget Family MealsBudget Slimming World Recipes for Families

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Enjoy one week of meals that come in at under £1 a head for a family of four. These are all family friendly meals that are easy to make by Laura at Savings 4 Savvy Mums

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Tracie A Whitefield

Thursday 2nd of August 2018

Fabulous recipes and I can finally mix it up for my 8yo daughter as well as eating together more! I've just emailed the link to myself for the future.

Nat - Awaybies

Monday 24th of July 2017

What an amazing post! I'm saving it for future (continuous) reference!


Tuesday 25th of July 2017

Thank you so much. So pleased it helped!