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The Best Cheap Recipes For Families

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The Best Cheap Recipes For Families

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These are all under £1a head

If you’re struggling to meal plan then these budget cheap family meals are going to help give you all the inspiration you need.

All of them have a cost per head and are easy to prepare in advance. You could call them basic and not all are healthy, but if you’re looking for cheap family meals that you can prepare quickly and that fit it with your family, then these are for you!

Cooking on a budget isn’t easy and can put a lot of parents off meal planning, which then means the whole family are “winging it” for the week. These cheap recipes for families are perfect if you haven’t built up your “little book of family favourites” yet.

I’ve given you a sneak peak into a few of my cheap recipes my family love below and given you some basic staples that I think are must haves if you’re trying to feed a family on a budget.

If you are looking for more ways to save money then have a look at:

103 Frugal Living Tips That Will Save You Thousands in 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Food Shopping on a Budget

19 Cheap Food Shopping Hacks That Could Save You Hundreds

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Family Meal Ideas on a Budget

If you’re struggling to meal plan or just unsure how to start meal planning you’ve never done it before, then start here to get the basic done right.

These cheap family recipes help me meal plan for my whole family meaning that the weeks we are struggling for money, we can shop for just £18 a week and sometimes £16 a week if needed.

These recipes use cheap food that you can buy anywhere to help you cook on a budget. We do suggest buying at Aldi or Lidi but if they are further away and it’s going to cost you more than £10 to get there then please do shop locally as it may work out cheaper overall.

Loads of our meals can be brought for under £1 a head including Slimming World family favourites plus vegan or vegetarian dishes.

If you are struggling to cook from scratch then have a look at Spicentice. They send out packets of spices with easy to follow instructions so you can make a meal from scratch.

They are great to use if you are new to cooking from scratch or if you are looking to get your family eating new budget-friendly meals and have no clue where to start.

We tried them at the start of this year and loved them. We got stuck in a food rut and they helped by giving us ideas while keeping our food budget really low.

If you’d like to try Spicentice yourself then make sure you use our link here with our code LASAVE20 to get 20% off every purchase.*

Cheap easy meals on a budget

Cooking on a budget doesn’t mean that your family are going to miss out on a good meal. It you buy cheap food and still rustle up a cooked breakfast on a weekend or a homemade pizza with all the fillings.

Everything is laid out below and will help you to create your meal plan with ease.

Make sure you bookmark this page on your phone incase you need it for next week too.

We’ve got over 35 dinner ideas that are great for the whole family.

Chicken recipes

These are all great family chicken recipes that are easy to make and under £1 a head. We tend to use frozen chicken as it’s cheaper and it means we only need to defrost what we are using that night. Frozen or tin vegetables work great as well.

Tomato-Baked Chicken

This is great if you have toddlers in the house too. It’s healthy and will keep you all full up.

Smartprice Chicken wings (1kg) £1.65
Tomato & garlic pasta sauce (560g) 92p
Smartprice British small potatoes (1kg) 50p
Baby button mushrooms (150g) 86p
Total: £3.95 that’s 98p for 4 people.

Chicken Balti

This serves four people and isn’t as spicy as it sounds. If you prefer it light then don’t add any chillis or paprika. This takes about 20 minutes to cook and does perfect with our egg fried rice recipe too.

4 chicken breasts £1.40
2 onions 16p
200ml tinned tomatoes 28p
3 garlic cloves 9p
Small piece of ginger 2p
1 tbsp tomato puree 3p
2 tbsp cooking oil 3p
1 tsp salt 2p
1 red chilli 5p
Pinch of dried paprika 3p
Total: £2.11 that’s 52p for 4 people.

Chicken Jalfrezi

This curry serves 4 people and is of medium spice. It takes 30 minutes to cook but you can make it in the morning and then throw it all in one pan when you get home.

4 chicken breasts £1.40
2 onions 16p
1 red pepper 15p
1 tomato 16p
3 garlic cloves 9p
Small piece of ginger 2p
2 tbsp tomato puree 6p
2 tbsp cooking oil 3p
1 tsp salt 2p
Total: £2.09 that’s 52p for 4 people.

Peri-Peri Chicken

This does take a bit of prep but is perfect for a weekend fakeaway. It takes about 30 minutes to cook and goes with wedges, rice and salad.

You can also have this with tortillas and salad if you prefer.

4 chicken breasts £1.40
3 garlic cloves 9p
Small piece of ginger 2p
Rind of lemon 3p
5 tbsp lemon juice 9p
2 tbsp cooking oil 3p
1 tsp salt 2p
4 potatoes 40p
180g Rice 24p
Total: £2.32 that’s 58p for 4 people.

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 the extended family comes round.

Chicken Thighs (1kg) £2.75
Green Pepper 50p
Tin of Baby potatoes (550g) 32p
Total: £3.99 that’s 99p for 4 people.

Chicken and Pepper Pasta

This is a really quick and easy dinner recipe that is great for the whole family. It can be made in under 15 minutes and makes a great lunch box option.

Read how to make our 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.

Firecracker Chicken

This is a great fakeaway recipe that is great for adults and kids. It’s quick and simple too!

Read how to make our Firecracker Chicken 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 that’s 99p for 4 people.

Katsu Curry

This is a spicy curry that beats any takeaway. It comes it at under £1 a head for four people and is really easy to make.

Read how to make our Katsu Curry here.

3 frozen chicken breasts £2.10
1 onion 10p
2 carrots 20p
3 garlic cloves 15p
1 egg 16p
900ml chicken stock 12p
2tbsp soy sauce 5p
1tsp honey 5p
3tbsp plain flour 3p
100g breadcrumbs 30p
200g wholemeal rice 30p
Total: £3.86 that’s 96p for 4 people.

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry

This is a creamy tikka masala curry that is great for the whole family. It can be bulked out really easily and most of the ingredients are from your store cupboard.

This is how to make our Chicken Tikka Masala here.

4 chicken breasts £1.40
2 onion 16p
2 garlic cloves 6p
1 small piece of ginger 15p
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 4 people.

Southern Fried Chicken

This is an easy southern fried chicken recipe that is baked instead of fried. It does take a little bit of prep work before hand but it’s a great recipe instead of calling for a takeaway.

Read how to make our Southern Fried Chicken here.

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 4 people.

Chinese Chicken Curry

This chicken curry tastes just like a fakeaway. It’s really easy to make and you could make it in the slow cooker if you prefer.

Read to make our Chinese Chicken Curry here.

2 chicken breasts 65p
2 onions 16p
Small piece of ginger 15p
2 garlic cloves 6p
400ml chicken 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 for 4 people.

Chicken Fajita Recipe

Hot and sizzling, this chicken fajita recipe is great for those nights that you want an amazing meal that is healthy to.

Read how to make our Chicken Fajita here.

3 chicken breasts £2
1 onion 8p
2 garlic cloves 50p
150g frozen mixed peppers 75p
50ml lime juice 7p
1 tsp salt 2p
10g fajita seasoning 35p
Total: £3.77 = 94p

Sweet & Sour Chicken

This sweet and sour chicken is quick to cook and can be made from loads of store cupboard ingredients.

Read how to make our Sweet & Sour Chicken here.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts £1.16
1 x 425g can pineapple chunks in natural juice 50p
2 tbsp cornflour 2p
½ tsp dried chilli flakes 2p
2 tbsp dark soy sauce 5p
2 tbsp tomato puree 2p
1 medium onion 8p
300g frozen peppers 43p
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 5p
Total: £2.33 that’s 58p for 4 people.

Beef recipes

These beef recipes are really easy to cook and can be made from frozen beef or mince if you prefer.

Cottage Pie

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

Tin of New Potatoes (550g) 32p
Beef mince (500g) £2
Onion 22p, carrots x2 9p
Mushrooms 68p
Everyday Value soft cheese (200g) 49p
Total: £3.89 that’s 97p for 4 people.

Spaghetti Bolognese

This is the best spaghetti bolognese recipe that you’ll ever taste. It’s really simple to cook and made with mostly store cupboard ingredients.

Read how to make our amazing 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)

Beef Burgers

These homemade beef burgers are great for the whole family. They can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until you need them.

Read how to make our Homemade Beef Burgers here.

500g beef mince meat £1.99
1 onion 8p
2 garlic cloves 6p
1 egg 10p
Pinch of salt 3p
6 burger buns 56p
Lettuce 25p
Tomato 50p
Cheese slices 35p
4 potatoes 40p
Total: £3.92 that’s 98p for 4 people.

Spaghetti Meatball

These spaghetti meatballs are really easy to make and bulk out if you have guests over. Add as much vegetables as you like!

Read how to make our Spaghetti Meatball 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

Chilli Con Carne

This is a yummy recipe that can be made in the slow cooker if you prefer. You can add it all in the slow cooker after you’ve browned off the mince and leave it to cook until you get home.

Read how to make our Chilli Con Carne recipe here.

500g minced meat £1.99
4 onions 32p
3 garlic gloves 7p
300ml chopped tinned tomatoes 28p
400g tinned kidney beans 30p
3 tbsp tomato puree 15p
Half a lime 12p
220ml stock 3p
4 tbsp low cal spray 20p
1 tsp salt 2p
Half tsp sugar 5p
180g Rice 24p
Total: £3.77 that’s 94p for 4 people.

Vegan

These vegan recipes are lush and come in at under £1 a head. They are great for the whole family!

Vegan Burritos

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

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.
Total: £3.87 that’s 96p for 4 people.

Vegan Stir Fry

We use loads of frozen vegetables for this so it’s great on shopping day. Dried noodles are great as they can sit in the cupboard for as long as you need them to.

Frozen peppers (600g) £1
Asda Egg Noodles (250g) 92p
Onion 22p
Spring onions 49p
Asda Soy Sauce 58p
Total: £3.21 that’s 80p for 4 people.

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.

Wholemeal penne (500g) 55p
Onion 22p
Chillies (60g) 55p
Smartprice Passata (500g) 35p
Asda Vegetable stock (12x10g) 50p
Total: £2.17 that’s 54p for 4 people.

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.
Wholemeal penne (500g) 55p
cherry tomatoes (250g) 53p
Dried basil (14g) 69p
Total: £1.77 that’s 44p for 4 people.

Sweet Potato Curry

This easy non-spicy slow cooked curry recipe that can handle any meat. It looks like a long ingredient list but most of these are kitchen staples. You can add any vegetable too and just mash it all at the end.
1 large onion 19p
2 tsp curry power 5p
1 green pepper 30p
2 garlic clove 4p
1 tbsp sunflower oil 1p
400g can chopped tomato 25p
300g of boiled sweet potato 25p
2 tbsp mango chutney 4p
rice 20p
naan bread 45p.
Total: £1.78 that’s 45p a head.

Chickpea Curry

This is an amazing chickpea curry that’s quick to make. It’s a great mid-week meal and can be whizzed up smooth if you kids don’t like the look of the chickpeas.

Read how to make our Chickpea curry recipe 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.

Vegan Tacos

These vegan tacos are a great party meal. Everyone can help themselves and build their perfect tacos.

175g baby corn 95p
190g frozen red onions 42p
100g red pepper 45p
5g cumin seeds 5p
2 tsp olive oil 5p
110g kiwi fruit 60p
115g tomatoes 50p
5g garlic clove 5p
5g dried coriander 5p
1 tsp vegan bouillon powder 2p
5g smoked paprika 5p
85g red cabbage 20p
100g wholemeal flour (optional) 20p
Total: £3.09 that’s 77p a person for 4 people.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

This vegan shepherds pie is great if you are looking for a recipe that you can prep for in advance. You make it all in the morning, get it ready and put it in the over when you get home.

Read how to make our Vegan Shepherd’s Pie here.

1 tin chickpeas 33p
1 tin lentils 55p
2 large potatoes 20p
3 sweet potatoes 47p
1 onion 8p
4 sundried 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 = 82p for a family of four

Quorn Spaghetti Bolognese

This vegan spaghetti bolognese is really easy to cook and can be bulked up with tin or frozen vegetables.

Read how to make our Quorn Spaghetti Bolognese here.

1 onion chopped 22p
1 tbsp tomato puree 9.5p
2 tins chopped tomato 58p
1 tbsp caster sugar or to taste 4p
1 celery stick chopped 10p
Quorn Mince Frozen £1.79
1 carrot chopped 7p
2 cloves garlic chopped 4p
1 tsp oregano 2p
2 large mushrooms chopped 75p
1 vegetable stock cubes 6p
1 hand full Parmesan for sprinkling 20p
Total: £3.87 that’s 96p for 4 people.

Vegetarian

These vegetarian recipes are great for the whole family. They are easy to make which is great after a long day at work.

Homemade Pizza

This is an easy quick Friday night dinner. You can make the dough in the morning or straight away as it doesn’t need to sit. We use plain flour, dried yeast and some water to make the dough.
Taw Valley Mature Cheddar (approx 100g) 85p
Onion 10p
Chopped tomatoes (400g) 31p
2 x mozzarella (125g) 44p each
Loose closed cup mushrooms 20p
Total: £2.34 that’s 58p for 4 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
Green chillies (50g) 65p
Loose tomatoes 60p
Small mango £1.15
Organic 2% Fat natural yogurt (150g) 49p
Basics long-grain rice (1kg) 40p
Total: £3.46

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Cheesy pasta is a family favourite in my house. Try it in the slow cooker for an extra easy weeknight dinner.
200g macaroni pasta 13p
200g cheese £1
100g plain flour 10p
Stock cube 6p
25g butter 3p.
Total: £1.32 that’s 33p for 4 people.

Creamy Tomato Courgetti

Low in calories but really high in taste, this Creamy Tomato Courgetti meal is a great way to hide vegetables.
The original recipe calls for a sauce, but I make my own using mascarpone cheese, which takes about 2 minutes.
Onion 7p
Three big tablespoons of mascarpone cheese 44p
Ham 25p
2 x Courgette 60p
Total: £1.36 that’s just 34p a head

Vegetarian Chili

4 of your 5 a day, this Vegetarian Chilli only takes about 30 minutes and can be bunged into a pan and left to its own devices.
Itself of buying a bag of vegetables, I cut up my own and roast, and mix and match every time, depending on what we have leftover in the fridge. I’ve thrown in ham, pineapple, frozen vegetables, and even sweet potato. Anything goes!
100g Courgette 30p
100g Onion 7p
400g Frozen Peppers 60p
3x Tomatoes 34p
400g Kidney Beans 30p
Total: £1.61 that’s 40p for 4 people.

Lamb

These lamb recipes are great as they use frozen lamb.

Lamb Kebabs in Pitta

This is a great fakeaway recipe for a Saturday night. You can change this up and add any meat or even have this vegetarian.
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
Total: £3.77 that’s 94p for 4 people.

Irish Stew

We don’t eat a lot of meat due to its cost, but when we do, we look for the middle neck of the lamb. This budget stew does need to be cooked on low to make sure its soft to eat but is tender after a day of cooking.
This dish can be bulked out with potatoes, and the cooking liquor is optional.

Tbsp oil 5p
100g bacon 56p
400g lamb £1.50
Onion 22p
2 carrots 18p
2 potatoes 46p
2 stock cubes 12p
Leek 52p
Total: £3.61 that’s 90p a head.

Fish

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 then all the better.
Frozen pollock portions (368g) £2.50
White baking potatoes (1kg) £1
Smart price mushy peas (300g) 20p
Total: £3.70 that’s 92p for 4 people.

Pork

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 for 4 people.

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.
Smartprice spaghetti (500g) 20p
Unsmoked Streaky Bacon (275g) £1.04
Smartprice Mixed weight eggs (6) 89p
Extra Mature Cheddar (250g) £1.50
Total: £2.39 that’s 59p for 4 people.

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.
Smartprice pasta shapes (500g) 30p
Smartprice thick pork sausages (12 per pack – 681g) 88p
Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (200g) £1.27
Smartprice mozzarella (125g) 44p
Total: £2.89 that’s 72p for 4 people.

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
Frozen Sliced Peppers (600g) £1
Frozen Value pork sausages (20 pack) 99p
Chopped Tomatoes 29p
Puree (80g) 75p
Total: £3.57 that’s 80p for 4 people.

Related Posts: 

Beans with Potato Wedges

You can make this budget-friendly bean with potato wedges recipe even cheaper by leaving the meat out. My kids love this for breakfast and I love the fact it can be frozen too.

3 tsp Oil 15p
1 onion 22p
2 rashes of bacon 26p
1 tsp sugar 4p
400g chopped tomatoes 29p
200ml stock 4p
410g can of cannellini beans 60p
1 tbsp white flour 4p
Tsp mild chilli powder 9p
Tsp dried mixed herbs 9p
2 potatoes 42p.
Total: £2.24 thats 56p a head.

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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Here are the best cheap recipes for families that you can use when you're cooking on a budget. All recipes are under £1 a head by Laura at Savings 4 Savvy Mums

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