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This is the Ultimate budget meal planning list with over 30 cheap family meals for you to choose from. Budget meal planning is a easy way to save money by Laura at Savings 4 Savvy Mums #cheapmeals #familymeals #monthltmeals #mealplan #mealplannerlist

Including 31 dinner recipes and free meal plans

There’s no way around it, budget meal planning can save you and your family money every week, but if your family is anything like mine, then come dinner time, the family have turned into a crazed pack of wolves and just want to eat straight away.

Implementing a family meal planner can stop you going for the takeaway menu when the family goes nuclear and means you don’t have to face a cupboard full of food with no clue or inspiration on what to cook.

If you’d prefer to meal plan yourself and feel short of time, then try breaking it down.

By just spending a few minutes a day writing down what you’ve used, and maybe would like to eat next week, can help cut your food bill.

Meal planning alone has helped me make fewer trips to the grocery store, eat out less and stop going for the kids staple chicken nuggets and chips every night. (Saying that we do have it on days I just can’t fit dinner in!)

 

How to budget meal plan

To help, I’ve broken my own process down into 9 easy to follow steps. I really do believe that budget meal planning can save you money, and I challenge you to try meal planning for 4 weeks to see how much it saves you.

Meal Plan Sheets

Depending on how comfortable you are, either find a spare pad or print out 8-10 copies of a weekly meal plan sheet.

You’ll need enough space to write down a simple menu for each day and a shopping list as you go.

You can make your own weekly meal plan or sign up and download my meal plans and shopping lists for free. Having several copies on hand will help inspire you to get started and keep up the meal plans for several weeks.

(When you enter your email address, you are agreeing to be emailed about free access to The Resource Vault, deals, money saving tips and blog updates. You can unsubscribe at any time.)

Before you know it, meal planning will become a natural part of your routine.

 

Check Your Calendar

Before you even think about food, check your schedule.

There’s no point writing a meal plan for a week that you’re away or if you aren’t going to be back for dinnertime.

Use a bright color of ink to list calendar items on your meal plan so you can decide what the family are eating on these days. It could be leftovers or cheese on toast, doesn’t matter, as long as everyone knows.

 

Check Your Freezer, Fridge, and Cupboards

Before you start planning, check what you have already. Do you have any kitchen staples that you could use to bulk out any meals or use on days you’re late home?

Is there anything in your freezer you could eat to bring this weeks shopping list down?

Same goes for vegetables and side dishes. Spending a few minutes checking the freezer, fridge and cupboards can save you money later on.

If you are unsure how to save money on your food shop then have a look at our post here:

19 Cheap Food Shopping Hacks That Could Save You Hundreds

 

What’s on Sale?

Have a quick look through your local supermarket’s brochure or website. Most of them shout about their deals all over social media too.

Is there anything that the family would eat featured? There’s no point buying something if no one eats it, just to feed the bin though.

 

Write Down Meals to Make Your Shopping List

After a few days of writing down what you’ve been eating, you’ve probably got a bit on your list already. Now it’s time to fill in your meal plan and make your shopping list from that.

What are some of your family’s favorite meals? Do you need anything for the kid’s lunchboxes? What about breakfast or weekend snacks?

Don’t forget to plan a few simple or quick meals for the days you’re going to be in late or when the kids have a club.
Keeping it simple will help you stick to your plan.

As you fill in your dinners for the week, start writing your shopping list. Using a weekly meal plan sheet helps to break down your list into easy to read chunks.

You can even break it down further into sections like produce, meats, refrigerated, frozen, etc.

Having your grocery list broken down into categories will save you time in the store. (I don’t personally do this, as I write my shopping list as I go throughout the week, depending on what we’ve used. So at the supermarket, I just scan down the list to check what I’ve written.)

If you buy online then make sure that you use cashback sites. 

We use OhMyDosh* that gives you money back every time you spend through them. Use my link here to get £1 added your account straight away*. 

Read more about how OhMyDosh works here. 

If you are looking for other cash back sites then use our full list here

 

Don’t Forget Your Cleaning Supplies

Once your meals are planned, take a few minutes to think of other items you will need for the week.

Check your cleaning cupboard, bathroom and under the kitchen sink. Do you need any washing detergent, dish soap or multi-purpose cleaners? If you have pets, do they need food or treats? What about paper towels or toilet paper? Toothpaste or shampoo?

You won’t have to buy these every week, and spreading them across the month will stop it hitting you hard at the checkout.

 

Remember to Take Your List With You

Here’s where you start feeling super prepared!

Cut your meal plan and shopping list in half.

Place your meal plan somewhere everyone can see, like the fridge or a cork board.

When it’s time to cook dinner, you simply check your meal plan and start cooking!

No more having to think about dinner time under pressure!

For dinner ideas keep reading below or have a look at our other budget meal plans here: 

Feeding a Family on a Budget: This Weekly Shop is Just £18

27 Leftover Lamb Recipes That Are Family Friendly

101 Aldi Recipes That Will Give You Dinner Ideas For Tonight

Haggle On and Offline

Face to face is easy, especially if you visit a local market or small store.

Online is even easier though. Get as far as the checkout screen and log out. Check your emails and reply to the supermarket, explaining why you didn’t buy. It could be anything, like the items are to expensive or the delivery slot isn’t convenient.

Then haggle. Nine times out of ten they will offer you a discount to make you complete your order.

 

Save Your Favorite Meals

At the end of the week, instead of throwing away your old meal plans, keep them.

On weeks you are struggling for inspiration, you can drag them back out and choose your favorites.

I try and add some new meals each week, but stick to a couple of classics that I know everyone will eat without question.

Before you know it you’ll have a load of meals to choose from, that are easy to prepare and cost you less at the supermarket.

 

Weekly Meal Planner

Here are 31 meals that are all under £1 per serving for four. They are easy to make and you can always make more for leftovers for when you are in a rush.

We are guessing that you have the normal kitchen staples in like rice, pasts, chopped tomatoes, puree etc They can cost very little and if on hand mean that you can always put a quick meal together or bulk one out if you suddenly have company.

If you struggle to make home cooked meals or need a bit of help then have a look at Spicentice. They send you spices with the full list of food you will need plus a step by step guide on how to cook that recipe. 

Use our link here with the code LASAVE20 to get 20% off your order.*

Use these 31 meals to plan for a month of cheap healthy eating meals. These are healthy family dinner ideas that everyone will love.

(All prices are correct at time of publishing. All prices are based on Asda. All of these meals are based on four people.)

 

1. Chilli Con Carne

This chili con carne recipe is easy to do and can be frozen for another night. Read how we cooked our Chilli Con Carne recipe here.

500g minced meat £1.99
4 onions 32p
3 garlic gloves 7p
300ml 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

 

2. Vegan Shepherd’s 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 55
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

 

3. Italian Meatball Marinara

This is a gorgeous recipe that the whole family will love. It’s a healthy meal that uses a basic tomato sauce recipe that can be used for loads of meals.

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

 

4. 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 if you are short of time.

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

 

5. Southern Fried Chicken

These are one of my family’s favorite meals. This friendly meal is great with homemade chips and corn of cob. Get the kids to help you make them too.

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

 

6. 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 eveing.

500g minced meat £1.99
1 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

 

7. Chicken Tikka Masala

This serves four and is a medium heat. This really does just take 10 minutes to make but does take up to 40 mintues to cook so make sure you have some time as it’s worth it.

We make our homemade naan bread with this too.

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

 

8. Tomato-Baked Chicken

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

Make our Tomato-Baked Chicken here.

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

 

9. 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.

Make our Chicken Balti recipe here.

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

 

10. 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.

Make our Chicken Jalfrezi with egg fried rice and our homemade naan.

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

 

11. 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

 

12. 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!

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

4 chicken breasts £1.40
2 peppers 30p
2 onion 16p
Lime 6p
3 garlic cloves 9p
1 tbsp salt 2p
1 tsp sugar 5p
Tortillas £3.08

 

13. Burritos

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.
Total: £3.87

 

14. 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
Pork mince (500g) £2
Onion 22p, carrots x2 9p
Mushrooms 68p
Everyday Value soft cheese (200g) 49p
Total: £3.89

 

15. 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 too.

Frozen peppers (600g) £1
Asda Egg Noodles (250g) 92p
Onion 22p
Spring onions 49p
Asda Soy Sauce 58p
Total: £3.21

 

16. 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

 

17. 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

 

18. 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

 

19. 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

 

20. 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.

Frozen pollock portions (368g) £2.50
White baking potatoes (1kg) £1
Smart price mushy peas (300g) 20p
Total: £3.70

 

21. 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

 

22. 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

 

23. 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

 

24. 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

 

25. 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 sausages (12 per pack – 681g) 88p
Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (200g) £1.27
Smartprice mozzarella (125g) 44p
Total: £2.89

 

26. 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

 

27. 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

 

28. 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.

 

Related Posts: 

 

29. 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.

 

30. Spaghetti Bolognese

This spaghetti bolognese recipe is so simple and the longer you leave it in the more intense the flavour.

The sauce can be left to cook all day, ready to be mixed with freshly-cooked pasta when you get home.

1 onion chopped 22p
1 tbsp tomato puree 10p
2 tins chopped tomato 58p
1 tbsp caster sugar or to taste 4p
1 celery stick chopped 10p
250g minced beef 83p
1 carrot chopped 7p
2 cloves garlic chopped 4p
1 tsp oregano 2p
2 large mushrooms chopped 75p
1 beef stock cubes 6p
1 handfull Parmesan for sprinkling 20p.
Total: £3.01, that’s 75p a head.

 

31. 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.

 

So, are you up for the challenge? Try these 9 easy steps for 4 weeks and let me know how much you have saved.

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

Love this post? Then why not save it to Pinterest so you can easily find it later. 

 

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