Looking for budget recipes? Learning how to cook cheaply is one of the best money saving tips.
For most of us, food is our biggest expense after housing and bills.
If you can cut down your reliance on takeaways, restaurants or expensive pre-prepared supermarket food, you can make a serious difference to your family budget.
I’ve collected 23 amazing, and CHEAP, meal ideas from my favourite recipe sites and money-saving blogs.
Most of these meals are less than £1 per person – meaning you can feed a family, or even host a dinner party, on a tight budget.
And just because they’re frugal doesn’t mean they’re boring.
If your idea of budget food is noodles or baked beans, you’re in for a treat.
Add some of these to your weekly meal plan and see how much you can save!
Carrot cake baked oats
Oats are one of the cheapest and healthiest foods out there. I love that baked oats can be prepared in advance to save time in the mornings, and there are so many ways to dress them up with yoghurt or fruit. This baked oats recipe from Cat at Penny Wise, Life Rich is a great frugal breakfast option.
Granola is the perfect breakfast food, but the pre-made boxes can be so expensive. Learn how to make it yourself for 18 cents (14p) per serving with this granola recipe from Frugal Family Home. It’s so easy to customise as well.
Pancakes are such a cheap meal because they use such basic ingredients. Shelly from Frugal Family Home suggests bulking them out with sausages and eggs to make a filling ‘breakfast for dinner’, but of course you can have them by themselves for an even more budget breakfast.
Kale and potato breakfast hash
This kale and potato breakfast hash recipe from Becca at Amuse Your Bouche is perfect for budget weekend brunch.
Cheap lunch ideas
Four bean salad
We all know how making packed lunches instead of buying a meal deal each day is essential for saving money. This vegan bean salad recipe from Eat Simply is perfect to take to work or school in a Tupperware.
A thrifty and healthy broccoli soup recipe from Penny Wise, Life Rich. It even uses the stalk so it’s a great way to prevent waste.
Mexican style pasta salad
This colourful pasta salad recipe from The Everyday Home combines two frugal staples – pasta and beans. It’s perfect eaten cold for lunch, or as a side to grilled meats.
The ultimate list of packed lunch ideas
This isn’t a single recipe, but I had to include Thrifty Lesley’s packed lunch ideas page because it’s such a fantastic resource! Lesley has dozens of ideas for your packed lunch costing less than 30p per head, including sandwich fillings, sandwich alternatives and snacks.
Budget dinner recipes
Tagliatelle pesto with leeks, peas and broccolli
Pasta is a staple for any budget diet, and there are so many ways to prepare it! Here’s an easy and healthy pesto and vegetable version from Becky at Baby Budgeting.
Emma from Make Money Without A Job shares a thrifty vegetable crumble recipe. It’s perfect for using up leftover veggies, and you can serve it either as a side dish or a main meal.
Spicy tuna and caper pasta
This frugal tuna pasta dish can be made entirely with store cupboard ingredients, so it’s a great one to keep up your sleeve for when you’re lacking time or inspiration.
Homemade pizza dough
Pizza’s one of my favourite dinners, but I’m always outraged at how much a takeaway costs! This homemade pizza dough recipe costs less than $1 and makes enough to feed a family. You can add whatever toppings you want.
Frugal homemade pesto
Pesto is such a useful ingredient. Obviously you can serve it with pasta to make a quick and tasty meal, but you can also try it on homemade pizza, as a salad dressing or spread on bread. This frugal pesto recipe has a money-making twist that makes it cheaper than the traditional version.
Cheap and easy stir fry
Stir fry is so quick to make, so it’s perfect when you get home late. It’s also very thrifty – you can use up whatever vegetables you have left in the house, or bulk it out with cheap veggies like carrot and bean sprouts. This recipe from Cook With a Shoe is about £1 per person and it would be even cheaper without meat.
Lentil and black bean chili
This is one of my go-to budget meals. This vegetarian chili recipe uses dried lentils and tinned beans to bulk it out. IT makes masses and it freezes really well, so it’s great to prepare ahead!
Poor girl pasta with veggies
A very simple, quick and frugal pasta recipe by Becky’s Best Bites. This recipe is another great stand by as it only uses things from the store cupboard and freezer.
This incredible vegan bolognese recipe from Jack Monroe is only 48p per serving. But the most amazing thing about it is how quick it is! All the ingredients are from tins or packets, so it’s simply a case of mixing it all together. You can serve it over pasta, on a jacket potato or even in a wrap.
Ground beef lettuce wraps
These lettuce wraps are a quick and easy Asian-inspired recipe. They make a great light meal for a hot day. They’re also very adaptable – switch out the meat or veggies to use up leftovers.
Sausage and vegetable sheet pan dinner
This sheet pan dinner recipe is so easy, and very frugal because you can use up whatever vegetables you have in the house, or whatever’s on sale seasonally. It comes to around $1 per serving.
Frugal desserts and baking
Two ingredient peach cake
Baking can be expensive, but there’s no need to skip the desserts just because you’re on a budget. Fiona from Savvy in Somerset has an amazing recipe for a peach cake which only uses two ingredients and costs just 62p.
Here’s another frugal bake: Becky’s beautiful banana muffins, perfect for using up overripe bananas.
Mini ombre cakes
A real showstopper on a budget! These absolutely gorgeous mini ombre cakes were made entirely with ingredients from the 99c store. Perfect cakes for a birthday, Valentine’s day or any kind of party!
Basic budget cupcakes
A simple and classic cupcake recipe with budget ingredients from Fuss Free Flavours. This recipe is egg free.
Looking for even more great ideas to save money on food? You’ll enjoy these posts:
- 6 Essential Apps For Saving Money At The Supermarket
- 5 Ways to Save Money on Eating Out
- 6 Smart Tips to Handle Dietary Requirements on a Budget
- 27 Genius Life Hacks That Will Save You Money
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