With cost of living prices continuing to rise, you may be wondering how to feed your family cheap, yet nutritious meals on a tight budget?
In a recent post, we shared a list 25 cheap food staples to stock up your fridge and cupboards. In today's article, you'll discover how to use these ingredients to make cheap and healthy meals.
How can I eat healthy on a budget?
Before we share our list of cheap and healthy meals, here are some top tips to help you start eating healthy on a low budget:
• Write a list and do a meal plan and try your best to stick to it!
• Make large portions and use leftovers throughout the week
• Get cashback if you shop online with supermarkets via Quidco
• Stock up on yellow sticker reduction bargains to load up on products high in protein e.g. meat, cheese, etc.
• Take advantage of loyalty schemes, which reward you with discounts and money-off vouchers for items related to your previous shop
• Use up staples and products about to expire in your cupboard and fridge by making pasta bakes, soups, and salads
Cheap & healthy dinner ideas
Here are our favourite cheap and healthy meals - these are also super quick to make too! Making them perfect for midweek dinners...
1. Shepherd's pie
If you're after a cheap and healthy, but serious comfort food dish, shepherd's pie is the one! Made with lamb mince, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and a lovely Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée, this one is bound to please your whole family.
It can be made a number of ways, so it's worth a quick Google before you go shopping for ingredients.
The classic way, including all the ingredients above, is to prep your veg - chop onions and carrots and add them to a pan to cook until soft, and add your lamb mince.
Then mix in some stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée and leave to simmer for 30 mins. Make your mash, and add it all to an oven proof dish and bake for 20 mins. Amazing!
Average cost per portion: £1.48 (based on £8.87 for six people)
2. Chilli con carne
Chilli con carne is really cheap and easy to make. Once you've bought your staple ingredients, you can make a big batch to enjoy throughout the week.
To whip up a batch of chilli con carne, simply boil the rice, fry your mince, add in a tin of kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, 1/2 a red onion, chilli powder, and a dash of salt and pepper, then let it all cook. Yum!
You can also make it in the slow cooker if you own one. For an alternative, meat-free option, you can use Quorn mince or even make it just using extra beans and vegetables.
Average cost per portion: 75p (based on £4.55 for four-six servings)
3. Sausage & mash
This one has got to make the list! Bangers and mash is a classic staple mid-week dinner, and it's so cheap and delicious. It's also surprisingly healthy too, especially if you choose a healthier, low-fat choice of sausage and load up on vegetables.
Average cost per portion: 90p (based on £3.60 for four servings)
4. Lentil stew
If you're after a quick, meat-free, and cheap dinner, a lentil stew is definitely the way to go! It's a great alternative to a traditional stew, and you can use a selection of your favourite vegetables to get the best flavour, including:
• Dry green or brown lentils
• Diced tomatoes
Simply chop it all up, chuck it in a pot, add water and vegetable stock, and let it simmer. Lovely!
Average cost per portion: 99p (based on £3.99 for four servings plus leftovers!)
Lasagne is another cheap dish to make for the whole family. While it might sound like a carb heavy option, there are ways you can make it healthier.
For example, you could make a meat-free option, or add extra veggies. You could also use low-fat cheese to make it even healthier.
Average cost per portion: 78p (based on the meat version costing £4.72 per six servings)
6. One pot casserole
Casseroles are a fantastic, cheap and easy meal if you're on a tight on a budget. Add ingredients such as chicken breasts, onions, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, stock and seasoning, and anything else to your pot and let it cook. Yum!
Average cost per portion: 83p (based on £5 for five servings)
7. Chicken & egg fried rice
Fancy a Chinese fakeaway? Homemade chicken and egg fried rice is a great, healthy and cheap option to treat yourself on a budget.
Cook your chicken in the oven or fry it in a pan. To make the egg fried rice, crack four eggs into a bowl, heat up your wok and scramble your eggs. Then, chop and cook up your vegetables and boil some rice and mix it all together.
Add some soy sauce and it's ready to eat! Alternatively, you can buy a pack of microwaveable egg fried rice to heat in the microwave. Or use any flavour rice you like!
Average cost per portion: £1.16 (based on £4.62 for four servings)
Another fakeaway, healthier takeaway option is to make your own burgers at home. They are really quick to make too! Simply mix all your ingredients (beef mince, diced onions, and an egg) into a bowl and bind with an egg.
All you have to do then is roll them out into a burger shape, leaving all the ingredients to stick together for around 30 mins, then pop on the grill (or BBQ) and enjoy! Serve without a burger bun and with salad to make it extra healthy.
Average cost per serving: £1.08 per burger (based on £4.35 for four burgers)
9. Healthy Mac and cheese
Here is another family favourite, super cheap meal to make... Mac and cheese! Again, this one may not sound healthy, but you can pack it full of veggies and use low fat cheese to make it tasty and nutritious.
Grab a large pan and add your macaroni, some broccoli, cauliflower, and any other veg you might like, and let it simmer in boiling hot water. Then, simply drain it and add your cheese before popping it in the oven for 20 mins. Delicious!
Average cost per portion: 87p (based on £3.50 for four servings)
Pizzas are so cheap to make and are a great way to get your kids involved in the process! Pick up a pack of pizza bases, tomato puree, and grated cheese in the supermarket, plus any healthy, cost-effective toppings you or your kids will like, such as peppers, chicken pieces, etc.
All you have to do then is create it at home and pop it in the oven to bake. So easy!
Average cost per portion: 41p per slice (based on £2.50 for all the ingredients)
11. Pasta salad
Pasta is such a versatile staple to keep in your cupboards, as you can get plenty of cheap dinners and lunch leftovers out of one pack! One of the healthiest ways to enjoy a pasta dish is to make a pasta salad.
Boil your favourite type of pasta (280g) and add a mix of vegetables such as peas or broccoli into it. Drain and stir in a 1/4 cup of creamy light mayonnaise or salad dressing and serve as it is, or with tuna or chicken. Delicious!
Average cost per portion: 60p (based on £3 for five servings)
Finally, we can't get enough of spaghetti! It's so cheap and easy to make, and you can really make it as basic or as fancy as you like.
To create a cheap and healthy version, use 224g of spaghetti, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, and any herbs or sides you like such as garlic or salad. You can also add meatballs or mince meat to make a tasty bolognese too.
Average cost per portion: 37p (based on £1.50 for four servings)