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35 Cheap Family Meals – As Little As £1 a Head

Anyone else struggle to come up with something they actually want for dinner that sticks within a budget?

Coming up with extremely cheap family meal ideas can be a bit of a headache, and sticking to your budget is definitely difficult if you head to the supermarket with an empty stomach and no idea of what you’re going to buy. 

Family cooking cheap family meals

So I’ve got 34 delicious family meal ideas that taste great and are cheap to make, at just roughly £1 a head. If you are visiting from somewhere outside of the UK, do not worry! These meals are cheap to make wherever you live.

Some of these dishes come in at a little over £1 a head, some come in at under £1 a head, but some of them (such as the pies) can produce enough to give you leftovers to feed the kids for lunch the next day. 

These recipes all assume cooking for a family of four on a budget and are all things I’ve made at home myself! 

You may also like: Frugal living tips

Meal plan and shopping list costing just £20 for a week

Free printable budget food shopping list

Budget family meals for a week 

These 34 ideas for budget family meals will help you plan what to cook for the week – or even the entire month!

When it comes to sticking with meal planning I’ve found it really helps to create a master list of all the meals you love to cook. You can add to it regularly as you discover more recipes. 

When you come to plan your shopping list for the week ahead you can then select meals from your master list.

To make it even easier organise your master list by weekend “treat meals” such as pizza and midweek easy meals such as veggie pasta. 

Cheap family meal ideas

To calculate the cost of these family meal ideas I’ve used the price of food from Aldi, however for some ingredients such as flour and yeast I’ve used Tesco.  

This was correct at the time of writing this article however of course due to seasonality there may be some fluctuations in prices.

Always check before you shop to ensure something will fit into your weekly budget. I haven’t added the cost of cooking oil to this, but of course this will add a couple of pennies to the cost.

Swapping out certain veggies for more seasonal produce can often help to bring your overall grocery budget down. 

All of these recipes serve four but some may leave you with an additional portion as leftovers so remember to freeze those or save for lunch the next day. 

1. Homemade pizza 

I use the Jamie Oliver pizza dough recipe to make this from scratch and honestly it’s so easy, and tasty!  

Once you have the core ingredients for this in your store cupboard you are pretty much all set to make it and only need a few fresh items. It’s about 20% or less of the cost of buying a takeout pizza! 

If you feel daunted at the thought of making pizza dough from scratch you can always purchase pre-made bases, however if you have the ingredients for the dough you will save a lot of money over time if you make it yourself. 

I haven’t added salt on here as it only requires a pinch and this is one of those items I’m sure you have in your store cupboard. 

Once I’ve made the dough I roll it out until it’s super thin (around 0.5cm) and then top with passata which I mix with a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs (or just dried oregano) before grating on the cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for around 7 minutes or until the cheese melts and the base is beginning to turn golden. 


  • 500g Strong bread flour 38p
  • 7g yeast 10p 
  • 200g Passata 15p
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs or oregano 10p
  • 200g grated cheddar cheese £2
  • 1 slice ham 50p
  • Fresh basil leaves 47p
  • Total cost: £4.15

2. Chicken curry 

Your kids may not be big spice fans but if you’re making this from scratch then you can dial down the heat a little so they can cope! 

To cut the costs use chicken thighs which are a much cheaper cut of meat. You can also bulk out the meal for less by adding a can of chickpeas, so you don’t need to use as much meat. 

I always start by slicing up the chicken into bite size chunks and adding the garam masala, then popping it into a bowl to marinate in the fridge for a while. 

I fry the chopped onion and garlic for 5 minutes, then add in the chicken before adding the curry powder and stir really well. Then I tip in the chopped tomatoes and simmer. Once it’s reduced and thickened I serve with rice!  


  • Chicken thighs £2.85
  • Tin chopped tomatoes 37p 
  • 2 garlic cloves 2p 
  • Onion 43p
  • 3 tbsp Mild/medium curry powder (whatever your preference) 79p
  • Garam Masala £1.25
  • Rice 5p
  • Total cost: £5.76

3. Shepherd’s Pie

I absolutely love a shepherd’s pie and it’s a regular midweek meal in our house. 

It isn’t a quick meal to cook, as you need to cook the sauce and potato topping separately before combining to add to the oven, however it’s a great, hearty meal. 

If you want to make this meal cheaper then use beef mince instead and make a cottage pie – you definitely pay more for lamb mince. 

I usually get leftovers for another meal for one of us from this recipe.

You can check out my shepherd’s pie recipe over on this article.


  • 475g Lamb mince £4.39
  • Tin chopped tomatoes 37p
  • 2x Garlic cloves 2p
  • Splash Worcestershire sauce 2p
  • 1 beef stock cube 12p
  • 800g potatoes 80p
  • Splash of milk 4p
  • Knob of unsalted butter 5p
  • Total cost: £5.81

4. Spaghetti bolognese 

This is one of my favourite midweek family meals. 

You can add additional veg to the sauce – carrots and leeks for example – to increase the veg hit if you want to. 

Start by frying the beef mince until it is browned all over, and then add the chopped onion, garlic and beef stock cube and fry for a few more minutes. I then add the tinned tomatoes, then fill the can half up with water from the tap and pop that into the mix. You can then cook this for around 15 minutes, while cooking your spaghetti. 

I usually also add a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs from my store cupboard too for flavour. 

You can find my bolognese recipe here.  


  • 400g beef mince £2.99
  • 1 onion chopped 43p
  • Beef stock cube 12p
  • Tin chopped tomatoes 37p
  • 2 cloves garlic 2p
  • Spaghetti 10p
  • Total cost: £4.03

5. Simple veggie pasta 

An easy vegetarian pasta is not only a healthy option but it tastes amazing too! 

Add a sprinkling of grated cheese on top for extra yumminess. When making this I simply fry the onion in a little oil for a few minutes, then add the chopped up vegetables and cook for a further few minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes and stock cube and cooking for 20 minutes. 

You can also add additional vegetables such as cherry tomatoes. 


  • 350g pasta 20p
  • Onion 43p
  • 2 courgettes £1.15
  • Red pepper 42p
  • Tin chopped tomatoes 37p
  • Vegetable stock cube 12p
  • Total cost: £2.69

6. Mac and cheese 

You could buy a cheese sauce for your mac and cheese but I always make it from scratch as I’ve always got the ingredients to hand. 

You start by melting the butter in a pan over a medium heat, then pop in the flour. You’ll need to stir it continuously to make sure the flour and butter doesn’t form lumps and turn the heat down to low. 

Next you add the milk and warm it through before adding the grated cheese and stirring well. 

You can check out this BBC Mac and Cheese recipe for more ideas.  


  • 350g Macaroni pasta 20p
  • 250g Cheddar cheese grated £1.25
  • 3 tbsp Plain flour 1p
  • 2 tbsp Butter 10p
  • 500ml Milk 25p
  • Total cost: £1.81

7. Lamb wraps 

This really simple lamb wraps recipe came about from a desire to have a midweek meal that didn’t take forever to cook. 

It also goes down really well with the kids because they can assemble their own wrap. 

I sometimes let them top it with a little grated cheese. 

To make this all I do is add the paprika to the lamb and mix it together so the lamb is covered. Then I fry the lamb in a little oil until it’s cooked through. 

We then assemble our own wraps at the dinner table. This one is more expensive due to the cost of lamb, however if you use diced beef you can cut back the cost. 


  • 300g diced lamb £4.19
  • Wraps 65p
  • Pepper sliced 42p
  • Cherry tomatos 48p
  • 1tsp paprika 2p
  • Half lettuce sliced 20p
  • Total cost: £5.96

8. Fish pie 

I love a fish pie – it’s a brilliant winter warmer of a meal! You can buy pre-packaged fish pie mix – containing a selection of different fish like cod and haddock – which is chopped up and ready to cook. 

Start by making your mashed potato. While that’s cooking melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat, then pop in the flour. You’ll need to stir it continuously to make sure the flour and butter doesn’t form lumps and turn the heat down to low. 

Next you add the milk and warm it through before adding the grated cheese and stirring well. Then take this off the heat and add the fish and mustard then stir well. 

Spoon the fish mixture into a pie dish or ramekins and topped with mashed potato before baking in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes. Serve with peas on the side. 

There’s a great BBC fish pie recipe here.


  • Fish pie mix £3.55
  • 500ml Milk 25p
  • 800g Potatoes 37p
  • 100g grated cheese 75p
  • 2tbsp butter 10p
  • 2tbsp plain flour 1p
  • 1tsp English mustard 3p
  • Handful frozen peas 5p
  • Total cost: £5.11

9. Mushroom risotto 

A great midweek meal option if you want a vegetarian dish! First I begin by mixing up some vegetable stock with the stock cube and a litre of boiling water. 

Next I fry the onions in a little olive oil and then add the crushed garlic and fry for a few more minutes. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the pan then add the rice and cook for a few more minutes. Add the wine to the pan and let it bubble for 3 minutes. 

Pour on enough stock to completely cover the rice and mushrooms and simmer. 

As the liquid reduces away add more of the stock to the pan. The rice will cook in around 10 to 16 minutes. Finish by adding the butter and giving it a good stir to melt into the risotto, now add some chopped parsley and serve. 


  • 300g Mushrooms 99p
  • Onion chopped 43p
  • 2 garlic cloves 2p
  • 300g Risotto rice 80p
  • Vegetable stock cube 12p
  • Knob of butter 5p 
  • 175mp White wine £1
  • Bunch parsley 37p
  • Total cost: £3.78

10. Chilli con carne

A beef chilli is one of my favourite meals to have! If your kids aren’t that keen on heat then you can tone the spice levels down by deseeding the chilli or avoiding adding any extra hot chilli powder. 

This is a really easy one to make. Brown the mince all over then add the chopped onion and stock cube and fry for a few minutes. Next you tip in the chopped tomatoes, fill the tin up with water halfway and add that too. 

Now add your spices, kidney beans, and chilli and give it a good stir, then simmer for 30 minutes. This makes a really decent amount which often leaves leftovers for the next day too. 


  • 500g beef mince £2.99
  • 1 tin red kidney beans 30p
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 37p
  • Onion chopped 43p
  • 2 garlic cloves 2p
  • Beef stock cube 12p
  • 1 red chilli chopped 5p
  • 2tsp ground cumin 5p
  • 2 tsp ground coriander 5p
  • 1tsp hot chilli powder 5p
  • Rice 10p
  • Total cost: £4.98

11. Meatballs and pasta 

A classic midweek meal! You could make the meatballs yourself with some beef mince but I like to cut corners in the week and just buy them pre made. 

The method of making this sauce is very similar to spaghetti bolognese, apart from you will take a little longer browning the outside of the meatballs to get them cooking through to the middle. 


  • Beef meatballs £2.19
  • Tin chopped tomatoes 37p
  • Onion 43p
  • 2 garlic cloves 2p
  • Beef stock cube 12p
  • Pasta (shape of your choice) 20p
  • Total cost: £3.33

12. Turkey goujons 

I always really enjoy making these turkey goujons. It’s really straightforward to do and makes a tasty, healthy meal for the family. Plus this is a super cheap family dinner! 

On the morning I’m going to make this I leave the two slices of bread for the recipe out on the side in the kitchen so they can dry out a little. This isn’t essential but it makes better bread crumbs. 

You can buy packs of pre-made bread crumbs but it’s much cheaper this way! 

I make my bread crumbs by just whizzing the slices of bread up in a food processor for two minutes or so. 

I then put the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl, as well as beat the eggs into another shallow bowl and put the plain flour into a third shallow bowl. 

I cut the turkey breast steaks into strips and then dip each one into the plain flour, ensuring they are coated all over. I then add them to the egg mixture, again ensuring they are coated all over, before then putting them in the breadcrumbs. 

An even coating is essential. 

The goujons are then ready to be roasted in an oven at 180C for 25 to 35 minutes. I tend to heat a little vegetable oil on a baking tray before adding the goujons to that and roasting. 

Serve with a green salad made up of the lettuce, onion and cherry tomatoes, or chips. 


  • Turkey breast steaks £2.59
  • 2 slices white bread 5p
  • 2 eggs 26p
  • 2tbsp plain flour 1p
  • Half head lettuce 20p
  • Red onion 18p
  • Cherry tomatoes 48p
  • Total cost: £3.77

13. Pancakes with bacon 

It does not need to be Pancake Day in our house for us to enjoy pancakes for dinner! 

I cook fluffy, thick pancakes, rather than the super thin ones. My recipe for pancakes is here. 

Sometimes I’ll serve it with some simple fruit like grapes and orange segments but my favourite is serving it with bacon (and a little maple syrup on the side). 


  • 225g Plain flour 30p
  • 2.5tsp Baking powder 2p
  • 2 Eggs 26p
  • 30g Butter 15p
  • 300ml Milk 40p
  • Bacon £1.25
  • Total cost: £2.38

14. Chicken pie 

This recipe for chicken pie is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that always works great and tastes amazing. I’ve simplified this version of it, but you can see the original one by Jamie here.  

Chicken pie recipe cheap family meal idea

I use chicken thighs here because it’s a cheaper cut. Start by frying the chicken in the butter until it’s sealed on every side. Then add the mushrooms (sliced) and cook for a few more minutes. 

Mix the stock cube with 500ml water and then tip this into the mix along with the creme fraiche and English mustard. Cook for 10 minutes. 

Next tip the chicken mixture into a pie dish before topping with the puff pastry (I always buy pre-rolled for convenience). Brush the top of the puff pastry with a tiny bit of milk. Roast in the over at 190C for 20 minutes, or when the puff pastry is golden on top. 


  • Puff pastry 85p
  • Chicken thighs £2.85
  • Creme fraiche  95p
  • 10g Butter 10p
  • 200g Button mushrooms 75p 
  • Chicken stock cube 12p
  • 1tsp English mustard 5p
  • Total cost: £5.67

15. Mini toad in the hole 

This easy mini toad in the hole recipe is always a hit with the kids. You need to cook the sausages before adding them to the batter.

To make the batter simply mix the flour, eggs and milk together with 110ml with water. Give it a good stir to ensure it’s well combined. Then just roast in the oven for around 20 to 25 minutes, or until the batter has turned crisp and golden. 

I serve with a few veggies, and gravy too if you like. 

My recipe for mini toad in the hole can be found here.


  • 12 Chipolata sausages £1.79
  • 150g Plain flour 20p
  • 2 Eggs 26p
  • 150ml Milk 20p
  • Broccoli 47p
  • Carrots 10p
  • Total cost: £3.02

16. Ribs with BBQ sauce 

This is a weekend treat meal that comes in a little pricier than £4 (over £2 more) however it’s way cheaper than a takeout!

I start by mixing the sauce, ketchup, soy and garlic (crushed) together in a bowl. I then drizzle this all over the ribs (in a baking tray).

Pop this in the oven at 160C and cook for around an hour until the ribs are cooked through and starting to brown on the edges. Serve with corn on the cob. These also taste great when cooked on the BBQ, but just cook in the oven for 30 minutes before finishing on the BBQ.


  • Pork ribs £4.20
  • Hoisin sauce 89p
  • 1 tbsp ketchup 2p
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 5p
  • 2 garlic cloves 2p
  • Corn on the cob 95p
  • Total cost: £6.13

17. Chicken with rice and beans 

This is great if you’re a big fan of spicy food!

Grab all of the ingredients for the sauce (chilli, honey, spring onions, soy, garlic) and whizz up in a food processor, then drizzle on the chicken legs and roast in an oven at 180C for 35 to 40 minutes.

Cook the rice with the tin of mixed beans (I sometimes add a stock cube to this to add a little more flavour) and serve.

A scotch bonnet is a seriously hot chilli so either deseed it before cooking or choose a milder chilli.


  • Chicken legs £1.69
  • Honey 10p
  • Scotch bonnet chilli 15p
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar 5p
  • Bunch spring onions 37p
  • 1tbsp soy sauce 5p
  • 2 garlic cloves 2p
  • Rice 10p
  • Tinned mixed beans 53p
  • Total cost: £3.06

18. Eggy bread (AKA French toast)

This is my go-to dinner for when I don’t have time to cook anything elaborate. It’s super cheap but it’s always something the kids enjoy.

On the side I tend to add a few carrot sticks for the kids, but you could also serve with bacon.

All you need to do is beat the eggs into a shallow bowl. Next dip the slices of bread into the egg until they are coated on both sides.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and then gently fry each slice of bread for roughly 2 minutes each side.


  • 5 eggs 65p
  • 8 slices of bread 20p
  • Butter 10p
  • Total cost: 95p

19. Sweet chilli salmon with cous cous 

A simple but really tasty way to enjoy fish! This one is a little more expensive due to the salmon however everything else is pretty low cost so keeps it to around £1.50 a head. 

Put the salmon fillets onto some tin foil on a baking tray. Add the sweet chilli sauce on top and then fold the tin foil so it covers the salmon. Cook in an oven at 170C for 15 minutes until cooked through. 

Meanwhile add boiling water to the stock cube and cover the cous cous with your stock. Cover with cling film and leave to absorb the stock for five minutes. 

Serve with the green beans. 


  • 2tbsp Sweet chilli sauce 25p
  • 4 Salmon fillets £5.38
  • 250g Cous cous 20p
  • Vegetable stock cube 12p
  • Green beans 69p
  • Total cost: £6.64

20. Chicken with corn on the cob and mash

This simple roasted chicken recipe is great comfort food with the mash and buttery corn.

Rub the chicken all over with a little olive oil and the dried mixed herbs and then roast according to cooking instructions on the pack.

Cook up a little mash and add some corn on the cob and voila.


  • Chicken whole £3.79
  • 1tbsp Dried mixed herbs 10p
  • Corn on the cob 95p
  • 800g potatoes 37p
  • Splash of milk 4p
  • Knob of unsalted butter 5p
  • Total cost: £5.30

21. Enchilada tray bake 

This is a tasty weekend meal. You can make the enchilada sauce from scratch yourself but I prefer to grab a jar of sauce to save time.

Combine the cooked chicken with a quarter of the enchilada sauce.

Warm tortillas in a microwave for 40 seconds, then fill each individual tortilla with the chicken plus a handful of grated cheese. Place each tortilla in a row in a baking tray with high sides. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top and the rest of the cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese bubbles.


  • Enchilada sauce £1.99
  • Chicken thighs (cooked and diced into small chunks) £2.75
  • Tortilla wraps 65p
  • 400g Grated cheddar cheese £1.79
  • Shredded lettuce 20p
  • Total cost: £7.38

22. Stuffed baked potatoes 

The humble baked potato is a classic for a reason. It’s filling and delicious!

I love this recipe with a little bacon and cheese – it’s indulgent but easy to make.

Cook your baked potatoes in the oven at full heat. Meanwhile fry the bacon lardons in a pan in a little oil until crisp. Then cut open and remove the fluffy potato from the skins and mix together with the bacon and cheese and butter. Place back into the potato skins and serve! There’s a similar yummy recipe here.


  • 4 baking potatoes 39p
  • 80g Cheese 50p
  • 200g Bacon lardons £1.49
  • 50g Butter 20p
  • Total cost: £2.58

23. Omelette 

A simple omelette is a great way of using up leftover vegetables in your fridge. 

I add pretty much anything we have – including things like leftover cooked roast potatoes. These are really great when fried and added to an omelette. 

I also love to add peppers, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, onion, and courgette. If you’ve bought veggies for a specific dish and have some leftover this is a great dish to make sure nothing goes to waste. 


  • 8 eggs 1.04p
  • Red pepper 42p
  • Onion 47p
  • Splash milk 4p
  • 100g grated cheese 60p
  • Total cost: £2.10

24. Chicken and chorizo with rice 

I love this easy one pot dish because it doesn’t leave me with too much washing up!

To make it mix up 500ml of chicken stock with the cube.

Start by frying the chorizo (cut into chunks) and then add the chicken thighs (chopped into chunks) and cook together for around five minutes. Add the paprika and stir then tip in the chicken stock and add the cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) and red pepper (sliced). Finally add the rice and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Add extra water if it runs a little dry before the rice is cooked.

This is done when all of the liquid is gone and the rice is cooked through.


  • Chorizo £1.59
  • Chicken thighs £2.75
  • Chicken stock cube 12p
  • 1 tsp paprika 4p
  • Cherry tomatoes 48p
  • Red pepper 42p
  • 300g Rice 10p
  • Total cost: £5.50

25. Quick puff pastry pizza 

This quick puff pastry pizza recipe is a great way of using up leftover vegetables in the fridge. You can chuck basically anything on there – courgettes, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, etc.

All you need to do is roll the puff pastry out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and spread some passata on it (leave a 1cm gap around the edge for the crust). Then you load it up with toppings and the cheese.

BBC Good Food also has a recipe here.


  • Puff pastry 85p
  • Cheese £1.50
  • 3 tbsp passata 10p
  • Pepper sliced 42p
  • 2 tomatoes sliced 40p
  • Red onion sliced 43p
  • Handful spinach 30p 
  • Total cost: £4

26. Quesadillas 

You can fill your Quesadillas with whatever you choose – mushrooms, olives, onions, peppers, tomatoes, there’s a lot of options! You can also add meat or just keep it vegetarian.

To make this simply fry a tortilla in a pan with a little oil and then add your toppings and cook for a few minutes. Fold the tortilla over to create a sandwich and remove from the pan. Slice into wedges and service with a little lettuce.

Check out this Quesadilla recipe from Simply Recipes.


  • Flour tortilla wraps 65p
  • Grated cheddar £1.50
  • 2 tomatoes 40p
  • Handful black olives 20p
  • Avocado 75p
  • Quarter head lettuce 11p
  • Total cost: £3.61

27. Fajitas 

We love fajitas in our house! We add jalapenos when it’s just the adults but those are a little too spicy for the kids. It’s easy to cook in one wok or pan and makes a hearty meal!


  • 400g diced chicken breasts £3.15
  • Wraps 65p
  • Onion 43p
  • Red pepper 42p
  • Yellow pepper 42p
  • Fajita seasoning 60p
  • Total cost: £5.67

28. Homemade burgers 

Burgers are the perfect Saturday night treat! Making them can be really fun to do together as well.

Start by mixing the mince with the herbs and egg in a bowl. Once it’s all combined well then shape the beef mixture into individual burger patties.

Now fry each one for around 5 minutes each side and serve in the buns with the lettuce and cheese.


  • 500g Beef mince £2.99
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs 5p
  • 1 egg beaten 11p
  • 4 Burger buns 89p
  • Quarter head lettuce 11p
  • 4 Cheddar cheese slices 40p
  • Total cost: £4.55

29. Pea and ham pasta 

I use this for leftover thick cut ham slices that we haven’t used in sandwiches.

All you need to do is cook the pasta according to instructions then drain and return to a low heat. Add the cream, butter, ham and peas then stir for a few minutes before serving.


  • Diced ham £1.19
  • Pasta 20p
  • Frozen peas 10p
  • Single cream 75p
  • Grated cheddar £1.50
  • 2tbsp butter 10p
  • Total cost: £3.84

30. Teriyaki beef stir fry

This one you can cheat with either the Aldi Teriyaki kit which comes with virtually everything you need or Tesco does a meal deal on its stir fry essentials.

Substitute beef for pork if you want to cut the cost.


  • Teriyaki beef stir fry kit (Aldi) £3.29
  • Egg noodles £1.19
  • Total cost: £4.48

31. Easy Tortilla pizzas 

I love this easy tortilla pizza as the kids can help out with it.

All you need to do is spread a little passata on each wrap and then top with cheese, ham and cherry tomatoes. Bake in the oven at 180C for around 4 to 6 minutes until the wrap is starting to brown and the cheese has melted.


  • Wraps 65p
  • Cheddar cheese £1.50
  • 5tbsp Passata 25p
  • Cherry tomatoes 48p
  • Ham £1
  • Pepper 43p
  • Total cost: £4.31

32. Carbonara

This classic spaghetti dish is a real crowd-pleaser and cheap to make!

Use this simple carbonara recipe to put it together.


  • 300g Spaghetti 50p
  • 100g Bacon lardons 90p
  • 5 spring onions 50p
  • 150g low fat soft cheese 75p
  • 1 egg 13p
  • 150ml semi-skimmed milk 20p
  • 40g hard cheese 30p
  • Fresh parsley 60p
  • Total cost: £3.88

33. Tomato and gnocchi pasta traybake

Keep it simple with a traybake! You could add sausage meat – removed from its casings and fried in a little oil – if you want to add some meat.

Place your ingredients into an oven-proof tray, topping with the cheddar and mozzarella, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and crisp. Delicious!


  • Can chopped tomatoes 37p
  • 350g gnocchi 80p
  • 40g grated cheddar cheese £1.50
  • 125g mozzarella cheese £1.55
  • 80g spinach £1
  • 125g cherry tomatoes 90p
  • Total cost: £6.12

34. Quick turkey koftas and pitta

I estimate this quick meal from Tesco’s recipe collection will cost you around £6-£7 for all of the ingredients.

You could substitute the turkey for some pork which will make it come out cheaper!

Ditch the yoghurt and coriander to save a little on the extra costs.

35. Pork pitta pockets

I love pitta bread and it can be used in so many ways to create a nice meal.

Pork is generally a lot cheaper than other meat such as chicken and lamb, plus it’s seriously tasty.

You can add a few chips or potato wedges to the side if you want a little something extra with it.

Cut the pork loin steaks (you could also use pork fillet or pork chops if you spot those on offer) into bite size chunks and fry in a little oil on the hob at a medium heat.

Once that has browned all over add diced onion, crushed garlic and sliced peppers to the pan and fry for around four minutes. You can add a little paprika at this stage, if your kids can handle the heat, and mix well.

Mix your yoghurt with the lemon zest and juice.

Once everything is cooked serve your pork and veg in the pitta breads and top with the yoghurt. You could also add a little cheese, such as feta or grated cheddar, to top it if you wish.


  • 4 pork loin steaks £2.69
  • Pitta pack £1
  • 1 onion 24p
  • 2 garlic cloves 5p
  • 2 peppers 80p
  • 150g yoghurt 55p
  • 1 lemon 21p
  • Total cost: £5.54

36. Pork chops with gnocchi in a mustard sauce

This delicious pork dish is a go-to meal for us in the week. Your kids may not like it due to the mustard sauce, in which case try service it with a plain creamy sauce that doesn’t include the mustard.

Simply fry the pork chops in a hot pan in two tablespoons of garlic oil until cooked through. Remove the chops.

Next pour the cider into the pan and let it bubble away until reduced by half. Now add in the cream and mustard, give it a good stir and reduce heat to a low simmer and let it cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions – usually around two minutes in boiled water.


  • 4 Pork chops £3.29
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic oil 30p
  • 250ml Cider 70p
  • 150ml Double cream 50p
  • 2 tablespoons Wholegrain mustard 10p
  • 400g Gnocchi £1
  • Total cost: £5.89

37. Cauliflower cheese

This mean is a lovely and tasty one to do if you fancy a veggie option one evening.

I always serve ours with some garlic bread.

Roast the cauliflower florets in the oven on a roasting tray for around 20 minutes with a little oil drizzled on top.

While it’s cooking, make up a roux in a saucepan on the hob. You can do this by first putting butter in a pan over a medium heat, and allowing it to melt. Then add the flour and stir thoroughly to combine. Cook this for a few minutes then add the milk and cream mixture, doing so gradually rather than all at once and stirring regularly.

Now add the grated cheese to the pan and stir thoroughly off the heat.

Pour your cheese sauce all over the cauliflower, then transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes aat 180C.


  • Large cauliflower cut into florets £1.09
  • 70g Butter 40p
  • 4-5 tablespoons Plain flour 10p
  • 100ml Single cream 25p
  • 400ml Milk 80p
  • 150g Cheddar cheese grated £1
  • Total cost: £3.64

Final thoughts on budget family dinners

This list gives you lots of ideas for feeding a family of four on the cheap.

When it comes to saving money on your grocery bill look to switch out certain cuts of meat for cheaper options, buy seasonal veg and take advantage of offers available to you.

Cheap family dinner ideas for the whole week


Saturday 6th of May 2023

Can't find when this was written. Looking at it in 2023 is pretty heart breaking. Burgers, cheapest mince I could find was £2.49 instead of £1.49 for 500g. 1 egg is about 40p now if you can find them, not 11p 😔

It would be awesome if you could do an update with recipes that are cheap now (mid 2023) so tricky to find things that fit

Vicky Smith

Sunday 7th of May 2023

Yes you're right the cost of food has gone completely crazy in recent months. I have now updated the prices of key ingredients here. The cheapest eggs I can find at Aldi are 13p each, so it is worth shopping around in supermarkets and among their range of products to find the best prices if you want to save money on your family meals.