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Running low on meal inspiration? Or searching for recipes that don’t cost the earth? Food editor Linzi Pucino shares five family meal ideas that all come in at under a fiver!
Meal planning can be a minefield, from choosing meals that everyone at the table wants to eat (hello, fussy eaters), to keeping costs down (and flavour up). But planning family dinners doesn’t have to be a chore. I’ve selected five fantastic recipes with both taste appeal and budget in mind, so you don’t have to compromise on flavour or quality when purse strings are a little tight. All meals feed four people (at least) and are sure to keep everyone feeling satisfied.
My top tips for eating on a budget
Keep store cupboard staples on standby
Tinned foods such as legumes, veggies and fish are essential when it comes to whipping up quick, easy and budget-friendly meals at home. And while using canned foods is one of my favourite budget-cooking hacks, there are lots more useful storecupboard ingredients to keep on standby: flour, peanut butter, spices, pasta, rice, pesto… the list goes on! All are cheap, keep for a long time and are fantastic for creating tasty meals.
Make expensive ingredients go further
Meat, fish and some cheeses can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego them altogether. Bulk up a pack of chicken thighs or a couple of fish fillets with extra veggies or legumes for a filling meal with leftovers to spare!
Plan, plan, plan
It might not be your favourite thing to do, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run. I like to spend half an hour on a Sunday planning out what I’m going to eat that week, so I don’t end up with surplus ingredients or have to throw away anything I don’t use.
Opt for own brand if you can
It’s a no-brainer – own brand products are usually much cheaper than branded ingredients and, despite what you may think, don’t differ in quality. Co-op’s Honest Value range includes hundreds of products at affordable prices to help make meal planning on a budget that much easier – all without compromising on the values you care about.
5 family meals for under £5
Monday: Cauliflower and tuna spaghetti
When in doubt, tins are your friend! I never turn my nose up to food from a can, and you shouldn’t either – especially when you can make something as delicious as this spaghetti. Made with roasted cauliflower, a light, lemony yogurt sauce and topped with crispy breadcrumbs, this easy tuna pasta is a midweek winner.
Total cost: £3.98
Tuesday: Sweetcorn risotto
Think risottos are only reserved for fancy restaurants? They’re not – and besides, your family deserves the best any night of the week. This oozy risotto uses tinned sweetcorn for a thrifty twist and only requires five ingredients (including parmesan!). It really is possible to cook with luxury ingredients on a budget, too.
Total cost: £4.51
Wednesday: Chicken and cannellini bean stew
Make a pack of chicken thighs go further with tinned cannellini beans, a pack of cream cheese and a sprinkling of dried herbs. I love this hearty stew when hunger’s calling (but my wallet isn’t).
Total cost: £4.44
Thursday: Baked tomato rice
All you need are five ingredients to make this comforting baked rice dish. It’s also vegetarian, gluten-free and low in fat. What can’t this dish do?!
Total cost: £3.88
Friday: Roasted veg toad in the hole
This fantastic veggie toad in the hole is a great way of using up odds and ends at the back of your fridge and storecupboard. Plus, it serves six people, making it a great option for hungry mouths (or as leftovers for lunch the next day).
Total cost: £2.36
Looking for more meals that little ones will love, too? Check out these 6 healthy and budget-friendly recipes to make with kids.