Our top 4 budget meal ideas for families

To celebrate World Food Day 2020, we have come up with our top four budget meal ideas for families. We know it can be challenging and expensive to feed the family sometimes – especially when finding recipes that are nutritious, tasty and affordable!

We enjoyed supporting Elite Staffordshire and the Soil Association to provide an interactive workshop at the start of the year for community groups to increase their confidence in leading cooking activities. Due to Coronavirus, we can’t get together to share another event so we are sharing some fab meal ideas instead!

Jacket Potatoes

Probably one of the cheapest meal ideas for the family has to be the good old jacket potato. You can buy potatoes from your local greengrocer, or pre-bagged from the vegetable aisle of the supermarket for less than £2, or if you are in a rush you can buy multi-packs from the frozen section.

You can put pretty much anything to a jacket potato, from a 29p tin of beans to cheese or tuna and mayonnaise. Choose your topping to suit your budget!


Spaghetti Bolognese

A much-loved family classic. Spaghetti bolognese is always a favourite with kids! You can pick dried spaghetti up from the supermarket for less than 50p a packet if you use a store own brand. You can always pick up 20% beef mince for around £2 from most supermarkets, and sometimes local butchers will do great deals. If you have the time, it’s always cheaper (and often nicer!) to make your own sauce by using tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato passata, garlic and seasoning. If you’re in a rush though, there are plenty of pre-made bolognese sauces you can find on offer. Keep your eyes out in the fridge or frozen aisle too as you can pick up garlic bread baguettes for less than 50p each!

If you want to make your own sauce all you need is:

  • 500g beef and pork mince (often cheapest option available)
  • 1 x cartons of tomato passata
  • 1 x tins of chopped tomatoes
  • garlic granules
  • mixed herb seasoning
  • 1 x beef stock cube
  • few glugs of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper

Making your own sauce is so easy to make, start your sauce before you cook your mince and give it an extra 10 minutes to cook before combining the mince with the sauce.

Pop all your ingredients together (minus the mince) into a pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. If you want a stronger beef flavour, add another stock cube to your mince whilst cooking separately. Combine everything together and cook for another 10 minutes then mix with your cooked spaghetti!


Chicken Dinner

Cooked chickens are a fantastic versatile thing to buy. Chicken breasts can be really expensive. Some supermarkets like Morrisons, often have offers on cooked chickens which means you can pick them up for less than £4, or you can find a fresh whole chicken to cook yourself for around £3-4. This will feed a family so if you pick up some good vegetables like carrots, broccoli and potatoes you can make a really healthy dinner! Chicken dinners are a fantastic way of feeding the family under a budget whilst also being healthy and nutritious. If you have leftovers, you can also use leftover cooked chicken for sandwiches, or maybe a nice curry!


Cheese and Potato Pie

Another much-loved classic. Cheese and potato pie is so cheap and easy to make. You only need a selection of ingredients and feeds the whole family! Smiling faces all round.

All you need is:

  • around 8-10 potatoes
  • handfuls of grated cheese
  • 1 or 2 tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • small amount of milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • seasoning (salt & pepper)
  1. Peel and chop up the potato, you can leave the skin on if preferred.
  2. Peel and dice up the onion and add both the onion and potato to boiling water on the hob.
  3. Boil them for around 15-20 or so minutes until potatoes have softened.
  4. Drain then return to the pot and add in the milk and butter. You can use more or less of each depending on your desired taste and consistency.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and mix everything together and mash-up.
  6. You could also add a pinch of cayenne pepper, chilli flakes or another seasoning to taste.
  7. Stir in handfuls of grated cheese – again, as much or as little as you like.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish.
  9. Top with sliced tomatoes and more grated cheese. You could also top with some breadcrumbs if you have them to hand.
  10. Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese on top has fully melted.


We hope these small meal tips and ideas have helped to inspire you this World Food Day 2020! If you need any more inspiration for food ideas many supermarket websites contain lots of advice and information for cooking on a budget. You can check out more of our projects and how we support wellbeing here.