It’s not always easy to feed a family on a budget. Making meals that are healthy and nutritious without breaking the bank can be tricky, but it’s definitely easier when you can plan ahead with inexpensive, crowd-pleasing food. Dishes that lend themselves to batch cooking or using up leftovers are super helpful when it comes to watching the pennies – they make your weekly food shop go so much further!
To help out with putting together a pocket-friendly food plan, we’ve rounded up a few meal ideas that’ll feed a family of 4 for a fiver or less. A well-stocked store cupboard is your best friend when it comes to making meals on a budget. Once you’ve picked up essentials such as low-calorie cooking spray, herbs, spices and seasonings, they’ll come in handy time and time again.
Please note, for the purpose of putting together this list, we haven’t included the cost of low-calorie cooking spray and other basic store cupboard ingredients such as stock cubes.
There’s no reason that breakfast can’t be delicious, slimming-friendly and inexpensive all at once.
You can’t go wrong with an egg-based breakfast, especially when you’re watching your pennies. Eggs are low in calories and high in protein, which makes them a cracking way to start your day. They’ll fill you up and keep you going until your next meal.
A fiver will buy you enough ingredients for at least 4 servings of this Breakfast Quesadilla. Whether you follow the recipe to a tee or get creative with the fillings is up to you! This recipe is perfect for using up any leftover ham, sausages or stray vegetables that you might have tucked away at the back of the fridge.
You’ll find this recipe in our new planner. It’s packed with helpful features to make family meal planning more affordable. You can grab a copy here.
If you’ve got a loaf of bread in the house, there’s always the option of toast for breakfast. Give your slice of toast a new lease of life by topping it with our creamy, Marmite-infused mushrooms. This Marmite Mushrooms on Toast recipe doesn’t just save on money, it’s a time-saver too – it’s on the table in less than 15 minutes!
If that’s not impressive enough, each serving comes in at only 187 calories, so it’ll fit in with your slimming plan, as well as your weekly budget. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Marmite, we’d recommend giving this recipe a try – the cream cheese mellows the yeast extract until it’s just a hint of salty, savoury flavour.
Tucking into something that tastes indulgent doesn’t have to break the bank. For a treat of a breakfast, we always come back to these decadent-tasting Nutella Baked Oats. Any porridge recipe will always work out to be budget-friendly – a big bag of oats will go a long way!
This recipe is designed to be made with Nutella, although a supermarket own-brand chocolate spread would still work well (and it might be cheaper too). Just remember to adjust the calories, if you’re counting.
The full recipe for this dish can only be found in our Comfort Food cookbook. You can order a copy here if you don’t have one already!
No matter what your day holds in store, you can guarantee that preparing lunch at home, or taking something homemade in your packed lunch, will work out cheaper than picking up a supermarket sandwich.
Luckily, there are plenty of slimming-friendly recipes you can make at home for less than a fiver. This Crustless Quiche Lorraine is bang on budget, and it easily feeds 4 people.
It has all the familiar flavour that you crave from your favourite quiche, but by skipping the pastry casing, we’ve saved loads of calories. We promise the tasty filling is so satisfying, you won’t miss the pastry one bit! Find the full recipe in our Quick and Easy cookbook.
Whether you’re watching your spending or not, a cheese toastie for lunch always feels like a treat. We’ve given the humble toastie a Pinch of Nom makeover, creating this spiced up Cheesy Chilli Toastie – and you really only need a handful of ingredients.
It’s well worth using both fresh chillies and a sprinkle of chilli powder to layer up the heat inside that gooey, cheesy filling. It might not cost much to rustle up, but this recipe is a surefire way to make lunchtime more exciting!
Leftovers for lunch? This Chicken Alfredo Tagliatelle is just as delicious made from scratch or heated up from the night before. Pasta is a staple when you’re trying to save a few pennies – it’s filling, affordable and versatile too.
We’ve taken inspiration for this dish from the classic Alfredo sauce, which is traditionally made with lots of butter and parmesan cheese. To keep it slimming-friendly, we’ve used some lightest cream cheese in our version – you get a silky, rich sauce without all the calories.
Your evening meal can be the trickiest one to squeeze into a £5 for 4 people budget, but it’s definitely doable! You don’t need fancy, expensive ingredients to create big flavours, and you can make a range of healthy homemade meals without it costing the world.
Eating more meat-free meals is one way to save a few pennies. This Mushroom Carbonara proves that veggie dishes can be every bit as satisfying as a meaty alternative. You’ll get a rich, savoury flavour from the chestnut mushrooms, without the need to add in any bacon or ham (although you can throw some in if you’ve got any going spare in the fridge).
On the table in 45 minutes, this is the perfect inexpensive family dinner. A little bit of parmesan really does go a long way, so you can use one block to make several different cheesy dishes.
Swirl your creamy pasta into bowls and dish up dinner! You’d definitely pay more than a fiver per serving for this in a restaurant – and it’d be a whole lot heavier in calories too! Our portions are hearty and filling for just 466 calories each.
Sometimes you need some good, proper comfort food. Even when you’re running low on ingredients, you’ll probably have most of the bits you’ll need for this Fish Finger Pie in the kitchen. It turns a few spuds, a tin of beans and some forgotten fish fingers into a tasty midweek meal that won’t empty your purse.
Our recipe will easily feed 4 people for less than £5, and it’ll leave the whole family feeling nice and full, with a smile on their faces! This grown-up take on the familiar childhood dinner is easy (and fun) to throw together.
At 509 calories per serving, it’s perfect for a Weekly Indulgence meal, when you really need something warm and stodgy in the best possible way.
Being thrifty with food doesn’t need to mean missing out on meat altogether. Making ingredients stretch a little bit further also works well, and it helps keep food slimming-friendly too. This Baked Bean Bolognese is the perfect example.
Low fat meat options can be fairly pricey, so we’ve added in extra vegetables and a trusty tin of baked beans to make a smaller amount of meat feed more people. This not only reduces the cost per serving, it also cuts down calories and gets far more vitamins into your meal too.
This is one of our favourite bolognese recipes, and it tastes just as delicious served on a jacket potato the next day. Easy, speedy, low in calories and good for your purse – we think that’s worth a spot on your weekly family meal plan!
What are your top tips for feeding a family on a budget?
If you’re trying to make healthy, tasty food for a lower price, you’re not on your own. Pop on over to our Facebook group where you’ll find a whole community sharing recipe ideas and inspiration. With almost 1 million members in the group, it’s the place to be anytime you have a question or need a little moral support.
Stuck for what to make for dinner tonight? Have a scroll through the Pinch of Nom Gallery and take a look at what everyone else has been making lately. Don’t forget, there’s SWAG up for grabs if you share photos or tips!