Budget friendly cooking

I know there are lots of recipes out there for cooking on a budget but when I did a bit of research, I struggled to find many child friendly/family friendly recipes particularly for young children. I also found it interesting how much these so called ‘budget’ meals are with Asda and Jamie Oliver’s website sharing meals averaging at £2 per serving. £2+ is also the average cost of the Joe Wicks recipes I should be following. That would mean that it would cost me £18 per day plus snacks which is £126 per week or £504 per month! There is no way that is affordable for me and no doubt many other families.

So, my issue with other priced recipes claiming to be so much per portion is that you can’t go and buy just what you need for them e.g., 10g parmesan cheese, 30g coconut flour, 40g yogurt, 1tbsp cream etc. Meaning that it will cost you more to buy all the ingredients for a recipe.

Then, if recipes require any fresh ingredients and they don’t all get used in that recipe they will need using before they go off.

My bug bare is that these recipes don’t take that into account or the fact that if you don’t already have cupboards full of herbs and spices etc that it soon adds up.

Here are a few budget friendly family friendly meals that are favourites in our household: –

Chicken casserole (In an ideal world I would only buy local, free range organic chicken)

Asda Butchers Selection Chicken Thighs – 1.1kg £2.15 (use half which equals £1.07), Asda Chicken Casserole Mix £0.21, Asda Growers Selection Red Onions – 2 onions approx. £0.08, Asda Growers Selection Carrots – 3 carrots approx. £0.15 Total = £2.59

This fills my slow cooker and feeds me and 2 small children for 2 nights. Which works out at £0.43p per portion.

I sometimes add dumplings (Asda Dumpling Mix – £0.70) or stuffing (Asda Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix £0.32). If I add either of these then the casserole will feed 2 adults and 2 small children for 2 nights.

With dumplings it works out at £0.41p per potion for 8 servings or £0.55p per portion for 6 servings.

With stuffing it works out at £0.36p per portion for 8 servings or £0.49p per portion for 6 servings.

So, with the chicken casserole the rest of the chicken thighs can be frozen individually or a few together if you don’t intend to use them within a couple of days.

Carrots will keep for a few days and if you don’t think you are going to use them, they can be cooked and frozen, however carrots are so versatile they can easy be used up.

The same with onions except onions tend to last quite a while and are used in most recipes but again they can be chopped up and frozen.

So, no waste, healthy and budget friendly.

I have also been known to add mushrooms or small potatoes to the hotpot equally other root vegetables could be added if in season.

Some of the best dishes I have cooked have been those that have been thrown together with whatever I have in the fridge.

One of the most budget friendly and versatile ingredients is pasta. (I tend to use wholewheat pasta). Practically anything can be added to pasta to create a meal. Some ideas include: –

Tomato sauce (either homemade or shop bought) – I tend to add vegetables as well which can be fresh, tinned, or frozen. You could add cheese, soya pieces, meat, fish etc.

If you use a shop bought sauce and don’t use it all they will keep in the fridge for a few days and can either be used again with pasta or could be added to another dish to make bolognaise or a stew etc. Another option would be to batch cook, tub, and freeze portions for future use.

One of my favourite sauces for pasta is creamy garlic mushroom, this can be made cheaply by using cream cheese mixed with either a clove of garlic or a squeeze of garlic puree, seasoning and some chopped mushrooms. A generous portion of Asda wholewheat pasta (approx. 60g) works out at around 4p, ¼ of a tub of Asda cream cheese 16p, a clove of garlic 3p and ¼ of a tub of white button mushrooms 13p. Therefore, in total it’s around 36p per portion. (I would make a few portions and either put it in the fridge or tub up and put it in the freezer).

I’ve recently started making home made garlic bread (which could be served with any pasta dish), mainly because I can make it dairy free but it’s also cheap and cheerful. You can use baguettes, pitta breads, naan breads, pizza bases etc and then I melt some dairy free butter with a squeeze of garlic puree and pour it on the bread before putting in the over. If I’m feeling indulgent, I also put on some dairy free cheese. Any left-over bread can easily be frozen. 1/2 a small baguette 18p, garlic puree 8p and 25g of butter 15p, which comes to 41p per portion – but this is quite a generous portion.

Obviously if you can find offers or reduced food then these may be even cheaper. It’s always worth being open to using different ingredients even when following a recipe. Just because you don’t have every single ingredient for a recipe doesn’t mean you can’t make it or that it won’t be tasty. Instead, it will have your own unique twist and could end up becoming a family favourite! (That reminds me of the posts I saw on social media when people posted about Jamie Oliver telling people to substitute ingredients for whatever they had in their cupboards!!

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