Can you make a meal for a family of 4 for £5 or less?

(55 Posts)
Jayne266 Sat 15-Jun-13 22:21:11

I have just challenged my DH to this. I have got a spaghetti bolognese using value range were applicable (not the meat) and came up to £3.64.

Basil £0.61 (dried)
Carrot £0.08 (1 carrot)
Chopped tomatoes £0.62 (2 Tins)
Spaghetti £0.19
Mince £1.50
Onion £0.18
Garlic £0.30
Garlic bread £0.33

Have you got any ideas?

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 15-Jun-13 22:30:03

Two large pizzas

Flour 500g max 50p
Yeast not even 5p
Olive oil v small amount (pennies)
Tomatoes chopped 33p basics
Mozzarella basics £1.40
Onion 15p
Garlic 30p but only a bit so 10p
Ham or left over meat or veg 50p


So enough left for good salad to go with it.

Trills Sat 15-Jun-13 22:33:29


Do you have to start from zero and only spend £5?

Or are you allowed to buy (for example) a pack of carrots for £1 but only count 25p of it because you only used 1/4 of the pack?

This makes a big difference, but also leaves you with a lot of leftover ingredients that need using up.

joanofarchitrave Sat 15-Jun-13 22:38:06

Yes, but not necessarily a very nice or interesting one.

Pasta with burnt onions: oil 10p, onions 50p, value pasta around 50p.

Frittata: oil ?5p, onions 20p, 12 eggs £3.10, potatoes 50p, salt 1p.

Baked potatoes with beans and cheese: potatoes £1.50, value beans 50p, cheese £1.

MegBusset Sat 15-Jun-13 22:43:30

Yes, loads. Most of our meals cost far less. We don't eat meat though, and shop mostly in Aldi. I spend the remainder on wine grin

Idislikemymil Sat 15-Jun-13 22:44:39

Baked potatoes, tuna, sweet corn, salad.
Dahl curry and rice
Dahl soup and bread
Vege pasta (tin toms, onions, garlic, a veg, such as courgettes)
Any kind of veg/lentil soup.
Black eyed bean curry and rice
Fish fingers, mash, beans
Omelette and salad
Spicy rice and salad.
I'm bored now. But there's loads. In fact, most nights we feed 5 for under a fiver at our house.

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 15-Jun-13 22:45:22

Tuna pasta

Pasta £1 for nice pasta on offer need 60p worth for four
Tuna two tins £2 again cheap or on offer
Onion 20p
Garlic 10p
Chopped tomatoes 33p basics

So £3 so can add extra veg e.g.
Frozen sweet corn say 20p worth
Mushrooms basics say 30p worth
Cheese for on top

Still enough for salad!

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 15-Jun-13 22:50:00

Quiche is very cheap, as local eggs can be £2 dozen free range.
Chickpea curries

We feed six fairly cheaply, today lunch was mackerel pâté (basics mackerel, basics cream cheese, pepper, lemon juice) with homemade rolls and lentil veg soup.

You can eat well for less, but it does take planning, effort and facilities to cook and shop.

Awks Sat 15-Jun-13 22:50:42

Salmin and dill spaghetti - all Sainsburys

spaghetti 19p
salmon trimmings 1.50
creme fraiche 1.10
lemon 30p
dill 80p
french stick 80p

my favourite easy supper

Trills Sat 15-Jun-13 22:51:40

I think that "not necessarily a very nice or interesting (or healthy) one" is the key here.

It's perfectly possible to make a meal for 4 people for £5, especially if you are don't have to count the cost of the whole packet of whatever you are eating, but it is not necessarily sustainable.

You wouldn't want to have to eat that way all the time, anyway.

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 15-Jun-13 22:51:56


My sainsburys doesn't do salmon trimmings anymore

<<not fair>>angry

Maryz Sat 15-Jun-13 22:53:14

Are you allowed to use part of a store cupboard ingredient?

Because that makes a huge difference. dd has to do a challenge soon which involves feeding herself for £3.30 a day (€4 in Ireland, where things are very expensive). She could do it over a week, because she could buy a pint of milk or a packet of mince and eke it out, but she has to buy each day's food for the money, and eat it, and wait for the next day to get the next amount.

I think she will find it very tough (no access to salt, butter, herbs, anything like that).

Oh, and no oven (no baked potatoes), just a camping stove, and she has to do a nutritional analysis so can't eat all crap.

I suspect pot noodles may play a part grin

TheSecondComing Sat 15-Jun-13 22:53:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Idislikemymil Sat 15-Jun-13 22:54:45

Yep, pasta dishes too. Cheap as chips. Or cheap as pasta.

Sorry, can't be bothered to itemise my meals. In a wine haze. I love sainsburys basics wine in a plastic bottle. Think it's only £3.50 a bottle.

forevergreek Sat 15-Jun-13 22:56:25

Idis- I would find some of them things hard to keep under

Just tuna baked pototoes are:
X4 large pototoes -£1
X2 Tins of Tuna - £3
Sweetcorn -65p
Salad -£2 ( mixed leaves, some cucumber, tomatoes at min)

And I would struggle making an omelette as a meal for under

Eggs x8 - £2
Potatoes -50p
Onion -20p
Some filling ie spinach/ tomatoes/ peppers - £1.50
Salad - £2

Or am I not doing this properly? I mean where can you get mince for £1.50??

Idislikemymil Sat 15-Jun-13 23:04:39

No forever! I buy a 7. 5 kg bag of potatoes at sainsbury's for £5. Tuna is about £1 per tin or less, basics sweetcorn roughly 25p, a squirt of mayo.
Salad is cheaper - basics salad with a good homemade dressing. Yum yum.

Trills, I eat mostly cheaply and healthily. Honest. And enjoy it.

Idislikemymil Sat 15-Jun-13 23:07:52

Forever - I buy eggs from the milkman. 6 eggs are £1.20.

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 15-Jun-13 23:08:37

Spinach is good for cheap salad, you can put it in the omelette too.Or grated carrot, cabbage with a little onion and a dressing. Vacuum packed beetroot is cheap, nice with a dressing.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 15-Jun-13 23:11:13

I think the odd meal I cook comes up at under £5 for four of us but not very often.

We eat mostly free-range meat and sustainable fish which is expensive, and veg is not as cheap as it was. I spent nearly £40 on just fruit and veg for the week for four of us earlier.

MegBusset Sat 15-Jun-13 23:14:53

Some of you really need to get to Aldi! eg baked potatoes there are 90p for four, tin of tuna 59p, tin of sweetcorn 29p, salad bag 59p.

Maryz Sat 15-Jun-13 23:14:58

Bloody hell, eggs are over €2 for 6 here, own brand tuna is €1.50 at least a tin. Own brand sweetcorn over a euro for a small tin. Milk over a euro a litre.

Salad is very expensive, isn't it?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 15-Jun-13 23:16:27

Meg we don't have one, and I like to buy british where possible.

BriansBrain Sat 15-Jun-13 23:16:50

Toad in the hole with sweet corn and gravy.

Garlic and herb Philly, bag of frozen chicken pieces (£2 feeds 4) pasta swirls.

Home made sausage rolls and coleslaw


Growing your own herbs on the kitchen window seal really does make any mince, pasta meal a tasty.

It works best to have beans, eggs, cheese etc on toast for one weeks bufpdget and then spend the saved amount on store cupboard basics like

Emergency dried herbs
Worcester sauce

Queen0fFeckingEverything Sat 15-Jun-13 23:19:51

Yes, but it would only be a 'nice' meal <foody> if I was able to use basic store cupboard stuff (oil, seasoning etc) and only count the cost of the amount I used iyswim.

Loads of our meals cost around that but we do have a decent store cupboard which makes that possible - olive oil, sesame oil, decent vinegar, herbs/spices, yeast/bicarb/baking powder for example - and huge amounts of herbs in tubs outside.

I could still do it without that if I had to though.

Triumphoveradversity Sat 15-Jun-13 23:23:16

I made a butternut squash and asparagus risotto with crispy bacon bits tonight
Squash 89p
Rice 50p
Asparagus 99p
Half a pack of bacon 1.50
Veg stock cube 20p
Salt, pepper and small knob of butter 20p

BriansBrain Sat 15-Jun-13 23:26:14

Store cupboard is the key and things you can make to freeze.

I popped I to Asda last week and they had a stack of red peppers, courgettes and onions all in bags of 3 or 4 for 10p each bag shock I bought 50p worth of each plus 5 cans of value chopped toms and made 5 batches of red sauce anthem froze them.

Base for lasagne, spag, pasta, chicken and nice n healthy.

I also like freezing the reduced bread things that go down to 10p

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 15-Jun-13 23:28:44

Brians none of those meals have any green veg in them.

I get that people are trying to eat cheaply, but there is a limit unless you are absolutely on the bread line.

I would prioritise good food over almost anything else in our budget, except the mortgage and heating.

TheSecondComing Sat 15-Jun-13 23:29:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BriansBrain Sat 15-Jun-13 23:34:19

Swap the sweet corn for peas?

Does veg have to be green?

Snack is lettuce straight from the bag (£1)

There is cabbage in the coleslaw?

Courgette in the meatballs?

confused am I being greenist?

Herbs are green!!!

forevergreek Sat 15-Jun-13 23:34:22

Yes we use spinach in salad, but it's £1.99 here so not cheapest option.

There's no way 6 eggs would be £1.20, and Iv never seen a cheap sack of pototes on sale within miles. The cheapest tuna is £4.50 for x3 tins.

We have no Aldi/ asda/ cheap markets etc. the only places are Waitrose, ocado, delis, fancy markets.

I also don't see much greens in these lists. A salad here wouldn't just be a salad leave wih dressing, but spinach/ rocket/ watercress, with red onion, grated carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, olives etc...

forevergreek Sat 15-Jun-13 23:37:52

In answer to op, our cheapest meal is probably pesto pasta

Pasta -80p
Pesto- £1.25 ( half a jar)
Mushrooms - £1.20
Peas -20p
Red onion - £20p
( and would add spinach often but that adds £1 to cost)

BriansBrain Sat 15-Jun-13 23:41:20

I buy from a local veg shack or a van that sits on a roundabout layby near work for our veg.

DC aren't keen on salad so it's normally a main meal without but they can have cucumber, red pepper etc when ever they want or they eat it raw as I'm preparing a main meal.

Tinned tuna is £4 for 5 tins here shock

Just goes to show how hard it is to judge who is getting more for their £5 meal smile

MaryBateman Sat 15-Jun-13 23:59:07

Of course you can.

Pack of minced beef/pork/lamb mixed with fried onion and make into meatballs. Make a tomato sauce out of a tin of supermarket own brand chopped tomatoes/pasatta, with garlic. Add pasta to make a tasty filling meal.

Or tuna & sweetcorn pasta. Mix a couple of tins of tuna with mayo and sweetcorn and mix with cooked pasta.

Both can be served with a cheap green salad. I work opposite our market and veg/fruit is much cheaper than in the supermarket. It doesn't keep as long admittedly but it's very cheap. Where Asda/Tesco are selling blueberries for £2.99 they are going for £1 on the market. Same for asparagus, lettuce, broccoli etc

And don't discount frozen stuff. I buy frozen sliced onions, mushrooms and peppers for a £1 a bag from Asda. Goes a long way and saves on waste.

allagory Sun 16-Jun-13 00:04:20

Pork and Pineapple £4.22

value rice 24p (150g @40p per kg from Tesco)
500g pork belly £3
handful of button mushrooms 50p
tinned pineapple rings 43pp
50g value frozen peas 5p (@99p/kg)
soy sauce (assume you have some)

That even leaves you a enough for some Tesco chocolate mousse for pudding.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 16-Jun-13 00:04:50

Brian it is good if veg is green, from a health point of view.

Sweetcorn and peas do count, but they are very carby. I would do two green veg with almost every meal. Broccoli, cabbage, greens, spinach, asparagus etc. Or a mix of spinach, watercress, lettuce if we were having salad.

I do, of course, understand if it is a question of just putting food on the table with limited money.

FoundAChopinLizt Sun 16-Jun-13 08:14:47

Frozen green veg is great, I buy green beans, broccoli, spinach, peas. There is no waste and they are fresh. I also make soups with them.

Frozen berries are also brilliant and good value.

I also use a lot of frozen fish, again it is fresh.

MERLYPUSS Sun 16-Jun-13 09:21:47

I make a paella type thingy with long grain value rice, smoked sausage (lidls) 1/2 pack frozen seafood mix, tin toms, peas and pepper.
Tortilla - use up leftovers in this
Huevos rancheros - very cheap
Sausage toad, cabbage and pots (or onions and baked beans)
Chicken pie (from left overs) with mash and veg.
Carbonara and brocolli
I regularly make dinner for about £2 -£3. Carbs are the cheap filler I think.

Maryz Sun 16-Jun-13 09:28:47

It's a bit like those politicians who live on benefits for a week, isn't it? Of course they can do it for a week, they already have their clothes, phone, books, medication, things they take for granted.

It's really easy to do this for one meal, because you already have the necessities (oil, herbs, soy sauce, butter, stock cubes - even frying pans, oven, freezer, whatever), but much harder to do it from scratch.

And of course it's easy to do it for one or two meals, but if you had to do it for every meal it would become impossible.

I could do it for main meals if I had the time/petrol to get to Lidl. And if I could have one big shop a month to stock up basics.

FoundAChopinLizt Sun 16-Jun-13 10:55:35

I save loads by not buying hardly any crisps, biscuits, sweets, soft drinks, processed stuff, cakes, cereal, yoghurts, bread, fancy cleaning stuff (just dilute washing up liquid and multipurpose cleaner), ready made sauces, or ready made pizzas, quiches, soups. We eat well on a budget, I have six big eaters here and we would spend a fortune if I bought ready meals for everyone, or lat them eat expensive snacks when they felt like it.

It is a good point, though, that building up equipment and store cupboard stuff is hard if you're on a tight budget, or if you're not able to get about easily, or if you are very short of time and energy.

I think as long as you have a stock cupboard you could.

In fact I think most days my meals come to less then £5 for 5 of us. Although It helps as children aren't teenagers.

Things like I only buy fresh veg for sunday dinners the rest is frozen.

LoveSewingBee Sun 16-Jun-13 18:42:51

I would opt for vegetarian meals as cheap meat can contain things you really don't need and/or want.

Lentil and vegetable stew may be an option, but depends if you can get the veg (market?) cheaply.

You would need 250 g lentils, 2 medium potatoes, 250 g leeks, 250 g courgettes, 1 stalk of celery, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, parsley, lemon.

It is a Claudia Roden recipe.

WilsonFrickett Sun 16-Jun-13 19:07:14

As pp have said though, it's all dependent on having a store cupboard. There was an MP recently did it for £1 a day or something ridiculous, but he counted the fractions of the stuff he bought, so he counted 10p for olive oil for example, conveniently forgetting you need the £2 to buy the bottle of oil in the first place!

That said, I think a competent cook can do this but for me it would mean no meat, because I won't buy cheap meat, lots of pulses (which DH doesn't really like) and probably not enough fruit in the house generally.

stressedHEmum Sun 16-Jun-13 20:14:09

It's easy and becomes easier the longer that you have to do it for. You just have to adjust some of your expectations about what you can buy/eat.

I have less than £50 a week to shop for 7 people - 4 adults, 1 6ft2 16y/o boy, a teenage DD and a 10y/o. The meals I make are regularly under £3 for all of us. Tonight, I made minestrone soup - it cost £4 to make but fed us all tonight and will give me 3 lunches through the week. All that needs added is some crusty bread.

other regular things -
potato, spinach and lentil curry
pasta with caramelised onions and cheese
spanish rice with rocket and kidney beans mixed through it
chilli and rice
leftover chilli made into tamale pie
lentil soup
potato soup
pasta e ceco
chick pea and pasta soup
potato and onion pie
slow braised cabbage pasta
bean burger roils with salad and wedges
pasta with white bean sauce
patatas bravas
broccoli rice
chicken curry
chicken pasta
chicken soup
pea soup
pea dahl and rice
jacket potatoes with mushy peas, cheese tomato and onion
noodle stir fry with mandarins, mange touts, left over meat and soy sauce

Things that need separate veg get served mainly with mixed veg, salad leaves, carrot and cabbage salad, cucumber and pepper sticks, roast carrot and swede - whatever is cheap at the time. Soup is served with bread and followed by yoghurt/rice pudding

I only cook with meat once or twice a week, fish is usually tinned or occasionally frozen, except for the odd bit of smoked mackerel or packet of smoked salmon trimmings.

We eat a very varied and balanced diet, just a cheap one. When you have no choice, you learn quickly.

landofsoapandglory Sun 16-Jun-13 20:21:31

We had spaghetti Carbonara tonight which I reckon was less than a fiver, and fed 2 teens(6ft3), DH and I.

10 rashers streaky bacon
3 shallots
2 cloves garlic
Small carton single cream
2 eggs
25g Parmesan

I do a quick dish of pasta, red onions and a few bits of fried bacon with some Danish blue cheese or Stilton stirred through. That'll be less than £5 too.

forevergreek Sun 16-Jun-13 20:50:40

I think it very much depends on whether you can get fruit and veg cheaply. We can't so either meat/ fish/ veg costs the same

Ie :
250g organic mince cost £3.50
2 organic chicken fillets £4.50

If I make say a veggie lasagne so no mince I would add lentils £1, courgette £1.50, aubergine £1 at min. ( as well as the other ingredients I would use same as with mince) - so veggie equivalent the same

Chicken fillets I might marinate and grill and serve with rice. If I do a veggie option I would do grilled cheese and veg. hallumi £1.80, mushrooms £1, red pepper 80p, courgette £1.50. Veggie option £5.60

Veggie option is often only cheaper if not actually replaced with lots of veg but just meat left out and nothing added. Ie tomatoe pasta ( just sauce and pasta).

sharond101 Sun 16-Jun-13 22:09:29

We love pasta (49p for bag) with red pesto (99p) and chorizo (£1.49) with sweetcorn (33p) through it. All from Aldi and could make three times over with these ingredients. Also turkey mince enchiladas. Tortilla wraps (89P), turkey mince (£1.49), red pepper (69p), red onion (15p), tinned tomatoes (39p), red pesto (99p), clove garlic (30p), tsp sugar (sachet stole from supermarket restaurant to keep costs down for sake of this example. lol!) Wou

Jayne266 Sun 16-Jun-13 22:45:58

Sharond101grin wild child!

Jaynebxl Mon 17-Jun-13 07:29:29

My DCs fave meal is pasta egg and cheese. The pasta comes in a big bag for £3 so no idea how much it costs per meal but we get loads of meals out of one bag so maybe 30p? Then when the pasta is cooking I throw some peas in the pan too, maybe another 30p worth. While it is all cooking I mix grated cheese, maybe £1 worth, with about 8 eggs which are free at the point of eating cos we have chickens at the bottom of our garden grin and ook it in with the drained pasta for a minute. So total about £1.60 and extremely popular.

sharond101 Mon 17-Jun-13 22:15:50

Just couldn't dare take myself over the £5 budget! Needs must.

Potatoes (1kg, 79p)
Cabbage (80p)
Onion (15p)
Veg stock (99p a box, store the rest)
Bacon trimmings (1/2 a lb, 49p)
=£3.22 and you'd have lots of veg stock cubes left over.
Mash the potatoes and fry off with the rest until it browns at the edges.
Yummy, filling, green veg, meat. All well within budget.

Meant to add, the bacon trimmings are usually fatty enough that you can fry stuff in the pan juices and don't need oil.

Amazinggg Mon 17-Jun-13 23:01:34

Some of these sound yummy! I don't often spend more than £5 for a meal nowadays and the key seems to be cooking a meal that will last 2 meals if it involves meat, and pasta at least twice a week.

I do a mean risotto:

Fry garlic 20p, leek 40p and chorizo £2, in butter 40p. Add a box of risotto £1.20 and a splash of wine and tinned tomatoes 80p. Add water oxo cube from kettle gradually and bubble gently til cooked then add loads of grated fresh Parmesan tah dah, tasty meal for a fiver.

confusedofengland Tue 18-Jun-13 14:40:17

I currently feed 4 adults + 2 small DC (ages 4 & 2) & can usually feed us all for less than £5 - there are often trimmings for the cat, too!

I mainly do this by buying food that has been reduced in the supermarket at the end of the day, usually by 75%-90%.

This means that we don't particularly plan what we eat and we have quite a varied selection! Anything from ready meals such as curry to stewing meat to fish to less popular meats such as venison or oxtail are often available.

I also buy bread products and fruit & veg in the same way.

Yesterday's meal was herring with a hm tomato sauce, wedges & broccoli & carrots. I used 5 whole fish, which cost £2 (cat had the guts for dinner grin). The broccoli was 14p for a small head (organic) & the carrots 8p for a 1kg bag. Potatoes were not reduced in price & were £5.49 for 7.5kg, I used at most 1kg.

Farm Foods is also a great place to shop - £1.60 for 2 x 4 pints of milk, £1.60 for 2 loaves Hovis bread, 69p for a bunch of bananas, 49p for a small bag of onions, £3 for 30 bags of crisps etc

MERLYPUSS Sat 22-Jun-13 09:22:29

I shop at ethnic store too for onions and veg. There is a Turkish shop that sell 5kg boxes of vine toms for £2.50 at the mo. I forsee lots of greek salad coming up with basics 'salad style' cheese. The onions and most of their veg are cheaper too as they are really seasonal not flown halfway around the world - poss Spain etc? - and much tastier.

dementedma Sat 22-Jun-13 22:29:10

Spaghetti mozzarella bake.
Tin toms

Job done.

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