Cheap meals for four....

(44 Posts)
oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 16:56:49

Please help me with any ideas you can give me. Worked out finances and got about £40 to last me till the end of the month! Might have to borrow from my mum as got to find petrol to get me to work and back but need some really cheap food ideas please!
There are four of us, myself and four older kids, three veggies so veggie meals are fine although sometimes i throw some meat in to the meat eaters option so that he doesn't feel deprived.
Would appreciate any help.
Been told to make pea soup as just onions and bag of peas needed, that sounds good!

Dhal and rice? Dhal freezes well too.

Lentil soup and homemade cheese scones? Soup will freeze.

Make a big pan of veggie chilli and have it with rice one night and baked potatoes or in wraps the next.

Eggs, homemade wedges and peas.

Macaroni cheese.

comewinewithmoi Sat 12-Oct-13 18:03:02

Tomoto soup

Make pizza bases

OpheliaMonarch Sat 12-Oct-13 18:03:56

Sorry to hear you're having trouble, it's horrible isn't it? flowers

We use this site all the time:

You can search for things like economy meals etc, and it has reviews and tips from people who've done some of the recipes.

Hope that helps, and that things get better soon.

OpheliaMonarch Sat 12-Oct-13 18:09:23

Sorry, should have said, on the link I gave you, click on 'popular collections' at the top and there is a 'budget' section with 1675 recipes.

SPBisResisting Sat 12-Oct-13 18:13:18

If you have any left over carrots and celery Jamie;s store cupboard lentil soup is good, half a bag of lentils makes loads, and I'm hoping you're like me and have some onions and some bendy carrots and sad celery in the fridge at the end of the week,
(obviously leave out the bacon - we do too as vegi, and leave out the cannellini beans if you don't have them)

SPBisResisting Sat 12-Oct-13 18:14:35

guessing yu've thought of the obvious jacket potatoes with beans and cheese
eggs are cheap
Tesco have nice pizzas on offer - those and a few chips for can't be bothered night

oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 22:36:51

Thank you all for your great suggestions and kind words. Off to check out the allrecipes sitesmile
I also have to add that even though i've been a veggie for many years i've never cooked with lentils!! I find the thought quite scarey, don't know why! But will give it a go.

SPBisResisting Sat 12-Oct-13 22:40:21

Seriously jamies lentil soup is so easy! And so filling.
I also do a spicy pasta sauce with tinndd lentils which is very nicw

holidaydreaming Sat 12-Oct-13 22:55:41

Wow. I really admire you for tackling this challenge head on and not just saying it' impossible!
Can I suggest a food bank or maybe a market at the end of the day for almost free veggies which can be cooked that night and then frozen for whenever.
I made a egg fried rice with leftovers for lunch today. Don't know if you have soy sauce in cupboard but if so;
Make rice. Let it cool.
Fry up leftovers. Add rice. Add some soy sauce. Heat through. Whisk an egg with a couple of tsps of oil. Push rice to one side of wok, put egg into wok, let it start to set(15 secs) and then mix it all up. Was yum I thought!
Really good luck!

oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 22:57:56

I will get everything i need for the lentil soup tomorrowsmile I've got all the things i need for a veg soup so will make that tomorrow for mondays dinner for the kids and i'll take it to work. Sunday i have sausages so will make toad in hole for meat eater and have to think of something for the rest of us.....
Will do a veggie chilli as i have some bits already for that.
Should be able to get through this week...phew!
Tinned lentils you say? I will look for those aswell tomorrow, thank you.

BoffinMum Sat 12-Oct-13 22:59:26

Root vegetable and lentil curry, on BBC website.

SPBisResisting Sat 12-Oct-13 23:00:45

Dried lentils are cheaper, and nicer imo

oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 23:02:26

Egg fried rice!!! Yes! why didn't i think of that! Although might need something to go with it if doing it for dinner:/ Thank yousmile
Its strange i work with people who i send off to foodbanks as they need some help from time to time, didn't think i'd need it myself.... Don't really want to do that, don't know why but it would seem strange. I'm not too proud but it just seems wrong...i work but just don't earn enough. I am job hunting but theres not much about to provide enough for a family with one main earner.

oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 23:09:52

Boffinmum, thanks i've just copied down the lentil and root veg casserole and also the curry from the website, thats another two meals sorted!

I thought lentils had to be soaked or something? On the website it just says add red lentils? I'm abit confused as i've always stayed away from cooking lentils as don't really know what to do.

I have just cooked a great casserole tonight. Chop an onion or leek (whatever is cheapest) and soften in oil, add a cubed up butternut squash, chopped carrots (I use up whatever we have around - maybe 4-5?) and then around 100-200g of lentils (the orange ones). Pour over veg stock to cover and simmer for 30min, until the lentils are soft and the carrots are tender. Give it a really good stir, the squash will break up and make a lovely thick sauce. Serve with rice.

You can spice it up will some chilli added with the onions, use pumpkin instead of butternut squash if it is cheaper - the are selling small cooking pumpkins for a pound at Tescos. I also add browned off sausages it the casserole if I feel like it - it is all good. I normally have enough for a main meal one night and then leftovers for either lunch or kids tea the next day.

oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 23:27:38

Oh you have all really helped me outsmile That sounds like a great casserole and all ingredients i have, kind of got, will check out the pumpkins tomorrowsmile

Red lentils don't need soaking - just chuck em into stock, water, tomatoes, coconut milk, whatever.

Lentils are the only pulse that doesn't need to be soaked. Just add them to any dish, but make sure you check it from time to time to make sure there is enough water and they aren't sticking to the pan.

The red lentils will tend to fall apart, and make a lovely sauce. I add them to bulk up carrot soup and curries because they are also a good source to protein.

Green lentils tend to stay more intact, but there are loads of great French and Italian dishes that use them. They make a great side dish, and take on herb flavours really well.

You can also get larger yellow lentils. Much the same as red lentils but a little longer to cook. You can make a lovely Dahl with them, half and half with red lentils and a tea spoon of tumeric. Add plenty of water (about twice the volume) and simmer until the red lentils have broken up, but there is still some bite to the yellow lentils. In frying pan, sweat off half an onion, some garlic and chilli and once that is nice and soft add half a can of tinned tomatoes, which have been wizzed up into a purée. Once that has thicken a little, add to the cooked lentils and then stir in some curry powder. Lovely with either rice or bread! And very cheap!

oksonowwhat Sat 12-Oct-13 23:39:30

Brilliant, thank yousmile Got my list ready for tomorrow. Going to start with red lentils in a casserole, see how i gosmile
Hopefully i will have meals more or less sorted for next week after shopping tomorrow. As for lunches i kind of do pasta for myself and daughter for work and leave the others to their own devices.
The egg friend rice would be a good one for work toosmile
Feel abit less panicky now...

A v easy veggie chilli could be something like this -

fry diced onion, carrots (dice these v small), garlic, peppers. Add cumin seeds, chilli flakes or powder, paprika. Add a couple of teaspoons of cocoa and/or coffee. Add a tub of passata (I use passata because I hate tinned tomatoes, but tinned tomatoes are cheaper) and then fill the tub with water and add that. Couple of hands full of red and/or green lentils (I like both because the red mush down and thicken it and the green stay whole for texture) and salt and pepper. Cook until the lentils are almost soft (you can add a square or two of Basics dark choc if you haven't put cocoa in earlier. Add a drained tin of kidney beans (Basics ones are fine and v cheap).

BoffinMum Sun 13-Oct-13 10:20:52

No, it's kidney beans that need to be soaked and cooked as they are toxic otherwise. Lentils are great as they can just be chucked into anything and they cook in 20 minutes.

BoffinMum Sun 13-Oct-13 10:23:45

Cheap meal German people have is Rosti with a fried egg on top, with green salad on the side.

Another good one is Spaetzle, a kind of home made noodle best served in a home made cheese sauce with optional bacon or ham bits on. Cheese and mushroom sauce also good for this.

BoffinMum Sun 13-Oct-13 10:25:33

I have put my Spaetzle recipe on MNin the recipe area, btw.

thereistheball Sun 13-Oct-13 11:23:44

I just made Boston baked beans yesterday which would be very cheap if you left out the ham hock. Soak a 500g box of beans overnight in plenty of water. You want to leave them in for at least 12 hours. Then change the water and boil hard on the hob for 10 minutes, then simmer gently for an hour. I had to drain some water out at this stage. Then I added some treacle (about 4 tbsp), onion (one chopped and a bit extra stuck with cloves that I removed at the end), some chopped garlic (also optional), some bay leaves and a good squeeze of tomato puree. You could also add some chili powder. Then I put it all in a low oven (140 degrees, but a slow cooker would be cheaper) for 3 hours or so. We had them on toast: delicious. Total cost was probably two euros (not including the treacle which I can't buy in France), for a substantial meal for 4 adults with leftovers.

thereistheball Sun 13-Oct-13 11:26:11

Another good lentil dish is puy lentils, which hold their shape when cooked and taste nutty: they are great with roast winter veg eg carrots and parsnips, with rocket and some shavings of cheese on top.

When you've got a bit more money again, puy lentils are amazing cooked with garlic, port, thyme and rosemary. Roast some vege separately (eg shallots, peppers, courgettes) and stir them into the lentils; then eat with dauphinoiss and savoy cabbage for a thoroughly decadent tasting veggie meal!

Minestrone soup

Olive (or other) oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 carrots
1 courgette
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin mixed beans
A few pieces of spaghetti
Italian seasoning (optional)
Stock cube or stock
Salt and pepper

Chop an onion and sweat it in a bit of oil. Cut a couple of carrots, and maybe a courgette, into slices, add to saucepan, stir until coated with oil. Chop and add a clove of garlic, then a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes. Add a stock cube (or stock if you have it) and a can-ful of water. Sprinkle in some Schwarz Garlic Italian Seasoning, or whatever suitable dried or fresh herbs you have. Open and drain a 400g tin of mixed beans (or butter beans, or whatever beans you like, really) and add to the pan. Break some pieces of spaghetti into little bits, add them, then simmer the whole thing until the pasta's soft. Check for seasoning, and serve with garlic bread (possibly cheesy garlic bread) on the side. Also good with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

BoffinMum Sun 13-Oct-13 17:11:43

Don't forget that veggie suet dumplings will go well with a lot of meals and are suitably rib sticking. Apple pies are another way if filling people up cheaply - practically free fillings at this time of year.

BoffinMum Sun 13-Oct-13 17:17:41

Frankfurter sausages, mashed potato and puréed apple is a favourite north German dish.

Also Kaiserschmarrn is popular too as a main meal. That's thick pancakes with raisins, chopped up and served with icing sugar dusted over, and a dish of apple purée on the side. Basically dessert as main course! Kid heaven!

Cheese and onion pie (basically cheesy mash with onion chopped through and a pastry lid) with beans

Bubble and Squeak

Rice cooked in veg stock, with frozen veg chucked in



BoffinMum Sun 13-Oct-13 17:20:49

Potato and cheese pie is good too. Sliced potato and onion, with egg and milk poured over, topped with grated cheese.

showmethemoneyhoney Sun 13-Oct-13 17:36:24

Pasta pie is another cheap meal. Cooked pasta, eggs (I usually use 4 to six) tub of plain cottage cheese or Quark. Mix beaten eggs and cheese together, add pasta and whatever veggies take your fancy. Leeks, onions, tomatoes, courgettes, spring onions, mushrooms are my faves. Salt , pepper, few herbs are good to add too. You could add cooked sliced new potatoes too to make it go a bit further. Bung mixture into a flan dish and bake in the oven until set. Nice hot, but equally nice cold the next day with salad or as a lunchbox filler. Makes loads, so you could freeze one as well. I'm in a similar situation this month too, so I am right with you. Wish mine were more into veggie stuff as it is sooo much cheaper!!

stressedHEmum Sun 13-Oct-13 20:18:37

pasta with caramelised onions
slow braised cabbage pasta with sour cream
spicy potatoes and cabbage
lentil dahl
bean chilli and rice
jackets, beans and cheese
scrambled egg rice
mushy pea soup
golden split pea soup
lentil and potato curry
Caribbean rice and peas
lentil chilli (green lentils)
sweet potato quesadillas

luverlytea Mon 14-Oct-13 06:29:38

Indian bread or Roti is easy and cheap to make.

Yummy with dhal, vegetable, pickle, yogurt, any gravy.
How to make dhal -
you do not need green chillies, and other spices. all you need is salt
However some cumin seeds fried brown, a tiny bit of turmeric, do taste nice. You can add fried onion and/or garlic, chopped tomato, any vegetable you like. A pinch of hing or asafoetida fried ten seconds stirred into the dhal does taste good. It's all up to you.
How to make spiced potatoes -
- Any vegetable, or combo of vegetables, chopped and and cooked with a little water and some spices browned in a tablespoon of oil tastes yummy with roti, rice and dal. Spices are a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon each of coriander powder and cumin powder. Again, you can add red chilli powder, fried onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds,cilantro, it's all up to you.

luverlytea Mon 14-Oct-13 08:53:00

Easy to make your own fresh pasta at home
1.Make well in center of 2 cups all-purpose flour on pastry board. Whisk 3 eggs, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 teaspoon olive oil in small bowl; gradually pour into well in flour mixture while mixing with fork or fingertips to form ball of dough.
2.Knead dough on lightly floured surface for five minutes until smooth and elastic, adding a little flour to prevent sticking if necessary. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; leave 30 minutes.
3.Unwrap dough and knead briefly on lightly floured surface. Using lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough 1/8-inch-thick. Check and even out any thick spots. Let rest until dough is slightly dry but can be handled without breaking.
4.Loosely roll the dough on a rolling pin.
5.Slide rolling pin out; press dough roll gently with hand and cut into strips of desired width with sharp knife. Carefully unfold strips.
6.Hang strips over clean clothes hangers or clean broom handle covered with plastic wrap and propped between two chairs. Dry until no longer sticky, about 3 hours.
You can gather the dried pasta into loose bunches and store them in plastic bags in the refrigerator for a few days. If you put them in paper bags, they will continue to dry out at room temperature. Well-wrapped in plastic, pasta can be frozen for a month..
To serve, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 1 to 3 minutes until it floats up to the top or just until al dente. Drain well. Serve with fried garlic and herbs, ior tomato sauce, or lentils, or stir-fried vegetable.

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 14-Oct-13 12:46:40

Butternut squash risotto.

Think if things are that tight, the meat eater might have to go veggie for a while.

oksonowwhat Mon 14-Oct-13 23:10:55

Oh my goodness!! Thank you thank you thank you!! All of you!!
Such lovely ideas, things i wouldnt have thought of, things i didn't know about!smile
Another reason why i love this sitesmile
You know, not having much cash is going to make our meals alot more interesting.
Going to do remus' chilli tomorrowsmile
Infact i'm printing this off and will work though, thank you all.

stressedHEmum Tue 15-Oct-13 10:34:58

leek and cheese pasta
patatas bravas (with or without a little chorizo)
bean burgers
barley risotto
root veg stew
pasta with roasted tomatoes

BornToFolk Tue 15-Oct-13 10:47:34

It gets linked to all the time on here so you've probably seen it but A Girl Called Jack has good cheap recipes.
I made the pasta with mushy peas last week which was surprisingly tasty! It might not be enough for older children's dinners but it would make a cheap and filling lunch.

Have you got an ethnic supermarket near you? Very good for cheap pulses and tinned tomatoes and of course, lots of lovely spices. If you can get to a B&M Bargains, they are worth a look too. They do lots of cheap tins and packets and also 6 free range eggs for less than a quid, and 4 pints of milk for about the same price.

Lucyadams184 Tue 15-Oct-13 11:34:28

Sorry to hear that things are tough for you. It would be cheaper to make things from scratch. I always find that mince goes a long way quorn for the veggies, spag bol and cottage pie. Shop around to aldi and lidl are great and icelands have good deals sometime. Split down what you can afford each week and add up as you are going around. Make sure you do meal planners so that you don't buy random things.

Safmellow Tue 15-Oct-13 16:19:18

Also if you go to your local supermarkets near closing time you might be able to suss out when they reduce stuff. My M & S foodhall sometimes drops sandwiches to 50p at about 4pm and we have them with lentil soup from the slow cooker.

You can get cheap big bags of pasta and rice from Lidl. If you get bored with them try looking in world foods sections of somewhere like Tesco for things that are a little different, for instance cornmeal to make polenta.

If you are keeping cooked rice to eat as a left over make sure you cool it quickly by rinsing it with cold water then store in the fridge to avoid food poisoning. Eat within a day and don't leave it standing at room temperature.

Hope you enjoy the chilli. smile

MrsPnut Tue 15-Oct-13 20:29:19

Dried soya mince from the healthfood shop is very cheap and a bag can make a few meals. Much cheaper than buying quorn mince.

I have also made toad in the hole with some stuffing balls mixed with fried chopped mushrooms for my veggie OH instead of veggie sausages.
Gently fry off some chopped onion and mushroom, mix with breadcrumbs, a little melted butter and an egg yolk. roll into balls and put into a hot roasting tin with a very thin coat of oil in it, then add batter mix and cook for 20 mins or so until puffed up and golden.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now