Can anyone please share their super cheap meals?(32 Posts)
As it says in the title really
We are on a extremely tight budget. I would really like some ideas for dinners mainly, as well as breakfast & possibly packed lunches to. My ds2 is in KS1 so has the new free dinners there (has been a huge help for us) My older son is in secondary and although may not be there for much longer
a whole other story he will be there for a while and I need packed lunch ideas for him.
I would suggest checking reduced section particularly for bread products n freeze we usually have a selection in freezer although now finished work for mat leave selection won't be so good as best shop for reduced bread is on my way home.
Meals - sausages casserole and chop each sausage into 4-5 (you can get them into 5 if chop while still part frozen) and for family 3-4 you should get 2 meals out one pk sausages served with mash, jacket or even tinned potatoes or garlic bread or add the tinned potatoes n serve it in half one those huge yorkie puds and should get 3 meals for family 3-4 as child only needs 3-5 sausage pieces as do I and husband gets 8-10bits. (We use aldi 12 for 99p sausages for this as they work best don't normally eat cheap sausages)
Cottage pie is cheap to make we use half pk aldi 750gm mince and bulk with grated carrots, tin beans, peas, onions, mushroom and mash potato on top- I make 2 pies and each one does 3 of us 2 meals with a side of cabbage or broccoli.
Spag bol with other half pk mince bulked with oats, grated carrots,onions, peppers, mushroom, tinned tomatoes - this does us 3 meals we freeze the extra Bolognese sometimes I will make it straight into a lasagne and a pasta bake for freezer other times bag n use again for spag bol.
Breakfast here is porridge, fake cheerios, fake shreedies or museli and then toast as well if needed. Ds is 4 and generally has porridge and a piece toast with choc spread on. At weekends he is allowed hot dog sausage with beans n toast for breakfast. Sometimes we have bagels, pancakes, fruit toast if been reduced.
I'm vegetarian and live on veg curries, spaghettis and chillis, which I batch cook and freeze.
Basically fry up lots of veg (I usually do garlic, a red onion, peppers, mushrooms, courgette, but you can add anything you like - potatoes are nice with curry) in a pan, add half a large bag of Quorn mince, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a good squirt of tomato puree and:
pesto sauce if spag
chili powder, tumeric, cumin, coriander if curry
some chili beans and chili powder if a chili
It's not michelin star cooking but it's cheap, easy and nutritious.
You can cook up in a load in a large and then freeze in plastic boxes. You then only have to re-heat and cook a bit of rice or pasta.
A chicken is great dinner we buy the big free range aldi one for £5 although they do a normal one for £4 we have roast dinner n only eat half (before we have pre cut them in half to prevent over eating) and other half gets marinated in bbq or nando sauce and had couple days later with hm wedges there is still meat left on chicken which is then used with some bacon n mushrooms for a pie or used for sandwiches and if I am feeling really good I use the carcass for stick n make a soup that's more in the winter though
Think portion control is as important as what you are cooking.
For breakfast I have some berries (which you can buy very cheap frozen) with porridge and some cinnamon. Just mix it up and microwave for 3 mins.
Soups are good for lunch. They also can be frozen. Lived mainly on my own on a lowish wage for a couple of years , so hare this down to an art form!
Using value / smart price products, you can mix up
Pasta, tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna (add spice)
for a cheap meal that tastes good.
Dinner - lentil hotpot
Layer sliced potatoes, sliced onions and red lentils in a casserole dish. cover in stock, put on a lid. Cook in oven on highest setting for about an hour. Add layers of grated cheese, bacon or sliced toms to budget.
Packed lunches - a small banana from Asda currently costs 7p.
Not a specific meal idea, but a lot of meals where you use beef mince & simmer it for a while, can be bulked out a lot by adding finely grated carrot and/or courgette, and some pre-soaked brown lentils (allow to simmer for 45 mins or so with the mince). I usually allow about 1 large carrot, 1 small courgette, & 100g (dry weight) of lentils, per 500g mince. You need to put them in after you've browned the mince. I've used this for shepherd's pie, chilli, bolognaise, lasagne filling, amongst others. Obviously, add your other ingredients as normal to the 'mince'.
Oh yes. If possible, no breakfast cereal. It's massively expensive. Porridge is much cheaper and more filling.
Crumpets are good for breakfast. Asda do a pack of six for 37p.
My favourite cheap meal is cooking a ham hock (£1.99 from our butchers) in the slow cooker with a chopped onion, lots of split green peas, bayleaf and peppercorn. It will sound rather like the famous mn chicken, but we can make that into 3 meals for 3 people - the main bulk of the ham goes with veggies and potatoes, the scraps go into some form of pasta and ham and then we have pea and ham soup for the third meal. I think for more people it would make two meals.
Fry onion and add chopped canned tomatoes (which are cheaper in Lidl than Tescos and taste the same). You can add anything to this, garlic, herbs, veggies - pepper, sweetcorn, cheese, tuna, mince, chicken, then some value pasta or rice (again Lidl value rice is cheaper than Tescos. I like onion, one large pototo, one carrot, one parsnip and small can butterbeans cooked in a veggie stock - okay for three and some bread to dip in stock. I sometimes have frozen veg or whatever veg with grated cheese on top.
For breakfast, I think you can't do much cheaper than a couple of slices of value/basics bread toasted and a little spread or jam/marmalade.
Again, lunches containing bread should always have value/basic bread. Ham and cheese is much cheaper in Lidl. Buy fruit in packs if works out cheaper than individually. Look out for value/crisps on offer or pasties in cheap packs. If you find cheap meals that are ok, do a little extra and one of you can have it the next day warmed up. You could also chop veggies small, cook them in a stock and serve as soup.
Have a look at "A girl called Jack" website/blog for loads of ideas for very cheap and filling meals.
Also you do not need cream to make a lovely potato/vegetable dauphinoise.
Just warm milk in a pan, simmer finely sliced potato and any left over veggies like onion, leek, broccoli, anything really that's lying about, add a bit of garlic and seasoning if you have it, and then put in a dish and bake in the oven for a bit.
Grated cheese is nice on top but not essential.
These are all great, thank you. Will be writing these down & adding to the lovely lunches for home ideas I got on another thread (mainly soups etc)
Am going to check out 'A girl called Jack'. Should of by now anyway.
Or another nice potato dish is Boulangere Potatoes, just use some stock powder if you don't have stock available.
Another good blog is Penny's Recipes, I did the lentil bake last week, very nice.
Do you put drinks in the packed lunches? If fruit juice cartons switch that To water. Keep any small drink bottles and Refill these for lunches.
Microwave veg curry, mix whatever veg with rice and either curry paste if you have it or spices, add water and microwave for 20 mins. Or just make the veg curry in a pan, cauliflower is good in a curry, add boiled eggs for proteína and serve with rice.
Brown rice with lentils & veg. Actual recipe calls for onion, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms, spinach, fresh Lemon juice, fresh tomatoes, parsley and lentils. Just use whatever you have. Chop and fry onion and veg, add lentils and fry a little, add Brown rice and stir add hot water with a stock cube if poss and simmer 30/40 mins. If you have it add spinach at the end.
Spanish omlette, fry potatoes, veg, chopped bacon if possible, add eggs. Serve with something green- brocolli, green beans, salad - whatever is cheaper or on offer and bread for bigger appetites.
Whatever Dairy productos you use buy full fat.
caramelised onion pasta with a tiny bit of grated cheese on top
patatas bravas with a little bit of chorizo
scrambled egg rice
lentil soup with bread
cheesy leek pasta (basically mac and cheese with leeks)
cheesy baked rice - layer cooked rice, chopped boiled eggs and cheese sauce in a casserole dish, finish with a layer of sauce and bake for 25 minutes or so
tomato rice - fry 2 onions, add 2 cups rice, 2 tins tomatoes, 3 cups boiling water, salt and pepper. return to the boil, cover tightly reduce heat to low and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked, 15mins or so. Serve with a little bit of grated cheese on top and bread and butter.
bean chilli - tin kidney beans, tin baked beans (rinsed), tin toms, chopped onion, chopped pepper, spices - serve with rice or cornbread
cream of chicken soup - just white sauce made with chicken stock, add some milk/cream, a grate of nutmeg and a splash of lemon juice - you can add a little cooked chicken if you have any but you don't need to
spicy potatoes with cabbage
cauliflower and bacon soup
pasta with bacon and peas
pasta with soft cheese, smoked salmon and peas
lemon pasta (more for the summer)
chick pea and apricot curry
sweet potato and pineapple curry
refried bean and cheese quesadillas
Passatta and anchovy pasta sauce- fry with 2 cloves of garlic and oil from anchovies.
lentil dahl - red lentils & curry paste. Served with rice and or home made chapattis.
Mushroom & bacon pasta bake
Cowboy beans on baked potatoes - cowboy beans are bacon, treacle chili and cumin added to any baked beans. It works best if you add the beans to the pan that you fry the bacon in.
Lemon, basil & parmasan pasta
Choritzio, olive & tomato pasta sauce
Cheesy, creamy tuna sauce (child of the 70's)
We tend to make the things that cost a lot to buy, but "make" a meal.
Chapattis are really easy - make a sticky dough using wholemeal flour, salt, baking powder and hand warm water. Knead, leave for 20 - 30 minutes and then roll out plum sized balls untill they are as thin as you can get them. dry fry (no oil) in a hottish pan - a minute or so on each side.
Tortilla are the same method - just use plain white flour and rub in a chunk of lard or butter before forming the dough.
Garlic bread - half baked baguette sliced (not quite through) with garlic butter. Put in the oven as per original instructions.
Mango chutney - get the spicing list of the back of your favourite brand add to sugar, vinegar and frozen mangos ( or green ones if you can get them).
If you love bread baking - get a sour dough on the go. Not as difficult as people make out if you have a dusty house (like mine). Over a 5 day period add equal quantities of wholemeal flour and water to a bowl eg 40 g day one, 20 g day 2-5. After 5 days or so you will have a foul bubbly goop - This is your sour. It keeps in the fridge for a week or 2 without doing anything. DO NOT STORE IN A JAR - it will explode. When making bread take half out and add some flour and water to make a thick paste. Leave for a couple of hours. Put a dollop back into the sour with some additional flour.
Grow your own herbs & salad leaves- makes most things taste better, cost a fortune and are super easy to grow on a window sill.
Going to have a look through the cupboards/ freezer and if I able to make any of these ideas from what we have in.
Bean Chilli - onion carrot celery sweated, 3 tins different beans and 1 or 2 tins tomatoes add chilli powder mix and some water then simmer till its done. I always put spinach in at the end. Serve with rice.
Costs less than £4 and tastes fab.
Cheap meals are not cheap if you spend loads cooking the meal. Eggs are cheap and don't take long to cook.
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