Many of us are looking for ways to make our money go further right now, especially with the weekly food shop. And now, on top of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s also the school summer holidays, meaning potential increased childcare costs and pricey extra activities, not to mention simply having hungry children at home not school all day, and constantly saying they’re hungry. So, I am going to share some cheap, healthy meals the kids will love – all for under £5.
I recently shared my top 10 tips for feeding your family on a budget and I’ve also written about how to meal plan for your family – one of the best ways I know to reduce food waste and slash the cost of your weekly shop. Plus my newest book, How To Feed Your Family, includes so many more tips to help you meal plan and cut food waste – as well as 70 recipes to feed you all. Today, I wanted to share some more affordable family recipe suggestions that will help you budget better. These fantastic family meals for a fiver are all balanced and nutritious without breaking the bank and have been created by Emily Kerrigan who you can follow at nutritiousfamilyfood.
Costings for meals assume you have oil (and any seasoning you wish to add to your own portion), but nothing else. The totals per head use the lowest-cost product advertised at the supermarket on the date it was checked.
5 cheap family-friendly meals
10-minute mini muffin pizzas
Costed at Sainsburys 19/1/23
Keep a stash of muffins in your freezer alongside portions of (good-quality shop-bought or homemade) tomato passata (I freeze this in baby food moulds) and you’ll always have a get-out-of-jail card for when you need something on the table fast to feed your kids. I’ve costed these muffin pizzas using mushrooms but you can adapt the recipe to use up whatever you’ve got in the fridge – a knob of cheese, half a green pepper, a couple of rogue spring onions. When you’re ready to cook, just take the muffins and passata out of the freezer, whack the muffins in the toaster for a few moments and defrost the frozen cubes of passata quickly on the hob or in the microwave. You can also substitute the passata for tomato puree if you like.
Tip: If you want to keep a stash of muffins in your freezer, slice them in half before you freeze them so that they’re split and ready to reheat quickly when you need them.
- 4 muffins
- 150ml sugar-free passata
- 50g cheddar
- 1 or 2 mushrooms, chopped
eg. chopped herbs, grated courgette, flaked tuna, diced peppers, sweetcorn or whatever you and the kids like and you have knocking about
Takes 10 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Pop your split muffins in your toaster for a moment or two. If you’re using frozen passata, defrost it gently in a pan or the microwave.
- Grate the cheddar and slice your mushrooms then assemble your mini pizzas.
- Pop on a baking sheet in the oven and cook until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Costed at Tesco 22/01/23
This freezable veggie bolognese sauce packs in four of your five-a-day and is high in fibre and protein. The recipe is easily doubled so you can batch cook, portion it up and keep it on hand for days when you have less time.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 250g dried red lentils
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 500ml low-salt vegetable stock (optional, can swap for 500ml water if offering to babies)
- 500g spaghetti
- flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Takes 45 minutes
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic.
- Soften gently for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the lentils, chopped tomatoes, oregano and stock.
- Bring to a simmer, then cook for 30 minutes until the lentils are tender and saucy. Season.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta following pack instructions then drain and mix with the sauce. Scatter over the parsley to serve.
Carrot, orange & ginger soup
Costed at Sainsburys 12/11/22
Kids love the sweetness of the carrot and orange in this soup, as well as its vibrant colour. It’s very cost effective and couldn’t be easier to make. Ginger adds a little extra zing.
- 6 large carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 orange
- 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, grated
- granary bread to toast
Takes 35 minutes
- Peel and roughly chop the carrots and onion then put in a pan with a glug of olive oil, plus the zest and juice of 1 orange and the grated ginger.
- Cook over a medium heat for 15 mins, stirring on and off to soften and then add 750ml boiled water from the kettle to the pan.
- Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 mins.
- Blend until smooth and serve with toasted granary bread.
Simple salmon fishcakes
Costed at Sainsburys 5/2/23
These fishcakes take very little effort to bring together and use storecupboard oily fish which is affordable, time-saving and still packed with omega-3, just like fresh. New potatoes have thin papery skins so there’s no need to peel them, saving you more time. You can make double quantities and freeze these too for another day. Once you’ve boiled the potatoes, these are ready in 10 minutes.
- 500g new potatoes
- 2 cans (213g) of pink salmon, drained
- 1 lemon, zested
- a good handful of chives, chopped
Takes 25 minutes
- Boil the potatoes (no need to peel) until tender (about 10 minutes).
- Drain then mash in the pan with the drained salmon, lemon zest, chives and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Shape into four patties using wet hands and fry in a little olive oil in a pan for about 5 minutes on each side.
- Serve with the lemon wedges to squeeze over and green salad or veggies on the side, if you like.
Costed at Sainsburys 14/11/22
Try swapping white rice for brown and adding a little baby-leaf spinach on the side alongside tomato meatballs – which most children readily eat. It’s a way to introduce different foods on a plate together with more accepted ones.
Takes 25 minutes
- Cook enough brown rice for four in a pan of water.
- Brown the meatballs in a little olive oil then add in the tin of tomatoes and simmer until the meatballs are cooked according to pack instructions.
- Drain the cooked rice and serve with the meatballs and a handful of baby leaf spinach.
- Drizzle the spinach with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
I really hope you like these family meals for a fiver. You might also like my cheap and easy pasta, 10 healthy sandwich fillings for babies and carrot and sweetcorn fritters. And for kids’ meals you can batch cook on a budget, why not this brilliantly versatile pasta super sauce from my friends at Little Dish which can be made with either meat or veggies and used in no less than eight different meals! You can also try batch-cooking my easy cheesy potato pie, summer curry, baby-friendly bean stew or easy courgette fritters