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5 ideas for healthy family meals on a budget

Posted on 13 November 2020

When it comes to feeding the family, we’re all looking for ideas that are cheap, healthy, and easy to make.

We’ve put together five tips for saving money on your everyday meals. Making these small changes will add up over time to a significant saving, as well as helping your family eat better.

Convenience costs

There’s a reason why ready-prepared food is so popular: it’s quick and convenient. But while it saves you time and effort at the end of a long day, the cost of some ready-made foods is disproportionate to the ease of making it yourself.

As an example, these Tesco potato wedges cost £1.34 per kilo, while a bag of potatoes from the same shop works out at only 40p per kilo. Both products are own brand, but you’re paying over the odds for someone else to do the prep.

Slicing up the potatoes and mixing them with some oil before popping in the oven takes barely any time, but you’ll make a decent cost saving. It’s also healthier as you know exactly what you’re eating - no hidden additives. 

Own brand everything

We all know that the supermarkets’ own ranges are the cheapest, but doesn’t that also mean lower quality? Not necessarily – in blind taste tests, own brands often come out ahead of premium products.

Try this for yourself by switching down a price level and see if your family notices the difference. For example, if you normally buy Fairy washing up liquid or Napolina chopped tomatoes, try the supermarket own brand instead. It may take some trial and error to work out which products are worth splurging on, but in many cases, own brand goods are identical to their branded counterparts in all but price.

Have a veggie day

Meat can be expensive, so save money by having a couple of days a week where you eat vegetarian. These hearty veggie recipes will fill you up at a fraction of the price. Choose slow-release carbohydrates like beans, whole grains, and pulses to keep you fuller for longer.

Make the most of discount schemes

Through your employer, you may be able to access discounts at many retailers including supermarkets. Check before you head to the shops if there are codes or coupons you need to bring.

Even if a supermarket’s discount sounds small – e.g. 5% - making this saving week in week out will soon add up to a significant sum. Many supermarket discounts are available as e-vouchers on your mobile phone, making it quick and convenient to save while you shop.

Batch cook

If you’re short on time, plan to cook double portions a couple of nights a week. That way you can have the other portions as tomorrow’s dinner or pop them in the freezer for another day.

Writing a meal plan and accompanying shopping list will help you stay organised and means you won’t waste time going back and forth to shops all week. If you’re stuck for ideas, take a look at these batch-cooking recipes which freeze well and are great for families.

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