Cheap Family Meals That Are Actually Cheap

If you’re anything like us, you finding tasty, easy meals that your family will love. Of course, it’s often hard to find tasty, easy meals that are also incredibly cheap. But don’t worry. We’ve scoured the web and found five recipes that will give you cheap family meals that are actually cheap – and easy and tasty.

Corned beef hash

Corned beef hash


This recipe uses tonnes of canned goods and pantry basics, so it’s cheap, easy and amazingly yummy. Altogether it costs under £5!


  • 340g can of corned beef, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced as thinly as you can
  • 567g can of new potatoes, drained and thickly sliced
  • 198g can of sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped if fresh
  • 4 eggs

What you’ll do:

Start by mixing the corned beef with the mustard powder and the Worcester sauce. Mix that well, and set it aside.

Get a large frying pan, and add the oil. Pop in the onion and fry until they are soft. At that point, pop in the potatoes and continue to fry, until they start browning.

Add the corned beef mixture and the corn, and continue to fry everything until it is all heated through well. Stir through the parsley, and put the whole lot into a serving dish (or straight onto the plates).

Fry the eggs, and pop them on top of the corned beef hash.

You can serve this with crusty bread and a nice salad, if you like.

Fish pie for under £3

Fish pie for 3GBP


Fish pie is always a winner, and this one – which serves four people – packs in the flavour without breaking the bank. It includes kippers, but if you’re not a fan, you can substitute prawns or more pollack.


  • 50 g of butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped as finely as you can
  • 1 medium carrot,  chopped finely
  • 500 ml of milk
  • 50 g of plain flour
  • 1 kg of potatoes
  • 175 g or two fillets of  pollack, defrosted if from frozen
  • 190 g tin of kippers

What you’ll do:

Preheat your oven. It’ll be 220 degrees for an electric oven, 200 for a fan-assisted one and gas mark 7.

Get a saucepan with a heavy base, and melt the butter over a medium heat. Fry the onions and the carrot for a couple of minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. While you’re frying the onions and whatnot, heat up the milk in another saucepan until it is very hot, but not boiling.

Stir your flour into the veg mixture, and cook it for another couple of minutes. Take care to ensure the flour doesn’t burn.

Now knock the heat down to low and add a little bit of the hot milk to the veg mix. Mix it in completely, then add a little more. Keep doing this until all the milk is incorporated. Keep stirring this occasionally, until you have a sauce that doesn’t taste like flour.

While your sauce is cooking, you’ll want to chop, boil and mash your potatoes. You can peel them as well, if you wish. Reserve a bit of the cooking water when you drain the potatoes, so the mash is not too dry. Season it to taste.

Once the sauce mixture is ready, pour it into an oven-proof casserole dish. Flake up the fish, and add that – plus any of their yummy oils – to the dish. Mix it all together to ensure even distribution of the fish.

Spoon the mash on top, and spread it out to cover the fish and sauce. You can then drag a fork across the top to make ridges, if you like, or you can leave it.

Slide the whole thing into your oven, and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. If you want to save on cleaning your oven, pop the dish in a roasting tray, or line the shelf with tin foil to catch any of the juices that bubble over and splash out.

You can serve this on its own, or with veggie sides.

Spring Piggy, Posh Nosh!

Spring Piggy


If you are a devotee to cheap family meals, you probably already know who Jack Monroe is. We’ve gone through her older recipes to find a hidden gem, and this soupy-stewy delight more than fits the bill. After all, it just costs £1.34 for four people!


  • 300g of bacon, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 100ml of cheap white wine
  • Fistful each of thyme and parsley, either fresh or dried
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 chicken stock cube, diluted into 500ml of water to make a hot stock
  • 1 tsp of English mustard
  • 1/8 of a savoy cabbage
  • 50g of green beans
  • 2 tbsp of natural yoghurt (optional)

What you’ll do:

Add the bacon, garlic and onion to a large frying pan that has a lid. You can add oil if you like, or you can dry fry on a low heat. If you do dry fry, make sure you stir it often enough to keep the garlic and onion from sticking.

Pop in the wine and the chopped herbs, and mix through. Once it’s simmering, add the chopped carrot, then add the hot chicken stock and the mustard. Cover the pan, and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes, checking on it and stirring it occasionally.

Five minutes before serving, add the chopped savoy cabbage and green beans to the mixture. Finally, stir in the yoghurt, if you want it.

You can serve this with potatoes or rice, and it is also nice on pasta, apparently, so just use whichever carbs you have to hand.

Vegetable and nut stir fry

Vegetable and nut stir fry


Vegetarian recipes almost invariably end up cheaper than meat and fish-based ones, just because they cut out the most expensive ingredients. But they also need a little more work to taste nice. That said, this vegetable and nut stir fry uses soy sauce to boost the flavour and nuts to bulk out the meal, so you’ll love eating it – and the men won’t be complaining about being hungry an hour later. It costs just £2.72 in total.


  • 300g of long grain rice
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 a head of savoy cabbage, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 300g of carrots, chopped
  • 2 red or yellow peppers, chopped
  • 50g of a honey-roasted nut mix
  • A dash of dark soy sauce

What you’ll do:

Start by putting the rice on to boil, while you prep everything else. Keep an eye on it, but generally just let it do its thing.

Heat the oil in a large pan (or wok, if you have one) on a high heat. Stir the vegetables in, and keep stirring them quickly for a good few minutes. Throw in the nuts, and keep stirring for a couple more minutes. Finally, stir in the soy sauce.

Drain the rice, and serve.

Biryani-style baked chicken and rice

Biryani style chicken bake


Okay, Indian takeaways are rarely prohibitively expensive, but they can quickly add up. So if you want the takeaway taste without the price, try this recipe. It serves four people for less than a fiver.


  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, with the skin
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 300g of basmati rice
  • 650ml chicken stock, heated up
  • 200g of frozen mixed green vegetables
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (optional)

What you’ll do

Start by preheating your oven. It’s 190 degrees for an electric oven, 170 for fan assisted and gas mark 5. Heat the oil in a roasting tin on your hob. Add the chicken and fry to seal in the juices. Do this, turning the chicken regularly, until the thighs are brown all over. Remove them and set them to the side.

Lower the heat all the way down, and add the onions. Fry them in the oil/chicken mixture for about 6-8 minutes, then stir in the garlic and the spices, including the chilli. Add the rice, and stir everything for a minute.

Pop the chicken on top of everything, then pour the hot stock all over everything. Cover the roasting tin with foil, and bake it for 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid. You’ll want to check on it a couple of times, adding hot water if necessary.

Once that’s done, uncover the dish and stir in the frozen veg. Re-cover and bake the lot for another ten minutes, until everything is nicely warm. You can scatter the parsley on top, if you wish, and then it’s ready to serve.


These are our suggestions, but what are your favourite cheap family meals? What are your go-to meals when time is short and budgets are tight? Let us know in the comments!

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