Can you really feed 5 for £1 per portion or less? Times are tough and money is tighter than ever. The choice between heating and eating is a real worry for thousands of people across the nation.
Keeping food costs low is at the forefront of most of our minds as we go food shopping. The treats we used to allow ourselves here and there are a distant memory, and the reduced section is our new best friend.
But you can still eat delicious, healthy and heart-warming meals on a budget. Here at MoneyMagpie, we are always looking for cheap meals to fill tummies without breaking the bank.
So, here are five meals to feed five people, for less than £5 – or just £1 per portion! Whether you are a fan of lighter pasta dishes, or want a hearty bake to chase away the winter chills, why not try one of these mouth-watering meals.
For these meals we will be using items from Tesco. Please note other supermarkets are available. Prices correct at the time of publishing.
Cost per portion: 86p
A family favourite and classic dinner-time dish is the good old stir-fry. A crowd-pleaser, this dish can be padded out with any leftover veg you may have in the fridge, waiting to be used up. You could even add in tinned sweetcorn or frozen peas for that extra oomph.
It is also delicious heated up the next day for a warming lunch and the variety of veg within the stir fry gives you and your family all the vitamins you need to fight the winter sniffles.
- Large Stir Fry Mix, 570g – £1.13
- Butcher’s Choice Cooked Chicken Slices, 340g – £1.69
- Chow Mein Stir Fry Sauce – 65p
- Blue Dragon Medium Egg Noodles, 6 nests – £1.00, approx. 17p per nest
Total cost of the ingredients used: £4.30
The great thing about a stir fry is it can be ready in minutes – literally. Remember to thaw out any frozen chicken over night or during the day just before you leave for work. If you have carrots, cabbage, courgettes, mushrooms, or any other vegetables available, you can use those up instead of buying a pack of veg, saving even more money.
However, we find the ready chopped vegetables super convenient and quick to use, especially if you have little ones running around under your feet!
Firstly, fry off your chicken in a pan with a little oil. Whilst you are doing this, pop the kettle on to boil your water for the noodles. Once the chicken has browned a little and heated through, add the packet of vegetables and let heat up.
Whilst the vegetables are wilting in the heat and cooking, pop your noodles on to cook. They should only take around 4 minutes to cook. Add the stir-fry sauce to your cooked chicken and stir fry veg, and mix evenly.
Whilst the sauce heats and adds a zing of flavour to your dish, drain your noodles and add to the pan. Mix it all together and dish up. Easy peasy. Plus, you will have a spare nest of noodles to use with any leftovers the next day!
Cost per portion: 75p
This dish is a firm favourite here at MoneyMagpie. Inspired heavily by the Roasted Tomato and Bay Orzo with Black Pepper from Rukmini Iyer’s Green Roasting Tin, Magpie Izzy has found a way to make the dish just as delicious, with less ingredients.
This is a really cosy dish, perfect for winter nights curled up in front of the telly. Orzo is essentially very small pasta, almost like large grains of rice. This takes about 10 minutes of prep and then whack it in the oven for 20 minutes and let the heat do its thing.
- Orzo Pasta, 500g – £1.90
- 2x Nightingale Farms Cherry Tomatoes, 250g – 57p per pack
- 1x Brown Onion – 12p
- 2x Oxo Vegetable Stock Cubes – £1.75 – approx. 15p per cube
- Fresh Cut Basil, 30g – 52p – 26p per 15g
Total cost of ingredients used: £3.72
If you already have vegetable stock in your cupboard, which most of us do, then fab, you’re saving money on this recipe already. Plus, you can always use dried basil as opposed to fresh basil, as many of us have that in our store cupboards too.
This is a simple one-pot dish really. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. As the oven heats, place your orzo in a large oven-proof dish. You can split it between two smaller dishes, if easier.
Mix two stock cubes with boiling water, approximately 500ml of boiling water per stock cube. Cover the orzo with the stock and ensure it is covered. Then, halve your cherry tomatoes, placing them on top of the orzo evenly to ensure even cooking. Scatter around half of the basil across the orzo and tomatoes and finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Pop it in the oven for around 20 minutes. Dish out evenly. If you are feeling a bit flush, sprinkle a little bit of cheddar cheese on top.
Cost per portion: 65p
This is a cheap, filling and quite frankly, delicious dinner. It is easy to assemble and tastes like heaven. The eggs, sausages, beans and tomatoes come together to create an unexpected fusion of flavour. Like breakfast, but for dinner!
Guaranteed to be a new favourite in your household, why not give this sausage and egg bake a go?
- 10x Butcher’s Choice 20 Pork Sausages – £1.36, 69p per 10 sausages
- Medium Free Range Eggs – £1.15, approx. 96p per 5 eggs
- 2x Grower’s Harvest Chopped Tomatoes, 400g tin – 32p per tin
- Cannellini Beans, 400g tin – 70p
- 2x Brown Onions – 12p each
Total cost of ingredients used: £3.23
This is a straight forward, speedy meal to make. You’ll have plenty of sausages left over, and a nice egg for breakfast, too. Firstly, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Fry off the sausages in a pan or pop them in your air fryer until browned. Add the onions and fry until soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and cannellini beans to the pan and mix until all ingredients are coated evenly with the tomatoes.
Once all ingredients are heated through, add them to an oven-proof dish and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and use the back of a wooden spoon to push five small dips into the mixture. Crack an egg into each of the dips, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, dish up giving each person two sausages and one egg, and enjoy. You could sprinkle a little cheese over this dish if you fancy. The great thing is, it has all of the components you need for a hearty meal. Protein, vegetables, and best of all, it keeps you full all night.
Cost per portion: 93p
Pasta bakes are a classic in most households. In fact, pasta bakes have kept Magpie Izzy going for years – through the trials of university and a go-to when cooking for friends. This can be cooked in bulk, and is just as delicious the next day when taken for lunch.
It’s rare anyone would turn their nose up and such a scrummy meal, especially your little ones. Plus, if you aren’t a tuna fan, you can simply remove it from the meal and you don’t miss out on taste.
- Hearty Food Co Penne Pasta, 500g – 41p
- Colman’s Tuna Pasta Bake Mix – 90p
- 2x Stockwell Tuna Chunks in Brine – 55p per can
- Grower’s Harvest Sweetcorn, 325g – 50p – 130g approx. 20p
- Semi-skimmed Milk, 568ml – 95p – 425ml approx. 71p
- Creamfields Mature Cheese, 400g – £2.65 – £1.33 per 200g
Total cost of ingredients used: £4.65
This is a pretty simple recipe, but does take a few steps to assemble. In a pan, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Usually this is 8 to 10 minutes, and don’t forget to add a little salt into the water!
Whilst this is cooking, add 425ml of milk to another pan, and add the tuna pasta bake powder mix. Give it a good whisk and set it on a medium heat, stirring regularly. The sauce mix will thicken as it heats.
Drain the pasta when cooked. Then, simply add the thickened sauce to the pasta, add your tins of tuna, sweetcorn and give it a good stir, ensuring the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Then, pop it into an oven proof dish and spread evenly. Grate some cheese over the top and put it in the oven or under the grill until the cheese is melted, golden and deliciously bubbly. A big family favourite you’ll want to make again and again.
Cost per portion: 97p
Fish pie is one of those really hearty dishes that truly warms you from the core. There is nothing better than coming home to a filling dinner to chase away the winter blues. Now, you can make the mashed potato from scratch if you’d like – but we know it can be much easier and more convenient to use ready-made mash.
We don’t judge either way, so use the mash you’d prefer. The only thing about fish pie is, it takes a little love to prepare it. Eggs need to be boiled, mashed potato made and fish cooked. But if you are willing to put in a little TLC to this dish, you won’t regret it.
We sometimes like to prepare everything the night before, so when we come home after a long hard day, we can simply pop it into the oven to heat.
- Bay Fishmongers White Fish Fillets, 520g – £2.50 – approx. £2.16 per 450g
- Frozen Mashed Potato, 900g – £1.55 – approx. £1.03 per 600g
- Medium Free Range Eggs, 6 pack – £1.15 – approx. 76p for 4 eggs
- Colman’s White Sauce Mix – 90p
Total cost of ingredients used: £4.85
Cook the fish according to packet instructions. You may need to defrost your fish overnight before cooking it, but sometimes you can cook it from frozen. A good tip is to poach it lightly in a little warm water or milk.
Whilst the fish is cooking, put four eggs on to hard boil. Depending on how you like the yolk of your egg, let them boil for up to 8 minutes before moving them into a bowl of cold water. This stops the cooking process.
Then, prepare the mash. With frozen mash, although it tastes pretty good on its own, it can be nice to add a dash of milk or a little butter to soften it up a little. The mash is microwavable and is ready in minutes.
Once this is all done, make the white sauce. This takes only seconds to make, and thickens quickly. Then, assemble it altogether. Put the fish and white sauce in an oven proof dish and mix. Cut up your boiled eggs into quarters and sprinkle evenly over the mixture.
Then, layer your mash evenly over the top of the fish and egg mixture. You can add a little cheese on top if you fancy. Then, bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the mix is piping hot through and it’s bubbling nicely.
Are you a foodie? check out these great articles:
- 10 healthy meals to make cheaply
- 5 delicious vegan recipes you need to try
- Cheap and yummy recipes using ingredients from the garden