Eating your favourite comfort meals shouldn't mean breaking the bank. To help you budget for your food shop while still enjoying your mealtimes, we've listed our most comforting, satisfying and low-cost dinners. These recipes showcase minimal, cheap ingredients, or use low-cost cooking methods such as the air-fryer, slow cooker and microwave.


See our most comforting meals below, from microwave noodle soups to slow cooker curries and air-fryer toasties. For more low-cost meals check out our best budget recipes, budget batch-cooking recipes and budget desserts.

For more recipes that you can make in your air-fryer, see our air-fryer recipes for beginners, vegetarian air-fryer recipes and air-fryer desserts. Find more ways to use your slow cooker with our budget slow cooker recipes.

If you're looking for microwave meal inspiration, see our collections for the best microwave recipes, quick and easy microwave recipes and microwave cake recipes.

Sardine pasta with crunchy parsley crumbs

Two bowls of spaghetti topped with parsley crumb

Eating fish doesn't necessarily equate to a costly food shop. Canned sardines are affordable and, in this recipe, add oomph to a simple, family pasta dish. Plus, it's a great source of omega-3.

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See more canned food recipes for cheap meal inspiration.

Gnocchi cacio e pepe

A bowl of gnocchi

Gnocchi, some butter, parmesan and black pepper is all you need to rustle up this comforting cacio e pepe. It's simple, utterly delicious and, the best part is, it only takes seven minutes to make.

Browse through more quick gnocchi recipes here.

Microwave prawn laksa noodle soup

Microwave prawn laksa noodle soup in a bowl with chopsticks

You can whip up a steaming hot bowl of laksa in 15 minutes thanks to your microwave. It's speedy, soothing and packed with depth of flavour thanks to red chilli and fish sauce.

Warm up with more soothing noodle recipes.

Air-fryer cheese & ham toastie

Two slices of air-fryer cheese & ham toastie stacked together

Toasties are the ultimate comfort food, and thankfully you can make them in your air-fryer. Substitute gruyère for cheddar, if you like, or sourdough in place of your usual bread.

Discover more toastie recipes for comforting weekend meals.

Slow cooker chicken korma

Chicken korma on a plate and in a dish with rice

Make good use of your slow cooker – a handy piece of kitchen kit that is more energy-efficient than the oven – and cook up a budget-friendly chicken korma. Slow-cooking ensures tender chicken and a rich, fragrant curry sauce, so it's a win-win.

Check out more slow cooker chicken recipes for more family meals.

Air-fryer chicken nuggets

Air-fryer chicken nuggets with ketchup alongside

The ultimate late-night snack, now made even easier in an energy-efficient air-fryer. Best served with plenty of ketchup.

See more fun air-fryer ideas in our air-fryer recipes for beginners.

Air-fryer baked potatoes

Air-fryer baked potato filled with baked beans and topped with cheese

Nothing compares to a crispy baked potato with a fluffy centre, loaded with your choice of toppings (we love baked beans and lots of grated cheese). We've made the process quicker and more energy-efficient than using the oven by utilising the air-fryer.

Check out more baked potato recipes as well as these vegetarian air-fryer recipes.

Slow cooker meatballs

Tomato sauce and meatballs on spaghetti

Dust off your slow cooker and try these meatballs for a low-cost family meal. Turkey mince makes for lighter meatballs, plus they freeze well so you can batch cook for busy nights ahead.

Find more ways to utilise your slow-cooker with our best slow-cooker recipes.

Turkey pasta bake

Turkey pasta bake in a dish topped with pigs in blankets

Make the most of any leftover turkey (or chicken) and add it to a thrifty pasta bake. This recipe makes the most of cheap storecupboard ingredients, such as chopped tomatoes and purée, red wine vinegar, garlic and onion.

Check out these easy freezable pasta bakes for simple weeknight dinners.

Slow cooker sausage casserole

Sausage casserole on fusilli pasta

Try this family-friendly slow cooker casserole out for the size. This thrifty meal is brilliant served over pasta, in baked potatoes or with bread.

Make more family slow cooker meals with our best kids' slow cooker recipes.

Tomato & pasta soup

Two bowls of tomato & pasta soup with two spoons and a slice of crusty bread

Our budget-friendly pasta and chickpea soup makes the most of cheap, readily available ingredients, and it's ready on the table in just 30 minutes. It's low in fat and calories, too.

See more speedy soup recipes for hearty family meals.

Microwave macaroni cheese

Microwave macaroni cheese in a blue oven proof dish

Tuck into a bowl of hot, bubbling macaroni cheese in under 30 minutes with this thrifty three-cheese microwave method. It's great if you're looking to avoid too many pots and pans to wash up afterwards.

Discover more microwave recipes here.

Microwave chilli

Two bowls of chilli topped with yogurt

Make dinner in a flash with Jack Monroe's vegetarian kidney bean chilli. It's a great way to get two of your five-a-day in and includes cheap canned items such as kidney beans and chopped tomatoes.

See our ultimate chilli recipe collection for more cheap family dinners.

Air-fryer toad-in-the-hole

Small rectangular dish of toad-in-the-hole

Toad-in-the-hole is comfort food at its best – and a thrifty one too, using just five ingredients (excluding oil). Serve with gravy and your favourite veg on the side.

Find more toad-in-the-hole recipes for cheap and cheerful meals.

Air-fryer tuna pasta bake

Air-fryer tuna pasta bake in a baking dish with a serving spoon

We've made a comfort food classic more energy-efficient by using the trusty air-fryer. It's as healthy as it is cheap, being low in salt and sugar and high in protein.


Check out our top 20 pasta bakes guide for more ways to feed the family with a few ingredients and minimal effort.

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