Many of us have to think extra carefully about getting the most out of our shopping and fuel budgets. Thoughtful planning and cooking will help you make nutritious meals that taste great. We calculate a budget meal at a cost of £1.25 per serving for the ingredients used. (You may have to spend a little more if you need to replenish staples such as an entire bottle of cooking oil or a bag of flour or buy a pot of spices, but you will use these up over time, and we will give you ideas for how to do this.) You may also have access to markets and local shops that offer savings.


This collection of budget-friendly meals needs only five ingredients, making them especially simple and affordable to make.

3 Easy budget hacks

Looking for more budget-friendly recipes and cookery advice? See our main collections of budget recipes and leftover recipes, plus follow our guide to a week of budget-friendly meals. You can also find plenty more recipes and tips on our budget section.

1) Springtime minestrone

Bowl of green minestrone

This easy vegetarian dinner will become a staple in your household, as it is both speedy and unbelievably simple. It's full of spring vegetables and can be on your table within 10 minutes, with only one step to follow. Add stock to your saucepan of vegetables and bring to a boil before reducing and simmering for 3 minutes. Then add the cooked pasta, beans and pesto and heat through.

2) Gnocchi cacio e pepe

A bowl of gnocchi

Enjoy a comforting bowl of gnocchi with parmesan and black pepper. It's simple but utterly delicious – and the best part is, it only takes seven minutes to make. While the recipe is designed to serve two, ingredients can easily be doubled to feed a family, and each serving only comes to £1.05.

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3) Super quick sesame ramen

Bowl of ramen soup noodles topped with a boiled egg and pak choi

This warming veggie ramen can be rustled up in only 15 minutes. Think of it as a cheap and healthy fast food alternative, as it’s low in cost and low in fat and calories. It's only got five ingredients, but you can add chilli sauce or extra condiments to tailor it to your taste.

4) Brown butter linguine

Bowl of spaghetti with parmesan on top

This vegetarian brown butter linguine is a delicious filling dinner for one, but the ingredients can also be multiplied by four to feed an entire family. Simply cook the linguine until al dente, while in a separate frying pan heating up the butter until foaming to fry the bread. Once browned, remove the bread from the pan and wipe the excess butter away. Then add the remaining butter and heat until it starts to brown before adding chilli flakes and plenty of black pepper and cooking for one minute. Add the pasta to the pan with a little pasta water, toss through the fried bread and some cheese, and it's ready to serve.

5) Chorizo hummus bowl

Hummus topped with greens and chickpeas next to flatbreads

Treat yourself to homemade hummus, which is much more delicious (and more budget-friendly) than any packet-bought options. Top with chorizo and kale to pack this dish with protein and flavour. Drizzle over some olive oil and serve with a warmed flatbread to make the perfect meal for one. As with the other recipes, all ingredients can easily be multiplied to increase the yield for a family.

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This article was published in May 2022. Cost per serving figures are correct at time of calculation and are based on ingredients available from a mid-range supermarket, selecting products from their value ranges. Costings exclude energy expenditure. Variations in the marketplace, availability of ingredients and changing food prices will impact these figures but where possible our budget articles will feature recipes that cost less than £1.25 per person. For more budget-friendly recipes and cookery advice, visit our budget section.


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