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Black bean chilli

Cheap & healthy family meal plan

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Dietitian Emer Delaney has planned five nights of healthy, budget, five-star rated suppers that come in at under £30 for a family of four. She explains the nutritional benefits of each meal so you can be sure you're filling your family up on the good stuff...

Feeding your family on a budget is easier than you think. With some careful thought and planning, you can feed a family of four, for under £30 with our five-day dinner plan. All the recipes are healthy, balanced, low in calories and provide two of your ‘five-a-day’.


What to eat for breakfast and lunch...

Low-GI breakfast options keep you fuller for longer so for breakfast, try cinnamon porridge with banana and berries or creamy yogurt porridge. Rye bread also ticks the low-GI box. Spread it with low-fat cream cheese or almond butter and top with pink grapefruit segments. Scandi smoked mackerel on rye is a great lunch option. Other healthy, low-budget ideas for lunch include spicy Cajun chicken quinoa, spicy roast vegetables and lentils, Italian-style stuffed aubergines, winter vegetable curry with fruity raita and red lentil and squash dhal.

You five-day meal plan

Adding the following dishes to your weekly menu will mean your family’s intake will be balanced and healthy as they include fish, meat, pulses and low-GI carbohydrates. They're also kind to your pocket, making them winners all round.


Two bean, potato & tuna salad

New potato, tuna and bean salad in a bowl

This is a very quick, healthy and tasty meal. Tuna is a great source of lean protein, which increases satiety, keeping hunger at bay. Packed with vegetables and low in saturated fat, this is the perfect dish for everyone, especially those with a heart condition. The harissa paste is a flavoursome addition to the dressing and works extremely well with the dish. You may want to reduce the harissa paste slightly in the children’s portion as it could be a little too hot.

Two bean, potato & tuna salad


Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie

Indian spiced shepherd’s pie in a baking tray

Perfect for making in advance and defrosting at the start of a busy week, the lean mince is rich in iron and a great source of protein. Keeping the skin on the potatoes increases the fibre, and the vegetables provide your family with key vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. The dish is also low in salt, which is really important as most of us eat too much it.

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Indian-spiced shepherd's pie


Pasta with tomato & hidden veg sauce

Bowl of pasta shells with tomato & hidden veg sauce, topped with rocket

This is a fantastic way to get your kids to eat more vegetables and if you chop them really finely, they won’t even notice them. Depending on the size of your vegetables, you’ll get two or maybe even three of your 'five-a-day’ with this dish. You can make it even healthier by choosing brown pasta shells, which will increase the daily fibre intake, keeping your family fuller for longer. You can also choose to omit the caster sugar.

Pasta with tomato & hidden veg sauce


Red lentil, chickpea & chilli soup

Bowl of red lentil and chickpea soup topped with coriander

This is a wonderful winter warmer that you can prepare in no time with minimal effort. The lentils and chickpeas are full of soluble fibre, which we know reduces high cholesterol levels. High in protein too, this dish will keep you satisfied. You may want to reduce the amount of chilli if your kids aren’t used to spicy food. Add it to your own before serving, if you like a kick.

Red lentil, chickpea & chilli soup


Black bean chilli

Black bean chilli on rice with chopped radishes and feta cheese, in a bowl

Ideal for a Friday evenings, this soup is quick to prepare and very satisfying. Not only is it low in salt and good for those with high blood pressure, it’s also low in saturated fat so a heart healthy dish all round. Serve it with basmati rice, which is low-GI and better for blood glucose control if you have diabetes.

Black bean chilli

Your shopping list for Monday-Friday suppers


  • 60ml fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 small pot soured cream (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese shavings (optional)
  • 1 pack feta cheese (optional)


  • 500g lean lamb mince

Fruit & Veg

  • 4 onions
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 leek
  • 2 peppers
  • 175g green beans
  • 1 bag rocket
  • 300g new potatoes
  • 800g potatoes
  • 1 large bunch coriander
  • 1 lemon
  • a few spring onions (optional)
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • a few radishes (optional)

For the larder

  • 2 x 400g cans black beans
  • 1 x 200g can chickpeas
  • 300g dried pasta shells
  • 140g dried red split lentils
  • dark brown sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 1 lamb, beef or chicken stock cube or 200ml fresh stock
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes with garlic
  • 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 160g can tuna


  • 200g frozen peas
  • 175g frozen shelled soya beans

Things you may have in your storecupboard

  • ground turmeric (1 tsp)
  • caster sugar (1 tbsp)
  • ground cumin (3 tbsp)
  • 80ml olive oil
  • chilli flakes (large pinch)
  • cumin seeds (2 tsp)
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • sweet paprika (3 tbsp)
  • garam masala (2 tbsp)
  • 15ml balsamic vinegar
  • 45ml cider vinegar
  • 15ml red wine vinegar
  • harissa paste (2 tsp)

After more inspiration for feeding your family without breaking the bank? Check out our recipe collection and guides below.


Have you tried this healthy budget meal plan? Or do you have any top tips for cooking on a budget? We would love to hear from you.

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