Many of us are having to think extra carefully about how to get the most out of our shopping and fuel budgets. Smart 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 ingredients used. (You may have to spend a little more if you need to replenish staples such as a full bottle of cooking oil, 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 a markets and local shops that offer savings.
Midweek dinners just got easier with our top 10 cost-effective slow cooker recipes to feed four or more people.
Affordable ingredients are key to a low-cost dinner. Try bulking up a simple dinner with budget-friendly staples like beans and pulses. Our recipes feature cheap cuts of meat like chicken thighs, sausages and mince. Or, ditch meat all together with our veggie and vegan recipes. We've also provided several opportunities to batch cook and freeze the extra portions so you won't have to cook every night of the week.
For more inspiration, see our collections of budget meals and slow cooker recipes, plus check out our family slow cooker ideas. We've also got plenty more money-saving recipes and tips in our budget section.
Budget slow cooker recipes
Spaghetti and meatballs are sure to please hungry kids and adults alike. This thrifty recipe uses turkey mince, which is not only cost-effective but leaner than beef. They also freeze well so you can batch cook.
Chicken thighs are a crafty way to cut down on shopping costs. Use just a few ingredients to create this no-fuss slow-cooker chicken dish with a creamy honey and mustard sauce.
Try more budget chicken thigh recipes.
Mac 'n' cheese is the ultimate comfort food for a chilly evening. This veggie-friendly recipe uses minimal ingredients, combining pasta with milk, butter and cheese. Just tip the ingredients into your slow cooker for a velvety smooth pasta dish.
Check out more budget pasta recipes.
Vegetarians can dig into this filling casserole full of earthy carrots, parsnips and red lentils. This healthy recipe is great for freezing and reheating for midweek meals.
Find more budget vegetarian recipes.
Shepherd's pie is the ultimate family-friendly meal for a busy weeknight. Tuck into this healthy version featuring mince, lentils, carrots and potatoes. It's low-fat and low-calorie with three of your five-a-day.
Layer pasta, ratatouille and sliced aubergine for a filling dinner that packs in all of your five-a-day – perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Use purse-friendly chicken thighs for an easy alternative to pulled pork. It's best served in a bun or with rice – a satisfyingly simple summer meal for the family.
Browse more summer budget recipes.
Sausages are a wonderfully cost-effective ingredient and we've made them go further in this hearty casserole by serving with chunky veg. It's ideal for batch cooking and freezing for another busy weeknight - serve it over pasta, in baked potatoes or with bread.
Make up a batch of this vibrant vegan ratatouille and freeze for easy midweek meals when you’re busy. Packed with veggies such as aubergine, courgette and tomato, it delivers four of your five-a-day.
Try more budget vegan recipes.
Pork shoulder steaks are another great budget-friendly cut of meat. Serve this warming one-pot casserole with creamy mash for a comforting family meal. We've used a 'bouquet garni' of dried herbs to provide a flavour boost without having to buy lots of extra ingredients. It's also freezable and perfect for batch cooking - mix it up by adding in some cooked apples for extra flavour, or serving with rice.
Enjoyed these dinners? See more recipes...
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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.