Top 10 healthy budget dinners
No need to break the bank with these budget-friendly dinner ideas for every taste. See our top-rated healthy recipes including vegan and veggie options including pasta, chilli and curry.
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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 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 a markets and local shops that offer savings.
Try our nutritious recipes for a cheap dinner to fill up the whole family. From speedy stir-fries and salad bowls to warming stews and curries, we've included a variety of healthy, budget-friendly dishes with options for veggies and vegans, too. These recipes have been picked to provide homemade, delicious suppers for four people, making the most of affordable ingredients and giving plenty of options for batch cooking and freezing extra portions.
For more nutritious, budget-friendly meal ideas see our cheap and healthy recipes and follow our week of healthy budget family meals. We've also got plenty more budget recipes and cookery tips in our budget section.
Top 10 healthy budget suppers
1. Easy chicken stew
Stir up this nourishing chicken stew for a filling, yet low-fat family supper. Chicken thighs are full of flavour and a lower cost cut of meat compared to breasts, while chunky veg such as swedes and potatoes make the stew go further.
Find more fuss-free meals with our healthy one-pot recipes.
2. Prawn fried rice
Get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes with this prawn fried rice. This speedy stir-fry is full of king prawns, scrambled egg, mangetout and peas. Cook everything in a wok over a medium heat, then fold in sesame seeds, soy and vinegar. Scatter with spring onions for some added crispy texture.
Make more dinners in a hurry with these quick and healthy recipes.
3. Vegan salad bowl
Make dinner a joyous occasion with this colourful vegan salad bowl. Taking just 15 minutes to prep, this plant-based dish is a speedy way to pack in two of your five-a-day as well as providing a source of fibre, folate and vitamin C. Fill your bowl with an exciting combination textures and flavours, including mixed beans, crunchy radishes, cucumber ribbons, pickled cabbage and couscous. Kids can also enjoy customising their meals with any leftover veg you have in the fridge – slices of peppers, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn would all work well.
Put together more colourful plates with our healthy salad recipes.
4. Double bean & roasted pepper chilli
Satisfy hunger pangs with this hearty double bean & roasted pepper chilli. This filling dish is full of peppers, black beans, kidney beans and refried beans, with each serving providing three of your five-a-day. It makes enough for eight people so is perfect for batch cooking and freezing if you need a speedy meal later in the week. Serve with hot sauce, soured cream or yogurt.
See more spicy suppers in our collection of healthy chilli recipes.
5. Swedish meatballs
Eat these low-cal Swedish meatballs with spring greens and classic lingonberry or cranberry sauce. Mix pork mince, cooked onions, breadcrumbs, egg yolk and a good grating of nutmeg, then form 12 meatballs by hand. Cook in a frying pan with low-salt beef stock then stir through Dijon mustard and fat-free natural yogurt.
For more ideas, see our healthy meatball recipes.
6. Spiced lamb wraps
Make these aromatic spiced lamb wraps for a nutritious and filling meal. We've lowered costs by using frozen lamb mince and frozen peas, along with storecupboard ingredients such as canned tomatoes and curry paste. Fill flour wraps or chapatis with the mixture and serve with natural yogurt. The filling is also ideal for batch cooking and freezing so you could make double the quantities and serve with rice for another meal.
For more nutritious meals, see our healthy wrap recipes.
7. Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal
Pack in three of your five-a-day with this spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal. This vibrant vegan one-pot is also a good source of iron as well as being low-fat and low-calorie. Chunky veg such as sweet potatoes and filling red split lentils are cheap to buy and help to bulk out the meal. If you want to make double the quantities and freeze, then allow the dhal to cool and pop into freezable containers or individual bags. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat until piping hot.
Plan ahead with these healthy freezable recipes.
8. Curried cod
Make this low-fat, low-cal curried cod for a light dinner. This fragrant dish is loaded with ginger, garlic and spices. Simmer chopped tomatoes with a can of chickpeas, then add four cod fillets and cook through. Scatter with lemon zest and chopped coriander for a delicate, vibrant meal.
Lighten up your suppers with our healthy fish recipes.
9. Lentil ragu
Try this lentil ragu loaded with hearty vegetables and red lentils. Gently cook onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft, stir in the lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs and stock. Simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are tender. Serve with spaghetti and top with grated parmesan or vegetarian cheese.
See more recipes in our healthy pasta collection.
10. Kidney bean curry
Whip up this easy vegan kidney bean curry for a low-fat, gluten-free meal. The recipe portions are for two but it can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a family. It makes the most of canned foods such as kidney beans and chopped tomatoes, as well as storecupboard spices like cumin, paprika and garam masala. Serve with fulffy basmati rice and fresh coriander.
See more spiced dished in our collection of healthy curry recipes.
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How do you stay healthy on a budget? Leave a comment below...
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.
Cook Smart is a supportive campaign developed by BBC Good Food to bring together knowledge and ideas on how to help everyone eat well on a budget. Read more about Cook Smart with BBC Good Food.