The BBC Good Food logo
Meatballs in pan with lettuce and sauce

Top 10 healthy budget dinners

Magazine subscription – choose a brand-new cookbook when you subscribe

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 like pasta, chilli and curry. 

Try our nutritious recipes for a cheap dinner to fill up the whole family. These budget-friendly meals are healthy and full of flavour.


We've included classic favourites like comforting tikka masala, fried rice, shepherd's pie and hearty chilli. See our vegetarian recipes for ragu pasta and chunky curry, sure to please meat eaters and veggies alike.

For more ideas see our cheap healthy recipes.

1) Healthy tikka masala

Tikka masala in white bowl with fork

Lighten up your curry night with this healthy tikka masala. Make a paste by whizzing onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor. Then cook with chicken, tomatoes, spices and ground almonds. Stir through fat-free natural yogurt and chopped coriander. It's gluten-free and great for freezing. 

For more comfort food, see our healthy chicken curry recipes.

2) Prawn fried rice

Brown rice with prawns and peas

Get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes with this prawn fried rice. This easy Asian-inspired recipe 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 to finish off this thrifty meal. 

Make more dinners in a hurry with these quick and healthy recipes.

3) Vegan shepherd's pie

Trays of shepherd's pie

Tuck into this vegan shepherd's pie for the ultimate comforting dinner. This plant-based dish is full of herby flavour from thyme and sage. It's packed full of porcini mushrooms, leeks, carrots and butternut squash, and topped with crispy potatoes. It's great for feeding a crowd as it serves up to eight people.

Warm up with our healthy comford food recipes.

4) Double bean & roasted pepper chilli

Bean chilli in pot with rice and tobasco sauce

Satisfy hunger pangs with this hearty double bean & roasted pepper chilli. This super filling dish is full of black beans, kidney beans and refried beans. Try adding a teaspoon of cocoa powder to balance the smoky chipotle flavour. Serve with Tabasco sauce, soured cream or yogurt.

See more spicy suppers in our healthy chilli collection.

5) Swedish meatballs

Meatballs in white pan

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) Bombay lamb wraps

Bombay lamp wraps with plates

Assemble these top rated Bombay lamb wraps packed with Indian-inspired flavours. Cook frozen lamb mince with curry paste, tomatoes, potatoes and frozen peas. Fill flour wraps or chapatis with the mixture and serve with natural yogurt.

For more nutritious meals, see our healthy wrap recipes.

7) Curried cod

Curried cod in white pot

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 supper with our healthy fish recipes.

8) Kidney bean curry

Bean curry in bowl with white rice

Whip up this easy kidney bean curry for a low-fat, gluten-free meal. This vegan curry is gorgeously spiced with ginger, cumin, paprika and garam masala. Cook onions with the spices, then add chopped tomatoes and kidney beans and simmer for 15 minutes, until the curry is nice and thick. Serve with fulffy basmati rice and fresh coriander.

See more spiced dished in our healthy curry collection.

9) Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal

Dlah in light blue bowl

Pack in your 5-a-day with this spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal. This easy, one-pot dhal is iron-rich, low-fat and low-calorie. Everyone will love this vegan dish packed with chunky veg and filling red split lentils. To freeze, allow the dhal to cool, then pop into freezable containers. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat until piping hot.

Plan ahead with these healthy freezable recipes.

10) Lentil ragu

Bowls of pasta

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.

Enjoyed these heathy budget meals? See more recipes...

10 easy budget family meals
Healthy vegetarian ideas
Budget meals for large families
Healthy batch cooking recipes
Budget meals for one

How do you stay healthy on a budget? Leave a comment below...


As many countries urge populations to stay at home, many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health. To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of their most popular nutrition stories from their archive.


Sponsored content