A week of easy meals for £35

The big squeeze on families and soaring food prices has left most of us feeling the pinch. Make your money go further with our week of easy meals for £35.

Shopping basket filled with vegetables

These days it's very easy to feel overwhelmed with the cost of day-to-day living, but with a bit of creativity and careful planning you'll find you can still eat well, while sticking to a strict budget.

Everyday changes like getting creative with leftovers, visiting local food markets and cooking from scratch mean you will have the satisfaction of feeding your family on wholesome, seasonal food. But the key point always comes down to planning, because impulsive spending leaks money and waste. Oh, and never, ever shop when you're hungry.

Check out our week of easy meals for £35, and let us know how you get on:

Your shopping list:

Fruit & veg:
Large pack of fresh mint
2 onions
1 bunch spring onions
2 peppers
1 carrot
About 400g pack mixed stir-fry vegetables
Meat, fish & dairy:
50g pecorino or parmesan
200g tub half-fat crème fraîche
175g thinly sliced smoked ham
1 pack skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks (4 of each)
125g pack garlic butter
175g cheddar or mozzarella
300g beef mince
400g frozen peas
140g frozen fine green beans
400g frozen coley or other white fish






Dry goods & bakery:
400g pasta shapes
500g basmati rice
400g can reduced-fat coconut milk
6 tbsp piri-piri marinade
500g pack ciabatta bread mix
2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes
120g sachet black bean sauce
3 nests medium egg noodles

Check your storecupboard for:

3 tbsp korma or mild curry paste
1 chicken stock cube
2 tbsp sunflower and 2 tsp sesame oil
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 vegetable stock cube
5-6 slices bread, crusts removed (for 200g breadcrumbs)
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame seeds


Pasta with ham & minty pea pesto

Pasta with ham & minty pea pesto

A steaming bowl of pasta makes the perfect Monday night supper, and this recipe is low-fat to boot. Serve your choice of pasta with ham and homemade sauce made from salty Italian cheese and crème fraîche.

Pasta with ham & minty pea pesto

Creamy fish curry

Goan fish curry in a pan with rice
Whip up a curry in a hurry with this low-fat Goan-style mild dish with korma paste, coconut, green beans and sustainable coley.

Creamy fish curry

Piri-piri chicken with spicy rice

Piri-piri chicken with spicy rice
Use a lime-spiked spicy marinade to coat thighs and drumsticks then roast and serve with paprika rice in this healthy yet filling dish.

Piri-piri chicken with spicy rice

Tomato soup with tear & share cheesy bread

Tomato soup with tear & share cheesy bread
Comfort food doesn't get much better than a bowl of creamy homemade tomato soup and warm cheesy bread. This super-simple recipe will be on the table in under an hour too.

Tomato soup with tear & share cheesey bread

Black bean beef meatballs with stir-fried noodles

Black bean beef meatballs with noodles on a plate
Try out a new idea with beef mince, served in balls in a Chinese sauce with sweet chilli and five-spice powder – it's so much better than a takeaway.

Black bean beef meatballs with stir-fried noodles

This article was originally published in 2013 and was updated with new pricing on 3 December 2019.

Have you got any tips on how to eat on a budget? Leave a comment below...


Comments, questions and tips

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2nd Oct, 2019
This is a really really useful idea. i often get stuck when buying food for meals in advance. having a shopping list along side some really varied and tasty dishes is exactly what i need. thank you and please do more!
essex133's picture
15th Feb, 2018
There are 7 days to a week not 5!
Lance Brelsford's picture
Lance Brelsford
2nd Jan, 2018
So you live on one meal a day and skip 2 days? Are we wild animals?
7th Sep, 2017
What happened to Saturday and Sunday? Perhaps I have missed something?
25th Feb, 2017
I just about manage to pay around £25 on a student budget, before i do a shop i do a meal plan but never take in consideration breakfast or lunch food
itsmepotley's picture
19th Jan, 2017
Totally agree with most of the other comments.. I have around £40 a week for my family food budget to include breakfast and lunch and all the store cupboard staples, they don't magically reappear when they run out as far as I know! I need; 3 meals a day for 4 people (and a thin soup on its own isn't enough!) ....not 5 meals a week for 4 people! I also need some meals that can go in the slow cooker that I can prepare the night before, so it is ready when we walk through the door and my kids aren't too tired to eat it....
Sophia Gibson
12th Jan, 2017
Just bought all the ingredients plus fajitas mix and extra veg for £30 from ASDA! Can't wait to try all these meals. Me and my boyfriend tend to eat out most weekends/ indulge in a takeaway - so 5 days prep works perfectly!
28th Jan, 2016
The comments started on 5th Nov 2013. Need I say more about prices?
13th Sep, 2015
No way in hell you could get all of this for under £25, not even in the budget supermarkets. Not too sure why people are so outraged at the idea of soup and cheesy bread for tea though. Sounds good to me.
10th Jun, 2015
I'm looking forward to the meals but I've just bought the list of ingredients at Saintsbury's (minus the fish as I've already got some cod loins in the freezer) and it came to £63. Glad I had my card with me!


Jackaranda Rainbow's picture
Jackaranda Rainbow
16th Dec, 2017
Ham. Ham, Sausages, Bacon. All contain nitrates or nitrites. All are carcinogenic. Tempting for the poor, but CARCINOGENIC. Is that not true, and if so, the BBC should not promote such food.
goodfoodteam's picture
21st Dec, 2017
Thanks for your question, we have created a meal plan to help people discover it is possible to eat well, cook from scratch and make it affordable. We’ve included ingredients that we know our users use often buy and use in their cooking. If you would like to follow a meal plan that has been created to use only whole foods and no processed ingredients please have a look at our healthy diet plan menus. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/sign-our-new-diet-plans
8th Oct, 2013
Is 25 is realistic? When I use the shopping calculator on each recipe it comes to 44. Only Monday to Friday are displaying for me. Are the weekend recipes missing?
22nd Oct, 2015
Save those left over crusts or any stale bread and turn into breadcrumbs - freeze really well and defrost instantly. Cook an extra handful or two of pasta, keep in the fridge and add to the tomato soup next day - makes a sufficiently nourishing meal. Cook an extra 2 x tablespoonfuls of rice, cool and keep in fridge (or freezer) and add to a bolognese sauce, means you can use less meat, lower in fat and the rice absorbs the flavours very well.