Shopping basket filled with vegetables

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.

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.

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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 of spring onions
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 carrot
  • About 400g pack mixed stir-fry vegetables

Meat, fish & dairy:

  • 50g pecorino or parmesan
  • 200g 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

Freezer:

  • 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 purée
  • 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

MONDAY
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

TUESDAY
Creamy fish curry


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

WEDNESDAY
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

THURSDAY
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

FRIDAY
Black bean beef meatballs with stir-fried noodles


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.

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