7 DAY BUDGET FRIENDLY MEAL PLAN FOR FAMILIES

BY VANESSA JONES (GUEST WRITER)

BUDGET FRIENDLY MEAL PLAN

The lovely Vanessa is here to share a 7 day budget friendly meal plan for everyone to enjoy!

Your 7 Day Budget Friendly Meal Plan

Getting kids to eat healthy isn’t always easy, with all the colourful and enticing packaging that comes with those freezer friendly goodies they want to eat until the cows come home. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is just easier to throw some fish fingers in the oven and be done with it. But how can we encourage our veggie dodging darlings to tuck in when you really want them to eat a good home cooked meal you know is full of goodness and not packed with salt?

Here’s 7 recipes we all eat in our household, they are healthy, low in salt (if any at all!) and budget friendly!

All of the recipes can be easily made vegetarian using your favourite meat replacement produce. Each recipe is designed to serve 4 adult portions, or 2/ 3 adult portions and 2/ 3 child’s portions.

Veggie Jambalaya.

This meal is always a hit in our house, 1 because it’s delicious and 2, because you cook everything in one pan so less dishes to wash!

BUDGET FRIENDLY MEAL PLAN

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 100g mushrooms (whatever is your fave)
  • 2 carrots 
  • 100g sweetcorn
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • 360g white rice (basmati is best, but long grain works just as well)
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp thyme 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste (add salt after cooking to keep children’s portions low in salt)

Method:

  • Dice all of the vegetables
  • Spray a pan with some low calorie cooking spray and add the garlic and onions, with 2tbsp water. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Then add the remaining vegetables and fry for around 10 minutes, until they are almost soft.
  • Add the rice, herbs and spices and fry for a minute or two.
  • Pour over the stock and chopped tomatoes then mix well.
  • Place a lid on the pan and allow to simmer until the rice is cooked and almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

Smokey Sausage and Bean Stew:

This is always a firm hit in our house and such a hearty meal, especially good for the winter months! 

BUDGET FRIENDLY MEAL PLAN

Ingredients:

  • 6 sausages, use whichever you like really, Heck sausages do a lovely range of healthier sausages and Linda McCartney Red Onion & Rosemary sausages work particularly well.
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 red peppers, bell peppers work fine, but Romano/ramiro peppers give a really lovely flavour to the dish
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1&½ tsp mustard powder
  • 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml passata
  • 100ml stock (again use your usual, chicken/vegetable are best)
  • 1 400g can of mixed beans (if you can’t find this straight red kidney beans is fine!)
  • 4 spring onions 

Method:

    • spray a large deep saucepan or casserole pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat.
    • Add the onion, peppers, garlic and 2tbsp of water, reduce the heat and cook until soft
    • Meanwhile, spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and sear the sausages until browned all over, set to one side. 
    • To the cooked vegetables, ass the chilli powder, paprika, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, passata, stock and beans. 
    • Bring to the boil over a high heat.
    • Meanwhile, cut each sausage into 4 pieces, cutting on a diagonal line.
    • Stir the sausages into the stew, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Serve and sprinkle with some spring onions.
  • You can serve this alone, with some veggies, with mashed potatoes or even rice. It also makes a lovely jacket potato topping!

 

Cottage Pie:

A great hearty classic for any meal plan and another easy way to hide plenty of lovely veggies!

Ingredients:

  • 500g lean mince (I use pork, but use your favourite)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pepper
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 1 carrot 
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 600g white potatoes. If you like swede you can always add some to your mash!
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tbps parsley 

 

Method:

  • Finely dice all of the vegetables and cook in a deep frying pan, with the stock cube and 50mls of water. Cook until soft.
  • Once cooked, set the veggies to one side in a bowl.
  • Into the same frying pan, add your mincemeat and brown all over.
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes and boil until soft enough to mash.
  • Once the mince is cooked, add into a deep, oven-proof dish. Add in the vegetables, chopped tomatoes and seasoning, mix well.
  • Once the potatoes are ready to mash, drain the water and add approx 50-75mls milk (whichever you use, although probably not almond milk!) if you would prefer to add butter then do so! 
  • Spread the mash over the mince mixture and bake in the oven at 180c until crispy on top, around 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve up with your favourite vegetables, or even baked beans for the veggie dodgers!

 

Nice & easy Tomato and Basil Pasta:

Sometimes you just need to keep it simple! You can’t really be bothered to cook, but don’t want to fork out on a takeaway. This meal takes about 20 minutes to make, so probably less time than the pizza you’re thinking of ordering!

Ingredients:

  • I don’t really like to put portion control on pasta, it’s my kryptonite. So use as much of you usual pasta as you would usually eat!
  • 500ml of passata (or a tinned tomatoes if that’s what you have in the cupboard!)
  • 15-20 fresh basil leaves (or 3tbsp of dried basil)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pepper
  • 200g mushrooms 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Grated cheddar to top.

 

Method:

    • Finely dice the garlic, onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry until soft.
    • Cook the pasta as per packet instruction
    • Add the passata and basil (chop the basil if using fresh) to the cooked vegetables and stir together well
  • Optional step- if you’ve got veggie dodgers you can blitz the sauce and they won’t know it’s not the usual jar you buy in the supermarkets, which are often filled with hidden sugars and high in salt.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, stir into the sauce, serve and add the cheese.

*if you wish you can spruce it up and add bacon, chicken or even a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

 

Nandos fakeaway:

We love eating out, so obviously thanks here to our dear pal Rona. So during the lockdowns, we came up with some recipes to help us get our fix, enter the fakeaway!

BUDGET FRIENDLY MEAL PLAN

Ingredients:

  • 4 wholemeal pittas (1 pitta per person, ½ for tiny appetites!)
  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 block of halloumi 
  • 500g white potatoes (or sweet potatoes if you fancy something different!)
  • 4 corn on the cob (the half cobs are perfect for little hands)
  • 6 tbsp of Peri Peri sauce (choose your spice 🌶)

Method:

  • Slice the chicken into thin strips and marinate with all of the peri peri sauce, leave for as long as possible, I usually leave for 4 hours.
  • Peel and slice the potatoes into chips, cook at 180c for 25-30 minutes.
  • Place the corn into water and boil until cooked, usually about 20 minutes
  • Slice the halloumi and set to one side.
  • Slice the onion and peppers and fry until soft
  • Meanwhile fry the chicken until cooked and a little crispy.
  • When the chicken is nearly done, grill the halloumi until browned
  • Assemble the chicken, halloumi, onions and peppers into the pittas and serve up with the chips and corn and any favourite sauces you love to have with your nandos! 

 

Spaghetti and meatballs with hidden veggie sauce:

Who doesn’t love pasta night! We use turkey or pork mince, however you can use whichever mince meat or meat replacement you love the most!

Ingredients:

  • spaghetti (or any pasta you choose)
  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • 600ml passata 
  • 2tbsp mixed herbs 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 stock cube (choose your usual, I always tend to use vegetable stock cubes)
  • Parmesan (for a cheesy finish!)

Method:

  • Crush the garlic cloves and put half to one side. Mix the remaking half well into the turkey mince.
  • Make the turkey mince into balls about the size of a golf ball.
  • In a frying pan, cook the meatballs until they are seared on the outside.
  • Finely dice the onion, peppers, carrot and mushrooms and fry with the other half of the garlic until they are all soft.
  • To the veggies add the passata, mixed herbs and stock cube and blitz until smooth (if you’re kids aren’t veggie dodgers you can skip this step if you wanted to!)
  • In an oven-proof dish, pour the sauce over the meatballs and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180c
  • Whilst the meatballs cook, cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
  • Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan (or cheddar if that’s what you have in the fridge!) 

Tortilla/pitta pizzas and homemade chips:

This one isn’t really a set recipe, the choices are endless and up to you! The recipe is also a fun activity for the kids to help get stuck in!

Ingredients: 

  • 4 Tortilla wraps or pitta breads. Choose your favourites, it can be wholemeal/white/mini/large. It’s up to you!
  • Passata
  • Grated cheese- Again choose your favourite, mozzarella is the ultimate pizza cheese though.
  • Toppings- go crazy! Add as much or as little, let the children make faces or shapes. Get stuck in, make some mess and enjoy the family time.
  • 4 large white potatoes

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c (fan) 
  • Peel the potatoes and chop into chips
  • Place on a baking tray that’s been sprayed with a low calorie cooking spray.
  • Bake until golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside (about 30-40 minutes depending on how big you cut your chips!
  • Cover each ‘pizza’ base with passata then go wild with your toppings!
  • Pop into the oven for 8-10 minutes

 

Bonus date night dinner!

Last but certainly not least when it comes to my budget friendly meal plan..

Parenting is a tough gig and sometimes your relationship has to take a back seat, but it’s so important to remember to nurture your relationship as well as your children.

So here’s a treat yourself date night dinner, without compromising your healthy eating.

Lamb chops, with hassleback new potatoes, steamed vegetables and onion gravy.

Serves 2.

  • Side note: if lamb is not your thing, switch out for your favourite steak, chicken or meat replacement.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb chops
  • 8 fairly large new potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs of Rosemary 
  • Tender stem broccoli 
  • Fine green beans
  • 2 medium carrots

For the gravy:

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 stock cube made with 1 pint of boiling water
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp thyme 

 

There you have it! A budget friendly meal plan the whole family will enjoy! I hope this has given you a little meal inspiration, Bon appetit Mama’s! Do you have a budget friendly meal plan you’d be willing to share? 

YOU CAN FIND VANESSA ON;

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12 Comments

  1. Keira
    March 1, 2021 / 4:13 pm

    Looking forward to trying these out! X

  2. March 2, 2021 / 11:25 am

    These are some great ideas – I love the Tortilla/pitta pizzas and homemade chips option, that’s one that the kids can really get involved in so they’re more likely to eat them too (fingers crossed!) 🙂

  3. March 3, 2021 / 9:10 am

    These all look great! The sausage and bean stew and the fake Nandos are going straight on my list to try! We really like to make tortilla pizza for lunch usually, it’s easy, quick and tasty! Thank you for sharing x

  4. March 3, 2021 / 9:26 am

    These are lovely meal ideas. And they’re definitely on budget. I’d love to try the cottage pie. It’s something new to me and it looks delicious.

  5. March 3, 2021 / 9:36 am

    Going to add some of these meals to my need to this list. Thank you for sharing.

  6. March 3, 2021 / 10:03 am

    These look so tasty and so easy! I’m going to try the Nandos fakeaway this weekend.

  7. March 3, 2021 / 10:08 am

    I am a strict meal planner so that I can be as healthy as possible and keep the budget on point. I also love to batch cook big dinners like a shepherd’s or cottage pie. I must say, those hassleback potatoes look incredible!

    Rosie

  8. March 3, 2021 / 10:10 am

    I love the sound of all of these, so hearty and wholesome – especially cottage pie dish xx

  9. March 3, 2021 / 11:10 am

    The nandos fakeaway looks incredible, and like it would be too hard to make. The cottage pie also looks incredible and it’s so great that they’re budget friendly meals x

  10. March 3, 2021 / 5:08 pm

    I am so looking forward to making that cottage pie! I have two little ones and I’m always looking for dinner ideas for all of us! Thank you so much for sharing, and thank you as a mother for finding ways to sneak in vegetables into food!! 😆🤗

  11. March 3, 2021 / 6:16 pm

    Oooh I’m going to try that veggie jambalaya, that sounds right up my street!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  12. January 11, 2022 / 9:46 am

    These meals sound so nice. I love cottage pie but the spaghetti and meatball with a hidden veggie sound like it could be a family favourite. Thank you for sharing.

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