Cheap easy meal ideas please

So. I was just wondering if you could share some of your favs as u need to make large sweeping changes to my budget and since I’ve been taken off of my adhd meds and anti depressants after a bout of serotonin syndrome 2 weeks ago my impulsively got completely out of control and I’ve put myself in a hole and figured, with your guys help, I can make sweeping changes to my spending habits by asking you to outline some of your fav easy and affordable (not neccearily super budget as I plan to do this from next months payday onward as I’ve already ran myself into the ground this month!!) It’s something I’ve been meaning to do in a while but planning is not my strong suit and I go almost completely on instinct (and not good instinct)and impulses which is something I need to overcome and figured having a bunch of stuff laid out here would give me structure (my counsellor explained the same)

So for work lunches and dinner - go

No dietary restraints for me. Just don’t like fish or mushrooms

I have very limited freezer and fridge space so. I also have no supermarkets near me and need to walk 5 miles round trip to lidl unless I go after work and the whole walk back is uphill so deffo no bulk shopping :sweat_smile:

Thanks in advance :slight_smile: I’m hoping this will help me be better with money as I can’t go through the extreme poverty again as I’m in day 3 of it now and its BRUTAL and need to really hammer home some lifestyle changes by fundamentally breaking and rewiring my brain as I suspect I’ll need the support I can get coming off of my meds which helped somewhat keep the above in check. The first week off I spent all my money

Ps I don’t have a slow cooker :wink:

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I’m not a militant vegetarian but you can save a decent amount not buying meat as much/at all

Also recommend The Roasting Tin (book) for one-dish easy meals. Meal Prep Sunday and Eat cheap and healthy are good subreddits.

We also did a hello fresh order and while the plastic waste was a bummer it gave us new ideas and the meals were really easy


Chickpea/lentil curries are the absolute best imo. Can normally get some decent spice mixes from a cornershop for very cheap then just onion, garlic, a tin of tomatoes and rice to make a reliably tasty, healthy, cheap dinner


One of my faves:

1 cup red lentils
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
Bunch of kale or spinach
Salt, pepper, (optional other spices you like)

In a big saucepan put the lentils, 2.5 cups of water, chopped up garlic, salt, pepper, spices. Cook until lentils are all soft and mushy. At the end drop the kale/spinach on top, cover with lid and leave for 5 mins

Meanwhile fry the onion until brown. Add to lentil and kale, mix and serve. Good with paratha


Also the rainy day fund is always available if you want it


Sorry to hear that bud, hope things work out

How do you feel about rice? A giant sack of rice can be great value (from £5):

That’s a good base for all sorts of meals.

I’d check Jack Monroe’s stuff, loads of recipes:


I bloody love a good chili too. Most of the ingredients come from cheap cans - beans, tomatos and I put sweetcorn in it too. Can serve it on anything - tortilla, with rice, baked potato

If you need a recipe, RR’s one is good


I probably really do need to but I don’t want to use it as a crutch as I’ve used it so often before and can’t bring myself to ask again if I’m honest. I feel supremely guilty about it

Not really a recipe, more a suggestion. For a simple stir fry, whatever veg you have in (or a stir fry mix) with two tbsp of soy sauce, one tbsp of white wine vinegar, and half a tbsp of sweet chilli sauce. Stir frys are great because you can pretty much throw in anything you have in or find in reduced sections. And they only take a few minutes.


It’s there to help and there’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about using it if you want to, obviously no pressure to do so either


Cheap, sad-day special.

Tin of veg chilli, oven chips. When all cooked/heated, put chips in oven proof bowl/dish, poor chilli on top, grated cheese on top, back in oven for the time it takes for cheese to melt.

Eat. Feel a bit less sad.

Better still with 50/50 sweet potato chips.

Better again with home made chilli/chips, but then it would be for a normal day.


Pasta with stuff

  • Pesto and roasted veg (need pesto and veg, maybe extra parm or a garish like nuts or balsamic glaze)
  • Pasta al limone (need cream, butter, parm, lemon)
  • Carbonara (need egg, parm, bacon/pancetta - parm etc isn’t cheap but does last a good few meals)
  • One i sort of made up myself, just start with usual onions/garlic base, add some cherry tomatoes, cook until they’re starting to break down, mix in some chopped bacon and cook til it’s all cooked through (I add mushrooms too but you could easily do diced peppers etc)
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Make your own burgers is really easy

You want beef mince with higher fat percentage for juicer burgers (10% or more), this is the cheaper stuff!

Just mush the mince together with your hands in a bowl and shape into burgers. Add a bit of salt and pepper and that’s it, chuck in a frying pan with a tiny amount of oil.

Then get some decent burger buns from Lidl and whatever burger fillings you want

Can probably make a proper decent burger for about £1.50 (this is a guess!)

The patties freeze ok too and don’t take much space, you’ll get 4 quarter pounders from 454g mince (duh)

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also what I made last night - chorizo bean stew. A bit more costly up front but for an hours work it does enough for 4 meals - so as long as you can store that it’s very worth it.

Going off Tesco prices, I make that £7-8 for everything minus spices and not including wine since that isn’t essential

  • Chop up and fry a chorizo ring
  • Remove meat, cook onion and garlic in the fat (I add butter here too cos yolo)
  • Stir in and cook some tomato paste
  • 100m red wine if you have it, cook down (or a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, or skip entirely)
  • 200-300ml beef stock, can of chopped tomatoes, add back chorizo
  • Add 1 or 2 red peppers, cut into long slices
  • Cook for 15 mins
  • Add two cans of beans of your choice - butter, kidney, cannellini - cook for 5 mins
  • Stir in some spinach for a minute

Season as you go as you feel, with pepper and paprika and chilli and herbs etc. Usually serve with some small potatoes that I microwave for 4-5 mins to cook a little, then quarter and fry until crispy in a pan (stick these on at the stage when the stew is just bubbling fo 15 mins), and serve with garlic herb sauce. Basically makes for semi-patatas bravas side dish

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do you have a slow cooker? if so, a pork shoulder steak, (the thick ones, abotu 4 for £3.50 at most), done in there is easily the best flavour to effort ratio you’ll come across.

just season it with salt/pepper, then a dollop of bbq sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker, then put your shoulder steak in, make sure the bottom of it is covered in sauce, another dollop on top to make sure the whole thing is covered. then 4+ hours on low, and serve with some veg or rice or whatever.

Congee is a great addition to my repertoire. Perfect for winter and if feeling a bit under the weather, only a few basic ingredients and can cook a big batch.

Plant based version:

Oh yeah no slow cooker. Shouldve specified

A current favourite is courgette with spaghetti, which is super quick and very cheap. Here’s a rough recipe:

  1. Put some spaghetti in boiling water. Cook for eight minutes.

  2. Cut up a courgette into rounds or crescents. Lightly fry in a pan with some olive oil. Grind in a fair whack of black pepper.

  3. (Optional) Cut some bacon/similar into strips. Put into the pan with the courgette to cook.

  4. Once the spaghetti’s had eight minutes and the courgette is nicely cooked, put the spaghetti into the courgette pan and stir.

  5. (Optional) Add a spoonful of boursin/roule/similar cheese.

  6. Add a scoop or two of the spaghetti water to the pan. Stir.

  7. Serve.

This can be as cheap as a courgette and some spaghetti if you like. Adding a bit of boursin and bacon/similar protein shouldn’t break the bank too much.

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Sweet potato topped with hummus is a really cheap and easy meal. You just roast a decent sized sweet potato for 40 mins after slathering it in olive oil and seasoning, then halve it and put a nice thick layer of hummus on top then a drizzle of virgin olive oil (chilli oil would work too). Depends how strict your budget is but feta on top is magic.

Omelette with feta and virgin olive oil is also really lovely if you need to use up the feta.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons do Nissin demae ramen noodles - they’re 55p each and the beef and sesame ones are really nice, just 3 mins in a pan with boiling water, add the seasoning packet and you’re done. you can add some carrot/egg/mushrooms and a bit of soy sauce for a bit more bulk/nutrition. I have a whole storage thing on top of my fridge just for these.

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(and they’re light so you can buy a dozen and not be weighed down on a long walk back from supermarket)