10 Family Meal Ideas on a Budget

Family meal ideas that will bring everyone together without the expensive restaurant price tag. We’ve got 10 ideas you’ll love.
Cooking on a budget for all the family shouldn’t mean that you have to compromise on nutrition. Take a look at these creative, wholesome, and healthy recipes that won’t burn a whole in your pocket and are just as delicious as their more decadent versions.
Happy cooking and bon appetite!
Poached eggs with veggie rice 
Serves 6, Total Cooking Time: 55 mins
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 7-8 spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • rapeseed or olive oil
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 3 tsps coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 400g leftover roast vegetables (such as parsnips, beetroots, potatoes)
  • 6 medium free-range eggs
  • 1 splash of white wine vinegar
  • 200g leftover cooked green vegetables
  • 1 bunch each of fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh mint
  • 2 limes
  • 1 pomegranate


  • Preheat the oven to 180C 4.Heat oil in a large, ovenproof pan. Add the spring onions, garlic and bay leaf, and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the spring onions are soft and sweet.
  • Bash the cardamom pods and coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar and add to the pan with the cumin, turmeric, chilli and a couple of hearty pinches of salt. Stir for 3–4 minutes over a medium heat, until the spices are fragrant.
  • Increase the heat, add the rice and a little more oil if needed and stir to coat in the spices. Pour over about 800ml of cold water – you want it to come about 1cm above the rice. Pop the lid on and put the pan into the oven for 25 minutes.
  • While the rice is cooking, put the root veg on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, season and pop into the oven to warm up for the last 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile poach your eggs. Place a shallow pan of water over a medium heat, add a splash of vinegar and, once simmering, break in the eggs and cook for 2–3 minutes.
  • Once the veg and rice are done, remove them from the oven and stir them together. Mix through the greens, herbs and lime juice. Pile the mixture into bowls, top each one with a poached egg, and serve with the pomegranate seeds scattered on top.


  1. Chicken and Rice with Mushrooms myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-rice-mushrooms

Serves 4, Total cooking time: 1 Hour 45 mins

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown basmati rice
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme


  • Combine 2 cups boiling water and porcini mushrooms; let stand for 20 minutes. Drain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving soaking liquid. Finely chop mushrooms.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until chicken is browned, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan.
  • Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and cremini mushrooms; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved porcini liquid, chopped porcini, and rice; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 35 minutes.
  • Stir in the reserved chicken, peas, and thyme. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is done.
  1. Angela’s Cheap and Cheerful Bolognaise – www.taste.com.au/recipes/26969/angelas+cheap+and+cheerful+bolognaise

Serves 4, Total Cooking Time: 25 mins

  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 410g can chopped tomatoes
  • 420g can tomato soup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon beef stock powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 375g dried spaghetti, cooked
  • Grated parmesan cheese and garlic bread, to serve


  • Place onion and garlic in a large heatproof microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high (100%) for 2 minutes or until onion has softened. Add mince. Stir to combine. Microwave on high (100%) for 2 to 3 minutes or until mince has browned. Add tomatoes, soup, paste, stock, oregano and basil. Microwave on high (100%) for 10 minutes or until starting to boil. Stir. Mash to break up mince. Microwave on high (100%) for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Divide pasta between bowls. Top with sauce. Serve with parmesan and bread.
  1. Mushroom, Ricotta & Rocket Tart www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/mushroom-ricotta-rocket-tart

Serves 4, Total Cooking Time: 25 mins

  • 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 525g family pack mushroom, halved or quartered if large
  • 2 garlic clove, 1 finely sliced, 1 crushed
  • 250g tub ricotta
  • good grating of nutmeg
  • ¼ small pack parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 50g rocket


  • Heat oven to 220C and place a baking sheet inside. Unroll the pastry onto a piece of baking parchment and score a border around the pastry about 1.5cm in from the edge. Place the pastry (still on the parchment) on the baking sheet and cook for 10-15 mins.
  • While the pastry bakes, heat the oil in a large lidded pan and cook the mushrooms for 2-3 mins, with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and add the sliced garlic, then cook for 1 min more to get rid of excess liquid.
  • Mix the crushed garlic with the ricotta and nutmeg, then season well. Remove the pastry from the oven and carefully push down the risen centre. Spread over the ricotta mixture, then spoon on the mushrooms and garlic. Bake for 5 mins, then scatter over the parsley and rocket.
  1. Sweet Chilli Halloumi and Pittawww.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/sweet-chilli-halloumi-and-pitta.html

Serves 4, Total Cooking Time: 10 mins

  • 250g block halloumi cheese
  • 3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 pitta breads
  • Juice and zest of half a lime
  • 1 bag mixed salad leaves
  • Cucumber slices
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • In a bowl, mix the sweet chilli sauce and the juice and zest of half a lime.
  • Slice the halloumi into thick slices, then toss in olive oil.
  • Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat and cook the halloumi slices in batches for about 2 minutes on each side or until nice and charred.
  • Toss the halloumi in the sweet chilli and lime mixture.
  • Serve in a toasted pitta with mixed leaves, cucumber and red onion slices.
  1. Bengal Butternut Squash and Chickpeas with Naan www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/541159/bengal-butternut-squash-and-chickpea-naan

Serves 4, Total cooking time: 30 mins

  • 1 pack readymade Falafels
  • 3tbsp of oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½tsp turmeric
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 2tsp fresh root ginger
  • 300g butternut squash, small diced
  • 200mls boiling water
  • 200g chick peas, drained & rinsed
  • 1tsp black onion seeds
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Pre-heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the bay leaf, cumin seeds, chilli & onion and fry for 4 minutes, add the turmeric, ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and ginger and cook for a further minute.
  • Now add the butternut squash and water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 until the butternut squash is tender, add the onion seeds.
  • Place the chick peas in a food blender, along with one third of the butternut squash mixture and blend to a paste.
  • Remove the bay leaf and place into a mixing bowl fold in the chick pea paste, season to taste.
  • Serve with warm Falafels and naan bread.
  1. Veggie Burgers – www.netmums.com/recipes/veggie-burgers

Serves 4, Total Cooking Time: 55 mins

  • 125g red lentils
  • 250g vegetables (use whatever is cheap and in season – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, courgettes, etc)
  • 125g oats
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Marmite (optional)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce


  • Boil red lentils in twice their volume of water or stock for about 20 minutes on a low heat. Keep an eye on them, as they may need more water but don’t add too much as you want a dry mixture.
  • Grate or chop the veggies and add these to the pan (go for whatever is cheap – carrots, parsnips, potatoes and courgettes all work well).
  • When the lentils are done add the oats, garlic, tomato puree, Marmite and Worcestershire sauce and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes.
  • By this time you should have a fairly dry mixture that sticks together – you might need to add some flour (or oats whizzed in a food processor to a powder) to get the right consistency.
  • Shape mixture into burgers – you should get 4 normal sized burgers, 8 mini burgers or 14 nuggets.
  • Either fry them (deep or shallow) or brush with oil and bake in the oven (200’C) for 20 minutes.
  • Enjoy with homemade potato wedges and salad.
  1. Fajita-Style Quesadillas www.bhg.com/recipe/appetizers-snacks/fajita-style-quesadillas

Serves 8, Total Cooking Time: 10 mins

  • ½ medium red or green sweet pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size strips
  • ½ medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, halved, seeded, and cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 6-inch white corn tortillas
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 thin slices tomato, halved crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
  • Light dairy sour cream (optional)
  • Cilantro and lime wedges (optional)


  • In a large skillet cook sweet pepper, onion, and serrano pepper in hot oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Remove from heat.
  • Lightly coat one side of each tortilla with cooking spray. On the uncoated side of two of the tortillas, divide half of the cheese. Top with onion mixture, tomato slices, the 1 tablespoon cilantro, and the remaining cheese. Top with remaining tortillas, coated sides up.
  • Heat a very large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook quesadillas for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until cheese melts and tortillas are lightly browned. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.
  • Serve warm and, if desired, with sour cream, additional cilantro and lime wedges.
  1. Lamb Stew with Rigatoni www.myrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-lamb-stew

Serves 8, Total Cooking Time: 6 hrs

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 12 ounces rigatoni
  • Grated Parmesan, optional


  • Warm oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Drain off all but 2 Tbsp. fat from pan. Add onions and carrot; sauté 3 minutes. Pour in wine and bring to a boil, stirring to loosen brown bits at bottom of pan. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. Cover and cook on low until meat shreds with a fork, 5 to 6 hours. Shred meat and season sauce with salt.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook rigatoni until tender, about 10 minutes; drain.
  • Serve rigatoni topped with stew and sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.
  1. Corn & Basil Cakes – www.eatingwell.com/recipes/corn_basil_cakes.html

Serves 5, Total Cooking Time: 30 Mins

  • 1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 large ears) or frozen
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


  • Whisk flour, milk, eggs, 1 tablespoon oil, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth.
  • Stir in corn and basil.
  • Brush a large non-stick skillet lightly with some of the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; heat over medium heat until hot (but not smoking).
  • Cook 4 cakes at a time, using about 1/4 cup batter for each, making them about 3 inches wide. Cook until the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining oil and batter, making 10 cakes total.