person picking out peppers
person picking out peppers

Cook Budget Meals For Only 40p With These Recipes

Bills skyrocketing isn’t new information—but 40p meal hacks are. Cook budget meals the smart way.

Food blogger Thrifty Lesley has come up with some serious fire ways to save on your meals. 

They say you can cook meals for as little as 40p per head. Great if you’re cooking for your housemates or want to save yourself some cash!

Don’t worry, you won’t be skimping on nutrients. For just £1 a day you can get all the nutrients you need for far less on your receipt. 

Not convinced? TikTok creator @beckyexcell shows us how it’s done:


How to make 5 budget-friendly £1 meals at Aldi 🛒 Which recipe is your fave? 🤔 Let me know and I’ll post them this week #foodtok #aldi #moneysaving #budgetfriendly #easyrecipe #mealplan #budgeting #cheapeats

♬ Check It Out – Oh The Larceny

So if you’re on a tight budget and the thought of spending your usual cash on a food shop is filling you with dread, we’re here to help. And while the food shop will involve you heading to your local Aldi or ASDA, we have some other ways to save if those grocery stores aren’t within reach.

Here’s a list of cheap recipes Thrifty Lesley has cooked up in the past, with ingredients you can buy to keep your food shop costs low.

Spaghetti meatballs

Spaghetti meatballs
  • Priced at Aldi
  • Serves 5

Spaghetti meatball ingredients

  • 225g pork mince, £2.25/500g: £1.01
  • 60g onion, chopped small, 65p: 4p
  • 70g celery stick, 59p a head: 5p
  • 80g carrot, grated, 46p/kg: 4p
  • 40g breadcrumbs from a value loaf, 39p: 2p
  • 28g cooked pearl barley, 60p/500g: 5p
  • 2 tins of 400g tomatoes, 28p each: 56p
  • 500g value spaghetti: 23p

Total: £2 = 40p per head

Spaghetti meatballs method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan or gas mark 6.
  2. Chop onions and celery into fine pieces.
  3. Grate carrot.
  4. Fry the onions and celery in water until they’re transparent.
  5. Place your pork, fried onions and celery, breadcrumbs, pearl barley, and grated carrot into a bowl and mix with your hands or spoon.
  6. Form into small balls (this should serve about 25 meatballs).
  7. Place the meatballs on a baking tray and cook them for 20 minutes.
  8. Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions while the meatballs are cooking.
  9. Pour the tinned tomato into the spaghetti when cooked and top with your cooked meatballs.

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Sardine and tomato fishcakes

Sardine and tomato fishcakes
  • Priced at Aldi
  • Pescatarian-friendly
  • Serves 2

Sardine and tomato fishcakes recipe

  • 125g tin of sardines in tomato sauce – 36p
  • 1 onion, 150g, 65p/kg: 10p
  • 250g potatoes, 89p: 9p
  • 1 tbsp oil to fry, £1.55/litre: 2p
  • 50g frozen peas, 55p/900g: 3p
  • 40g broccoli, 59p/300g: 8p

Total: 68p = 34p each.

Sardine and tomato fishcakes method

  1. Peel, slice and chop onion into fine pieces
  2. Fry onion in a little oil until cooked 
  3. Peel and boil potatoes. Mash when well done and be sure to get rid of lumps.
  4. Mix the mashed potato, onion, and fish together and shape them into patties.
  5. Coat the mix with some flour (or fry as is) until crispy.
  6. Serve with boiled peas and broccoli.

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Cheese and carrot sandwich

Cheese and carrot sandwich toasted
  • Priced at Aldi
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Serves 1

Cheese and carrot sandwich recipe

  • 2 slices of white or brown bread from a 36p value  loaf: 3p
  • 30g Cheddar cheese £4.43/kg: 13p
  • 30g carrots, 45p/kg: 1p
  • ½ tsp of mayonnaise taken from a 500ml/69p bottle: 1p.

Total = 18p per sandwich.

Cheese and carrot sandwich method

  1. Grate cheese and carrot.
  2. Combine the grated cheese and carrot with mayonnaise. Mix well.
  3. Apply the mix between two slices of bread.

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Chicken and onion pie

Chicken and onion pie rolling out pastry
  • Priced at Asda
  • Serves 4

Chicken and onion recipe

For the pastry:

  • 200g self-raising flour, 55p/1.5kg: 7p
  • 100ml rapeseed oil, £1.60/litre: 16p
  • 80ml water

For the filling:

  • 100g cooked meat from a £3.60/1.45kg whole chicken: 66p
  • 30g of dried stuffing from an Asda sage and onion stuffing mix (40p per packet): 7p
  • 2 medium onions, 65p/kg: 12p
  • Serve with 120g green beans, frozen beans, £1/kg: 12p

Total: £1.20 = 30p each.

Chicken and onion method

  1. Preheat oven to  200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
  2. For the pastry:
    1. Put the flour, oil and  water in a bowl in that order and stir until it makes a dough.
    2. Try not to over mix. If it’s too dry, add a tiny bit more water. If it’s too runny, add a little more flour.
  3. For the filling:
    1. Make stuffing according to packet instructions.
    2. Fry off some chopped onions in a pan with some water until transparent.
    3. Dice chicken into small pieces and add to the frying pan.
    4. Chop cooked stuffing into small pieces and add to the frying pan.
    5. Add four tablespoons of water to turn the mixture into a thick gravy-like texture.
    6. Let cool.
  4. Prepping the pie
    1. Divide pastry into two halves, one slightly bigger than the other.
    2. Flour your worktop and roll out the bigger half to fit a 20cm pie tin and line the tin with it. Put the chicken and onion filling into the pie tin (use a round glass to roll the pastry if you don’t have a rolling pin).
    3. Roll out the other pastry and top the pie mix with it.
    4. Crimp the edges with a fork and add a steam hole in the middle (alternatively, you can stab the top a few times with the fork).
    5. Bake for half an hour until pastry is golden.

Vegetable crumble

  • Vegetarian and vegan-friendly
  • Priced at Asda
  • Serves 6

Vegetable crumble recipe

For the topping:

  • 100ml vegetable oil, £1.60/  litre: 16p
  • 100g flour, 55p/1.5kg: 4p
  • 75g oats, 75p/1.5kg: 6p
  • 100g Asda Smart   Price mature cheddar, £3.65/kg: 36p
  • 50g Asda Smart Price salted peanuts, 46p/200g: 11p.

For the base:

  • 340g maris piper potatoes,   48p/kg: 16p
  • 340g carrots, 43p/kg: 15p
  • 100g onion, chopped, 65p/kg: 6p
  • 400g tinned tomatoes: 30p

Can be served with a side of vegetables.

Total: £1.40 = 23p each.

Vegetable crumble method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. 
  2. Mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl then place on the side.
  3. Fry off the vegetables until soft.
  4. Get an ovenproof baking tray, pop the base ingredients on and place the topping above it.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes and serve alone or with more vegetables.

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