There are many reasons people want budget meal planning ideas. They could be wanting to save money because they’re saving up for something. Their financial situation may have changed due to something like a redundancy. Or they simply have very little money to spend on food every week. Whatever situation you find yourself in and for whatever reason you visited this page, here are some of the best budget meal planning ideas which can help.

The Breadline

Poverty is real, even right here in the UK. In your city, in your village, on your street, there will be people struggling to find the money to eat every day. Living close to, on or even under the breadline is a serious issue and that’s why in this post we’re going to look at cheap food which will fill you up. It might not always be nutritious and you might not always get your five a day but when it’s food or hunger, food is key.

Oats Are You Friends

A hearty breakfast in the morning sets you up for the day. This is when oats are your friends. Porridge is cheap to make, warms you up, fills you up and slowly releases energy throughout the rest of the day. If you soak the oats in water the night before you don’t even need to buy milk. Enjoy it plain or if you budget allows, a squeeze of honey or a sprinkle of sultanas adds extra taste.

Simple Sandwiches

Budget meal planning helps you to be able to eat. Many people, skip meals during the day, especially parents so their children can eat. Even a slice of toast with something on it will perk you up and help keep you going. A loaf of bread can be picked up from a supermarket for 50p or less. Combine with cheap jam for lunchtime sandwiches or jam on toast. Peanut butter is another slightly more expensive option, as is chocolate spread.

Basic Dinners

It doesn’t always have to be a French tartiflette (delicious as it is!). A bowl of pasta will fill you up at tea time. If you can cover it with tomato passata as a sauce, that’s extra goodness and flavour. A small sprinkle of cheese is a bonus. A small chicken has plenty of meat on it and after roasting it and stripping the meat you can use the bones to make a soup. Even a basic bone broth is full of nutrients and will fuel you and warm you up. Use the shredded chicken with pasta and sauce. If you can’t afford a full chicken, chicken thighs offer lots of meat for their price. You can strip them for the meat and combine with rice and some frozen mixed veg for a meal.

Pasta is generally a cheap ingredient and you may be able to make something a little fancier, yet stick within budget. A pasta primavera, for example, can be made on a budget. 

Jacket potatoes are also cheap and make a meal by themselves or with a few beans. Tinned potatoes, veg and beans help to bulk everything out. Make a ‘poverty pie’, a cheap twist on a cottage pie. Put beans in the bottom of the dish, covered in mashed potato and pop in the oven. Depending on the pennies or pounds you have, there are options to eat every evening, even if it’s something extremely basic.

Free Fruit

If you have children, you can get a free piece of fruit for each child, each day, at some supermarkets. If that means taking a walk to Tesco after school to buy the 29p bag of pasta you need for tea, every day, so the kids get fruit every day, so be it. Fruit can be expensive so taking opportunities where it’s free, including foraging, is a great idea.

Please Use Foodbanks

There is an unnecessary stigma with foodbanks. They are there to help and the hardest step is walking through the door. Admitting there is a problem and accepting help. You need to get a referral voucher to get food from Trussell Trust foodbanks. These are handed out at Citizens Advice or by front line professionals such as doctors, health visitors and social workers. You’ll be given a voucher and be able to visit a foodbank to redeem it. You’ll get a warm welcome and a cup of tea whilst your food parcel is prepared. It will be for a minimum of three days of emergency food. If you are really struggling to eat, please ask for help.

Your financial situation can be challenging and stressful but there are ways to keep yourself fed. Cheap and affordable food is available. If you spend time budget meal planning you’ll know how much each meal costs and how much you can afford to spend each day, week and month.

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