Budget dinners: Five easy and affordable family meal ideas using cheap ingredients

Discover budget-friendly dinners made with ingredients that are easy to find and won't burn a hole in your wallet
Budget dinners: Five easy and affordable family meal ideas using cheap ingredients

Store cupboard ingredients make delicious and nutritious midweek meals.

Vegetarian cottage pie

recipe by:Caitriona Redmond 

This recipe makes the most of tinned beans or lentils and frozen peas for a filling meal that’s accidentally vegan but also very budget friendly

Vegetarian cottage pie

Servings

5

Preparation Time

10 mins

Cooking Time

2 hours 0 mins

Total Time

2 hours 10 mins

Course

Main

Cuisine

Irish

Ingredients

  • 1kg of potatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped 

  • 30ml oil

  • 1 red onion, peeled & chopped

  • 2 tbsp plain flour

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled & chopped

  • 1 vegetable stock cube

  • 300ml of hot water

  • 1 tin of mixed beans or lentils

  • 150g frozen peas

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes and turnip together until cooked. Drain, mash well, season to taste, and put to one side.

  2. Take a large saucepan and heat the oil on medium. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender before adding the carrots and cooking for a further 4 minutes until they soften a little. Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water to make stock.

  3. Sprinkle the flour on top of the carrots and onions and stir until it absorbs the oil. Add one third of the stock and stir well, making sure you get rid of the lumps. Once you have a thick paste, add the next third of the hot stock and stir again. Repeat with the remainder of the hot stock until you have a thick sauce.

  4. Add the drained beans or lentils and frozen peas to your sauce and stir until they are coated well. Place the mixture in the bottom of a large ovenproof dish then top with the mash. 

  5. Bake in the oven at 160℃ for 90 minutes before serving.

Slow cooker sausage stew

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

This recipe is inspired by my constant desire to make really easy dinners that are toddler friendly

Slow cooker sausage stew

Servings

4

Preparation Time

10 mins

Cooking Time

4 hours 0 mins

Total Time

4 hours 10 mins

Course

Main

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 12 good quality sausages

  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped

  • 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1.5 litres beef stock

  • 1 tin of tomatoes

  • 2 tbsp tomato puree

  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 3 large sprigs of fresh rosemary

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat.

  2. Add the sausages and cook until lightly brown on all sides.

  3. Remove the sausage from the pan and chop into bite sized pieces.

  4. Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker.

  5. Turn it on to high and cook for 4 hours.

  6. If you are out for the day you can pop this on low for around 8- 10 hours.

  7. This is also a good recipe to do over night.

  8. I suggest serving this with potatoes.

Mixed bean curry

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

Apples and peppers add a depth of flavour to this rich, spicy curry, a basic recipe that you can batch-make and freeze for family suppers

Mixed bean curry

Servings

4

Preparation Time

15 mins

Cooking Time

50 mins

Total Time

1 hours 5 mins

Course

Main

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, crushed

  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder

  • 1 tsp garam masala

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • ½ tsp chilli flakes

  • 10 dried apricots, halved

  • 3 apples, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 3 peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

  • 2 tbsp tomato purée

  • 700ml chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)

  • salt

  • pepper

  • 2 tins mixed beans, drained and rinsed

  • brown or basmati rice, to serve

Method

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices and fry for three minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Stir in the apricots, apples, peppers, tomato purée, and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 40 minutes (up to 60 minutes, if you have time).

  3. If you want to pre-cook this curry, now is the time to take it off the heat. Let it cool fully, divide it into portions in airtight containers and freeze.

  4. Use a hand blender to purée the curry sauce to the desired consistency, then check the seasoning. Stir in the mixed beans. Ladle it into warmed serving bowls. Serve with rice.

Meatballs and mash

recipe by:Michelle Darmody

Lamb meatballs infused with garlic are a delicious compliment to creamy, buttery mashed potato

Meatballs and mash

Servings

2

Preparation Time

10 mins

Cooking Time

15 mins

Total Time

25 mins

Course

Main

Ingredients

  • 750g minced lamb

  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • small bunch of parsley, chopped

  • 1 jar tomato passata sauce

  • 1 tsp honey if necessary

  • handful of green olives, stoned and chopped, optional

  • 8 small potatoes, peeled

Method

  1. Put your potatoes on to boil.

  2. Mix the lamb, one finely chopped onion, crushed garlic, the egg and parsley in a bowl and season. Roll the mixture into balls, the size you would like and set them aside.

  3. Fry your onion in a pan and when it is translucent add your garlic. Now add the passata and leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes. Taste and see if it needs honey and also season it, you can add some basil if you have some or oregano works well too. Stir through the olives.

  4. Leave the sauce to bubble on a low heat as you start to fry your meatballs. Once they are cooked through add them to the sauce. Pull one of the meatballs apart to make sure it is cooked in the centre.

  5. Mash your potato. Add cream or milk if you wish to make the mash richer. Season and you are ready to serve.

Chicken schnitzel with garlic, lemon and parsley butter

recipe by:Colm O'Gorman

This super-crispy breaded chicken is made even more delicious with the addition of a garlic and lemon butter sauce.

Chicken schnitzel with garlic, lemon and parsley butter

Servings

4

Preparation Time

30 mins

Cooking Time

20 mins

Total Time

50 mins

Course

Main

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

  • 2eggs

  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard

  • ½ tsp smoked paprika (optional)

  • 200g panko breadcrumbs

  • 125g plain flour

  • Salt and pepper

  • For the butter sauce:

  • 50g butter

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 lemon

  • 30g flat leaf parsley

  • A little honey

Method

  1. Start by preparing your chicken breasts. Turn each one upside down and remove the mini fillet. Put your chicken breast on a chopping board and, with your hand flat on top of it, use a sharp knife to carefully slice into one side of the breast, starting at the thicker end and ending at the thin point. Cut right through the breast to give yourself two roughly even sized portions of breast meat. Place a piece of the chicken between two sheets of baking paper and using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound it gently until it is about 2-3mm thick. Do not get too aggressive with this, you want the meat to be thin, but not bruised or torn. This is what will make your chicken very tender. Repeat with the rest of the chicken breasts until you have eight portions of flattened chicken breast. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  2. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the Dijon mustard and whisk that in well to combine it with the eggs. Set up an assembly line on your worktop with the flour on a large plate, then the egg and mustard mix , the panko breadcrumbs on another plate and a lined or non-stick baking tray big enough for all the chicken portions at the end.

  3. Dredge a piece of chicken in the flour, lightly shake off any excess and then dip it in the egg mixture, making sure to coat it evenly. Finally, transfer it to the plate of panko breadcrumbs and cover it well with breadcrumbs, pressing them in gently to make sure the chicken is well covered. Now place it on the baking sheet and repeat until all your chicken pieces are coated. Pop the tray in the fridge for twenty minutes or so.

  4. Use this time to prepare your sides, a simple coleslaw of white cabbage, shredded carrot and apple dressed with toasted sesame oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little honey is fantastic with this chicken schnitzel. You could also make some crispy Hasselback baby potatoes maybe, or just a simple side salad.

  5. Start your butter sauce while the chicken is resting in the fridge. Finely chop or grate the garlic. Melt the butter over a high heat until it starts to foam and add the garlic. Turn the heat down to low and cook the garlic for a few minutes. Now add the zest and juice of half a lemon, as well as a good grind of black pepper and take the pan off the heat. Set aside until you are just about to serve.

  6. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil and another of butter. When the butter starts to foam, pop in some of your breaded chicken. You will have to cook the chicken in a few batches, depending upon the size of your pan. I generally do three pieces at a time. Cook the chicken on one side for about three minutes until it is golden brown and crispy and then turn it over. Give it another three to four minutes on the other side until it is cooked through and lovely and crispy all over. Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the chicken. I generally wipe out my pan between batches and add fresh oil and butter for each batch as it makes sure you get a lovely consistent cook for each portion. If you do not do this, you may find that the butter starts to burn, and later batches are not quite so golden and evenly cooked.

  7. When all your chicken is cooked through, chop the parsley, warm the garlic and lemon butter a little and add the chopped parsley. Taste the sauce, and if it is a little too sharp for your liking, add a little runny honey to sweeten it and balance out the lemon, I usually add half a teaspoon which works beautifully. Serve the sauce on the side with the schnitzel and some lemon wedges.

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