If I haven’t banged on enough in my food blog posts about the frustration about not knowing what to cook, there is also the added pressure to do it cheaply.
This, I know, can be difficult so I thought I would combine both ideas in one and provide you with what we ate as a flat for a week on a budget of roughly £25-40 a week (for three people, including snacks, breakfast, lunches, dinner etc.), which roughly ends up being £10-15 a week per person.
Keep an eye out along the way for some tips on how to keep your weekly shop prices down and what recipes are perfect for giving you some leftovers for lunch the next day.
It is important to note that my flatmates (Kirsty and Mara) and I share cooking duties throughout the week and therefore split our shop. This in itself is a great way to keep costs down, so if you can, I highly recommend doing this.
Homemade Fish Cakes
We pair our fishcakes with salad (which we buy in for lunches anyway), sweet chilli sauce and sometimes some peas or veg on the side.
Homemade fish cakes are one of the easiest and cheapest meals we make. Tuna for example is a staple in our cupboards and gets used for several main meals, therefore you’re not having to go out and buy fish (which I love but doesn’t usually come under our budget unless it is on offer). Plus this meal is super tasty!
Mara loosely used two recipes from BBC Good Food (we loveeee this website for our weekly meals). You can find all their fish cake recipes here.
Now if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something chocolatey and easy then this recipe is perfect for you. Kirsty made a slow cooker chocolate cake which we paired with Lidls own Ben and Jerrys fish food (tastes pretty much the same at a fraction of the price). It wasn’t the best chocolate cake however Kirsty has recommended scouting about for some different options because the slow cooker reduces cooking time drastically! Perfect for students.
We serve this delicious roasted cauliflower with pea puree (the fancy term for blended peas with stuff in it) – Boil peas (a decent bit because they’ll end up being blended), drain them and add two tablespoons of natural yoghurt, some herbs of your choosing (we have dried mixed Italian seasoning), season with salt and pepper then blend away – and serve with some couscous.
If you recently read my post on ‘My Most Loved Recipes: Savoury Meals and Sweet Treats to Boost Your Week’ then you would have already seen this recipe. Cauliflower steaks constantly gets repeated in our weekly meal plan (also another great tip – plan your meals, this way there is no last minute dash to the shops when you’re hungry). It is a firm favourite and a great veggie option.
I recommend adding more paprika and garlic granules when baking the steaks. You can find the recipe here.
We usually bake two cauliflowers for three of us, which depending on the size and how hungry we are provides a small amount of leftovers. I then had a sushi bowl with the leftovers the next day. Sushi rice is a great one to make throughout the week for lunch because it will last you a few days – we have it for dinner at the end of the week if you are looking for a recipe.
Sticky Cashew Chicken (GF)
This was a new recipe Mara was trying and it was a hit! Chicken thighs are a great way of getting protein while not breaking the bank. From lidl you can get a tray of 5 for about £1.75.
Mara paired it with some noodles and broccoli and it tasted great! (there was even some leftover chicken which I had with more of the sushi rice the next day for lunch).
Find the recipe here.
Baked Sweet Potato
Baked Sweet Potato is another favourite in our flat, it gets repeated weekly and is a great alternative to the usual baked potato.
It is also a great opportunity to use up some things you have in the fridge/cupboards.
I microwave the potatoes for around 20 mins (pierce them with a fork first) and then bake them for an additional 20 mins in the oven at roughly 200 degrees (fan).
This is another occasion where we use tuna (we add mayo and then either red onion or apple if we want) because its always in the cupboard.
It also provides the perfect opportunity to use the couscous from the cauliflower steaks which we also had with a salad, some leftover sweetcorn that was in the fridge and some beetroot which is also a staple in our cupboards.
Corn Beef Hash
Corned beef is another cheap source of protein and potatoes are extremely cheap. So a win win.
Not the most appealing to look at I must admit but it is just what you need on a colder day. It very much reminds me of stovies (if you’re Scottish hopefully you’ll know what I mean), and reminds me of home.
You just need around 6-7 decent sized potatoes, all cubed and boiled until soft. Dice an onion and fry it in some oil, then add in the corned beef (break it up with a wooden spoon) and the potatoes. Fry unti it is nice and crispy.
I also decided when making this that I would spice up some ordinary baked beans by adding in some paprika, garlic granules and Italian seasoning. I like my beans over done (they go mushy) which means they go perfectly with this dish.
Now, who doesn’t love a good lasagne night, especially if it involves a side of dough balls or garlic bread! When having meat in our freezer we are lucky that we get to stock up from Costco however, we are also very good at finding a bargain. So, if you have a lidl close to you (which is our shop of choice) make sure to go earlier in the day because you’ll get great deals in their fridge section.
Tip: On the conversation of buying meat, we pretty much always freeze it, so you won’t need to worry about it going off. So if you see a good deal but its on its last day, don’t worry!
Kirsty loves making lasagne and is very good at it. She doesn’t really go by a recipe because they usually involve red wine, however she does recommend using a basic tomato base sauce, like a spaghetti bolognese (so any recipe should do) and then add a white sauce and lasagne sheets and top with cheese!
These dough balls were from M&S and were VERY tasty. Keep an eye out for Lidls ones too because they are also great!
This meal provided us with enough leftovers to have it again for our dinner on Sunday. So, a perfect meal to keep your costs down!
The prettiest looking meal, in the sense of it being one of the most colourful ones! This is very much a recipe which can be altered depending on what you have in the cupboard.
Make some sushi rice (instructions should be on the package), chop up some carrot, cucumber, fry some broccoli in soy sauce, garlic and honey, chop up some tomatoes, add some beetroot and if you want bake some salmon. When it comes to the salmon, this is something we found on offer (on reduce) in lidl so we decided to bake it in the oven for about 15-20mins in a soy sauce, ginger mix with some lemon and then flaked it over our bowl. However, this is often something we have as a veggie meal so don’t worry if you don’t have meat – this will also reduce the price. I also add a fried egg to the top (seasoned with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and paprika.)
When it comes to sushi bowls the toppings are just as important as the actual components to the main bulk of the bowl. Having sesame seeds, fried onions (this is pre fried and dried onions that you buy in a tub) and sriracha mayo are integral to the taste. Plus you’ll find yourself adding these things to a lot more of your recipes, trust me!
Tip: To finish off I thought I’d recommend what we always start with. Sit down before your shop and plan out what you’re eating when and who is cooking. This way you have a routine to your week and there is no last minute stressing. Additionally this is the perfect time to check what you already have in the cupboards, so you aren’t buying more than what you need plus you might be able to find a meal already available in your home.
It’s also important to note that all recipes are easily adapted. There is most likely some obscure ingredient somewhere or something you don’t have and that’s fine. The recipe will still be taste fine and substituting is always a great idea if you’re stuck. Google is your best friend!
So, that’s our week in meals! An assortment of veggie and meat meals, which can easily be interchanged depending on your preferences.
I think a lot of people have this idea that as a student you have to eat the bare minimum or beans on toast every night (not that there is anything wrong with beans on toast). But as three people who absolutely love food and cooking, that was never going to be an option.
It’s all about finding a balance and figuring out where you can spend more and where to spend less. Introducing more veggie meals and using what we already have is definitely huge steps we’ve taken to not only be more sustainable but also cheaper.
Feel free to let me know below if you want to see another blog post on our weekly meals. If you want some inspiration for lunch you can check out my previous post here.
Let me know if we’ve inspired you or you end up making any of the above recipes. We’d absolutely love to see your photos (tag me in my socials linked below)!