Easy and Healthy Budget Meals Perfect for January

Words: Julie Velosa

Mid-January has hit and February is still coming… if you’re feeling the pinch in your pocket, try these recipes that are simple and use ingredients that won’t break the bank. These are our top easy budget meals.

Easy budget meals – Pulses & Grains

Pulses and grains are the best when the budget is tight. They give you great value for money and you won’t have to compromise on nutrients.

Recipes using Chickpeas

Tinned chickpeas are inexpensive and are a great source of protein and fibre. When you open your tin, don’t toss the brine, you can make your own vegan aquafaba mayo.

Spiced Pumpkin & Chickpea Pot

A mildly flavoured vegetarian dish that is perfect as a tasty weekday dinner. Even in summer, when the weather is hot, it’s still good to sit down to a warm, filling meal at the end of a long workday.

Recipe for Spiced Pumpkin & Chickpea Pot

Broccoli and Chickpea Bhajis

This take on traditional bhajis uses broccoli and chickpeas instead of onion. These are an ideal snack, both filling and nutritious.

Recipe for Broccoli and Chickpea Bhajis

easy budget meals
easy budget meals

Indian Spiced Chickpea and Courgette Burgers

We love the spicy flavour of these vegetarian burgers; opt to have it without bun and serve instead with a simple side salad. Filling and delish!

Recipe for Indian Spiced Chickpea and Courgette Burgers

Warm Barley and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Barley, chickpeas and roasted veg make this salad a filling option, it’s also great the next day as a workday lunch. We daresay it improves overnight; the bonus here is that barley is cheap and filling!

Recipe for Warm Barley and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Recipes Using Lentils

Lentils should be a budget-conscious pantry staple. Filling, cheap and tasty when done right.

easy budget meals
easy budget meals

Chunky Lentil and Chorizo Soup

Although it may feel like soup is not an option in summer, it really is a great way to stretch ingredients and feed a crowd. If chorizo is not easy to get or not in the budget, you can sub for regular sausages.

Recipe for Chunky Lentil and Chorizo Soup

Lentil & Vegetable Bobotie

This vegetarian bobotie is a great dish to make when you want to cut costs. Full of local Cape Malay flavour, really hearty and delicious. This dish is so satisfying that you won’t even miss the meat!

Recipe for Lentil & Vegetable Bobotie

Warm Salad of Lentils and Vegetables

The most tantalising vegetarian salad, filled with all the good stuff!

Recipe for Warm Salad of Lentils and Vegetables

Quinoa Salad with Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Full of flavour and texture, this salad is easy to prep and full of goodness. Sub the quinoa for brown rice or bulgar wheat for a more budget-friendly version.

Recipe for Quinoa Salad with Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Easy Budget Meals Using Tinned Tuna

Have you been staring at that tin of tuna in your cupboard and wondering how to stretch it into something tasty? Here are two ideas.

easy budget meals
easy budget meals

Creamy Tuna and Spinach Conchiglioni

Tuna pasta is always a great way to go. Both ingredients are inexpensive, filling and very tasty.

Recipe for Creamy Tuna and Spinach Conchiglioni

Zesty Tuna fishcakes with Chives and Dill

We are mildly obsessed with these fishcakes. They are seriously yummy and prove that you don’t need fancy fish to make a tasty fishcake. Bulked up with potato, they are budget-friendly and delicious. Kids will love them!

Recipe for Zesty Tuna fishcakes with Chives and Dill

Easy Budget Meals using Chicken

easy budget meals
famous chicken pie

Cashew Nut Chicken

Cashew nut chicken is a great mid-week go-to dish and is a firm favourite in most households. We know nuts can be expensive, so be sure to chop them up to make them go further. You only need a sprinkle for a nutty crunch.

Recipe for Cashew Nut Chicken

Old-fashioned Chicken Pie

This recipe for Old-fashioned Chicken Pie is hard to beat – if you shred the chicken and pack with veggies, it’s another dish that can go a long way. Our recommendation, if you are short on time and budget, buy readymade pastry – it’s really inexpensive and a great way to add a little something extra to regular chicken.

Recipe for Old-fashioned Chicken Pie

easy budget meals
simple roast chicken

Simple Chicken Curry made with Homemade Wraps

We love the simplicity of these chicken wraps – no airs or graces. If you can make your roast chicken stretch, this is a great way to get a second meal the next day. Pack those wraps full of veggies.

Recipe for Simple Chicken Curry made with Homemade Wraps

Simple Roast Chicken

A good old roast chicken is always a crowd-pleaser and, if served right, can go a long way to feed a family and still possibly make a stock or leftovers the next day. Tip: Use leftovers to make the wraps above.

Recipe for Simple Roast Chicken

Easy Budget Meals using Pasta

The age old budget ingredient. Pasta never lets you down!

marmite pasta
easy budget meals

Marmite Sketi

If you have Marmite-loving kids, then this will be a fave. Do dinner on the cheap or really quickly when you are short on time, with this easy recipe.

Recipe for Marmite Sketi

Garganelli Arrabiata with Tomato and Garlicky Basil

Pasta is always going to be budget-friendly, buy a packet if you don’t have the energy to make your own and whip up a great, simple sauce to go with it. This one is spicy and delish.

Recipe for Garganelli Arrabiata with Tomato and Garlicky Basil

Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce Pasta

A marinara sauce is a basic staple in most Italian households. It’s extremely versatile, cheap to make and is delicious tossed through pasta.

Recipe for Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce Pasta

Penne Pasta with Kale Pesto

A tasty, quick and easy-budget vegetarian meal.

Recipe for Penne Pasta with Kale Pesto

Sicilian Pasta

Experience the taste of Sicily with this mouthwatering pasta. A simple dish with minimal ingredients, a little goes a long way.

Get the recipe for Sicilian Pasta

Linguini with Garlic and Mushrooms

Garlic makes everything better… well, we think so at least. This dish is super simple and great for a slightly elevated yet comforting Friday night in.

Linguini with Garlic and Mushrooms

Aglio E Olio Linguine

Garlic, olive oil, chilli, parsley – that’s all you need to make this classic staple. If you’re feeling flush, add some Parmesan, but it’s delicious without as well.

Recipe for Aglio E Olio

Broccoli & Bacon Orecchiette

A fresh and light recipe, which perfectly compliments this egg-free style pasta. Swap out Parmesan for feta, or leave it out entirely.

Recipe for Broccoli & Bacon Orecchiette

Plant-based Budget Meals

Incorporating seasonal and local veggies into your diet is great for your health and budget.

Cannellini Bean Shakshuka

Shakshuka is one of the tastiest and most budget-friendly meals you can make. If you want something a little more filling, you could always add some rice and eggs.

Recipe for Cannellini Bean Shakshuka 

Lentil Dhal

Feeding a family on a budget isn’t easy. This protein-filled and simple-to-make lentil dhal is a great option for a midweek dinner. The fam and your pockets will love this one.

Recipe for Lentil Dhal

easy budget meals
easy budget meals

Mini Aubergine Pizzas

Kids will love these mini vegetable pizzas. We love that aubergines give a meaty texture and flavour, and are reasonably inexpensive. They are a great meat substitute.

Recipe for Mini Aubergine Pizzas

Zucchini Boats with Bolognaise Gratin

Disguise your veggies as something fun with this recipe. A great, low-carb way to serve your family their veggies. Parmesan is expensive, so either leave this ingredient out or sub with a little grated cheddar instead.

Recipe for Zucchini Boats with Bolognaise Gratin

easy budget meals
easy budget meals

Pumpkin Pizza Fritters

Another great way to serve veggies inexpensively and with a bit of fun. These tasty pumpkin fritters with a yummy pizza-style topping, are perfect as a meal or as bite-size snacks. They are also great the next day and are perfect for lunch-boxes.

Recipe for Pumpkin Pizza Fritters

Tex-Mex Baby Marrow Chilli

A tasty way to serve up baby marrows – full of flavour and cheap to make. Ditch the avo topping for extra savings. 

Recipe for Tex-Mex Baby Marrow Chilli

Want more plant-based cooking inspiration? Try these 20 Delish Recipes for Veganuary.

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