Recipes on a budget

Easy, tasty and budget-friendly recipes, from CAP Life Skills 

Download our free recipe book or view our recipes below to find ideas and instructions for cooking delicious food on a budget.

Meatballs | serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g mince
  • 2 beef stock cubes or stock pots
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3–4 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

Make it vegan: Use meat-free mince (available in most supermarkets) and vegetable stock.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix one crumbled stock cube or stock pot through the mince with herbs, chilli and mustard. Roll with wet hands into 20 small meatballs. Fry in the cooking oil until well browned for best flavour. 
  2. Push meatballs to the side of the pan. Add chopped onion and diced carrots. Fry for 2–3 minutes until the onion softens. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, a tin of water and a second stock cube/​pot. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 20 minutes. For a thinner sauce, add a little water.
  3. Serve with potatoes, rice or pasta, in toasted pitta pockets or in hot dog buns.

Potato and bacon gratin | serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pack of smoked bacon, cut up
  • 4 large potatoes – skin on, sliced 
  • 1/2 small carton of single cream
  • 1 stock cube mixed in 1/2 cup of boiling water
  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a handful of grated cheese

Method

  1. Fry the bacon and onion in a pan with the cooking oil.
  2. Boil a pan of water with a pinch of salt. When the water’s boiling, add the potato slices and boil for 10 minutes until soft but not falling apart.
  3. Drain the potatoes and mix with the cream, stock, bacon and onion.
  4. Tip the mixture into an oven dish and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  5. Heat under a grill until golden and bubbling. Serve.

Spaghetti Carbonara | serves 4

Ingredients

  • 300g penne pasta
  • 1 broccoli, chopped
  • 1 onion or leek, finely chopped
  • 1 pack smoked bacon, cut up – easiest with scissors
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 150ml milk
  • 4 tbsp fresh cream (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

Method

  1. Boil pasta for five minutes. Add broccoli and cook for another five minutes. Meanwhile, fry onion or leek and bacon in another pan with the cooking oil.
  2. Drain pasta and broccoli well. Add to the onion/​leek and bacon.
  3. In a large jug, mix eggs, cheese, milk and cream together. Stir through the hot pasta. Serve.

Potato cakes | serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, chopped, or spring onions
  • 3–4 bacon rashers, cut up – easiest with scissors
  • 400g mashed potato
  • Cheese, 1cm thick slice cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

(This recipe is a great opportunity to use up mashed potato and spring onions left over from other meals.)

Method

  1. Fry onion and bacon with cooking oil until cooked. Mix this into the mashed potato. Divide into four thick cakes.
  2. Press a few cubes of cheese into the centre of each cake and mould back into shape with cheese enclosed.
  3. Fry each cake until golden on both sides. Serve.

Minestrone soup | serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 bacon rashers, cut up – easiest with scissors
  • 1 onion or leek, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 100g dry pasta (or broken up spaghetti)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 chicken stock cube or stock pot
  • 100g frozen vegetables (any mix)
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Grated cheese (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

Make it vegan: Swap the bacon for 200g chickpeas (drained) and use vegetable stock.

Method

  1. In a large pan, fry the bacon and onion/​leek with the cooking oil until the bacon is well cooked.
  2. Add carrots, pasta, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, stock cube/​pot and frozen vegetables. (If using chickpeas, add them here.)
  3. Pour in 1.5 litres of boiling water. Cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. If you like, add a sprinkle of chilli flakes and/​or grated cheese.

Spaghetti Bolognese | serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely
  • chopped
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • 1 pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée (optional)
  • Pinch of mixed herbs (optional)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • (optional)
  • 1 beef stock cube or stock pot
  • 300g spaghetti
  • Grated cheese to serve (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

(You can swap out the courgette and pepper for any veg you like.)

Method

  1. In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic with the cooking oil over a low heat for five minutes, or until softened. Throw in courgette and pepper and fry for another two minutes. Add beef mince and fry until brown.
  2. Pour in chopped tomatoes. If using, add tomato purée, mixed herbs, salt and pepper.
  3. Fill chopped tomatoes tin about a quarter full with cold water. Swish around to get out all the tomatoey goodness and add into the pan.
  4. Crumble in the stock cube and leave to simmer over a low heat.
  5. Meanwhile, put the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for twelve minutes (or see spaghetti packet for suggested cooking time).
  6. Drain and dish up. Spoon your Bolognese sauce on top of the spaghetti. Grate cheese on top if using.

Oatie biscuits | serves 6

Ingredients

  • 100g butter or margarine
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 25g pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds or cranberries or coconut (optional)

Make it vegan: Go for margarine instead of butter (most margarines are made from vegetable fat).

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180oC, 375F, Gas Mark 5. Melt the butter in a pan and mix in remaining ingredients.
  2. Mould into about 20 balls and press onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and become crispy.