A Week of Budget Dinners for £20: Recipes and Tips to Save Money With Your Groceries

Before my husband and I got married, we were saving like mad to pay for the wedding and spent very little on groceries. Since then, we’ve relaxed our attitude to spending on food to the point where it started to spiral out of control! I decided to do a drastic cut-back and save as much as I could, which very serendipitously coincided with an email from the PR people handling Aldi’s account. I pitched my idea for a week of budget meals and soon a voucher for £20 arrived in the post – so that became my budget for the week! I was inspired by Miguel Barclay’s books and Instagram account where he regularly makes delicious meals for one for just £1. £20 for the week seems like child’s play – and, in fact, it really was!


Barclay makes a point of suggesting you shop at budget supermarkets, take advantage of frozen foods, and always check the special offers, so I decided to follow by example by checking out Aldi’s home page to see what prices I could find. Unlike stores where you can shop online, not everything is listed on Aldi’s site, but I could find enough to start a simple budget and start planning out some meals. I decided to take advantage of some of the meat and fruit/vegetable special offers in my meal plans – at the bank holiday Aldi was offering a massive steak for £4.99 which was a great deal, but I decided to go for cheap tomatoes and sweetcorn instead. These were both part of Aldi’s Super Six for the week – always check to see what’s on offer before you start planning your budget!

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In the end, my total came to £19.65 – and 5p of that was for a bag, because I suck and I always forget to bring one. This is for dinners for two adults for seven days, which comes out at about £2.80 per day, or £1.40 a portion. Not too shabby considering my usual shopping budget is non-existent…

Shopping list

  • Carrier bag (d’oh!), 5p
  • Baby spinach, 89p
  • Large brown onions, 3, 47p
  • Ready rolled pastry, 89p
  • Spring onions, 45p
  • Long grain rice, 40p
  • Milk, 4 pints, 99p
  • Free range eggs, 6, 79p
  • Sugar snap peas, 89p
  • Strong bread flour, 75p
  • Beef tomato, 45p
  • Corn on the cob, 2, 49p
  • Chopped tomatoes, canned, 29p
  • Buffalo mozzarella, 99p
  • Smoked bacon lardons, 99p
  • Pork belly slices, £2.29
  • Breaded ham, £1.29
  • Ready made quiche, £2.19
  • Small whole chicken, £2.25
  • Maris Piper potatoes, 2.5kg, £1.85

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So, with that, I planned to make the following: spinach, bacon and onion pizza; spatchcocked garlic and herb chicken with Cajun wedges and sweetcorn; Chairman Mao’s red-braised pork and rice; chicken pie and mash; hash browns with fried egg; ham and tomato confit; quiche and salad; and galettes with ham and egg. I tried to come up with interesting recipes with a good balance of flavours and inspiration, but if I do anything differently the second time, it’ll probably be to try and add more veggies…As I post the recipes for these I will add links to the menu at the bottom of this post, so you can follow along!

As I post the recipes for these I will add links to the menu at the bottom of this post, so you can follow along!

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A small disclaimer here – I purchased meat, vegetables, carbs, etc for dinner, but no spices, oils or seasonings as I have a very well-stocked cupboard (as you can imagine!). If you want to follow my recipes you might not have everything and need to buy some extra, hence it may cost more than £20 – but many of the items are optional, and I think there are only one or two really specialised items in the list that I wouldn’t expect most people to have!

So, follow me as I post my meals and make my way through my budget week! If you have any favourite budget meals, please share them with me.

Here are the lists of extra cupboard ingredients I used, and those recipe links, below!

From the cupboard

  • Salt
  • Rapeseed / olive / vegetable oil
  • Sugar
  • Yeast
  • Garlic salt
  • Dried rosemary
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Light soy sauce
  • Balsamic / white / red vinegar

Optional seasonings from the cupboard

  • Mustard (optional)
  • Parmesan (optional)
  • Cajun seasoning (optional)
  • Fresh ginger (optional)
  • Star anise (optional)
  • Dried red chilli (optional)
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)
  • Garlic clove (optional)

Menu

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