Delicious and cheap meal ideas on a budget

Sakina O

On receiving your student finance, you might feel that you can splurge everyday on takeaways and eating out but you’ll soon find that your money doesn’t go as far as you would like. You might also be one of the many students that actually enjoy the experience of creating a delicious and satisfying meal from scratch or like me; you might have a family that you need to feed on a budget while still meeting their nutritional needs. Whatever your circumstances, here are a few of my favourite pocket friendly recipes that you can either use as a starting point or adapt to your own taste.

Macaroni Cheese – Serves 2

Comfort food at its finest! Either eat with a friend or pop the leftovers in the fridge to reheat and have the next day.


125g Macaroni

20g Butter

20g Plain Flour

250ml Milk

125g Grated Cheddar

Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Fill a large pan with enough water to submerge the macaroni and then bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni and turn the heat down to a simmer and leave for around 10 – 12 minutes; once ready drain well using a colander.
  2. While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Once melted mix in the flour to make a roux (this is a clumpy, doughy mixture). Next, slowly add the milk bit by bit whilst stirring continuously until all the milk is used and you are left with a thick, pourable white sauce.
  3. Lastly, add the grated cheddar cheese to the white sauce and continue stirring until combined. Mix the cheese sauce in with the macaroni, season to taste and then enjoy.

Corned Beef Hash – Serves 4

This is a delicious, cheap and filling meal which is great for cold winter evenings. You can make this to share with flatmates or leftovers can be frozen to have another day.


1 tin Corned Beef – sliced

2 tins barbecue baked beans

1 medium onion – sliced

2 medium potatoes -sliced

100g grated cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  2. In an ovenproof dish, layer the potatoes, onion, corned beef and beans. Repeat this process until you have used all the ingredients but make sure you end with a layer of sliced potatoes on the top.
  3. Sprinkle on the grated cheese so that the top is covered evenly and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Sit down and enjoy this delicious treat!

Lilt Chicken – Serves 1

You are going to have to trust me on this one, it sounds a bit odd but it really is yummy and if you use diet Lilt, it’s actually a very healthy meal! It’s a homemade version of Cantonese style sweet and sour chicken but at a fraction of the price.


1 Chicken breast – cubed

½ Onion – cubed

½ Red pepper – cubed

175ml Lilt (or other branded tropical drink)

4 tbsp. Passata (cooked, strained tomatoes – widely available)

1 tbsp. cooking oil

75g Rice


  1. In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the cubes of chicken until they are a light golden brown. Add the peppers and onions and fry for 2 or 3 minutes.
  1. Add the Lilt and Passata bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  1. While the chicken is cooking, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the rice and boil for 10-15 minutes. Once cooked, drain the rice well using a colander, place onto a dinner plate and spoon over the chicken mixture. Sit back and enjoy your budget Chinese fakeaway!

Pitta Pizzas – Serves 1

Quick, easy, cheap, tasty – what other reasons do you need?!


2 Pitta bread

4 tbsp. Passata

4 tbsp. grated cheese

A drizzle of olive oil

A pinch of oregano (mixed herbs will do!)

Any other toppings that you might fancy e.g. ham, chicken, sweetcorn, onions, tuna…


  1. Preheat your grill.
  2. Spread Passata over both pittas and sprinkle with cheese. Add any other toppings of choice, sprinkle a pinch of oregano and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
  3. Place under the grill for approximately 10 minutes until the cheese is slightly golden. Tuck in and enjoy another lovely meal that’s loads cheaper than getting a takeaway!

If you have any recipes of your own that you would like to share or have any questions about feeding yourself at university then please get in touch. I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat!!