Meal plan – healthy eating on a budget

family meal planner

Does low income = obesity?

Always have some leftover recipes up your sleeve – vegetable soup, vegetable curry, bubble and squeak, etc.

Being blunt can get you into trouble. However the question has to be asked as it is never far from some people’s minds. Eating too much of the wrong food over a period of time and insufficient exercise = obesity. Which of course is not restricted to families on low income. However if we want to control our food shopping costs and eat healthy meals it can be done no matter the income.

My top tips for cheap nutritious meals

1. Plan at least five main meals and allow one day for using up all the leftover and store foods.

2. Buy good quality meat, fish, eggs and whole poultry, stretch it as far as you can by filling with breadcrumbs, vegetables and fruit. (Good quality stewing meat and offal which is cheaper is highly recommended.)

3. Incorporate oats, beans, lentils and chickpeas into the meals even if they aren’t in the recipe.

4. Fill up with good quality carbohydrates like brown or basmati rice, brown bread etc.

5. To reduce food waste and keep more money in your pocket, frozen vegetables are an efficient way of getting the 5 a day. You can steam them or add into stews, sauces etc. Nutrients leak into the cooking water when boiled and are discarded with the water.

6. Bake your own desserts, cakes and biscuits to avoid all the trans fats and additives in cheap, long life baked goods.

7. Always have some leftover recipes up your sleeve – vegetable soup, vegetable curry, bubble and squeak, etc.

Meal Plan

This week’s meal plan holds the secret to healthy eating on a budget. The whole chicken is poached and will make three meals. The red meat dish, soup and frittata contain beans or highly nutritious chickpeas. And finally, as is encouraged by all health organisations, I’ve also included a fish dish. I would encourage you to steam or incorporate vegetables at every meal and have added three packets of frozen vegetables to use as often as possible throughout these five days.

About our family meal planner
This week’s family meal planner
Shopping list

About our family meal planner

All the meals included in our weekly meal planners are child friendly, form part of a daily balanced diet, and will provide nutrients from each of the food groups (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals), says Sian.

They include plant and animal protein such as red meat, white meat, fish, and eggs along with cheese, chickpeas, nuts and seeds for meatless days. Sian says the secret to stress-free, low-cost healthy meals is to plan what you’re cooking to make sure you have the right ingredients in the right amount in your kitchen ready cook.

Every week, Sian puts together five easy recipes for the week’s family meal planner. You can choose to make them on whichever day of the week suits you best. She also puts together a shopping list (below) that you can print out and take with you to the supermarket.

This week’s meal planner


Shopping list

Baked products

Wraps – 4         
Whole wheat breadcrumbs – 50 g

Beef products

Mince beef – 450 g

Cereal grains and pasta

Brown rice – 1 cup
Pasta – 200 g
Short grain rice – 60 g

Dairy and egg products

Cheese – 400 g
Greek yoghurt – 100 mls         
Eggs – 6         
Milk – 75 mls

Fats and oils

Canola oil (rapeseed, sunflower or vegetable oil) – 1 tblsp           
Olive oil – 2 tblsp

Finfish and shellfish products

White fish – 4 pieces

Legumes and legume products

Chickpeas – 2 Tin
Heinz beans – 1 Tin   
Butter beans – 400 g

Poultry products

Chicken – 1 x 3 kg

Sausages and luncheon meats

Chorizo – 6 slices

Soups, sauces, and gravies

Chicken stock cube – 3         
Sweet chilli sauce – 2 tblsp           
Vegetable stock – 400 mls         
Barbecue sauce – 8 tblsp     
Tomato passata – 500 mls         
Chopped tomatoes – 2 Tins

Spices and herbs

Italian herbs (dried) – 1 tsp 
Fresh rosemary – 1 tsp 
Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp          
Chilli powder – 2 tsp 
Bay leaves – 3         
Garlic – 1 clove


Demerara sugar – 50 g

Vegetables and vegetable products

Cucumber – 1         
Mixed lettuce leaves – 1         
Onion – 9         
Green pepper – 1   
Red pepper – 1    
Yellow pepper – 1    
Cherry tomatoes – 12      
Carrots – 2         
Tomatoes – 2         
Celery – 4 stalks   
Frozen vegetables (3 different choice) – 3  pks