As we enter what feels like the 15th week of January, budgets everywhere are feeling the strain. The good news if you’re slimming is that losing weight doesn’t have to mean a lighter wallet.
By filling your plate with cheap-to-eat staples like pasta, potatoes and fresh vegetables – all fab Free Foods if you’re following Slimming World’s healthy eating plan – you can enjoy delicious, low-cost meals and get a great result on the scales.
To help your food shop go a little further, we’ve had our calculators out and put together our top five budget-friendly meal ideas. Take a look at these slimming-friendly recipes, recipes – each one costing less than £6/€7 to feed a family of four – plus our top tips to help you shop, save and slim…
Slimming World paella
Cost per portion: 86p/€1.03
Full of store-cupboard essentials like dried rice, tinned chickpeas and chopped tomatoes, Slimming World chef Sal’s vegan paella is the ultimate cheap eat at just 86p per portion! Plus, any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, making this meal – and your money – stretch further.
Savvy saver: Stock up on staples
A well-stocked store cupboard means you’ll always have the makings of a slimming-friendly meal. Dried herbs and spices are great for adding flavour to the most basic of dishes. And because rice, pasta and canned veggies are long lasting, you can buy in bulk and use the ingredients as the basis for a whole host of meals, saving you even more money in the long run.
Easy tuna pasta bake
Cost per portion: £1.26/€1.51
Pasta bakes always make for brilliant bargain meals. You can pick up a pack of pasta for pennies at the supermarket, and then add a can of chopped tomatoes and some frozen veg to make a filling low-cost dinner. Our tuna pasta bake is a cheap and cheesy treat that’s easy to make and totally on plan if you’re Food Optimising.
Savvy saver: Make friends with your freezer
This tasty bake makes clever use of cheaper frozen spinach and sweetcorn to keep costs down. Your freezer is a great place to store everything from meat and bread to fruit, vegetables and herbs, to help reduce waste. If you just can’t finish off your filling Food Optimising meal, pop the leftovers in the freezer ready to defrost at a later date for a quick lunch or dinner.
Cost per portion: £1.31/€1.57
Hearty, healthy and comforting, this sausage casserole is always a firm favourite – especially now the colder weather has arrived. And because it’s packed with plenty of beans and potatoes, this campfire classic is cheap to make, too!
If you haven’t got time to cook, this bangin’ budget meal is now part of the Slimming World food range (available at Iceland), so you can keep a portion in your freezer ready for whenever you need it.
Savvy saver: Shop smart
Making a few simple swaps to your food shop can result in big savings. Here’s how:
- Choose your supermarket’s own products where you can – they’re often much cheaper than the branded versions, and taste just as good!
- Be wary of ‘buy one get one free’ and ‘two for one’ offers – they can encourage you to buy more expensive products and leave you with more than you need.
- Local butchers, markets and farm shops can be great places to find economical cuts of meat and vegetables. If you’re feeling green-fingered, and you’ve got the space, you could even try growing your own produce at the right time of year.
- Where possible, buy whole lettuce, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, etc. Ready prepared packs are often twice the price or more!
Chicken tikka kebabs
Cost per portion: £1.44/€1.73
Keeping ingredients to a minimum is a great way to save money on your meals. The marinade for our chicken tikka kebabs uses just three ingredients and transforms chicken thighs (also an excellent budget-friendly choice!) into a flavour-packed meal that doesn’t sacrifice filling power.
Savvy saver: Make a meal plan
I’m definitely guilty of buying more than I need. Every week I’m left scrabbling for ways to use up a pack of produce that’s going off in my fridge. Putting a bit of extra thought into your weekly shop is the best way to avoid any end-of-week waste – and it could leave you quids in at the till. Deciding on your meals for the week ahead means you can cook things that use similar ingredients, cutting down on waste and the cost of your food shop.
Cost per portion: 97p/€1.16
This scrummy Cajun-style rice dish is a brilliant low-cost meal because it works with whatever fresh, frozen or canned veg you’ve got to hand. If you don’t have black-eyed beans, any tin of beans or chickpeas will work just as well. And if you’ve got some chicken leftover in the fridge, you can throw that into the mix to make this one-pot wonder even more satisfying.
Savvy saver: Love your leftovers
Making the most of your leftovers is a sure-fire way to stay on top of your budget. Unused meat and veggies can be easily added to stir-fries, curries or stews. I regularly use up my leftover veg by chucking it into a blender and whipping up a batch of soup – and there’s always enough to last for a couple of days at least.
Slimming World groups and our vibrant online community are full of money-saving meal ideas to help you manage your budget during your weight loss journey – as well as expert support and science-backed strategies to help you overcome every slimming hurdle.
*All meal cost calculations are approximate and will depend on where you shop and the brands you choose. Prices correct at the time of publication.