Cooking on a budget

As the cost of living rises, many households are looking for ways to make nutritious meals for the cheapest price.

On this page you will find tips and resources to ensure you are able to both eat and save well.

Meal ideas and recipes

Find recipes for the best value, plus extra tips and advice:

These tips from The Association of UK Dieticians are helpful in getting the most out of cooking on a budget:

  • use less meat and bulk up stews, soups, chilli and curries with canned pulses like kidney beans, butter beans and mixed beans
  • shop smart
  • add grated veg to your mince to make it go further
  • switch fresh fish for canned or frozen fish
  • add pasta or rice to soup to make it go further
  • if you buy bulk packs of meat or fish, separate them into portions and freeze the ones you know you won’t use before the use-by date
  • before you go shopping, check your cupboards and fridge to see if there may be ingredients you could use up first
  • cook in bulk and freeze leftovers in portions once they are completely cold

Energy-efficient cooking

Being energy-efficient in the kitchen can have a significant impact on keeping bills down. These tips could help:

  • use a microwave wherever possible as it is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food
  • use the kettle to boil water quickly and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling vegetables or pasta
  • when using water to boil anything in a pan, make sure that you only use as much water as is needed to cover the amount of food you’re cooking
  • slow cookers are an energy-efficient cooking appliance, using just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb
  • cook as much as possible in the oven in one go to make sure all the space and heat is being used
  • keep the oven door closed while cooking - each time the door is opened the oven loses heat and uses more energy to get back up to temperature
  • defrost frozen food in the fridge overnight, or while you’re at work during the day, defrosting food in advance typically halves the cooking time but also means you don’t need to use the energy of a microwave to defrost
  • know how long your oven takes to preheat
  • when cooking potatoes, boil them in a saucepan before roasting them to reduce the cooking time in the oven
  • use glass or ceramic dishes in the oven - they retain heat better than metal

For more tips visit Uswitch Energy-efficient cooking.