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Cooking On A Budget - Part 3

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Part 3 – Cooking

So, you’ve set your weekly food budget, you’ve completed your meal plan, and you’ve finished your shop - now it’s time to get in the kitchen and cook!

Across the blog series so far, we’ve covered budgeting, planning, and shopping. If you’ve not seen those posts, you can read these here:

In this post, let’s delve into our cooking patterns, and how to make the most of what we have to cook effectively, and to make ingredients go as far as possible.


1. Bulk out meals with carbohydrates, pulses or veggies

Carbohydrates and pulses are a fantastic (and often cheap) way to fill up and bulk out meals. For example, you could try bulking out a ragu or mince dish with lentils! Not only does it provide nutrients into the mix, you can get away with only using half a packet of mince instead of the full pack, saving the other half for another meal! The Eatwell Guide states that just over a third of everything eaten in a day should be starchy foods such as pasta, breads, rice or potatoes. A further third should be fruits and vegetables rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and the final third everything else such as protein, dairy and unsaturated fats. Bulking out meals with carbohydrates allows people to feel fuller for longer and carbohydrates aren’t as expensive as proteins. Check out the Eatwell Guide for visual guidance.


2. Batch cook and Make use of the Freezer

As well as making mid-week meals substantially easier, batch cooking also saves on energy. Making the most of your oven and cooking multiple things at a time saves you time and pennies as your energy bill is lower. Keep your batches of cooking in your freezer for easy mid-week meals to stick in the microwave or air fryer. And don’t be afraid to buy frozen fruit and veg! Frozen fruit and veg are still as nutritionally viable as fresh and lasts you longer - reducing food waste and saving you pennies.


3. Know your bases!

Knowing basic recipe sauces and bases make cooking meals easier. Meal staples such as a tomato pasta sauce or basic scrambled eggs can be easily modified for taste and allows you to experiment in the kitchen.

Did you know a base of mince, like the mince you’d use in your Mince n’ Tatties, could then be used to make a Spaghetti Bolognese or even a Chilli Con Carne? Or that an easy pizza dough could become a flatbread or even a delicious dessert? How about making that leftover stew into stovies?

Having a bank of transferrable recipes, which you can then turn into something else, is a really great way of ensuring that you can easily upgrade your meals whilst saving on food waste and making the most of your batch-cooked portions.

Find some examples of base recipes from BBC Good Food here: - Tomato sauce recipe | BBC Good Food - White sauce recipe | BBC Good Food - Classic pesto recipe | BBC Good Food - Basic omelette recipe | BBC Good Food - Perfect scrambled eggs recipe | BBC Good Food Or for further recipe ideas, why not try the NHS Grampian Confidence 2 Cook website at, full of recipes curated by nutritionists with NHS Grampian.


BONUS TIP - Join a CFINE Cooking On A Budget class Feeling unsure about cooking in general? Join the CFINE Cooking On A Budget class! CFINE Cooking On A Budget class is a four week course delivered once a week, which not only teaches you healthy, tasty, and cost effective meals but expertise such as knife skills. If you are interested in joining a Cooking On A Budget course, please email for more information.


By following these simple cooking steps, you will not only be able to eat delicious and nutritious meals, but you will also find yourself with tasty leftovers and quick meals for another day! In the final post of the series, we’ll cover all things leftovers. From what to do if you’ve made too much, to how to portion your food effectively! You can find the last post in our series, here:



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