Skip to content

Our best budget tips

We’ve pulled together our top tricks and tips to help you cook well on a budget. From trying tinned ingredients in your family's favourite recipes, to learning how to make the most of your freezer - keep reading to benefit from our best advice for wallet-friendly home cooking.

  1. Make sure you meal plan

    Meal planning is one of the best ways to ensure you only buy what you need. Our handy meal planner quiz gives you healthy, quick, vegetarian and vegan options, and our 5 easy meals for £25 are great to feed a family of 4 on a budget - you can shop directly from Tesco Real Food to make life that little bit easier.

    Make sure you meal plan
  2. Shop even savvier

    Sticking to shopping lists when in-store can be tricky, especially when there are so many offers on tempting products. So, categorise each item on your list by type – for example, frozen vegetables, bakery, and fresh fish – to streamline your trip to the store.

    To ensure you don't go off track, shop online (minimum £40 spend) or use scan & shop to help you keep score of your spending as you go – having the price of your basket in front of you at all times will make it easier to keep to your budget.

    Shop even savvier
  3. Cut down on meat at mealtimes

    Slashing the amount of meat you eat during the week will also slash your weekly food shop bill. While the thought of cooking vegetarian meals might make you nervous, we’re here to assure you that by using storecupboard staples like beans, grains, pulses, pasta and rice, you can create budget-friendly, filling dinners that are rich in all the nutrients you need for a balanced meal.

    Our vegetable egg fried rice is a great fakeaway option, packed with veg and under £2 per serving.

    Cut down on meat at mealtimes
  4. Swap it out

    You can sometimes switch out more expensive ingredients altogether with cheaper alternatives.

    If your recipe calls for a hint of citrus, buy a bottle of lemon or lime juice, rather than squeezing a fresh fruit: costing about the same, a small bottle will keep in your storecupboard for ages, and can be used again and again.

    Want to reduce the amount of cheese you use? Buy a block of extra mature – you might end up using less, because its stronger cheesy flavour will go much further in your dishes. Plus, dried pulses and beans are more cost-effective than their tinned siblings, but can take a little more prep work.

    Here's another helpful handful of budget swaps that'll reduce the cost of any meal.

    Swap it out
  5. Cook it once, eat it twice

    These recipes save you time and energy by turning last night’s dinner into something fresh, without making another meal from scratch (or buying additional ingredients).

    Our cook once, eat twice recipes are a real game-changer: turn yesterday’s potato salad into today’s dinnertime hash. Or Tuesday’s Thai chicken traybake into Wednesday’s shredded chicken noodle salad - it really is that easy! You'll be saving on food waste and pennies, and you might even find some inspiration for inventive new meals.

    Cook it once, eat it twice
  6. Let your leftovers shine

    All leftover ingredients can be given a new lease of life - all you need is a little bit of inspiration.

    Leftover herbs and leaves can be turned into salad dressings or pesto, and old brown bananas can be baked into a tasty loaf, perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast and under £1 per serving.

    We’ve got lots of clever ways to use up leftovers for you to try. If you don't have time to read through our articles, our recipe finder allows you to select at least 3 ingredients that are hanging around, but you don’t know how to use, and gives you tasty ideas so that none of your food goes to waste.

    It’s all part of our mission to reduce food waste and help you spend less and budget more.

    Let your leftovers shine
  7. Try tinned, instead of fresh

    Keeping your storecupboard well-stocked with tinned foods is a great way keep costs down. Tinned foods are considerably cheaper than fresh alternatives, plus they last much longer on the shelf. Our all-time tinned favourites include beans, tinned potatoes, tinned tomatoes and the budget-friendly tinned fish too. 

    Try this easy pea and potato frittata, which makes the most of cost-effective tinned new potatoes; this delicious ratatouille pasta bake; a Mexican-style tinned mackerel and rice; or even a twist on the classic baked potato made with tinned tomatoes and butter beans, finished with a scattering of fresh salad cheese.

    Try tinned, instead of fresh
  8. Make the most of your freezer

    The freezer can be used for so much more than storing a bag of peas or an ice cube tray. Effectively packing food, arranging your freezer properly and staying on top your inventory will broaden your cooking possibilities.

    Batch-cooking is brilliant, and it saves you having to think up new meals as often. Why not try to batch-cook some family favourites and then portion them up in the freezer to enjoy another day?

    This batch-it-up family Bolognese is a great option for under £2 per serving. Vegetable curries can be easily doubled and frozen too. If the mornings are particularly rushed for you, these easy muffins can be made from mostly storecupboard ingredients and frozen, ready for a grab-and-go snack when you need them.

    Make the most of your freezer
  9. Other tips to try…

    If you’re looking to take that extra step you can shop our value brands and plan your meals around our Clubcard prices and offers as well. 

    Hungry for more? Here's even more ways to spend less with Tesco.

    Other tips to try…