Food/Cooking using Slow Cookers and Air Fryers/Budgeting

Meal Planning

Make a plan, check your cupboards and freezer and only buy what you need.

If using the over batch cook, roast a chicken make a chilli, and a curry whilst the oven on then use the rest of the chicken for other meals and boil the carcass for a soup 

Meat and fish are currently quite expensive. Try grating vegetables into everything to try and bulk it out then freeze any leftovers for the next day.  Try having a meat free day in the week, it will save you money.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good for you as their fresh counterparts. Everything can be bought frozen, from pineapples and strawberries to peppers and mushrooms.

Example of a meal plan and shopping list.


Breakfast – French Toast, a great way to use up stale bread.

Shopping list

2 free-range eggs, beaten

1 tsp golden caster sugar or normal granulated sugar

125ml/4fl oz milk

4 slices of stale white bread, cut into triangles

Sunflower oil for frying

Whisk together the eggs, caster sugar and milk in a shallow dish.

Dip the pieces of bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides well.

Allow the mixture to soak in a little, but not so much that the bread falls apart.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.

Lower the soaked bread into the pan using a fork.

Fry for a couple of minutes on both sides, or until golden-brown.

Lunch – Tomato Soup with cheese on toast fingers Serves 4

Two tins of supermarket on brand soup (aldi 45p per tin)

Sliced loaf (aldi essential 39p)

Grated Cheese 75g (62p if using 500g aldi essential grated cheese £2.50)

Dinner - One-pan budget Bolognese. Using lentils means you can use less mince, not only does this help cut cost, they are lower in saturated fats and a great source of fibre too.

Shopping list

1 medium onion, finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

400g tin green lentils, drained

3 tbsp tomato ketchup

250g/9oz dried penne pasta, or any pasta shapes

1 beef stock cube

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp dried mixed herbs

75g/2½oz cheddar, finely grated

250g/9oz beef mince, any type

Put the onion and mince in a wide-based saucepan, deep frying pan or sauté pan and fry for 5 minutes over a medium-high heat, stirring and squishing the beef to break up the mince. (There is no need to add oil unless your mince is extra lean.)

Add the lentils, tomatoes and 700ml/1¼ pint water to the pan. Stir in the pasta, crumble over the stock cube and add the tomato ketchup and mixed herbs. Season with lots of ground black pepper.

Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 18–20 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir more towards the end of the cooking time so the pasta doesn’t stick. (You may need to remove the lid to allow the sauce to simmer uncovered if the liquid needs to reduce a little more at the end.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve just as it is with cheese sprinkled on top, or transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with half the cheese and pop under a hot grill for 3–5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve the rest of the cheese separately or keep for another meal.

This recipe is part of a Budget meal plan for four. In September 2022 this recipe was costed at an average of £3.51 when checking prices at four UK supermarkets.  

Other useful websites  

Savings 4 Savvy Mums website has some vegetarian budget recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some costing as little as 21p per person and also advice on shopping lists and budget recipes.

Savvy Bites gives shopping lists and recipes for the week. 

Tesco Real Food is another useful site. You can choose dietary requirements and create a weekly plan.

Cooking using a slow cooker or/and a air fryer

Slow Cookers/Airfryers

If you have a slow cooker or airfryer these can be cheaper to run than the hob/oven and will save you money over the coming months.  Tesco Real Food and BBC Good Food has lots of recipe ideas.  

Slow Cooker Recipes

Spaghetti Bolognese - home made recipe that is open to interpretation

Fry the mince/Quorn with onions then put it in the slow cooker

Add 4 tins of chopped tomatoes, (store the tins upside down and the tomatoes come so much easier)

To make the sauce go further  you can add grated carrots, onions celery and lentils  at this point

Tea spoon of beef/veg gravy granules

Good splash of vinegar and tabasco sauce

Salt and Pepper to season

Dry herbs a good measure of mixed herbs, oregano, and garlic

Small glass of red wine (optional)

Half a tube or a tube of Tomato puree to thinking the sauce

Boil the kettle and use boiling water in the bottom of the slow cooker(saves the water having to warm up) cook on high for 2 hours then leave on low for 5/6 hours. 


Add the spaghetti to a saucepan season with salt/pepper

Add some oil and a tablespoon on the sauce

Put the water in the saucepan and add the lid

Bring the pasta to boil then turn off and leave for 10-15 minutes and it will cook


Chilli Con Carne

Home made recipe that is open to interpretation

Fry the mince/quorn with onions then put it in the slow cooker,

Add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, 2 sliced onions and 2 cans of  Kidney beans ( if you don’t like them leave them out)  then add 

Good splash of vinegar and Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper to season

Dry Herbs: Chilli powder and crushed chilli to your taste

Cut half/full chilli (keep in the freezer so they don’t go off)  

To make the con carne go further you can add baked beans, lentils

Half a tube of tomato puree to thicken the sauce

Boil the kettle and use boiling water in the bottom of the slow cooker(saves the water having to warm up) cook on high for 2 hours then leave on low for 5/6 hours.  You can leave it overnight for all the flavours to develop and then cook on low again for a few hours.


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