When money is tight, it can be hard to think of tasty dishes that won't break the budget. But eating well doesn't have to be expensive, and putting an affordable dinner on the table is easier if you have some thrifty recipes to help you plan meals before you go shopping.
One of the most popular budget ingredients is pasta, bringing the experience of an Italian restaurant right to your dinner table. If you're after something that tastes luxurious but isn't expensive, pasta carbonara like the one above is the answer. This alternative version makes the most of sausages to create a tasty filling dish that can be stretched further.
And if you have pasta left over, don't waste it - try it in another dish, like this fresh herb pasta salad.
More pasta ideas:
Spring garden pasta salad
Chunky chickpea and pasta soup
Warm pasta salad with lemon and broccoli
Pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce
Leftover pasta can also be used for pasta and pesto, a cheap and simple dish that goes down well with kids and grownups alike. If you want to make things a little more interesting, you can add extra ingredients such as fresh tomatoes or courgettes.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking meat is off the menu either. There are many ways to conjure up a dish with beef or chicken in it which won't break the bank. This coq au vin is purse-friendly but looks swish enough to serve at a dinner party, or try this beef hotpot which gives you several portions of your five-a-day too. Sausages mustn't be overlooked either, adding honey and mustard to these makes them delicious.
More meaty must-haves:
Beef with cheesy dumplings
Sausages with Yorkshire puddings
Sausage and bean stew
If rice is more your cup of tea, risotto is a great option. This easy pea and bacon version uses inexpensive ingredients you may already have at home. Of course you don't have to use meat - there are plenty of veggie options that save on the expense.
Raid your own larder
If you have plenty of rice, pulses and beans lurking in your kitchen, why not make the most of them and turn them into tasty, filling and nutritious meals? For a truly-thrifty offering what about this savoury bread and butter pudding? It uses stale bread which would otherwise be thrown away.
Dishes that make the most of store cupboard ingredients:
Chinese pork and prawn fried rice
Thai chicken and basil fried rice
Egg fried rice
Puy lentils with salmon
Curried dal with spinach
Spicy vegetable chilli
Don't forget pudding either, something like this apple crumble is filling and very cheap to make and the fruit can be substituted for whatever you have in. Sponge pudding is another good option because you'll have most of the ingredients to hand already, plus you can easily liven it up with some fruit or sauce on the side. Rice pudding is another classic and is given a modern touch here by the inclusion of vanilla - if you have it already - but it's equally delicious without.
Get more inspiration from the videos below: