Skip to main content

The summer holidays are less than two months away, and having to find six weeks’ worth of entertainment for the kids – without breaking the bank – can be daunting.

One way to ease the strain on your purse strings is to plan cheap and cheerful meals your kids will love – and if you use leftovers or simply what you have at the back of the cupboard to make them you can save even more. Even better, you can pick meals your children want to help make, thereby getting the tea made and keeping them entertained all in one go.

Here are five of our favourite budget family recipes for the summer.

Cheesy calzone

Serves 4

Cost per portion*: 79p, not including additional toppings

Pizza base ingredients:

600g white bread flour, plus extra for rolling (80p for 1.5kg)

½ tsp. dried yeast (28p for 14g)

500ml warm water

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus a little for drizzling

Pinch of salt

(Source: BBC Good Food)


3 tbsp. olive oil

1 chopped onion (69p per kg)

1 crushed garlic clove (25p per bulb)

800g chopped tomatoes, or equivalent of tomato passata (31p per 400g tin/£1 per 500g passata)

Herbs to taste


4oz mozzarella (50p per 125g)

Tuna, sweetcorn, peperoni, salami, ham, mushrooms – whatever’s tasty that you have in the cupboards! (Prices vary)


Kids love pizza, but calzones are a great twist on this popular dish. They’re also easy to make and the whole family can get involved – why not let each kid make their own?

Start off by making the base. To do this, combine the flour, yeast and a pinch of salt in a bowl and stir in the water and oil. Stir well until you get a moist dough, then cover with a tea towel and leave to stand until it has doubled in size.

To make the sauce, simply mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs and oil in a bowl and place in the fridge until you need it.

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and dust baking sheets with semolina or grease lightly with oil.

Sprinkle flour on the work surface and divide the dough into four equal pieces. Get your kids to each knead their own until it is stiff and stretchy. Roll out the dough, place each piece on their baking trays and leave for a further 10 minutes.

Spread your tomato topping lightly on one side or all over your calzone base (according to taste) leaving a 1-inch gap around the sides. Finely slice your chosen toppings and place on just one side of the dough (keeping the 1 inch border) and top with mozzarella.

Gently fold over the side of the base with no toppings so that the filling is covered and then seal the edges by crimping them with a fork. Pierce the top of the calzone so the insides cook evenly.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remember, when you cut into your calzone it will be super-hot, so it’s best to let it stand for a few minutes. If you all have different fillings, why not swap pieces to see whose tastes best?

Tuna fishcakes

Serves 4

Cost per portion*: £1.72


450g potatoes (£1.98 per kg)

2 – 3 tbsp. milk (49p per pint)

3 spring onions (49p per bunch)

2 cans of tuna, drained (62p per can)

1 egg (89p per half dozen)

4oz breadcrumbs, or plain flour (80p for 1.5kg flour)

Dash of olive oil

1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard (optional) (98p per 185g)

Source: The Co-operative Magazine


Making homemade fishcakes can be messy, which is why kids love it so much. These tasty treats are also incredibly cheap and make good use of any spare potatoes or cans of tuna you have.

Begin by boiling the potatoes until they’re tender. Remove from the heat, drain and mash, adding the milk to get a smooth and creamy texture.

Heat the oven to 220C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

Chop up the spring onions and lightly fry them in olive oil until soft. Add to the potatoes and mix well. Drain and flake your tuna and stir into the potatoes, adding the mustard as well.

Beat the egg and then mould eight cakes from the mixture by shaping a ball in your fist and flattening the edges. Put flour on your hands first so the mixture doesn’t stick to them. Brush the cakes with a little of the beaten egg and then dip in either breadcrumbs or flour. Place on a lightly greased baking tray and cook for 20 minutes until hot. Serve with sweetcorn, noodles or salad.

Tasty tacos

Serves 4

Cost per portion*: £1.74


Taco shells (£1.54 per 12)

450g of your choice of minced meat or fish (£1.40 per 454g)

1 chopped onion (69p per kg)

Cumin to taste

Chilli powder to taste

Lettuce (49p per head of iceberg lettuce)

Red onion (75p per kg)

Sliced tomatoes (£1.50 per 750g)

Sour cream (60p per 150ml)

Source: The Guardian


Tacos are quick, easy and cheap to make and they’re a great meal for sharing – what more could you want? Add a little oil to a pan and stir fry your mince or fish and onion until cooked, adding the spices as desired. Prepare a simple salad of lettuce, tomato and red onion and pour some sour cream into a separate bowl for garnish. Pour the mince mixture into a pot and let the family dig in, help themselves and load up their own tacos. It really couldn’t be easier.

Crispy chicken burgers

Serves 4

Cost per portion*: £2


4 chicken breasts (£3 per 260g)

3 slices of white toast (47p per loaf)

1 egg (89p per half dozen)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard (optional)

4 ciabatta or burger buns (70p for pack of 6)

Source: BBC Good Food


When it comes to pleasing your kids at dinnertime, it’s hard to go wrong with burgers - but chicken can be a lighter option than beef or lamb, while still being just as tasty.

First the fun bit; wrap each chicken breast in cling film, place it on a smooth and sturdy surface and then bash it hard with a rolling pin until it’s flat and about half of its original thickness.

You can either purchase pre-ground breadcrumbs or make your own by whizzing three slices of toast in a food processor. Tip these on to a clean and dry plate.

Beat the egg and add the mustard to it as desired. You can then dip the chicken in the egg mixture before pressing it on to the breadcrumbs to create a crust.

Place on a baking sheet and grill for ten minutes at a high temperature until both sides are crisp and golden and the chicken is white all the way through. Place in the bread rolls and enjoy with chips, or homemade sweet potato wedges for a lighter option.

Egg and bacon salad

Serves 2

Cost per portion*: 68p (with bacon)


3 eggs (89p per half dozen)

3 rashers of bacon or equivalent amount of pancetta (81p per 500g cooking bacon/£1.25 per 160g pack diced pancetta)

Green leaf salad including your choice of lettuce, spinach, rocket, Swiss chard and other soft green leaves (£1 per pack Asda baby leaf salad)

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to garnish

Source: The Guardian


On a warm summer’s day, the last thing you want is to be slaving over the stove making a hot meal. That’s why salad is so great – but it can be hard convincing your kids of this.

Luckily, this egg and bacon salad could be just what you need to get them eating their greens. Begin by cutting the bacon or pancetta into cubes and then sauté over a medium heat until crispy.

Toss the green salad in a large bowl with the olive oil and vinegar.

Beat the three eggs in a bowl and then pour into a frying pan to cook a thin plain omelette. Once cooked, cut into strips.

Add the omelette and meat to your salad and lightly toss. Enjoy!

We hope these recipes will provide you with inspiration and make planning dinnertime during the summer holidays a little easier. If you have your own budget-friendly recipes you can make from the leftovers in your cupboard, why not share them below?

*Prices based on buying ingredients in weights as sold, rather than recipe-specific weights. All prices offered by Asda at time of writing (5th June 2014).

Legal Information