Feed your family on a budget this Christmas

First Published: 19/12/2022

Feed your family on a budget this Christmas

How to make low cost meals on a budget

Christmas can be a time for splashing out – buying gifts, decorations, outfits, extra food for our guests and special seasonal treats, we can easily find ourselves buying a bit more than usual. However, with rising costs of food and energy bills, the prospect of dealing with extra expenditure can be stressful both during and after Christmas.
Good news – making delicious food doesn’t have to cost the earth, or your peace of mind. There are also some organisations set up to help anyone who needs assistance with feeding the family at (and after) Christmas. Here are some useful tips for keeping costs down, preparing cheap, tasty nutritious meals and information about organisations who can help.

Think before you buy…

Whilst it can be tempting to splash out for Christmas, have a quick think before you go ahead and buy those extra bits:

  • It all adds up – does Uncle John really need an extra pair of socks? Will that extra bit of tinsel really make all the difference?
  • Don’t be tempted to overbuy when it comes to food and bear in mind use-buy dates.
  • It may be worth considering buying food for shorter periods of time.
  • See below for recipe ideas and make tasty meals at low cost.

Need help with food costs?

There are several organisations you can contact who will help tackle the rising costs of food:

Find a local food bank

Over 1,000 independent Food Banks have been set up across the UK to provide nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food. Each has its own eligibility criteria – see their website or make direct contact with that organisation. Find a local Food Bank using these links:

Find Your Local Pantry
  • There are a growing number of Local Pantries which may help you save money on your grocery shopping. You will need to become a member of your Local Pantry, pay a small weekly amount and choose food weekly up to the value of £20.
  • Each pantry has its own membership criteria so contact them directly to find out if you can join. Find your Local Pantry by typing your postcode in the search box.
Further help with food costs:

Further assistance can be found at the following websites:

  • Feeding Britain provide affordable food clubs which work in a similar way to Local Pantries – pay a small weekly fee and choose up to 20 food items. Find your local food club at feedingbritain.org
  • FoodCycle offer free hot meals to anyone who needs them – no need for referral or voucher – it doesn’t matter what the reason is for needing help. Volunteers will provide a meal and any support you need. Find your closest FoodCycle location here.
  • Community Fridges share surplus food free of charge, usually supplied by local businesses/individuals. Check for one near you on the Community Fridge website.
  • Olio is a free app which helps you find food items local to you that may otherwise be thrown away. You’ll need a smart phone – download the Olio app and see a list of people giving away food locally. Select a provider, request & arrange collection.
  • Too Good To Go is a free app which puts you in touch with local businesses to buy food they would otherwise throw away. Food will be much cheaper than you’d pay for similar items at the supermarket.

Get cooking: Recipe ideas for tasty and healthy cheap meals

Spend less on food and enjoy what you eat! Sheffieldissweetenough.org compiled a handy booklet with exciting internet recipe ideas (from popular websites such as BBC Good Food) for filling, delicious nutritional meals and snacks that are cheap, quick and simple to make.

Recipes include a tasty chickpea curry, chicken skewers and a delicious tortilla pizza. Pasta lovers might like to try this beautiful sausage and broccoli pasta dish – you can find the original recipe here on BBC Good Food – have a go and make it your own! Just adapt the recipes to fit your own personal preference – add extra cheese (or leave it out altogether) use gluten-free pasta, leave the sausages out & add some cauliflower instead, or use vegan sausages with a little sprinkle of vegan cheese. You can vary the same dish by adding different ingredients including your Christmas leftovers so get cooking… and enjoy!


Join our Money Advice Sessions to talk directly to our welfare team. These sessions will provide you with information and support on how to increase and manage your income and benefits, based on your circumstances. Find out more here.