There are several reasons to seek out the best budget cookbooks. Maybe you’ve spent more than you’d like on food lately. It was never your plan, but it’s difficult to get the right ingredients and find time to cook and not be left with unused extras you can’t work with.
So you invariably start the week with the best of intentions, maybe even doing a week’s worth of meal prep once in a while, but then you slip and order a takeaway. Then two. Then three.
Or maybe, there just isn't the cashflow to make the meals you want to - times are ridiculously tough right now but no matter your budget, you should (and deserve) to have the option to cook up some fantastically tasty meals.
Our list of budget cookbooks should help you with that. Each of these gives you plenty of recipes to work with, all of which can be put together without breaking the bank.
Pick a couple of these up, learn the simple recipes, and soon enough you’ll have go-to meals, a full stomach and maybe even a bit of extra cash in your back pocket.
Best budget cookbooks
1. Limahl Asmall – Tiny Budget Cooking
In Tiny Budget Cooking, Asmall incorporates meal plans as well as shopping lists to take you through every step of the process. If you’re the sort of person who likes being organised this will be right up your street. It sets you up for batch cooking and weekly meal prep to give you variety in your meals without breaking the bank. The lists are available online, too, just to help with the convenience aspect.
2. Yotam Ottolenghi - Simple
Simple allows you to cook using ingredients you likely already have, while – like others on this list – it prioritises speed as well as affordability. Plenty of the dishes in question can be prepared ahead of time, helping you cut down on wastage and squeeze the most out of your budget. As with a lot of the Israeli-born chef’s cooking, there’s a Middle-Eastern element to the straightforward recipes with ingredients like honey, grapes and couscous all featuring (though not at the same time).
3. Donal Skehan – Meals in Minutes
Low budgets and minimal time often go hand-in-hand – you often spend money you can’t really afford on takeaways when time is off the essence, after all. Skehan’s book ensures that when you take care of one, the other can easily follow. Meals in Minutes includes 90 recipes which take less than half an hour to put together, plus one-pot recipes to save on washing-up and slow-cooker jobs which you can leave cooking while you get through the rest of your to-do list.
4. Jack Monroe – Cooking on a Bootstrap
Monroe’s book is many people’s go-to when it comes to cooking low-cost recipes, and with good reason. Cooking on a Bootstrap began as a Kickstarter project, and food writer and campaigner Monroe had no trouble reaching her target. The book includes than 100 recipes, including warming winter food (think stews and pasta dishes) as well as a good number of lighter breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
5. Phil Vickery – Save Money Good Diet
Vickery puts value in ‘the nation’s favourite recipes’ – think pizza, pasta and curries. But the celebrity chef also encourages you to go a little out of your comfort zone with some more creative recipes to make use of a lot of the same ingredients you often find yourselves picking up anyway. Sometimes all you need to freshen things up is different flavour combinations of what you already have in your cupboard.
6. Gino d’Acampo – Gino’s Healthy Italian for Less
Italian food suits family cooking or batch cooking well, with pasta, meat, fish and vegetarian recipes often blending healthy ingredients with lots of flavour. D’Acampo’s book goes down this route, providing options that won’t set you back a fortune but don’t compromise on taste. Plenty of the meals don’t take long to cook, either, so you can put together a tasty dinner after a day at work and – if you need – enjoy the leftovers for lunch.
7. Jo Scarratt-Jones – Eat Well for Less: Every Day
If you’ve seen the TV series of the same name, you’ll know what Eat Well for Less is all about. With forewords from presenters Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin, this book provides a range of recipes that are straightforward, healthy and – most importantly – suitable for those on a budget. The 80+ recipes include shakshuka, stews and healthy snacks like carrot and ginger energy bites.
8. Sara Zin – The Starving Artist Cookbook
Zin’s book presents itself as designed for ‘first-time cooks’, so you don’t need to worry about being alienated by complex recipes. Oh, and the ‘artist’ part of ‘starving artist’ isn’t just for show – the recipes are illustrated by the author herself. A lot of the recipes are relatively basic, but that’s no bad thing: when you’re developing your go-to recipes, you have to start somewhere.
9. Miguel Barclay – One Pound Meals
The title gives this one away. You might have spotted some of Barclay’s cooking on social media, most notably his 300,000-plus follower Instagram account, and the dishes he puts together are photogenic as well as cheap to assemble. The London-based chef has also brought out a vegan equivalent book featuring plant-based meals that also fit the £1 description.
10. Sarah Rainey – Three Ingredient Baking
Rainey’s book might focus more on baking than other types of cooking, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t variety. Three Ingredient Baking takes a lot of the complexity out of a sort of cooking that can sometimes feel inaccessible, and features sweet and savoury bakes. With only a handful of ingredients to add to your shopping list – some of which you may well already have – this won’t put much of a strain on your bank balance.