Money Saving on Family Meals


The cost of making these popular main courses has been compared to the price of buying like for like ready meals as part of the What Consumer Food Money Saving Study.

Key Findings:

All the chicken dishes are more expensive than the chicken ready meals.  The main reason for this is obvious – you can use good quality chicken fillets instead of the usual poorer quality (in some cases mechanically reconstituted) chicken which is commonly used in ready meals and processed dishes.

Lasagna and shepherd’s pie, the  dishes containing minced beef,  are 48% and 61% cheaper respectively if you make them yourself.

Main courses that provide an opportunity for profit margins to be increased by using low grade ingredients and bulking agents  rather than quality ingredients are more expensive to make yourself or cost the same.  Examples  include fish cakes, quiches, pie and meatballs.

The vegetable dishes are all much cheaper to make yourself with the exception of the vegetable tart which is only slightly cheaper.  (mushroom risotto 39%, mushroom stroganoff 58%, vegetable tart 2%, cauliflower cheese 43%)

Cauliflower Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower: 1 small – 78p
  • White sauce: 1 portion – 70.2p
  • Cheese: 100g – 51.7p

Total: £1.99
Luxury cauliflower cheese ready meal (600g): £3.49
Saving: £1.50 (43%)
Main Course Index


Chicken Curry (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken: 2 fillets – £3.85
  • Onion: 1 – 18p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • Mushrooms: 300g – 46.5p
  • Curry sauce: 1 jar curry paste (not cook in sauce) – £1.09
  • Coconut milk: ½ can – 45p
  • Fresh coriander: ½ packet – 39.5p

Total: £6.52
2 x standard chicken curry ready meal: £6.18
Saving: -34p (6%)
Main Course Index


Chicken Nuggets (100% Chicken Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken: 2 fillets – £3.85
  • Egg: 1 – 22.6p
  • Breadcrumbs: ½ tube – 44p

Total: £4.52
Breaded chicken fillets: £4.32
Saving: -20p (5%)
Main Course Index


Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie (Serves 4-5)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken: 2 fillets – £3.85
  • Leek: 1 – 55p
  • Bacon: 150g – £1.41
  • Stock: 1 cube – 10.3p
  • Flour: 1 tbsp – 0.6p
  • Pastry: 250g – 49p

Total: £6.41
2 x luxury chicken, leek and bacon pie ready meal: £4.58
Saving: -£1.83 (40%)
Main Course Index


Fish Cakes (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Frozen salmon fillets: 2 – 2.19
  • Potatoes: 3 large – 54p
  • Eggs:2 – 45.2p
  • Butter: 50g – 16.8p
  • Double cream: 100ml – 28p
  • Fresh parsley: 39.5p
  • Breadcrumbs: ½ tube – 44p

Total: £4.46
6 standard fish cakes: £3.45
Saving: -£1.01 (29%)
Main Course Index


Fish Pie (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Frozen salmon fillets: 2 – 2.19
  • Potatoes: 3 large – 54p
  • Eggs:2 – 45.2p
  • Butter: 50g – 16.8p
  • Double cream: 100ml – 28p
  • Fresh parsley: 39.5p
  • Breadcrumbs: ½ tube – 44p

Total: £7.97
2 x luxury fish pie ready meal: £7.96
Saving: 1p (0%)
Main Course Index


Meatballs (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Minced beef: 250g – £1.69
  • Onion: 1 – 18p
  • Garlic: 1 clove – 3p
  • Egg: 1 – 22.6p
  • Fresh herbs: 39.5p

Total: £2.52
Luxury Meatballs (320g): £2.49
Saving: -3p (1%)
Main Course Index


Moussaka (Servers 4)

Ingredients:

  • Aubergines: 2 – £1.95
  • Lamb mince: 250g – £2.15
  • Onion: ½ – 9p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • Plum tomatoes: 1 tin – 52p
  • Red wine: ½ glass – 25.8p
  • Fresh mint: ½ packet – 39.5p
  • Stock: 1 cube – 10.3p
  • White sauce: 1 portion (above) – 63.2p
  • Eggs: 1 – 22.6p
  • Grated cheese: 50g – 25.4p

Total: £6.67
2 x luxury moussaka ready meal: £7.98
Saving: £1.31 (16%)
Main Course Index


Mushroom Risotto (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Onion: 1 – 18p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • White wine: 1 glass – £1.08
  • Stock: 1 cube – 10.3p
  • Parmesan: 100g – £1.09
  • Fresh parsley: ½ bag – 39.5p

Total: £4.91
4 x luxury Mushroom Risotto ready meal: £8.00
Saving: £3.09 (39%)
Main Course Index

Mushroom Stroganoff (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms: 450g – 52.2p
  • Onion:1 – 18p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • Cream: 300ml – 84
  • Fresh herbs: ½ packet – 39.5p
  • Wine: ½ glass – 25.8p
  • Rice: 300g – 33p

Total: £2.61
2 x luxury mushroom stroganoff ready meal: £6.18
Saving: £3.57 (58%)
Main Course Index


Quiche Lorraine (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • Pastry: 400g – 78.4p
  • Bacon: 200g – £1.89
  • Eggs: 5 – £1.13
  • Milk: 100ml – 7.9p
  • Cream: 200ml – 56p
  • Cheese: 200g – £1.02

Total: £5.46
2 x luxury quiche lorraine: £4.38
Saving: -£1.08 (25%)
Main Course Index


Shepherd’s Pie (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Minced beef: 250g – £1.69
  • Onion: ½ – 9p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • Carrots: 2 – 16p
  • Tomato puree: 1 tbsp – 15p
  • Stock: 1 cube – 10.3p
  • Worcestershire sauce: dash – 2.8p
  • Potatoes: 3 large – 54p
  • Butter: 25g – 8.4p
  • Grated cheese: 25g – 17.7

Total: £3.11
2 x luxury shepherd’s pie ready meal: £7.96
Saving: £4.85 (61%)
Main Course Index


Spaghetti Carbonara (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Smoked pancetta: 75g – 72.5p
  • Mushrooms: 100g – 15.5p
  • Double cream: 150ml – 84p
  • Parmesan: 50g – 54.5p
  • Spaghetti: 100g – 12.8p

Total: £2.39
2 x luxury spaghetti carbonara ready meal (450g): £2.89
Saving: 50p (17%)
Main Course Index


Steak and Ale Pie (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Stewing steak: 500g – £3.98
  • Onion: 18p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • Carrots: 2 – 16p
  • Mushrooms: 150g – 46p
  • Ale: 400ml – £1.17
  • Stock: 2 cubes – 20.6p
  • Pastry: 300g – 58p

Total: £6.82
2 x luxury steak and ale pie ready meal: £4.40
Saving: -£2.42 (55%)
Main Course Index


Toad in the Hole (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Sausages: 6 – £1.41
  • Yorkshire pudding mix: 1 portion: £1.52

Total: £2.93
2 x luxury Toad in the hole ready meal: £4.49
Saving: £1.56 (35%)
Main Course Index


Vegetable Tart (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Pastry: 400g – 78.4p
  • Tomato passata: ½ carton – 22p
  • Courgette: 1 – 34p
  • Peppers: 2 – 92p
  • Red onion: 1 – 21p
  • Garlic: 3 cloves – 9p
  • Dried mixed herbs: pinch – 7.8p

Total: £2.64
Luxury vegetable tart: £2.69
Saving: 5p (2%)
Main Course Index


Lasagne (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • Minced beef: 500g- £2.89
  • Ragu sauce:1 portion (above) – 98.6p
  • White sauce: 1 portion (above) – 70.2p
  • Lasagne sheets: 100g – 24.4p
  • Mozzarella:79p
  • Grated cheese: 50g – 25.4p

Total: £5.87
3 x luxury lasagne ready meal: £11.25
Saving: £5.38 (48%)
Main Course Index


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