‘Low cost’ cupboard essentials to ‘bulk up meals’ on a budget

Cooking your favourite recipes isn’t as easy as it used to be when it comes to financing the ingredients – particularly meat and certain vegetables. Though it may seem like there’s no alternative but to pay a premium to buy what you need, an expert at MuscleFood has shared the budget-cutting items you can use to bulk up an empty plate.

Making varied and nutritious meals to feed an entire household doesn’t have to mean loading up on unfulfilling greens.

While they are nutritious and healthy, there are plenty more cheap and beneficial ingredients you can add to meaty recipes if you can’t justify paying more for the right quantity.

Ashleigh Tosh from MuscleFood said: “With so many finding their weekly food budget stretching even further in order to buy all of the essentials, we wanted to offer people some straightforward tips to bulk up their meals.

“Adding simple, low-cost ingredients like oats, beans and eggs can add nutrition and fibre to your favourite meals and allow you to dish up large portions and bulk cook for the week without spending a fortune.”

Whether it be a spaghetti bolognese, chilli, or even your favourite cooked breakfast that’s in need of some extra sustenance, these cheap items can be used in various ways.


Lentils come in many colours – from red, green, and brown to black and yellow – all of which have many nutritional benefits.

Ashleigh said: “Lentils and pulses can be bought in bulk at low prices and used throughout many meals to bulk them up without changing the texture or flavour of the food.

“This is also a great way to add more fibre into your diet at a minimal cost.”

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While eggs have risen in price across the board, they are worth a few extra pennies if you want to bulk up the protein content of your meals.

A pack of 15 mixed-weight free-range eggs from Ocado costs £2.65 and can be used in a variety of ways.

Ashleigh recommended scrambling them into rice or boiling them for a nutritious salad ingredient.

If ham or other sandwich meats are out of your price range, fried or boiled eggs make for a quick filling to keep you satisfied for longer.


While many people enjoy tomato-coated baked beans, adding different varieties to your diet is a surefire way to stay fuller for longer.

Any kind of bean can be added to meaty dishes that use minced meat, think chilli, bolognese, shepherd’s pie, and even homemade sausage rolls.

You can even substitute meat entirely for a mixture of beans and vegetables to make a vegetarian-friendly meal on a budget.

For a quick snack, creamy cannellini or butter beans can be blended up into a dip for bread, crackers, vegetables, or all three.


Ashleigh said: “As well as using them for great low cost recipes like overnight oats and porridge, oats can be included in sauce-based meals like bolognese and chilli as an alternative to using lots of meat.

“And they won’t compromise the taste or texture of the meal they are added to.”


As an excellent low cost source of fibre, antioxidants and healthy carbohydrates, adding white or sweet potatoes into your meals is a great way to bulk them out.

Perfect for curries, stews and soups, there are few ingredients that are cheaper and more filling the British spuds.

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