If you are providing meals on a low budget, remember the cost of wasted food as well as the cost of cooking. Buy food with as little waste as possible and trim it as little as necessary. Broad beans in their pods are mostly waste, but a solid cabbage is almost all good food. Avoid the cheapest cuts of meat like belly pork, where you get little meat for your money, and examine the ends of a joint to select one without any thick fat layers.
Always take the trouble to store food in the optimum conditions and use the most perishable food first. Don't buy more than you need, but shopping every day could take up a lot of time, so keep a balance.
Small amounts of ready-made meals and packaged foods can cost substantially more than fresh fruit and vegetables, and the cost of meat can far outweigh its value in the diet. If you have the time, then you don't need these ready-meals, and in many cases they take as long to prepare as fresh food.
There is no nutritional need to have meat with every meal, and a lot of evidence that suggests that one meat meal every two or three days would be more healthy!
Low cost meals need not be monotonous with a wide range of dried herbs and spices available in the supermarkets. You use so little of these that you can afford to include them in the lowest budget meals.
If times are really hard then eat potatoes cooked in their skins, brown rice, sprouted beans and seeds, and a little olive oil together with herbs from your windowsill and spices. The cheapest vegetables, like carrots and cabbage are also the healthiest and require the minimum of cooking.
Fresh wholemeal bread also remains excellent value for money.