Budget cooking recipes on holiday

Here are my top tips for cheap meal ideas on holiday so it is stress-free and feels like a holiday and not a chore. Planning before you go is the key so you don’t have to think about it when you are there. I like to switch off and not really think about what I’m going to cook or spend ages cooking it. The thought of going to a busy supermarket fills me with dread when first arriving on holiday, and this year even more so. Scroll down for a free recipe sheet.

1 Keep meals simple – no one wants to be spending a long time in the kitchen or taking too much food with you. Just take enough for each meal, planning meals before you go will help.

At least take enough food to avoid shopping the weekend you arrive will avoid long queues at supermarkets and impulse buys.

2 Freeze ahead – Take two meals with you frozen, one to have on the first night and the other the next or on the last night if you don’t intend to go out and have access to a freezer. This could simply be chilli/cottage pie/lasagne/curry/soup/ready-made pizzas/frozen chips or a favourite meal.

If you are going with another family they cook a meal too. It will mean four evening meals are already catered for. This will reduce the amount of food prep and shopping required while on holiday.

3 Take snack/picnic food – Make or take biscuits, a tray of flapjack, chocolate brownies and loaf cake for afternoon treats when out and about or at the beach. (cut the cake into cubes and store it in plastic storage containers or cleaned-out 1kg natural yoghurt pots)

Take popping kernels, a couple of cake packet mixes or pizza dough/bread mix for a rainy afternoon activity or pre-weigh dry ingredients, bag and label.

4 Advance meal plan and prep – Measure out dry ingredients for each meal you intend to make. Here are a few simple main meal ideas to which you can add extra fresh vegetables and/or replace an extra protein of your choice:


  • INDIAN -1 mug of rice + 2 mugs of water + 1 onion + tin of chickpeas (keep the liquid to make pancakes!) + 2 tsp curry powder (or homemade spice mix of cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala).
  • MIDDLE EASTERN – ¾ mug cous cous + 1 mug of hot water + 1 tin of mixed bean salad +3 spring onions + red pepper + smoked paprika/harissa paste.
  • THAI – 3 or 4 noodle nests + 1 tin of sweetcorn + 3 spring onions + 1 green pepper + ready-made Thai paste + 1 tin of coconut milk and enough water to cover everything (optional).
  • ITALIAN – 1/2 bag of pasta + 1 tin of tuna + 1 tin of sweetcorn + 1 tin of butter beans + 1 onion +1 tin of flavoured tomatoes/passata and/or add dried herbs.
  •  COMFORT FOOD – 4 large potatoes for baking/chipping + baked beans + cheese or eggs.
  • BREAKFAST – 1 mug of flour +1 mug of milk (or 1 mug of water + 3 tbsp powdered milk) + 1 egg (or 4 tbsp aquafaba/chickpea water) = 6 pancakes.
  • MEXICAN – 1/4 carton of passata + 2 tsp smoked paprika + 1 onion + 3 peppers + 1 carrot + wraps

Add fresh vegetables to go with any of the above OR create salads to accompany meals/packed lunches.

Half red cabbage and white cabbage
A large pack of peppers
Lettuce(s)/salad bags
Mange tout
Green beans
Sunflower/pumpkin seeds
Cheese of choice
Eggs x 12

Pack of pitta bread, wraps and poppodums
Part baked rolls
Loaf of bread
Tins of fish
Pickled beetroot/onions/olives
Boxes of crackers
Popping kernels
Porridge oats/Cereal
Pre-cooked pouches of grains
Pre-cooked tins of green lentils/chickpeas

Soy sauce
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Smoked paprika
Powdered milk
Peanut butter
Sandwich spreads of choice

I’m sure there are other family favourite essentials you won’t forget to take with you. I hope this list helps. I always take a sharp knife, peeler, scissors, ice cube tray, and corkscrew!

Try to support local bakers, butchers and markets where you can for fresh ingredients. Taking store cupboard ingredients will help you plan your meals.

Downloadable pdf for complete recipes included in this blog available for FREE Anne Marie’s Easy Tea Recipes

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