The humble sausage is an ideal candidate and main ingredient if you are looking to make cheap yet varied meals for the family. There are many recipes that include sausages and whilst it would perhaps be unwise to eat them every day, they can be used to make some very interesting and very cheap meals.
Good quality sausages are the best of course and they needn't be too expensive. Look for and compare the meat content, the higher the better. You'll probably find a pack of six for around a pound in places such as Aldi or Lidl. Alternatively if you have a good butcher or farmer, why not find out what they have to offer?
It goes without saying that you should try to cook or pre-cook your sausages in the healthiest way possible eliminating as much fat as you can. Methods such as grilling, barbecuing or using a George Foreman grill should be considered where possible.
Toad in the hole - An old classic that is extremely easy to make. Cook your sausages in the oven in a small to medium sized pyrex dish or something similar. I usually three quarter cook them and leave the fat in the dish. Make a smooth batter consisting of equal proportions of egg, plain flour and milk (add a little salt and pepper). A couple of eggs would be about right for 6 sausages. Pour the batter over the sausages and hot fat then cook on a high heat for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it but don't open the oven door until it has completely risen and become puffy and a medium brown.
Bangers and mash - Another classic meal that it is simplicity itself. Two or three cooked sausages with mashed potatoes and baked beans.
Sausage egg and chips - Just as easy as bangers and mash really. Chips instead of mash with the addition of a fried egg. This is another one of my favourites and you can in fact leave out the chips and have baked beans instead. You'll find this served in greasy spoons up and down the country. This is a real working man's tea.
Sausage casserole - This is a nice easy meal to make, the kind you can just throw together and bung in the oven or slow cooker. Just pre-cook your sausages and chop them up into bite-sized pieces. Add a chopped up onion and half a pint of chicken or beef stock then whatever vegetables you like, e.g. carrots, swede, leek or sweet potato. There aren't any rules so season as you prefer and add a few herbs if you like. You could serve this with mash and a nice bit of broccoli.
Sausage meatballs - I simply pre-cook the sausages and then slice them up into 4 or 5 pieces per sausage. Add to a typical Italian style tomato sauce and serve with spaghetti. This is the fastest spaghetti and meatballs you'll ever make!
Sausage pie - This is a variation of a shepherd's pie or country pie. You can make the meat and gravy part on the hob though and perhaps be thickened a little with some gravy granules. For a tomato base how about adding a can of chopped tomatoes?
Sausage curry - If you are a dab hand with the spices and have some leftover curry sauce and perhaps some leftover grilled sausages you could put together a cheap and interesting meal. Throw in some mushrooms, broccoli, sweet potato or peppers. You could even use a cheap tin of curry sauce from the supermarket. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Spicy sausage hot pot - As with some of the previous ideas the chopped up and cooked sausages can be treated like any portion of meat. Add some chopped tomatoes, fresh chilli if you have some or powdered if you don't. You could add any combination of peppers and beans and if you like it a little bit smokey how about some paprika?
Barbecued sausages - Everyone knows that snags taste their best when they've been cooked on the grill in the open air. The trick to really nice sausages done this way is to not cook them too quickly and keep the flames away. I usually prick them with a knife and cook them near the edge quite often with the smoker lid down. Turn them often so that they are cooked even and brown all over.
Hot dogs - The sausages can be barbecued or grilled. Simply serve in a finger roll with some fried onions (even nicer fried in a little butter). Personally I like to have a generous spread of English mustard and ketchup over the dog as well!