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New ideas for yummy budget recipes

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by sauce, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. I am currently on maternity leave so having to watch the pennies! I always cook an evening meal from scratch for me and my husband (baby not on solids yet) and we enjoy good, healthy food. Now that money is tighter I am finding it more difficult to come up with different ideas. We always have potatoes, vegetables, pasta, rice, mince, sausages, tinned fish etc available. Any good ideas what I can do with them? (or other budget ingredients). Thanks.
  2. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    My first thoughts....do you have a slow-cooker? (My answer to just about everything!) All the dried up wrinkly veggies can be put in there with a handful of soup-mix (a mixture of dried pulse and grains) and some stock to make a lovely thick soup.
    Also the slow cooker lets you cook cheaper cuts of meat that really benefit from long slow cooking.
    Careful planning of your cooking will help you save money. For example, if you're making a fish pie then use the off cuts of the fish and some extra mash and make a batch of fishcakes for the freezer.
    Swapping some mice meals with lentil meals is cheaper - and healthier....my favourite is using lentils to make a Shepherdess Pie (Like a Shepherds Pie but use lentils not minced beef/lamb).
    Avoid waste! If there are left-overs they become tomorrows lunch.... Extra bolognaise sauce? Add Chilli and some kidney beans to stretch it and turn it into tomorrows chilli...Eaten all but one large spoonful of curry? It makes a tasty filling for your toasted sandwich lunch the next day...one sausage and a dollop of mash left? Split open the sausage and use the sausage meat and mash to make a sausage patty(like a fishcake) for tomorrow.
    Buy a chicken rather than portions. (free range please!) Use the carcass to make stock for soup or to cook rice in.
    Try 'budget' supermarkets - I like Lidls...they can save a few pennies, and if you have a local market get fruit and veg there - they tend to be a little cheaper.
    Get to know your butcher. Mine lets me know if there is a 'shoot' planned on the local estate which means he will be getting some local rabbit or other game....also the butcher may have free recipe booklets to give you recipe ideas. (Same goes for local fishmonger if you have one)
    Buy fruit/veg in season and locally grown wherever possible. It tastes better, it is cheaper, it is better for the local economy, it is better for the environment.
    Final tip...grow your own herbs. You only need a windowsill and they grow quickly. A ferw herbs can transform a meal...Scrambled eggs can rapidly becom Omelette Fines Herbes!....and if you find you have green fingers - try growing your own veg....plenty of enthusiasts to give advice on the allotment thread!

  3. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Hmm...I think mice meals might be stretching the economy idea just a little, Bethannie....[​IMG]

    Easiest things we've done to watch the pennies have been to cut down on meat and fish during the week, and use cheaper cuts of meat more often. Ox or pork cheek, lamb breast, pork belly, beef skirt, brisket, chicken thighs (or a whole one, portioned as Bethannie mentioned), all cheap as chips and you can still buy decent meat as well. And this is without even mentioning offal (mmmmmm....offal...). Make friends with your butcher.
    You can do a thousand things with mince...
    Do your shopping of an evening and get all the reduced meat and bang it in the freezer.
    It's more ecomonical to make job-lots of casseroles/curries/stews/etc, and freeze portions than it is to cook for 2.
    And go veggie during the week...
    Pulses, eggs and cheese are all ideal enchancements or bases, as they provide satisfaction and you never seem to notice the lack of any meat where these are involved.

    A recent addition to our budget eats repertoire has been Cheesey Bread & Butter Pudding. Make B&B pud as normal, but without sugar or raisins, and add cheese to the custard, with extra on top. You could add all sorts of leftover bits of meat/ham/sausage/fish as well.

  4. Thanks, some good ideas here.
    I do have a slow cooker so budget slow cooker recipes are very welcome.
    Always have seasonal veg/fruit and herbs available as hubbie loves gardening. And yes we only buy free range meat.
    Please could you post recipe for shepherdess pie. I have never cooked with lentils before. Not even sure if I like them!
  5. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    Here's my version of sheperdess pie- I use black eyed beans as I liek the flavour and texture. This recipe was to feed 6 hungry adults with seconds so adjust accordingly.

    2 onions, finely chopped.
    3 sticks celery, finely chopped
    3 carrots, diced
    5 or 6 plump cloves of garlic, finely chopped with a bit of salt
    2 tins plum tomatoes, whizzed with stick blender
    4 small tins black eyed beans, half roughly mashed, rest whole
    couple of tablespoons mixed chopped herbs- think thyme, parsley, rosemary as they were on windowsill
    couple of really good scooshes worcester sauce
    good squeeze of tomato paste
    1 finely chopped red chilli
    about a heaped tablespoon of sweet, smoked paprika
    marigold powder
    tsp sugar
    plenty of black pepper
    big pot of well peppered, buttered mash
    wholemeal breadcrumbs

    -Fry onions, celery in a tsp of oil. Add a bit of water and a lid to cook through (or just cook properly in oil if you're not skimping on calories!)
    -Add garlic and chilli and cook off.
    -Add carrots and cook off
    -Add rest of ingredients except mash, breadcrumbs and parmesan, stir, bring to simmer and cook on low heat for an hour and a half (or until carots tender and flavours melded)
    -Put in ovenproof dish, Top with mash, rough up the top, sprinkle over a dusting of breadcrumbs and a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan.
    -Bake in oven until browned
  6. I echo what others have said - cut down on meat!
    I hardly eat much meat but obviously my kids need some (I could quite happily go without totally) but we only eat meat a couple of times a week.
    I also do not buy tinned pulses or beans - only dried and then soak. Lentils too (what are they? they are not pulses are they? Or are they..?). Fraction of the price.
    You can bulk up soups with broken up spaghetti or pearl barley - you need less veg and meat that way.
    Save your carcasses to make stock.
    Don't buy frozen chips - buy potatoes and either make chips or wedges to roast in the oven.
    Buy things like pasta and rice in bulk (Si and I are experts in this - we are quite obsessive about it).
    Buy things like tinned tomatoes in bulk when on special offer (again do a search on Si and me - another obsession of ours).
    Bulk bake pastry and freeze.
    Bake your own bread.
    Buy your spices in bulk from an Asian store.
    Buy yourself a grinder and grind your own spices as you need them.
    Grow herbs on your windowsill.
    Grow your own veg! (see our allotment and container gardening threads)
    When your wee one is finally on to solids, you don't need to cook extra (after the first couple of months) - just take off a couple of portions before you add salt and/or spices. Puree. After a month, mash. After a few teeth are there, just break up with a fork. Use one portion, freeze the other.
    Learn how to use leftovers - if you have some fruit to be used up - make a curry and bung it in!
    If you have veg about to go off, first stick it in some ice water and it will generally perk up.
    If you will not use it immediately, chop and freeze for future use.
    Make your own ice cream - you do not need an ice cream maker.
    Buy berries when in season and freeze - you can whizz up a pud anytime you like (crumble, pie, sauce, waffles, steam puds).

  7. Here is my version of Shepherdess Pie [​IMG]
    250g brown lentils (tinned or dried and soaked, tinned you will need a large tin 450g)
    2 carrots
    1 small piece celeriac (hello Si!)
    1 leek
    1 large or two medium/small onions
    as many cloves of garlic as you can take
    4 big potatoes
    breadcrumbs, porridge oats
    grated cheese
    a few knobs of butter

    Make up the sauce - add a splodge of tomato puree if you like. I also like to add some frozen peas or beans, depending on what I have in the freezer (make up the sauce as Si described).
    Add topping.
    Bung in oven.
    Is cheap as chips and totally yummy.
    You can vary the topping - use sweet potatoes, parsnips or a celeriac/potato mash. It is also nice with a turnip/swede mash.
    Blob the butter on top before bunging in the oven.

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