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Cooking on a Budget!

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    56 Reviews
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      11.07.2010 23:47
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      A five star dish!

      I would like to introduce you to... Mini Frittatas!!!

      I couldn't decide what catagory to post this recipe in as it fills so many boxes. I decided on 'Cooking on a budget' as it really is a cheap dish, and budget dishes are also a lot more popular nowadays as most people seem to be trying to cut back in various ways - this is one of the more painless and enjoyable ways to cut back on the cost of your shopping bills!

      I posted a recipe for standard frittata a while back but I was so impressed with this recipe that I thought I should share it with you all!

      For those of you that don't know, a frittata is an egg dish, very similar to an omelette; it is actually sometimes referred to as a 'Spanish omelette'. If you would like to know more about the standard frittata you can see the recipe here... http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/recipes/healthy-recipes/1160140/

      I am a huge fan of the frittata and make them quite often; my son is diabetic, he is also very active and therefore constantly hungry, so carb free snacks (that he will actually eat!) are a must.

      The mini frittata is actually baked rather than cooked in a frying/shallow pan. It is also a lot easier to make than the original, I don't think it's actually possible to go wrong with this recipe - short of falling asleep while the food is cooking! (I did that with a pizza once... Never attempt cook while drunk, people!).

      Anyway, the recipe I found (in Easy Food magazine) called for:
      4 eggs
      1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
      2 tbsp milk
      50g cheddar
      40g parmesan
      3 strips cooked bacon

      However, from making frittatas before I know that you can substitute many of the ingredients, change the weights, and even omit some things. All you really need are eggs and some kind of cheese. You can then add whatever you like. I used eggs, milk, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, and chives.

      You can add anything really that will withstand a little heat. For example, cheese and onion are nice. I also made ham and tomato ones last week which they turned out very well; just make sure you only use the firm part and omit the pips and juice, as I imagine this might make it a little soggy!?

      Also, I best mention... I used 4 eggs in my mix and used a small 6 cup muffin tray; I found that this was the perfect amount so if you have a standard 12 cup tray, obviously use double (8 eggs).

      Instructions:

      1) Grease a muffin/cupcake tray with butter, oil, or equivalent.

      2) Crack eggs into a bowl/jug/anything you have handy. Stir well.

      3) Chop other ingredients finely (grate cheese). As they are going in such a small tray they should be no more than 1 cm in length and width.

      4) Pour all ingredients in to egg mixture and stir well.

      5) Fill cups to ¾ full with mixture and bake in oven at 190C/gas mark 5 for 15-20 mins until golden.

      Oven timings are also not that important as the original recipe actually called for 10-15 minutes. I find (I use a gas oven) that 15 mins is enough, but I prefer them a little more golden. You could even go to 25-30 mins to give a little crispness to the edges if you like.

      Yes, that really is it! The result is soft, fluffy, cheesy, eggy cakes, that when combined with the other ingredients, makes for a delicious, filling treat that is ideal to eat at anytime.

      You can then eat them straight away. Or, if they last that long (!), you can also put them in the fridge and eat them cold, which gives them a quiche like quality (I put them in my sons lunch box sometimes as an alternative to boring old sandwiches!).

      The mini frittatas are so cute, and can be used in a variety of ways, here are some suggestions...
      Between meal snacks
      Cold, served with salad
      Warm, served with chips, or something similar
      Party finger food

      There are probably more serving suggestions but they are the first ones that spring to mind. As you can see, they are easy to make, versatile, yummy, and cheap to make.

      As they are made with eggs, they are quite filling; they are also carb free (there may be the odd carb depending on what you put in them) so they are great for diabetics and anyone on a low carb diet such as Atkins or South Beach.

      Even people on low calorie diets can enjoy these, as the main component is egg; eggs are great for people trying to watch their weight as they only contain around 80 calories each, yet are very filling. I read once that people who eat eggs for breakfast tend to eat around 400 calories less throughout the day due to feeling fuller for longer.

      To make the frittatas even healthier, I use 1 cal spray to grease the tray and use 1/3 fat cheese. These substitutions don't take away from the flavour at all, in fact you don't even notice the difference (even my son can't, and he is the fussiest eater I know!).

      Frittatas are also very cheap to make. You can pick up a box of 15 eggs for around £1.50 in most supermarkets, a lump of cheese for a quid or so, then just chuck in anything you have lying around in the fridge or cupboard. They are great for using up leftovers as you don't need much of anything and quantities don't have to be exact, you can use as much or as little of anything as you like.

      I actually found a video guide to making mini frittatas. I have to admit that I didn't actually view the full video, I just flicked to the end to see what they turned out like (mine actually look a lot nicer!). Although this will give an idea of what to expect...
      http://www.videojug.com/webvideo/how-to-make-mini-frittatas.

      I would advise everyone to try these, even just the once; they truly are a delicious snack and, if you are anything like me, you will become hooked! I now have a constant supply in my fridge - they never last more than a day, but as they are so easy to make it is no hassle to cook more.

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        12.04.2010 21:14
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        Mince or Chicken - both are cheap and cheerful in this house!

        Cooking on a budget is something I've got quite good at over the years. We've had our high moments financially here, and we've had our low ones too, but I reckon that whether you're on a high or a low point financially it never hurts to know how to cook cheaply, and having a few really good staple meals in your recipe book that you can use when you need to stretch the old budget a bit.

        One of the best foods in the world for this I reckon is Mince. Chicken is good, and a whole one can go a long way as I've described further on, but a good spaghetti bolognaise can be made incredibly cheaply, and bulked out with so many tasty ingredients that are healthy and filling that it's probably my all time favourite recipe to suggest if you're trying to keep things cheap. Add to that the fact that by starting with a basic bolognaise you can ring the changes so much that you can extend it into quite a variety of other meals and you have yourself a core staple.

        Here's what I mean:
        For £2 in Tesco I can buy 1 kilo of value fresh mince. When I cook it, I fry it off with no oil (it doesn't need it), and then drain off any excess fat. In this way I don't think it does any harm to the flavour or to us to use this cheaper mince.

        I add 3 or 4 tins of tomatoes (value again), some tomato puree, lots of onion (red & white), orange pepper, mushrooms and garlic all of which I get from the market. I throw in some handfuls of frozen sweetcorn, herbs, a bit of Worcester sauce, mustard and some black pepper and you're basically there. A simple and tasty bolognaise.

        If I leave it like this, I can make it do about 8 portions, however what I like to do is to eat this for one day (2 portions), freeze 2 portions, then turn the rest into a chilli by adding Several tins of red kidney beans, extra garlic, chilli powder, cayenne pepper, a couple of chillies and some Tabasco. I'll often throw in a few extra veggies at this point too if it looks like it needs a bit extra.

        Then we eat chilli on day 2. (2 more portions), and I freeze 2 portions as well for a later point. Day three, we have our own version of enchiladas - tortillas filled with chilli, placed in a dish with cheese sauce poured over them. I always make a double helping of these so that we can pop another couple of meals in the freezer. This means that with the help of some fresh veggies, frozen sweetcorn, value tinned tomatoes (31p a tin) and value kidney beans (19p a tin), value spaghetti (39p for 500g) and rice (I did try value, but didn't like it so I go elsewhere for this and pay a bit more now) I've made 12 full meals - and have been known for it to stretch to 14 at a push. I ought to add that we're not people who skimp on what we eat either. We like a decently large portion for our main meal, so if you eat like sparrows you'd probably find you could get an extra few portions compared to me for the same quantity.

        If I wanted to ring the changes, once I'd fried the mince and onion off, and before adding the tomato etc. I'd separate some and mix it with meat stock (or gravy), carrots, peas, etc. and make into cottage pie, or add spices and chunks of potato and make samosas. You can even use it to make your own burgers or rissoles quite easily too.

        Chickens I treat quite differently. I gave up buying portions ages ago, it's so expensive compare to buying them whole and you don't get all the extra bits that way - buy them whole when they're on special offer (last time I did this I got 3 chickens that should have been around £4.50 each for £2 each in Asda). Then I bone them out. By this I mean divide them into breast portions, wings, drumsticks and thighs. These then get frozen to use however I want, and the carcasses get roasted up when I've got the oven on for something else. Then I strip the rest of the meat from them to use in pies or as a topping on pizza or in quiche, and boil the bones that are left to make stock which I then freeze in icecube trays so I've got small portions of chicken stock ready to go whenever I need it. It's not quite as economical a meat as cheap beef mince, but almost, and again really versatile how you can use it too. We can get meat for a large pie (4 portions), roast chicken breast (2 portions), thighs cooked in reggae reggae sauce (2 portions), and drumstick and wings slow cooked with veggies (2 portions) from one chicken as well as all the stock to use for all the same dishes, from one chicken.

        Hope you've enjoyed my thoughts on budget cooking, I have plenty more of them, but this would become seriously long if I kept talking I think!

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          08.04.2010 17:13
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          A simple but very tasty dish.

          This reciepe is cheap and easy to cook. If you've read my other food related reviews you will know that cooking is not my greatest skill.

          Ingredients -
          Pasta
          Two sausages
          Cheese sauce
          Cheese

          Again I'll apologise now as there is no measurements in the recipe, with me it's all trial and error.

          The way to keep the cost of this dish down is to buy the ingredients either when on offer, shops own brand, or value ranges. For this I used Tesco value Pasta, chedder and sausage, and Bisto ready made cheese sauce. I can make my own cheese sauce but this was on offer at a ridiculous price.

          Instructions -

          Preheat oven and grill sausages.

          Fill pan with water and boil. Once bubbling add pasta and cook until soft.

          Make the cheese sauce as according to the instructions on the tub.

          Cut sausages into pieces and place in a oven proof dish.

          Pour over some of the cheese sauce.

          Boil water in kettle and place pasta into a collendor. Then pour over boiling water to remove starch.

          Put the pasta into the oven proof dish and pour over the remaining sauce, then add some grated cheese.

          Place in over and cook for around 10 - 15 minutes or until the top is nice and crispy.

          I think this is best served with garlic bread.

          Enjoy

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          16.03.2010 00:47
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          A tasty pasta dish that you cant wine about....

          Gammon with Red Wine & Pasta

          Living on a budget is tough especially when it comes to food. I love food, and as money is tight, I am always on the look out for cheap and easy recipes.
          It's not always just about being on a budget but why should you suffer and not have nice food just because you can't afford to buy fancy ingredients. I therefore give to you my cheap and tasty recipe for Gammon with Red wine and Pasta.
          I would say the total cost for this meal is around £4.00 and for the amount that you make can feed 2 people. If you add a 99p salad or 49p garlic bread which you can find in most supermarkets, this means that you can freeze any remainder pasta and have another day.

          Ingredients:

          25g/1oz butter
          ¼ pt, 150ml red wine
          4 red onions
          4 tablespoons orange juice
          1 tablespoon brown sugar
          8oz/225g gammon steak
          6oz/175g pasta
          3 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
          2 tablespoons chopped parsley

          Cooking Instructions:

          1)Place a frying pan with the butter and red wine onto the hob and heat.
          Add the onions and cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.

          2)Cook the gammon steak under the grill for approx 5-8 minutes or until tender.Cut the gammon into chunks or strips whichever you prefer and reserve to the side and keep warm

          3)Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook pasta according to your taste. I used fusili pasta and cooked it until it was slightly 'a la dente'. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and place a lid on the pan. You need to cover the pan to keep warm, and set aside.

          4)Stir the mustard and parsley into the onion sauce. Then stir the sauce into the pasta until all the pasta is coated.

          5)Stir in the gammon strips/chunks in the pasta/sauce mix and serve.


          I personally love this recipe. It's cheap and easy and I tend to use the £1.99 mini bottle of wine from either Sainsbury/Asda/Morrisons. I also use a fresh orange and squeeze the juice out as I think it makes for a better flavour.
          The mustard gives the extra kick to the dish and although I know some people aren't fans of mustard this really makes for a juicy flavour.
          I also sometimes top this with grated cheese and it makes for a nice extra kick to this dish

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            10.03.2010 10:03
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            All in review, make your own mind up

            I first seen this was available to write a review on yesterday and thought "Oh that's a great idea". I have two young children and brought them up all by myself with no help from their father so I have to watch my pennies. I mean everyone likes to save some pennies don't we? And most people hate to waste food, so seen as I am careful with both of them I thought that I would share with you a few of my cheap but healthy recipes.




            ===========
            ~~~~TIPS~~~
            ===========


            Every week I set aside £30 to £40 for my shopping, I have noticed however I don't really buy much food apart from our dinners. We tend to stick to the same things for breakfast and lunches a little boring I know but it works. Each morning me and the children have a bowl or cereal or maybe a slice of toast with jam and for lunch a salad + ham sandwich, along with a piece of food. If we get hungry throughout the day we snack on fruit wither it be a banana, apple, orange, or even a plum and as for juice I hardly every buy fizzy juice its always diluting as it is better for the children.


            Every month I make up batches of food and put them in containers. (You know the ones that look like they come from the Chinese). You can get a pack of 10 from the £1 not breaking the bank and making it easier to be organised and know what's what for when you are having dinner. After I have cooked all my meals and put it containers, I let it cool and put into the freezer. It also makes it easier when you have had a long day and cant be bothered to cook, take out a container , defrost, and that's about it really, a homemade, healthy meal within minutes.


            I always find it easier writing down what your having for dinner every week I make a food diary plan and stick to it. That way its easier to writing your shopping list as well I find ,but you must stick to only putting the shopping into the basket that is on your list. The bargain deals you see are only a bargains if it is something that you are NEEDING which 9 times out of 10 it ISNT!!




            ================
            ~~~~My Recipes~~~~
            ================


            I have listed below my weekly meal "time table". Below that are some meals that I cook every now and then that are really cheap to make and are also very healthy. If you do decided to make then I hope you enjoy as much as I do.


            Monday~ Pasta'n'sauce (Bachelors), jacket potato, and salad
            Tuesday~ Lime turkey breast, salad, and French stick
            Wednesday~ Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread
            Thursday~ Chicken, potatoes, and salad
            Friday~ Chilli con carne with rice
            Saturday~ Pasta'n'sauce, jacket potatoes, and sald
            Sunday~ chicken, potatoes, and frozen vegetables




            ~*~*~*~Lime turkey breast~*~*~*~


            =========
            Ingredients
            =========
            1 Lime
            Half a tea spoon of Chilli powder


            **How to cook**
            Grate a rind of one lime in a bowl, cut in half and squeeze one half on the lime juice into it. Add half a tea spoon of mild chilli powder in the bowl and give it a little stir. Put the turkey breasts into the bowl cover and put it the fridge to marinade for around an hour. Once you are ready to cook put under the grill on a medium heat untill cooked. Add with a salad and a slice of French stick and enjoy.




            ~*~*~*~Chilli con carne~*~*~*~


            =========
            Ingredients
            =========
            Half a beef or vegetable stock cube
            1 onion
            1 clove of crushed garlic
            1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
            450 grams mince
            2-3 teaspoons of mild chilli powder
            1 teaspoon of ground cumin
            400 grams red kidney beans
            400 grams chopped tomatoes
            1 tablespoon tomato puree
            1 teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
            Half a teaspoon dried mixed herbs
            2 pinches of salt and black pepper


            **How to cook**
            1/ Mix the stock cube with 225ml of boiling water, sir well and put the jug to one side.

            2/ Peel the onion and slice into small pieces. Put the onion, crushed garlic, and oil in the pan.

            3/ Heat for 10 mins on a low heat. Then, turn up to a medium heat and add the mince.

            4/ Cook the mince until brown.

            5/ Take off the boil and stir in the chilli and cumin, then rinse the kidney beans and add to the pan.

            6/ Add the stock, tomato puree, sugar, herbs, salt, and pepper to the pan and sir everything well.

            7/ Heat the chilli con carne until it boils, turn heat to low and put the lid of the pan leaving a small gap.

            8/ Cook for 15 mins then remove the lid. Cook it for 15 mins more stirring it every now and then and that's it ready. Hope you enjoy




            ~*~*~*~Bacon and vegetable soup~*~*~*~


            =========
            Ingredients
            =========
            A pack of seasonable vegetables
            4 slices of bacon
            2 vegetable stock cube


            **How to cook**
            1/ Cut the bacon in squares, and fry in the pan.

            2/ Mix the stock cube and the boiling together and add to the pan repeat again.

            3/ Add the seasonal vegetables and cook for 15 mins and a pinch of salt and black pepper.

            4/ Put the lid on leaving a gap and cook for 3o mins.

            5/ Remove lid and cook for a further 15 mins. Meals ready enjoy.




            ~*~*~*~Spaghetti Bolognese~*~*~*~


            =========
            Ingredients
            =========
            1 onion
            1 carrot
            1 stick of celery
            2 tablespoons of olive oil
            1 crushed garlic
            450 grams mince
            1 beef or vegetable stock cube
            300ml boiling water
            400 grams chopped tomatoes
            1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
            1 tablespoon of tomato puree
            2 pinches of salt and ground black pepper
            400g of spaghetti


            **How to cook**
            1/ Peel the onion and carrot chop them both very finely.

            2/ Slice the celery also chopping it finely. Put the onion and oil into the saucepan and cook them on a medium heat for 5 mins.

            3/ Add the garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook all vegetables for 2 mins stirring them all the time. Then add the beef.

            4/ Cook the beef for 10 mins or until brown.

            5/ Put the stock cube into a jug and stir until dissolved and add the stock to the pan.

            6/ Add the tomatoes, herbs, tomato puree, salt and pepper. Boil the sauce, the reduce the heat, so that it is bubbling gently

            7/ Put the lid onto the pan. Cook the sauce for 40 mins, stirring it often. Remove the lid and cook for a further 10 mins.

            8/ While the sauce is cooking. Cook the spaghetti according to instructions.

            9/ Drain the spaghetti and spoon it into bowls, then spoon the bolognaise sauce over the top.




            Thank you for taking the time to read my review. I hope that it is of some use to you. Thanks again for reading it if very much appreciated:o)

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              09.03.2010 12:55
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              Eat better and save money at same time

              The biggest saving anyone can make is making a cooking budget.lm a very thrifty person by nature, but also l have to food budget as l cant work due to health problems. lv found the best way to save money on food,like everything else money saving,is to plan and be organizied. Heres my tips and a salad recipe

              Recipe file.

              Start cliping & filing budget recipes from magazines or from frugal recipe internet sites. In my file on the first page l keep an up-to-date price list as l work out the total price of any recipes l find and write it in red felt pen on the clipping. This way,when lm looking for a budget recipe l can see straight away the cost. Also by doing this it will make you see how much cheaper it is to make meals from scratch compared to the over priced ready meals.Most of my budget recipes l collect, are freezer recipes,so l can make my own home made ready meals.

              Shopping.

              l shop on line once a month for store cupboard items. l go through ipoints site ,then to a site on there called 'mysupermarket'(so l earn ipoints) then l use that site to order my shopping from tesco. l like tesco shopping as l like to earn and save my points towards holidays through their points deals. l only buy store cupboard items that are either on offer or on bogoffs. l never pay full price for food, or for anything else.
              As store cupboard items usually have long expiry dates its ok to buy in bulk. When l check out l will try and use a delivery code or a extra points code that l search for on MSE site. l write my codes in expiry monthly date order into a small booklet, that l keep in a clear wallet in my recipe folder. If l cant find a code, l shop on- line on the cheapest/time delivery date,which at the moment is a Tuesday. l like to then shop for any fresh food and meat on a Saturday,but only if l'v got a double coupon for tesco points or money off total spend voucher to use in- store. Those coupons l will also only use if the meat or fresh products is on offer as well in store.
              Doing it this way l can get food really cheap ie l bought stewing meat, pork joint and some chops that was on the reduce section,then l used a tesco mailing extra points vouchers for buying meat products, then with that l combined it with a £10 voucher off a total shopping spend l got from a newspaper. l froze the meat for budget meals. Using money off coupons this way can be used on other items,so save those coupons !

              Growing food

              If you havent tried growing your own food, start now,no matter how small a scale.Its fun, it saves money and your food can't be any more fresher than picking herbs from your window sill or cutting a fresh lettuce from a sq foot garden. l grow herbs and peppers on my kitchen window sill and also on the spare room window sill. This year lm trying a tomato plant in the lounge window,as l read its possible to grow a plant all year if its given good light. l have two large container pots either side of my back door. full of perennial herbs(chives,lemonbalm,thyme,rosemary,dandilion,margoram) and the other is for annual herbs and salads ie coriander,parsley,basil,lettuce,springonions, nasturiums,marigold flowers,rocket,landcress,and anything else l can sow for food. In another large pot by l grow different mints. In my tiny 5x5 green house l grow cucumber,toms,peppers,strawberrys,and this year lm having a go at a melon plant and aubergines. My 5x3 sq foot garden plot l grow runner & french beans,toms,carrots and beetroot. l also grow blackberry, raspberry and red and black currants and wild strawberrys as a fruiting hedge. Semi dwarf apple and plum trees are in 2 large container pots.
              There are loads of ideas for small scale food growing on You Tube,and l'v had really good hints and tips off there.

              Cooking

              Make a real plan to never,ever,waste food, no matter how small a quantity you buy or have as left- overs. l freeze and store left- over cooked veg into a cut down 6 Ltr milk carton. When its full, l make a large batch of veg soup,using frozen chicken carcas as the stock. l meal-plan as much as possible,as this saves me time and money so l dont get tempted to out to shop midweek. l also batch cook ie if lm making a cake,
              l will make 2 so l can freeze one. Same with a stew,shepherds pie,meat pasties,quiche ,etc etc. It really doesnt take any more extra time to double up the quanities. My very own ready meals lol.

              heres a budget salad recipe,if you grow the herbs etc, the cost is almost nil.

              Season Salad

              In a large bowl, pour in a small amount of home made lemon olive oil at the bottom and layer on top of the oil the following well washed herbs ie
              handful chopped chives,2 sprigs spearmint, rocket leaves,some young dandilion leaves,lettuce,radish,few leaves spinch beet,chickweed,celery leaves. Then sprinkle on small amount of well chopped thyme,lemon balm,parsley,margoram,sage.
              When ready to eat just use salad spoons to toss the oil from bottom of bowl to coat the salad.This way the salad will not go limp with the coating of the oil too soon. Eat with crustry home- made bread and perhaps some cheese(bought when on offer lol) and baked pot and home made coleslaw.

              bon appetit :)

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                11.11.2009 17:21
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                :o)

                Here you go, this is my plan for cooking on a budget. A budget of £50 actually to feed a family of 4 in accordance with government guidelines on nutritional intake for a week, no consideration given to allergy sufferers sorry, I just don't suffer myself so I haven't got a clue what is good and what is not for you guys! It is also on the assumption you have basic store cupboard ingredients, like herbs and spices, flour, etc. If you don't have these in you should stock up! Then you will always be able to knock up something scrummy and nutritious like a pasta pour over, even when you have nothing fresh in! Plus, eating good healthy stuff is perfect on a diet. You will lose weight too!

                Shopping List:
                2 x 15 Eggs £1.50
                3 x 2L of Skimmed Milk £4
                Sack of Potatoes £3
                1 x block of budget / value Cheese £2
                Bag of Value Pasta £1
                Value 150g pots of yoghurt (6 pack) x 3 £1.20
                Turkey Breast (4 pcs) £2
                Turkey Mince £1.50
                Frozen Salmon / Cod / Smoked Haddock (4pcs) £2.50 each - choose 2 out of 3 = £5
                Lean Steak Mince £2.50
                Value Fresh Orange Juice 60p x 4 = £2.40
                6 x Bread (choose a mix of value loaves for toast and better quality for Sandwiches) £4
                Own brand museli (add sultanas to taste if required from store cupboard or weigh your own shop) £1
                Raisins x 12 boxes £1
                Packet of Value biscuits 30p
                Tinned Chopped Tomatoes x 4 £1.50
                Tinned Beans x 4 £1.50
                Fruit and Veg from a market stall:
                Tomatoes, Peas, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brocolli, Cucumber, Carrots, Parsnips, Lettuce, Onions, Banana, Apples, etc - as much as you can get for your money for £10

                Breakfasts: Small bowl of Museli, topped with low fat yoghurt and banana, glass of fruit juice, one slice of toast OR Omelette in a non-stick pan with one slice of toast OR poached / soft boiled egg and soldiers OR 2 toast OR bowl of Museli with Milk

                Lunches for Children: Sandwiches, Yoghurts, Raisins, piece of fruit. You could make some cheese savoury, cheese, sliced egg sandwiches instead - or even Egg Mayonnaise. Consider making last nights left overs in to a pasta pot too, some older children will enjoy this with a little salad too.

                Lunches for Parents: Home made soup. All you need is chopped tomatoes, chopped veg, herbs and spices, garlic, bring to the boil, blend when soft and then either keep in the fridge or freeze! For a little more sustenance include pasta, rice or noodles and blemd those in too once cooked.

                Evening Meals: Think in 3s. You need to have a third of your plate full of veg or salad, a third full of meat, egg or proteins, and a third full of starchy stuff, like pasta or potatoes. You can make from the ingredients above: Home-made turkey burgers, chips (from potatoes then oven back them), salad OR Turkey Steak with Jacket potatoes, beans and peas OR Fish, Chips and Beans OR Fish, Potatoes and Peas, OR mince pour over vegetables and knock some yorkshire puddings up out of flour, egg and milk / water OR Spag bol OR Chilli - batch cook and freeze!

                Snacks or Suppers: Cheese on Toast (think match box size block of cheese grated - it goes further). Biscuit and a Cuppa. Yoghurt mixed with Fruit. Banana Sandwiches. Fruit Smoothy, Veggie Smoothy.

                You may even have a couple of quid left over to buy a couple of bags of chips from the chippy as a treat :o)

                I think that a lot of parents allow their children to be fussy but we grew up on what we were given. I know its hard, but when I was young it was hard because my mates would be eating cheese strings and pepperami's etc - now no one has the money to buy lunch box treats like this anymore! Happy healthy eating on a budget...

                Things to remember!

                Include at least 3 portions of calcium for kids each day. This could be:
                A 200ml glass of milk
                A small (150g) pot of yoghurt
                A matchbox size (30g) serving of cheese

                NB: Low fat options contain as much calcium as full fat - so cut down on the full fat milk and rich yoghurts!

                Include 5 portions of fruit or veg a day. This could be:
                One apple, orange pear or banana or a similar sized fruit
                Half a large grapefruit
                A slice of melon
                2 satsumas
                2 plums
                1 handful of grapes, cherries or berries
                1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)
                Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)
                1 dessert bowl of mixed salad
                A glass (150ml) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as 1 portion no matter how much you drink (this is because the juicing process removes most of the fibre from the fruit)
                A 150ml smoothie counts as 1 portion but some smoothies on the market may contain 2 portions if they contain at least 150ml of fruit juice AND at least 80g of crushed fruit (or vegetable) pulp.

                Try to include low fat meats, plenty of eggs and at least 2 servings a week of fish

                Milk and dairy gives you:
                Calcium: needed for development and maintenance of healthy bones
                Zinc: required for tissue growth and repair
                Protein: needed for growth and repair, and also a source of energy
                Vitamin B12: required for blood cells and nerve function
                Vitamin B2: needed for the release of energy from carbohydrates and protein
                Vitamin A: (in whole milk products) for growth, development and eyesight

                Fruit and Veg gives you:
                Vitamin C: needed for healthy skin and body tissues, also to aid the absorption of iron
                Carotenes: required for growth and development
                Folate: needed for red blood cells
                Fibre: keeps the gut healthy and helps prevent constipation
                Carbohydrate: a source of energy

                Meat, Fish and Eggs give you:
                Protein: needed for growth and repair, also a source of energy
                Iron: especially red meat, needed for healthy red blood cells
                B Vitamins: especially vitamin B12 (this is found naturally only in animal sources and is required for blood cells and nerve function)
                Vitamin D: in meat, required for healthy bones
                Zinc: (e.g. found in meat, shellfish, nuts, pulses and eggs) required for tissue growth and repair
                Magnesium: (e.g. in nuts, fish and meat) helps the body use energy. Needed for healthy tissues and bones
                Omega-3 fatty acids: in oily fish, may help protect against heart disease

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                  11.11.2009 11:00
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                  Yummy!

                  As a person who has just changed job paths and struggling to meet ends meet I have become a queen on budget recipes that taste really nice. We have decided to start saving now to move house so the one thing we could think to cut back a lot is food shopping so I am trying my hardest to make tasty meals that don't cost too much and here are a couple of my favourites.
                  -----
                  Cheese Pasta

                  I always try to get my veggies into a meal and this meal is extremely cheap to make and you can easily have as much as you want of it. The ingredients are as follows;

                  * Broccolli - Whole
                  * Sweetcorn - Small tin
                  * Pasta - As much as you like
                  * Butter - Tablespoon
                  * Milk - 100ml
                  * Cheese - 150g or as much as you like
                  Now my quantities are always a bit of a guessing game so you can add or take as much away as you like. Plus if you want to stretch the meal even further which is what I do sometimes is I add a bit more pasta and then half all other ingredients so it is a little drier but you can get 2 meals for the price of 1.

                  So what you do is boil a pan of water and then add as much pasta as you like. I guess at this every time depending on how hungry I am as I don't mind if the pasta is covered in a bit more or less sauce and that is the beauty of this meal. Chop the broccoli up. When there is about 5 minutes left on the pasta, add the broccoli to the water so it can cook.

                  Grate the cheese and in a separate pan melt the butter then add the milk. Heat this mixture until it is boiling and then take off the heat. Add the cheese to this mixture and the sweetcorn and then mix until the cheese is melted.

                  Then once the pasts and broccoli is cooked, drain and add the sauce. What you get is that the milky cheese sauce tastes very creamy and is lovely with the sweetcorn for extra flavour. It coats the pasta with the sauce and then you may need to scrape the bottom of your dish to get really cheesy bites but it is delicious and the best thing about it is that it contains some veg and it is a very filling meal.

                  I think this meal costs us about £3 for the 2 of us so not bad at all. You can also have whichever cheese you like but we use cheddar which is nice.

                  -----
                  Cheap Tasty Pepper Rice

                  This is another vegetarian dish as you cant do much cheap with meat I find at the minute . It is relatively healthy depending on how much cheese you put on it but it is so tasty that you will try and tell yourself to only eat a bit but then you will be wanting more.

                  Ingredients:

                  * Red Pepper
                  * Onion
                  * Can of chopped tomatoes
                  * Cheese - about 100g
                  * Vegetable stock - 1 pint
                  * Long Grain rice = 150g

                  Ok so what you do to prepare is chop your onion and pepper. Then fry your onion in a little oil until it is starting to go the nice caramel colour onions do. Then add the pepper and fry that for a bit. After a couple of minutes then, make up the stock and add this to the onion and pepper. Then add the chopped tomatoes and the rice to the mix and boil for about 8 minutes until the rice is nearly cooked and most of the liquid has boiled away.

                  Then add to a oven proof dish and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Then put this in an oven at about 190 and leave until the cheese looks a nice golden brown. Should take about 15 - 20 minutes.

                  This dish is really tasty because the rice gets the flavours from everything you put into it. You can even add some chilli powder or pepper if you fancy it to give it a bit of a kick. The whole meal costs around £3 again so very cheap indeed.

                  -----

                  So there you go a couple of really cheap meals for you. They are both very tasty, do not take long to cook and because of the rice and the pasta they will fill you up quite nicely which is always good. Give them a go. If you are a meat fan then I bet some chicken in both of these dishes would taste quite nice and that is the beauty of them that you can add what you like and it will probably still work really well.

                  Thanks for reading.

                  xxx

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                    04.10.2009 01:13
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                    I hope its useful

                    I have spent several years when my children were very young cooking on a very limited budget,trying not to compromise on nutrition. Some of the things I did which seemed ok:

                    1. Use your vouchers, samples , and enter competitions if you have time. If you spot a moneyback offer spend the small ammount of time it takes to post off the label,/ till receipt as instructed.

                    2.Pick up bargains as you go, there are many to be had, try Aldi, Liddles, even Wilkinsons, a few items at a time. If for example you pass a 24 hour Asdas during the late evening they may be practically giving away bread for silly prices, get a few loaves for the freezer. If buying slightly out of date crisps for example, peel off the reduced label, so nobody notices, and refuses to eat them don't go for out of date perishable items though, you don't want them down with food poisoning!

                    3. Try to eat food in season, for example pineapples can be had very cheap at some times of the year, delicious.

                    4. Lose the kids somewhere when shopping, unless too young to ask for treats.

                    5. Get smaller portions than you originally planned, for example a chicken costing £4.50 will surely seem to feed the family as well as a £5 bird. You can make the bulk of the meal up by extra healthy veg, or stuffing.

                    6.You could decide to alternate meals based on beans or pulses with more traditional fayre. Look on ebay for The Bean Book by vegetarian writer Rose Elliot.This gives a wealth of recipes based on beans and lentils. For example if feeling very poor you could mix up some red lentils with mashed potato and onion,, top it with grated cheese, and serve with tinned tomato.

                    7.Make tasty casseroles with less meat. Cut up a couple of breasts of chicken,or a piece of pork for example, add veg, and its all you need.If using chicken I would coat with seasoned flour , put into a frying pan with a little olive oil, fry quickly to partially cook, not allowing it to burn, then add it to a casserole dish containing any veg you have, cut up,pour in 2 oxo cubes dissoved in water , a dash of Worcester Sauce, and some herbs and put it into the oven for at least an hour and a half (the longer the better,) Serve it with mashed potatoes, brocolli for example, or instead some nice bread.

                    8. You could have pasta for dinner. All you need is dried pasta, some tuna , peas, and a jar of pasta sauce.Cook the pasta with the peas, drain, stir in a jar of pasta sauce and the tuna and serve it. Simple as! Add grated cheese or parmesan to the top of the dish.

                    9.Sometimes perhaps you could spend a bit more.Stir fried chicken with rice is tasty quick and easy, get some chicken portions, wrap in foil, and pre cook them in foil in the oven, slice them up,Soften some chopped up onion in oil in a frying pan, add the chicken, lots of soy sauce, and a veg or two of your choice eg pre cooked green beans and some sliced red peppers, serve with rice.

                    10. You could make a big bowl of savoury rice, cook the rice, allow to cool,add cooked chopped chicken and bacon, chopped veg cooked in 2 stock cubes and water(pour over the rice),add some rice seasoning,sweetcorn or peas, serve it cool with salad,and French bread, ideal if you are feeding several family members who arrive home in the evening at different times, they can help themselves.

                    I hope a little of this may have been of some help. Ofcourse some of it is a bit obvious,but it just comes from my very real experience of feeding a family on very little money.

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                      26.08.2009 15:17
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                      not a usual pizza

                      I like to bake our own pizza. The variations are endless. Now I would like to share with you my chicken and sweet corn topped pizza. I make the dough in my bread maker, and while it works, I can prepare the toppings comfortably. Most of the times I use tomato base, but not this time. Are you prepared to taste something different?

                      Shopping list:

                      100 ml milk
                      2 tablespoon oil
                      1 tablespoon sugar
                      2 teaspoon salt
                      400 g plain flour
                      7 g instant yeast
                      1 chicken breast fillet (one piece for one pizza)
                      Half cup of sour cream
                      2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
                      1 cup of sweet corn
                      100 g grated mozzarella
                      100 g grated mature or extra mature cheddar cheese
                      1 teaspoon pepper


                      Equipment:

                      - Bread maker (if you don't have bread maker then a big mixing bowl)
                      - Pastry board or clean flat surface
                      - Rolling pin
                      - Non-sticking pizza platter
                      - Wok or pan



                      Dough

                      I put all the ingredients in the bread maker in the given order. I used to bake pizza before I had this masterpiece of Cookworks', so if you don't have a bread maker, just put the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

                      Ingredients for two very thin pizza dough (mine is round and 31 cm in diameter):

                      100 ml lukewarm water
                      100 ml lukewarm milk
                      1 tablespoon oil (I use olive oil)
                      1 tablespoon sugar
                      1 teaspoon salt
                      400 g plain flour
                      7 g instant yeast

                      I drop all the ingredients in our bread maker to knead the dough. If you don't have one, put the ingredients in a large bowl and knead it for 5 minutes at least then leave it in a warm place covered with a table cloth until it doubles in size.
                      I use the dough programme of my bread maker. It takes 90 minutes to prepare the dough. In the meantime I prepare the topping.
                      As only my husband, my 2 year old son and I eat pizza, I use only half of the dough and put the rest in the refrigerator wrapped in a plastic bag (the one I use to put things in the freezer). I use it next day for another pizza.


                      Topping

                      As we like to taste different types of pizza, this one is not a usual tomato based pizza but it's sour cream based. I like the Sainsbury's own brand Sour cream, the one with purple cap.

                      Ingredients (for one pizza):

                      1 chicken breast fillet (I use 1 piece of fillet, not one pair)
                      Half cup of sour cream
                      2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
                      1 cup of sweet corn
                      100 g grated mozzarella
                      100 g grated mature or extra mature cheddar cheese
                      Salt and pepper
                      1 tablespoon oil

                      I cut the chicken breast in small pieces and season it with salt and pepper. I put the oil in my wok and roast it (a normal pan is good as well). I put it apart.
                      I mix the sour cream with the chopped garlic and put it apart.


                      Pizza

                      When the bread maker finished the programme I take out the dough, put half of it in the refrigerator. I put some plain flour on the pastry board and stretch the dough to the form and size of the pizza platter. I roll the dough on the rolling pin and place it on the platter. I set right its edges with my hand then spread on it the sour cream with garlic. Then I drop on it the chicken and the sweet corn. I use frozen corn and I put it right from the freezer. Then I top them with the grated mozzarella and cheddar and put it in the preheated oven. I have an electric oven and I bake the pizza at 180 C for 16 minutes. I think tastes great. I recommend if you like sour cream.

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                        08.08.2009 20:26
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                        Yummy in my tummy

                        I love cooking and I love spicy food but I often don't have much time to cook these days (or it seems write reviews - apologies for going AWOL for a bit!). It would be easy therefore to slip into the tempting and expensive trap of takeaways and ready meals. So to counter this when I do get some time I love to batch cook meals and freeze them for future use. One of our favourites is bean chilli.

                        Now there are two ways of cooking this - the long and laborious way and the easy peasy way. I shall share both methods with you.

                        The Long & Laborious Way

                        This method uses dried beans which require soaking overnight in cold water. You can speed the process up and pour boiling water over the beans and leave to stand for 4 hours but really it is easier to do it the night before and just forget about it because then they are ready for whenever you want to cook them the next day. You will also need two saucepans - one very large one (remember you are batch cooking here) and one medium size one.

                        For this recipe I use the following:
                        250g red kidney beans
                        250g pinto beans
                        250g aduki beans
                        250g haricot beans
                        250g black eyed beans
                        (you can use any dried bean really - butter beans, flagolet beans and borlotti are nice but they are much creamier in texture)
                        4 medium onions - 2 chopped finely, 2 chopped in large chunks
                        1 tablespoon of olive oil
                        2 tins of tomatoes (preferably chopped)
                        2 fresh chillies - chopped with seeds in if you like it hot or chopped and deseeded if you prefer a milder heat (can be omitted)
                        For the following ingredients these are just guidelines - add more or less depending to your taste
                        1 tablespoon of dried cumin
                        2 teaspoons of mild chilli powder (adjust to taste)
                        1 tablespoon of dried mixed herbs
                        1 tablespoon of vegetable bouillon (or 2 vegetable stock cubes)
                        3 bay leaves
                        1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce (omit if you want a true vegetarian version)
                        4 cloves of garlic
                        4 tablespoons of gravy granules or 3 stock cubes and thicken with cornflour (use vegetable gravy granules or stock cubes if you want a vegetarian option)
                        4 tablespoons of tomato puree
                        8 tablespoons of chopped coriander.
                        salt and black pepper to season

                        Method:
                        1:Put the dried kidney beans into bowl on their own and cover with cold water and put the other beans into another bowl and cover with cold water and leave overnight. The reason I like to keep the kidney beans separate at this stage and throughout initial cooking is because if they are not treated carefully they can give you quite bad stomach ache due the toxins contained in them. If this worries you just use a tin of kidney beans and add at a later stage in the cooking process.

                        2:When you are ready to cook, rinse the beans in clean cold water and place the kidney beans in a separate saucepan (the medium sized one) to the other beans (the very large one). Cover with cold water (I usually add about about 750ml of water to the kidney beans and 2.5 litres of water to the other beans and bring both pans up to the boil. You will begin to notice that a scummy film begins to form on the surface of the water. With a slotted spoon skim the surface of the water and continue to do this whilst the beans are boiling for a further 10 minutes. This is particularly important for the kidney beans. Turn the heat down on the two saucepans, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

                        3: After 40 minutes of simmering drain the kidney beans and rinse with cold water until it runs clear. Boil the kettle and once boiled pour over the kidney beans to give them a warm up and final rinse before adding to the large the large saucepan with the other beans.

                        4: Add 1.5litres of boiling water to the saucepan (remember the water in the pan will have reduced a bit whilst cooking), the bay leaves, cumin, vegetable bouillon/stock, chilli powder, worcestershire sauce and dried mixed herbs.

                        5: In a frying pan fry off the finely chopped onions with some oil until they take on a nice golden colour in the saucepan and then add the fresh chilli and cook for another 5 minutes adding a splash of water to prevent sticking.

                        6: Add the large chunks of onion and tins of tomatoes to the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.

                        7: Crush the garlic and add to the saucepan and mix well

                        8: Add the gravy granules/stock cubes and stir in until dissolved and then add the tomatoe puree and half the coriander. Again mix well. The consistency of the sauce should be quite thick but not so that you have difficulty stirring it. If need by add a little cornflour mixed with cold water if you wish to thicken it to your liking (or add a little water if it is too thick).

                        9: Cook for a further 10 minutes and then taste for salt. You will have already added some salty products with the bouillon and gravy granules but the recipe does benefit from some additional salt to help bring the flavours together. Add black pepper to your liking and then add in the rest of the coriander. Stir through and then serve with rice or chunky bread.

                        Cooking time: 2 hours + soaking of beans overnight.

                        Easy Peasy Method:

                        Instead of using dried beans, use the following:
                        1 400g tin of kidney beans
                        1 400g tin pinto beans
                        1 400g tin aduki beans
                        1 400g tin haricot beans
                        1 400g tin black eyed beans

                        You will just need a very large saucepan for this.

                        1: Fry off the finely chopped onions with some oil until they take on a nice golden colour in the saucepan and then add the fresh chilli and cook for another 5 minutes adding a splash of water to prevent sticking.

                        2: Add 3 litres of boiling water and then add the 2 tins of tomatoes, chunky onions, bay leaves, cumin, vegetable bouillon/stock, chilli powder, worcestershire sauce and dried mixed herbs and bring to the boil for 10 minutes.

                        3: Add the beans and simmer for 20 minutes

                        Then follow from step 7 of the Long & Laborious method to the end.

                        Total cooking time: 1 hour

                        I usually find that for 2 of us I can get 5 meals out of the long and laborious method and 6 out of the tinned method.

                        The ingredient costings are as follows (using Sainsburys for costings):
                        Dried beans
                        250g red kidney beans - 34p (68p a 500g pack)
                        250g pinto beans - 47p (93p a 500g pack)
                        250g aduki beans - 52p (£1.05 a 500g pack)
                        250g haricot beans - 60p (£1.20 a 500g pack)
                        250g black eyed beans - 40p (80p per 500g pack)
                        Total for dried beans - £2.33

                        Tinned beans
                        1 400g tin of kidney beans - 70p
                        1 400g tin pinto beans - 68p (based on last time I bought them)
                        1 400g tin aduki beans - 74p
                        1 400g tin haricot beans - 38p
                        1 400g tin black eyed beans - 74p (based on last time I bought them)
                        Total for tinned beans - £3.24

                        Other ingredients
                        Onions - 50p (approx)
                        Chilli - 25p (approx)
                        tomatoes - £1.10 (55p a can but can get cheaper)
                        Herbs & Spices etc = approx £2
                        Total Other ingredients = £3.85

                        Total with dried beans - £6.18 (£1.24 per meal for 2)
                        Total with tinned beans - £7.09 (£1.18 per meal for 2)

                        Verdict:
                        OK so the long & laborious way undoubtedly takes more energy to cook but in my opinion it is a much nicer meal than with the tinned beans. It has more bite to it and because you also have the advantage of the cooking liquor of the beans in the dish it is a much more rounded flavour but it does take time and more care to cook using dried beans. So in many respects the tinned version is still very nice and takes far less time and could be cooked easily after work rather than on a Sunday afternoon (when I do most of my batch cooking). Either way you get a lovely, wholesome and low fat meal with lots of fibre and protein and it is a good alterative to using meat in the recipe.

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                          31.07.2009 17:40
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                          great if you have a slow cooker , can vary it to suit.

                          This recipe feeds my hungry family of four is no hassle and is cheap .

                          Sausage Casserole - ish !

                          Ingredients

                          1 Pack of sausages ( I get cheap ones but i make sure they are min 70% pork but use which you like )

                          3 Carrots chopped chunky

                          1 tin of baked beans

                          1 tin of chopped toms

                          1 onion

                          large handfull of red split lentils

                          small amount of vegetable or chicken stock

                          salt , pepper , pinch of mixed herbs , teaspoon of paprika

                          optional things to add that work well are garlic , mushrooms , chopped up bacon , green pepper.

                          I make this is the slow cooker and put it on at breakfast time but can easily be done in the oven i would say a good hour at 180 ish.

                          Method :
                          Brown sausages lightly in a pan , then remove and place in casserole dish , add tomatoes beans , lentils , onions , carrots and any optional extras , season and add a teaspoon of paprika and a sprinkle of mixed herbs and enough stock to cover.
                          then place in slow cooker for 6-8 hours or oven approx 1hr - 1hr 30

                          The lentils go to mush which is great because none of my family like lentils .. ( apparently ) but they make the dish quite filling and it is now a family favourite in this house.
                          you could serve with potatoes , pasta or rice but we usually just have a few chinks of crusty bread.

                          this same recipe also works well with a bit of pork shoulder if you dont fancy sausage , you will need to adjust oven time accordingly.

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                            27.05.2009 16:40
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                            If you're trying to cut food costs, try this!!

                            As times are quite hard at the moment, my family and myself have been looking for ways that we can eat cheaply yet still enjoy what we are eating and not living on noodles every day! In fact by following the two recipes that I discovered you can save more money than living on noodles! Not only that but they are also quite healthy and very quick to make.
                            I cooked the meal and made the pudding quite frequently when I was travelling around Australia last year as I was trying not to spend too much money on food.
                            So the meal is tuna, chilli and tomato pasta and the pudding is lemon syllabub. Here's the recipes!

                            *Tuna, chilli and tomato pasta* - serves 4
                            You will need:
                            1 onion, chopped
                            2 tbsp olive oil
                            2 cloves garlic, crushed
                            400g can chopped tomatoes
                            Spinkling of chilli flakes (can use 1 fresh chili instead or chilli's out of jar - particularly nice)
                            100g can tuna, drained
                            500g packet pasta bows (or spaghetti, or whatever you have!)
                            Handful basil leaves (optional)
                            Spinkling of parmesan cheese (optional)

                            1.) Simply fry the onion in the heated oil for about 2 minutes, until softened. Stir in the crushed garlic, chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes. Season, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

                            2.) Meanwhile cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Flake the tuna into your sauce and heat it through.

                            3.) Drain pasta, return to pan and stir in sauce and basil leaves (if using). Grate a little parmesan cheese on top.

                            I find this meal truelly delicious. Not only that but it's healthy containing 10g fat per portion and 550ish calories. Ready within 15 minutes aswell!
                            This meal costs 35p per portion, so to feed a family of four that's a measly £1.40! The only bad thing is that it's not suitable for freezing. Shame.

                            So following your main meal:

                            *Lemon Syllabub* - serves 4
                            You will need:
                            284ml tub whipping cream
                            50g caster sugar
                            50ml white wine
                            grated rind and juice 1/2 lemon

                            Simply whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Stir in the white wine, most of the lemon rind and juice. Spoon into glasses or bowl and sprinkle with a little remaining rind. Serve with thin biscuits i.e. almond thins or whatever s cheap! Also nice with shortbread!

                            This isn't quite as healthy as the main meal! Contains around 328 calories and 29g fat per portion (18g is saturated!!) This can be ready in about 10 minutes but again the downfall is that it isn't suitable for freezing. But it only costs 32p per portion! To make it a little healthier you could use 0% fat greek yoghurt or half-fat cream rather than the whipping cream.
                            Also if you make it in advance then you can finish the bottle of wine off with the meal!!

                            So there you have a delicious two course meal which is quite balanced and good for you, costing only 67p per person!

                            You can't get much better than that.

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                              11.03.2009 14:38
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                              A great way to fill up on a budget

                              Since Dave and I have been following the Slimming World healthy eating plan we have eaten a lot more potatoes than we ever used to. The way the plan works is that certain foods are 'free' and you can eat as much of them as you like - these foods include almost all fruit and vegetables so we can fill up with potatoes.

                              The reason that we can eat so many potatoes whilst trying to lose weight is the fact that potatoes themselves aren't really that fattening - the problems start if you cover the potatoes with butter, oil or fatty gravy - then they are very fattening! Ooops!

                              The two big advantages with potatoes are that they are cheap to buy and that they contain a lot of Vitamin C which as we all know is essential for good health. I also find that being complex carbohydrates they keep me feeling fuller for longer which stops me being tempted to snack on things that I shouldn't be eating.

                              We buy our potatoes from a local farm so we know that they are fresh and not covered with additives or preservatives. We are also supporting our local producers too which is good.

                              I use potatoes in cooking in a variety of ways.

                              Chips

                              I scrub and chop the potatoes and then par boil them for five to ten minutes. Then I spread them out on a baking tray which has been sprayed with Frylight, spray the potatoes and then cook them in a hot oven until they are golden brown. Yummy!

                              Roast Potatoes

                              I prepare these in the same way as I prepare chips - I just cut them into roast potato shapes nit chip shapes! LOL!

                              Jacket Potatoes

                              I scrub the potatoes, par boil them to start off the cooking process and then wrap them in aluminium foil and bake in the oven until they feel soft when I put a knife into them. I serve the jackets with low fat cottage cheese or baked beans as these are also both free foods on our eating plan.

                              Mashed Potatoes

                              For mash I peel the potatoes before I boil them. When soft I mash with my potato masher until soft and fluffy. I always used to pile on the butter and milk but actually if you have decent potatoes you just don't need the added fat.

                              Sauté Potatoes

                              I scrub the potatoes and then cut them into fairly thin slices - not too thin or they break up - I then par boil them for about five minutes. They can be cooked either in a heavy based frying pan or in a wok. All I do is to spray the base of the pan with Frylight and then fry the potatoes until golden. I do keep turning and moving them round whilst they are cooking so that they don't burn. These are ideal to serve with a mixed grill or with a cooked breakfast.

                              I also found a recipe here on Dooyoo for frittata which I often make and I use small cubes of potato in this dish.

                              Yesterday I made enough Quorn mince with carrots, peas, celery and sweetcorn to make two individual cottage pies for me. I put mash on the top of one of them and I put thinly sliced, parboiled potatoes on the other. Both of them turned out to be very tasty.

                              So there you are I am enjoying potatoes and reducing both my weight and my blood sugar levels so that can't be bad can it?

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                                10.03.2009 13:00
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                                I hope this was helpful to you

                                I have found that the best way to eat on a budget is to make big pans or pots of filling hearty food that will feed you for a few days and can be frozen if there is any left over. Here are a few tips for saving money on food:

                                Shop around: Have a look in bargain stores and cheaper supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl for any canned food, dried foods like pasta and frozen foods. Canned soups and vegetables can make a good base for a number of sauces to accompany meat or can be put in casseroles to bulk them up.

                                Ask your butcher for cheap cuts of meat: There is nothing wrong with looking for bargains so ask a local butcher to recommend a cheap cut of meat and how it can be used. These people are the experts when it comes to how to use different cuts of meat and are usually willing to pass this knowledge on. You can often use cheap cuts of meat for slow cooking meals such as stews.

                                Befriend your local greengrocer: I've found that some friendly chat with local food sellers such as greengrocers goes a long way. If you frequent these small businesses, they will often give you a little extra for your money wherever they can. If you are making something that doesn't require the produce to be absolutely top quality ask them if they have any fruit or veg out the back that has been bashed about a bit. You can often get a lot of fruit for a cheap price that would have otherwise been thrown away.

                                Re-use your leftovers: There are loads of ways you can use up leftovers from previous meals or those little bits of veg that you don't really know what to do with. One of my favourite things to do is add flour and egg to leftover mash to make potato cakes.

                                As this is technically a recipe category, I'll finish with a recipe that uses up leftover vegetables.

                                Lentil Dhal:

                                Fry up whatever bits and pieces of veg you can find and a chopped onion in a large saucepan with a little oil and butter. You can use pretty much any veg you like in this. In the past I have used various combinations of: courgette, sweet potato, carrot, leek, celery, potato, cauliflower, broccoli and peas

                                When the veg has softened, add a couple of pints of vegetable or chicken stock and dried green lentils. I use ones which don't have to be soaked before use.

                                Add turmeric, cumin, chillis, garlic granules and any other spices you have that will give a curry-ish taste. This dish isn't meant to be really hot in terms of spiciness but you can make it to your taste by adding chilli.

                                Boil for 30 mins then simmer until the lentils have absorbed most of the moisture to make a kind of lumpy paste - don't worry it tastes better than it looks!

                                Serve with pitta bread or rice.

                                I know the above recipe doesn't have any amounts in it, but this is a meal that is best made by experimenting with it, you just need to keep tasting it and adding things accordingly.

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