My top budget meals

Veggie sausage and bean cobbler (serves approx 6)

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This cobbler (adapted from www.netmums.com) is genius because it is healthy, wonderfully warming on a winter’s day and many of the ingredients can be used instantly from your freezer or cupboard.  Allow about 25 mins prep plus 40 mins cooking time.

For the stew

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 sausages (could be meat or veggie. To save time further buy frankfurters then probably no need to pre-cook)
  • 2 cans baked beans
  • 500g frozen veg (could be anything – I used a bag of mixed veg – peas, sweetcorn and carrots)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs

For the cheesy scone (cobbler) topping

  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 75g cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp oil (e.g. olive/vegetable oil)
  • 60ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Grill/bake the sausages until browned, leave to cool slightly then chop in to bite sized chunks.  Meanwhile fry the onions in a little oil for approx 5 mins, until softened.  In a casserole dish mix the onion with the baked beans, frozen veg (straight from the freezer) and chopped sausages.  Add the stock cube, water and dried herbs and mix really well.

To make the cheesy scone topping mix the flour and cheese together in a bowl with a fork.  Add the egg, oil and milk and mix again.  Using your hands take out smallish mounds of the mixture and dollop it all over the veg and sausage mixture until fairly evenly covered.  The scone topping may be a little sticky so keep a glass of warm water next to you to keep rinsing your fingers.

Bake in the oven for 25-40 minutes (this depends on your oven!), until the scones have puffed up a bit and gone golden brown (it is fine if they sink in to the stew a bit).  Devour and feel warmed up.


Fish finger surprise (serves 4)

This simple meal is a fun way to use fish fingers, particularly for kids.  Make sure you put a 1/4 lemon on each plate so people can squeeze it over their food!  Chopped broccoli and soya beans would also work well instead of peas.

  • 10 fish fingers, cooked as per the pack instructions
  • 200g any pasta
  • Two large handfuls of frozen peas
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 lemon, cut in to quarters

Cook the pasta as per the instructions, adding the peas a few minutes before the pasta is cooked.  Drain, add a knob of butter and stir.  Chop the cooked fish fingers and add them to the pasta with a little salt and pepper.  Either add the juice of 1/2 lemon if you want the kids to guess the magic ingredient, or put a wedge of lemon in each bowl for people to squeeze themselves.


Rice, tuna and veg bake (serves 4)

The bake is tasty and satisfying and goes crispy on the bottom.

  • 1 red pepper, chopped small
  • Small tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 250g packet of any pre-cooked rice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stock cube, crumbled
  • Sprinkle of herbs
  • Small handful grated cheddar (or other hard) cheese

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.

Put all of the ingredients apart from the cheese in a casserole dish and mix well. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy on top.


Homity pie (serves 6)

Homity pie is a traditional open pie made with pastry, potatoes and cheese and it is satisfying, cheap and filling!  Don’t worry if the pastry looks a little messy – it is all part of it’s charm.  Chopped bacon, smoked fish mushrooms would work well in the filling too.

  • 150g plain flour
  • 75ml sunflower oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 50ml cold water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large potatoes, diced and cooked (don’t bother peeling – could also use parsnips/carrots)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large apple, chopped (don’t bother peeling)
  • 75ml milk
  • 100g (3oz) cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix the flour, oil, water and a pinch of salt into a dough. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Then sprinkle with flour and roll out to ½ cm (¼in) thick, to line a lightly oiled or non-stick cake or baking tin.  Ensure you have enough spare to line the sides.
Meanwhile, add a dash of oil to a pan, add the onions, and stir regularly until they start to brown (about 7 mins). Add the garlic, apples and potatoes and cook a further 3-4 minutes, still stirring regularly.  Now add the milk, ¾ of the cheese, a little salt and pepper, stir for 1 minute then mix in the egg and put the mixture into the pastry-lined baking tin.  Don’t worry if it falls apart a bit – use your hands to patch it all over.

Top with the rest of the grated cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes in a preheated oven  at 180°C/Gas 6 until golden brown.  Top off under the grill to further brown the cheese if necessary.  Eat!


Quesadillas (serves 4)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQuesadillas are quick, really kid friendly and great for using up veg.  You can fold leftover wraps and freeze in bags.  Defrost in microwave or in 2 hours.  Lovely with a budget guacamole on the side (avocado mashed with garlic, salt and pepper)!

  • 6 flour tortilla wraps
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped (or other veg e.g. sweetcorn/broccoli)
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Dried herbs or roughly chopped fresh coriander

Place a tortilla wrap in a medium hot, dry frying pan (no oil needed).  Sprinkle over 1/3 of the grated cheese, 1/3 of the chopped pepper and 1/3 of the chopped spring onions plus a sprinkle of herbs.  Once the cheese is melting place another tortilla on top, pressing it down pretty hard.  Keep checking the underneath of the bottom tortilla and once it’s golden brown, flip the whole thing over so the other tortilla can brown.  Once the other side is cooked take the whole thing out, place on a plate and cut it in to 6-8 portions (a pizza cutter is easiest but a sharp knife is fine).

Repeat this process two more times until everything is cooked.  Eat the quesadillas piled on a plate and alongside chopped avocado/guacamole (avocado simply mashed with garlic, oil, salt and pepper)/sour cream.  I like to dollop the guacamole on top of the quesadilla portion.


20 min broccoli and cauliflower cheese (serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main)

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This broccoli and cauliflower cheese is simple, warming and uses creme fraiche and cheddar for a speedy sauce. Eat it as part of a roast or with veggie/meat sausages (or simply on it’s own!)  Breadcrumbs can be made by blitzing bread in a food processor and any leftover breadcrumbs can be frozen then used instantly next time.

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut in to smallish chunks
  • 1 medium head broccoli, cut in to smallish chunks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 280ml creme fraiche
  • 180g cheddar cheese
  • 1 stock cube
  • Dried herbs
  • 50g breadcrumbs (1.5 pieces of bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs, or use shop-bought breadcrumbs)

Boil the cauliflower and broccoli for a few mins, until tender, adding the onions 1 min before they are done.  Drain.  Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the creme fraiche until bubbling then adding 150g of the grated cheese and crumbling in the stock cube.  Shake over some dried herbs, mix and heat a little longer until everything is combined and the cheese has melted.

Add the sauce to the cauliflower, broccoli and onion and mix well.  Pour in to a casserole dish and top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.  Grill on high heat for around 5 mins until golden and crunchy on top.  Eat!


Pitta bread pizza

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a great way to make a quick pizza and to use up random bits of food.  It’s a nice little activity for kids to get involved in.  You can freeze the pitta bread to avoid waste, and use it straight from the freezer.

  • Pitta bread (one per person – white or wholemeal is fine)
  • 3 tsp chopped tomatoes per person
  • Small handful grated cheddar cheese per person
  • Shake dried herbs per person
  • Any combination of: cooked ham, chorizo, prawns, red pepper, onion, tinned sweetcorn, asparagus, mushrooms, olives and capers

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees.

Spoon and spread the chopped tomatoes on the pitta.  Sprinkle over the cheese and dried herbs.  Add any other toppings of your choice.  Put in the oven for around 10 minutes until slightly crispy and the cheese has melted.


Pasta and courgette bake (serves 4-6)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADelicious, 20 mins prep and 30 mins baking, and costs less than £1 person.  Also a great way to sneak in veg!

  • 300g orzo pasta (or any other pasta)
  • 300ml crème fraiche/double cream
  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • A good sprinkle of dried mixed herbs
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 50g cheddar, grated
  • 2 veg stock cubes, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

Cook the orzo according to the pack instructions, drain and transfer to a casserole dish.  Pour in the crème fraiche/cream and add the grated courgette and lemon zest.  Mix well.  Crumble in the stock cubes and add some extra water if it needs it – you want the dish to be moist but not watery.  Add a little salt and some pepper and mix again.  Sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for approx. 30 mins, until just browned (I finished mine off under the grill for extra colour but you may not need to).  Serve with salad or veggie sausages.


One-pot kedgeree (serves 4)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATasty, cheap and ready in 20 mins.  Great with ketchup or sweet chilli sauce on top!

  • 200g rice (long-grain/basmati/brown)
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g frozen peas
  • 5 spring onions, chopped
  • 200g smoked mackerel, torn up

Optional – 1-2 tsp garam masala (depending on how much you like it – I use 1 tsp which gives it a mild flavour) OR 1 vege stock cube, crumbled (I like OXO)

Start gently simmering the rice and add the eggs (still in their shells) together in one pan.  Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.  After 10 mins take out the eggs and add the peas and spring onions to the pan.  Take the egg shells off and chop each egg in to 10 pieces.  After a few mins more the rice, peas and spring onions should be cooked.  Drain the mixture and add the eggs and torn mackerel.  Add either the garam masala or crumbled stock cube and season with a little salt and pepper if you like (it doesn’t need much).  Add a little butter/marge if it needs more moisture.  Mix well and serve!


Potato, spinach and spring onion crustless quiche (serves 10-12)

Delicious, can OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbe eaten hot or cold, 25 mins prep and 40 mins cooking.  If you use the mashed potatoes, soft cheese, cheddar and eggs as a base then you can very what else you add!

  • 400g potatoes, diced
  • 100g spinach, torn up
  • 10 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 200g soft cheese (I use the value one)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Line a smallish baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Gently boil the chopped potatoes for about 10 mins, until tender (but not mushy).  Mash well.  Stir in the torn spinach and chopped spring onions.  In a separate bowl mix the soft cheese with the beaten eggs and then fold in to the mash.  Add the cheddar, nutmeg, some salt and pepper and mix well.  Spoon the mixture in to the lined baking tray (it will rise slightly during cooking).

Bake for 35-40 mins until golden at the edges and firm (when you insert a knife in it should come out fairly clean).  Leave for 5 mins then carefully cut wedges out (you can leave the quiche in the greaseproof paper if you want to eat it cool).


Watercress pesto (lasts for one week and for four meals!)

It takes just 5 minutes to whizz the pesto up in a food processor and it can be eaten in lots of different ways – stirred through pasta with anything you fancy; dolloped on top of pizza; on chicken; spread on to sandwiches with salad and/or cheese, or as a salad dressing.  It lasts for up to one week with a layer of olive oil on top to keep it fresh.
 
  • 1 bag watercress
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • Generous handful of toasted pine nuts (see below for simple toasting instructions if you can’t find toasted pine nuts or want to toast them at home to save money)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Olive oil

If you need to toast your pine nuts (it gives them extra flavour) simply put them in a dry frying pan on a medium-high heat for approx 2 mins until roughly golden brown, shaking regularly to avoid burning. Then put everything except the lemon and olive oil in the food processor and whizz it until everything is finely chopped.  Add the oil (as much as it takes to get the consistency you want) and then a squeeze of lemon to suit your taste (usually between 1/4 and 1/2 a lemon).  Season with salt and pepper.  Store in the fridge for up to a week with a layer of olive oil on top to keep fresh.


The People’s French onion soup (serves 4)

This comforting soup is a great way to use up onions (‘pound a bowl!’), and is topped with cheddar on toast (instead of expensive gruyere cheese).  You don’t have to use wine.

  • Olive oil
  • 4 largish onions, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
  • A large knob of butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • A good sprinkle of dried herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 180ml dry white wine (cheapest is fine)
  • 3 cubes veg stock, crumbled (I like OXO)
  • 2 – 4 pieces of any bread (allow half to one slice per person depending on how hungry people are)
  • Approx 80g cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add all the onions, stirring regularly to avoid burning. You may need to add more oil. After about 10-15 minutes they should be soft and a little sticky. Add the butter, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, continuing to stir. Add the wine, cook for another 5 minutes to reduce it down and then add the stock cubes and some boiled water until you are happy with the consistency. It should be be pretty watery. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile place the toast under the grill on one side until browned, take out and top the other side with the grated cheese and then finish off grilling that side until the toast is brown and the cheese is melted. Cut each slice of cheesy toast in to 4 pieces. Ladle the soup in to bowls and top with the pieces of toast. Eat greedily.

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One Response to My top budget meals

  1. upyourstreet says:

    very lovely. trying tonight

    Liked by 1 person

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