Tasty but economic family meals plus low-cost family cooking tips.
Thrifty cooking tips
1. Plan your purchases: Before you go shopping, make a list of what you need. This will prevent you from making impulse purchases. Online shopping is a good way of making sure you stick to your list as you won’t be tempted by other foods.
2. Batch benefits: Cooking up bulk portions of meals such as Bolognese sauce or soup will save you time and money. Freeze it in portions and label with it the name of the dish and the date it was made.
3. Bake it yourself: It’s cheaper to make your own sweet treats if you have the right ingredients in your cupboard. And you can make your bakes healthier by cutting down on the amount of sugar you add and using healthier alternatives such as fruit.
4. Lentils and pulses: Lentils, pulses and beans are great sources of protein, but are much cheaper than meat or fish. Use these, and nutritionally rich grains such as pearl barley and spelt, to stretch out meals.
Healthy recipes on a budget
Beef and barley stew
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 400g beef, diced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 1l beef stock, warmed
- 75g barley
- 3 potatoes, cut into chunks
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp mixed dry herbs
1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C/140˚C fan/gas mark 3. Heat half of the sunflower oil in an oven proof baking dish over a medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add the remaining oil to a frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the beef in batches until browned. Transfer to the dish.
2. Stir the carrots and the tomato purée into the baking dish and cook for two minutes. Add the flour and stir through until everything is well coated. Stir in the hot beef stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the barley, potatoes, salt, pepper and herbs.
3. Cover with a lid and place on a low shelf in the oven. Cook for one hour, then take it out and give it a stir. Add more water or stock if you feel it’s too thick. Then cook for about one hour more until the meat is soft enough to break apart.
- 8 large tomatoes
- 300g rice, cooked as per packet instructions
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 75g feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tbsp dried mint
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Cut the top from each tomato and set aside. Place the tomatoes on a baking tray.
3. Using a teaspoon, remove the flesh from the tomatoes and place in a bowl.
4. Mash the tomato flesh with a fork. Add the rice, onion, feta, mint, parsley, cinnamon and season with pepper.
5. Spoon the rice mixture into each tomato shell and replace the tops.
6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.
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