Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Left over chicken? ... Make Soup!

I love this recipe so much, I was really looking for an excuse to have left over chicken to make it!
Its a really warm rustic soup thats great to have with a dollop of greek yoghurt and some crusty bread.

Its easy to make too. You may need a food processor if you want to thicken it up a bit, but it still works well as it is. Also make use of the chicken carcass left over and make your own stock if you have the time and ingredients to hand, it will taste all the more rustic. (I will do a little post on how to do this next)

Rustic Chicken Soup

serves 4-6

Preperation time 15mins
Cooking time 35 mins 

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 tbsp thyme
1.4 l chicken stock
200g leftover roast chicken, shredded and skin removed
200g frozen peas

3 tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
squeeze lemon juice (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan Then add the chopped onions, carrots and thyme, then gently fry for 15 mins. 

3. Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 10 mins.

4. Add the chicken, remove half the mixture, then blend in the food processor. 

5. Tip back into the pan with the rest of the soup, peas and seasoning, then simmer for 5 mins until hot through.

If you have the ingredients to hand then continue

5. Meanwhile mix the yogurt, garlic and lemon juice, swirl into the soup in bowls, then serve with some crusty bread!


So the chicken is obviously quite expensive on its own but because we are using it for 3 meals it really works out to be quite reasonable.
  • I bought a whole 1.4 kg chicken for £3.40 from LIDL. I found that amount of chicken to be just the right amount to split into 3 meals. That's £1.13 for the amount we need.
  • Onions from LIDL were 63p for a bag of 8 that works out around 8p each. That's 16p
  • Garlic was 25p per bulb and we used 1 cloves, that's about 2p
  • LIDL do a 1kg bag of carrots for 79p, 3 carrot works out at 24p
  • LIDL do frozen peas or a tin of peas will work too at 20p
  • Lemons where 8p each in LIDL
  • The Chicken Stock is 15p for 10 in Sainsburys that's 5p for 1.4L
  • I already had a big tub of Greek Yoghurt but its from TESCO at 50p for 200g
If you bought all the ingredients from scratch that would work out as £6.
The meal cost works out as £2.02 for 4-6 servings which works out between 50p to 34p per meal.

We are going to spice things up with Chicken Curry leftovers next!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

3 Meals...One Chicken!....

One of the main concerns with meat based meals is the cost. We really do need to get value for money, and cooking up a whole roast chicken and using the leftovers is a cost effective way of minimising on waste. As this blog is cooking for one I had a lot of meat leftover, enough for 2 more meals, however couples or families probably wont have much left over....You could always buy a bigger chicken! I wouldn't want you to miss out on the leftover chicken recipes as these are just as tasty!

Obviously the first thing to have with a Roast chicken is a Roast dinner! I've limited the amount of side dishes to have with this meal to keep the cost down, but also tried to have a variety of flavours to keep it interesting for you. However you can add as many extra veg as you like as long as its in your budget and you can chop and change as and when you have a surpluss of different veg.

What I recommend is a Roasted Chicken with a gravy made from its own juices and roasted vegetables, Honey Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion, and Garlic Sauteed Spinach.

This makes a delicious sunday lunch treat! 

In the next to updates I will be showing you how to make a Lovely leftovers Chicken Curry and a super Chicken soup!

Roast Chicken

1 serving (1 breast)

Preperation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 1hr 20 mins 

(varies on size of chicken if in doubt follow the cooking instructions on the packaging)

1 x Whole Chicken (1.4 kg)

2 medium onions
2 carrots
1/2 bulb garlic
1 lemon
1 small bunch fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage, or a mixture

(If you don't have any fresh herbs then used dried herbs and sprinkle them over the veg and  inside the chicken)

1.Take your chicken out of the fridge half an hour before it goes into the oven. Preheat your oven to 240°C/475°F/gas 9.

2. Prepare the vegetables, no need to peel them, just wash under the tap and roughly chop them. Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled.

3. Pile all the veg and garlic into the middle of a large roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the bird. Carefully prick the lemon all over, using the tip of a sharp knife (if you have a microwave, you could pop the lemon in these for 40 seconds at this point as this will really bring out the flavour). Put the lemon inside the chicken's cavity, with the bunch of herbs.

4. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting tray and put it into the preheated oven. Turn the heat down immediately to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and cook the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

5. Baste the chicken halfway through cooking. When cooked, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the chicken to a board to rest for 15 minutes or so. Cover it with a layer of tinfoil.

6. During the resting period you can get on with the gravy.

Amazing Gravy

There are two things that make a good gravy: a vegetable trivet, which is the layer of vegetables in the bottom of your roasting tray that your meat sits on.

cooking time 15 to 20 mins

roasted vegetables
1x heaped dessertspoon plain flour
1x wineglass red or white wine, or cider, or a good splash of port or sherry
1x litre chicken or vegetable stock

1.When you come to make your gravy, your chicken will be covered and resting and you'll have your tray of chicken juices and vegetable trivet in front of you. Using a spoon, carefully remove 90 per cent of the hot fat from the tray by angling it away from yourself and scooping off the fatty layer that settles on top.

2.Put the tray back on the hob over a high heat. Add the flour, stir it around and, holding the tray steady (use gloves!), use a potato masher to mash all the veg to a pulp – don't worry if it's lumpy. You can rip the wings off the chicken and break them up into the tray to add more flavour now if you wish.

3. Add the wine/cider let it simmer for a minute before you add your stock.
Keep it over the heat and let it boil for a few minutes. Pour the stock into the tray. Bring everything in the pan to the boil, Using your spoon scrape all the goodness from the bottom of the pan to release the lovely roasted flavours. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until you've achieved the gravy consistency you're looking for.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion

Preparation time 10 mins

Cooking time 20 mins

100g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 4-5cm cubes
1/2 red onions, peeled and cut into thick wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
20ml orange juice
1/2 tbsp honey

1. heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.

2. Put the sweet potatoes and onions in a single layer in a roasting tin.

3.Mix together the olive oil, ginger, cumin, chilli flakes, orange juice and honey 
Then pour this mixture over the vegetables and coat them well.

4. Season with salt (if you have any add some coriander leaves its really nice!)

Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Preparation time 5 minutes
cooking times 5 minutes

170g Spinach
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 garlic clove(chopped)
salt and pepper

1.Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
2. Stir in the garlic; cook and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.

3.Add the spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring until wilted before adding more, about 5 minutes.

4. season with Salt and pepper.

Extra Veggies for Roast Dinner

There are so many delicious vegetables out there, try mixing it up to go with your roast dinners.

Here are some idea's

  • Honey glazed parsnips/carrots
  • Roasted Potatoes with Garlic 
  • Cauliflower Cheese or Cheesy Leeks
  • Wholegrain Mustard Mashed Potato
  • Sprouts/Cabbage/spring greens
  • Swede/parsnips

also don't forget you can also try non vegetable sides

  • Yorkshire Puddings
  • Sausages wrapped in bacon
  • Stuffing


So the chicken is obviously quite expensive on its own but because we are using it for 3 meals it really works out to be quite reasonable.

For the Chicken recipe

  • I bought a whole 1.4 kg chicken for £3.40 from LIDL. I found that amount of chicken to be just the right amount to split into 3 meals. That's £1.13 for the amount we need.
  • Onions from LIDL were 63p for a bag of 8 that works out around 8p each. That's 16p
  • Garlic was 25p per bulb and we used 2 cloves, that's about 5p
  • LIDL do a 1kg bag of carrots for 79p, 1 carrot works out at 8p
  • Lemons where 8p each in LIDL
For the Sweet Potato

  • The Sweet potato was 58p for 450g (LIDL) We needed 100g which works out as 12p
  • Red onion was 8p (ASDA) We used half so thats 4p
  • Orange juice is 60p we used a very small amount 20ml from 1l works out around 2p
  • I found a jar of honey in Sainsbury's for 99p (340g). If I used 8g of honey - that's 2p.
For the gravy
  • The Cider is £2 for a two litre bottle  that's for the gravy 12p
  • The Chicken Stock is 15p for 10 in Sainsburys that's 3p for 1L
For the Spinach
  • The Spinach is £1 for 250g we use 25p worth. approx
  • and Garlic 1 clove works out about 2p
If you bought all the ingredients from scratch that would work out as £10.57.
The meal cost works out as £2.12

We already had most of the ingredients from previous meals so we saved a lot of money on this one and it was a lovely treat to have a Sunday Roast on a Sunday!

Stay tuned for the next instalment with what we can do with a Roast Chicken.
Its Home made Chicken soup... yum! 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Green fingers?....and Lovely Lasagne! .....

Last weekend Hannah and I, had ourselves a lovely weekend visitation from her brother Daniel and his lovely wifey Emily...(Daniel is lovely too!) A bit stumped with what to cook I had a rummage around in the freezer to see what I could use. Luckily we had some mince leftover from the chilli, and a few cans of tomatoes left in the cupboard, so I rustled up an Italian Classic - Lasagne! 

Over dinner we discussed many interesting and wonderful things (because we are interesting and wonderful people :p), and obviously the topic of the CAP budget came up, and I really wanted to have Daniel involved. Now Daniel is an excellent blogger (we all enjoyed the spicy bumpkins trip to India most recently!) and also green fingered (Not literally!...he's a keen gardener!). We thought it would be really useful to have a section on Daniel's blog connected to manna budget that could inform you fabulous people how to grow your own vegetables. 

The benefits of growing your own veg are many - it can save you alot of cash in the long run, its really fun and lets face it home grown produce is so much tastier! I for one will be setting up myself a little veggie patch, so why not give it a go yourself? If you don't have a garden or live in a flat, then you could always grow something on a balcony? Even getting a few living herbs on the window sill will last you longer than buying the packaged fresh herbs.  

Sooo check out 'Sprouting Nonsence' at 

The lasagne went down a storm, I really love this recipe, it takes me ages to prepare because I am notoriously slow in the kitchen (I'm thorough and a stickler for attention to detail!) but  really this meal should only take a couple of hours to cook up. I recommend making the tomato sauce in a large batch and then you can use half for the meal and freeze the rest for next time you make something similar which will save you time in the future.

Lets get started...

Manna Lasagne  

serves 6

The finished article!
Preparation 20 mins
Cooking time 30 mins for the sauce
Cooking time 1hr 30 mins for the rest


Tomato sauce

2 Onions
2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 Carrot
2 tbsp of Tomato Puree
3 x Cans of chopped tomatoes
200 ml Red/White wine or cider (optional)
Basil (handful of leaves) or a sprinkle of dried Basil

White sauce

85g Butter
The 'white' stuff
85g Flour
500 ml Milk
Salt and pepper


Olive oil
500g Beef mince
60g Bacon
200ml hot Beef stock
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
300g Lasagne sheets
125g ball Mozzarella

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce
1. First finely chop the onions, crush the garlic and roughly chop the carrot. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions, carrot and crushed garlic for 5 mins over a medium low heat until softened.

2. Turn up the heat a little, stir in 2 tbsp tomato puree and cook for 1 min. Pour in the wine/cider (if using), then cook for 5 mins until this has reduced by two-thirds. Add to this 3 cans of chopped tomatoes and the basil. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins. Leave it to cool (should take a half hour) then whizz up in a food processor.

There should be a 1 litre of sauce. Keep 500ml for the recipe and freeze the rest.

1. Heat some oil in a frying pan, then cook the beef in two batches for about 10 mins until browned all over.

2. Finely chop 4 slices of bacon then stir into the meat mixture. Make the Stock.

3. Add the tomato sauce and stock to the meat. Add the nutmeg, then season with salt an pepper. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins or until the sauce looks rich and thick. you have now created your Ragu!

4. Whilst the Ragu is simmering you can start making the white sauce.

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in plain flour. Slowly whisk in the milk a bit at a time until it is all added and then season.The white sauce should be thick and have the consistency to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

6. Pre-heat oven to 180C. 

7. Assemble the lasagne, lightly oil an ovenproof serving dish (30 x 20cm). Cover the base of the dish with a third of the ragu sauce, then cover with lasagne sheets. Drizzle over about one quarter of the white sauce. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta. Cover with the remaining white sauce, making sure you completely cover all the pasta.

8. Slice the mozzarella and arrange on top.

9. Bake for 45 mins until the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

Serve on its own or with Salad and Enjoy!

Extras and Alternatives

If you really want to bulk up this recipe or make yourself a veggie lasagne, simply exchange the mince and add some courgettes, peppers, aubergines,mushrooms, pumpkin or butternut squash and spinach. You can also add some prosciutto/bacon if you got any to go on top of the lasagne to add a tasty little treat.


We already had the leftover mince beef but here are the prices as if we bought it for this meal.
  • LIDL did 1kg of Beef mince for £3.09. 500g is £1.54
  • Onions from LIDL were 63p for a bag of 8 that works out around 8p each.
  • Garlic was 25p per bulb and we used 2 cloves, that's about 5p. 
  • Lidl do a 1kg bag of carrots for 79p, 1 carrot works out at 8p
  • Cans of chopped tomato were 31p in LIDL 
  • Bacon was £1.09 for 12 slices that 9p a slice
  • Beef stock cubes were 15p for 10 in Sainsburys 
  • Tomato puree was 35p in LIDL
  • Lasagne Sheets were 47p from ASDA
  • From LIDL a 125g Mozzarella ball was 44p
  • Milk was £1 for 4 pints at LIDL
  • Butter £1 for 250g from LIDL
  • Flour was 45p from LIDL 
That works out as a real cost of £9.85 and the actual price of the meal is £3.87. (64p per serving)

I hope you enjoy this really Tasty Italian Classic!

'Arrivederci' for now!

Monday, 24 June 2013

A simple lunch recipe...

I thought it was important to get a fish recipe in the blog somewhere, and I remembered one of my Dads specialities is a rather fantastic Mackerel Pate. 

Mackerel is high in omega 3 fatty acids...which is a good thing, because it can help prevent heart disease as well as osteoporosis and infections. There is even studies that show fish can play a major role in the prevention of cancers including kidney, skin and colon cancer.

So its important to your health as well as being a tasty alternative to having meats. 

Although not cheap, this recipe provides a good return making about 8 portions from one packet of mackerel, you can freeze this recipe too, I made each portion in little ramekins so I could bring out a portion at a time.

Lets get started...

Mackerel Pate

serves 8 

Preparation time 15 mins
Cooking time - NA

You will need a food processor/mixer


1 x pack of Mackerel (about 200g)
150g of Greek Yoghurt
1 tsp dried dill
1 x slice white bread
50g melted butter
some milk or water

1. Firstly soak a slice of bread in a little Milk or water.

2. Remove the skin from the Mackerel and pop into the food processor along with the Greek Yoghurt, Dill and the bread.

3. Blend it up and have a taste. Add some pepper and salt if required...

4. Add the melted butter to the mix and blend again.

5. Taste again and season if needed. Then divide into containers.

6. Place into fridge to set - this will take about an hour.

7. Enjoy with some toast!


This is a really cheap lunch and you can make a nice large batch(8 servings!) out of very few ingredients. The mackerel was £2 and the Greek Yoghurt is 50p for 200g I just used a 1 slice of cheap white bread. The butter is £1 for 250g. 

This costs around £3.05 to buy all ingredients from scratch (not including the dill as that should be under your store cupboard ingredients) 

The pate itself should cost £2.45 that's 30p a serving!

Hope you enjoy this lovely lunch option as much as I have over the years! 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Delicious Chilli Dinner...

Today we are making Chilli con carne, a spicy meaty stew and the perfect 'One pot wonder' in my humble opinion. What's great about chilli is it tastes even better the next day! Leaving the chilli to stand allows the flavours to mingle, so this makes a perfect leftovers lunch and a prime candidate for freezing.

I've tried a variety of recipes over the years and it is very much a matter of personal taste/preference. Some like it hot, prefer different beans or really saucy. So what I intend to do is offer up a good solid foundation chilli that will allow you to experiment with different ingredients to make it your own. Ill give you some ideas at the end that you can try, if and when you have the ingredients available.

Chilli Con Carne

serves 4-5 

Preparation time 15 mins
Cooking time 50 mins
Resting time at least 10 minutes


1 tbsp olive oil
500g minced beef 
1 large onion or 2 small onions
1 pepper
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 x 400g can red kidney beans 
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes 
2 tbsp tomato puree 
1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (or Mild if you would like it less spicy)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
300ml Beef stock
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar or cocoa powder
Serve with plain boiled long grain rice

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium to low heat for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile dice the onions and the pepper. Add the onions to the saucepan and cook for 5 mins, stirring frequently until they are soft and slightly translucent.

2. Add the crushed garlic to the saucepan and cook for a minute longer. Then add the pepper, 1 heaped tsp of hot chilli powder, 1 tsp of paprika (which adds colour as well as flavour) and 1 tsp of ground cumin. Stir so everything is covered in the spice and cook for a further 2 mins.

3. Now pop the mixture from the saucepan into a dish and keep to one side. Add a drop of oil to the same saucepan and cook the minced beef on a high heat for about 5 mins or until brown (no pink bits!). Make sure to break up the mince as it cooks so you don't get clumps of meat. During this time you can also make up the 300mls of beef stock.

4. Turn the heat down to low and then add the onion mixture back into the pot with the meat. Add the stock and 1 can of chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp of tomato puree, ½ tsp dried oregano and 1 tsp of sugar or cocoa powder. 

5. Increase the heat to bring the chilli to the boil. Give it a good stir and turn the heat down to low. Let it bubble away (simmer) for 20 mins stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. We are aiming for a sauce that looks thick and juicy!

6. Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add them to the saucepan, cook for a further 10 mins or until the sauce looks ready. Taste the chilli and season with salt and pepper if necessary  I used quite a bit, but be careful not to over do it!

7. Now remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for 10 mins before serving. You can boil your rice during these 10 mins.

8. Serve and enjoy!

Some other ideas

This basic recipe tastes really good. However here are some ideas to spice it it up a bit! 

Enhance the flavour with the following:
  • A couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Instead of Sugar use one or two small blocks of dark/plain chocolate
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • A tsp of dried or fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp of Garam Masala
To add a bit more heat pick one of the following (or all 3 if you dare!)
  • Fresh chillies
  • A few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • A tsp of chilli flakes
You can add some extra vegetables (if you have them) to bulk it up, such as:

  • More onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sweetcorn
  • Courgettes
  • Mushrooms 
Don't like kidney beans? try these instead: 
  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Baked beans

You can also use different types of mince if the price is right, like pork, turkey or lamb.

If you can afford it, serve with sour cream, or a dollop of greek yoghurt, a handful of grated cheddar cheese or even some lime juice ( to give it some zing!).

We served our meal with rice, but you could also try it in a baked potato, pile it on some tortilla chips and sprinkle with grated cheese, in taco's or even in a wrap with some lettuce, chopped tomatoes and guacamole.


The is not a huge price difference whether you are making 5 or 10 servings. So due to freezer space we opted to make 5 servings.

  • LIDL did 1kg of Beef mince for £3.09. Either double your recipe or save 500g for another meal
  • Onions from LIDL were 63p for a bag of 8 that works out around 8p each.
  • Garlic was 25p per bulb and we used 2 cloves, that's about 5p. 
  • Peppers are expensive but you can pick up a bag of 5 for £1.65 in ASDA, only the green and yellow varieties. That works out as 33p each. 
  • Cans of chopped tomato were 31p in LIDL
  • Kidney Beans are 27p in Sainsburys
  • Beef stock cubes were 15p for 10 in Sainsburys 
  • Tomato puree was 35p in LIDL
  • Plain rice is 40p for 1kg in Sainsburys

 You should have a variety of spices in your store cupboard, if you don't have any for this recipe you could use alternatives, instead of oregano try mixed herbs or marjoram. Ground Cumin is 58p in ASDA and hot chilli powder was 63p in Sainsburys.

This should cost you a real spend of £6.95 (don't forget that includes 500g more Beef mince and 4 spare peppers for the store cupboard)

The price of the meal actually works out as £2.69. That's 53p per serving (serves 5).

Until next time 'Adios Amigo's!'

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Breakfast on the go.....

If you are anything like me, you don't have much time for breakfast. Apparently its the "most important meal of the day", but usually I'm a cereal (haha!) breakfast skipper! 

For me, breakfast needs to be quick, filling, healthy and tasty. So doing this on such a strict budget is a real challenge. 

I discovered with some basic ingredients and a small amount of time at the beginning of the week, I could prepare tasty portable breakfasts that would last me more than a week!

and this is one of the options I am going to share with you today.

Manna Budget Breakfast Bites

makes 12 bars
oaty and chewy

preparation time 5 mins
Cooking time 45 mins
cooling 30 mins


1 x can Condensed Milk
250g oats
100g raisins
1tsp Ground ginger
4 Tbsp Honey

1. Preheat oven to 130 C and grease a baking tin and line with grease proof paper.

2. Place condensed milk and honey into a saucepan and heat until warm. (do not allow to boil!)

3. Mix the oats, raisins and ground ginger in a large bowl.

4. Pour the condensed milk into the bowl with the oat mixture and stir to combine.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin.

6. Put into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 45mins or until golden brown

7. Once baked, take out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 15 mins before cutting up into bite sized cubes.

8. Once cooled store in an air tight container

9. Munch on the way to work :)

There are many ways you can be creative and make this recipe to suit your taste, here are some ideas:

  • Add peanut butter in with the honey
  • Instead of adding ginger why not try some mixed spice
  • Add some different dried fruit if you have it such as cranberries or apricots 
  • Add some nuts or seeds
  • mix in some desiccated coconut with the oats


These bites are much cheaper compared to similar cereal bars you can buy.
  • We bought oats last week for 75p for 1kg. This recipe required 250g, so that's 18p.
  • We also bought raisins, they cost us £1.49 for 500g. This recipe used 100g, so that's 30p.
  • I found a jar of honey in Sainsbury's for 99p (340g). If I used 8g of honey - that's 2p.
  • Ginger is 95p for a 38g jar. I probably used about 1g - 2p!
  • Sainsbury's also provided us with condensed milk for 99p.
So all together, 12 breakfast bites, came to £1.51, that's 12p each - bargain!

We already had most of these ingredients, but if you didn't, then the real cost would set you back £5.17.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A vegetarian experience...

Something for the herbivores amongst us...

I know, it's not like me to make a meal that doesn't have any meat in at all, but I thought as meat can be so expensive, I'd better find some tasty meat free recipes.....Who knows I might end up being a veggie convert?!

Stranger things have happened, and this recipe for a delicious sweet potato and butter bean stew hasn't done the veggie team any harm.

Sweet potato and butterbean stew

Serves 4

Preparation time 10 mins
Cooking time 30 mins 


Sweet Potato, 450g peeled and cut into thick slices

Maple syrup 2 tbsp (optional)

Red onion x 1, finely chopped

cumin seeds x 1 tsp

Chopped tomato's x 1 can 400g

Butterbeans x 1 can 400g, drained and rinsed

Balsamic vinegar

A handful of Spinach leaves 

Greek style yogurt 150ml

Fresh mint leaves to garnish (optional)

  1. Begin by boiling a large pot of salted water, add the sweet potato and maple syrup (optional) cook for 10 mins, until tender but not too soft, drain and set aside, keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a deep frying pan over a low heat. Add the onion, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt, and cook for about 5 mins until the onion is soft and translucent.

3. Tip the tomatoes in and a splash of balsamic vinegar, and cook for about 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

'Help meeee im wilting!'
4. Add the butterbeans, and simmer for a further 5 mins, then stir in a handful of spinach leaves. Cook for a couple more minutes until the leaves have wilted. 

5. Remove from the heat and transfer into an ovenproof dish. Top with the slices of Sweet potato.

6. pre-heat the grill to hot.

7. You can either top the stew with some yoghurt now and grill until golden, alternatively you can try drizzling some yoghurt on after the grilling to add a cooling contrast of flavour and temperature. 

8. Garnish with mint leaves (optional) and serve.


In the absence of meat this meal should cost you next to nothing. The most expensive items on the list was the maple syrup. However this was not essential so you can save yourself £1.50 there (you would probably only use 10p worth). 

  • The Sweet potato was 58p for 450g (LIDL) 
  • Red onion was 8p (ASDA)
  • Cumin seeds are 78p for a bag of 100g (ASDA) you would use 2g max, so thats only a couple of pennies. 
  • Spinach was £1 for a bag of 200g I used around 20ps worth. 
  • Chopped tomatoes are 31p a can (LIDL), 
  • ASDA balsamic vinegar is £1 for 250ml so that works out around 2-3p a splash. 
  • Butterbeans were 59p a tin (LIDL), 
  • and the Greek yoghurt was £1.58 for 1kg we used about 15p of Greek yoghurt  You can pick up a smaller amount for around 20p-25p per 100g in ASDA if you don't think you will use all of it.

Real spend of £4.84 (£6.34 with the maple syrup)
Cost of the meal £1.95 (£2.05 with the maple syrup)


So we best use up the spinach and Greek yoghurt, to get our monies worth!

My plan is to use Greek yoghurt in some future breakfast recipes, so that why I invested in a larger tub.

We can use the spinach in some future side dishes.

I hope this recipe inspires you to adventure into the meat-free realms, or at least take a short trip!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Would Sir care to hear tonight's special?....

Welcome back ladies and gents! Its dinner time and what could be more appetising than a delicious spaghetti and meatballs? 'Just-a like-a mamma yoosta make!' Well maybe not, as we are going to make meatballs with a twist.
Traditionally meatballs are made with minced/ground beef and herbs but as we are on a bit of a budget, we are going to have to find an alternative.

Sausage meat makes a perfect alternative to beef, its cheaper,has herbs already mixed in and the meatballs fry up real nice in a little bit of oil.

If you have a little spare cash, you can mix it up a bit. Add a squeeze of lemon, garlic or cheese to the mixture.

Lets get started...

Sausage Meatballs in Homemade Tomato Sauce

Serves 5 - 6 people

preparation time 30 mins
cooking time 30 mins


Pork sausages x 8

2 tbsp Olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
2 Medium onions chopped
4 x 400g cans Chopped tomato
2 x Bell Peppers cut into small strips
125ml red wine or dry cider (optional)
A splash of Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp caster or granulated sugar (optional)
½ a large bunch flat-leaf Parsley, finely chopped or a tsp of mixed herbs
A few basil leaves (optional)

Serve with 40g Spaghetti per person, and grated cheddar cheese (optional).

First preheat the oven to 160 C.

  1. Heat a large frying pan (make sure it has high sides) on a medium heat and add a tbsp of olive oil. Snip the sausages apart, then squeeze and pinch the meat out of the skins so that you get little meatball shapes – don't make them too big or they will take too long to cook. Try to get at least three balls out of each sausage. Don't worry about rolling them into perfect balls, the rustic look is pretty cool! 
meaty balls
2. Put the Meatballs into the frying pan and cook until they're golden brown, turning them regularly. Once browned pop them in to a roasting tin and let them cook through in the oven. That will keep them warm while you make the sauce.

The tomato sauce
3. Using the same frying pan add another glug of oil. On a lowish heat fry the garlic and sizzle for 1 minute, add the onions and cook for a further 5 mins.

4. Add the wine/cider and cook for a minute (if using), then add the tomatoes, sugar, mixed herbs and Worcestershire sauce. 

5. Simmer for 10 mins and then add the peppers, stir and simmer for a further 10 mins or until the sauce slightly thickens.

6. The meatballs should be ready to come out of the oven now, so bring them out and add them to the sauce and you can add the basil leaves now if you using them.

7. Keep the sauce on the low heat, whilst in another saucepan bring some water to the boil and add the spaghetti. Wait for it to soften before stirring so the pasta doesn't stick together or to the bottom of the pan.

8. It takes about 10-11 mins to cook the spaghetti. Once cooked drain in a colander and pour some boiling water from the kettle over it to prevent it from sticking together.

9. Dish up the spaghetti and add the meatballs and sauce over the top. Garnish with basil leaves if you have any and serve with some parmesan or grated cheddar cheese. 

and then enjoy! 


So this meal can be as cheap as you want to make it. I prefer to use a better quality sausage with a higher meat content for the meatballs. These were a little more expensive than the budget sausages, but the best price i could fine was £1.19 for 8 pork sausages from Lidl. I know that the big supermarkets will often have deals for the butchers choice sausages occasionally so you can normally pick them up for around a £1 a pack.

  • Onions from lidl were 63p for a bag of 8 that works out around 8p each.
  • Garlic was 25p per bulb and we used 4 cloves, that's about 10p. 
  • Peppers are expensive but you can pick up a bag of 5 for £1.65 only green and yellow variety. That works out as 33p each. 
  • Chopped tomato cans were 31p in Lidl 
  • Spaghetti was actually cheaper in Tesco at 19p for a pack of 500g. 

All the rest of the ingredients are totally optional but if you are interested I found worcestershire sauce for a 99p in Lidl and cider is a cheaper alternative to wine and you can get more for your money. Dry Cider can be found around £2 for 2l.

So for the basic meal without the optionals this meal will cost you £3.42 for 5 - 6 servings

All the extras added in will cost you £3.84 

I hope you enjoy this meal, its a real tasty dinner and one of my favourites.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The First Weekend Part II


With breakfast done and dusted we need to start thinking about what we can do for lunches. With a limited budget of £5 a week (£20 a month) we decided to make a few soups. Soups can go a long way with a few ingredients. If you make soup in big batches, you can freeze the remaining portions for later on in the month. 

Here's the first recipe...

This recipe makes enough for 8 servings. Its made with a lot of vegetables and lentils to bulk it out. Its a thick warming soup with a hint of chilli. 

prep time around 15 mins
cooking time around 50 mins

You will need a blender or food processor to liquidize the soup after cooking.

Tomato and Red Lentil Soup


make sure you have a big pot!
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Onions - finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated
A pinch of chilli flakes
4 carrots finely chopped
450g red lentils
3 x tins of chopped tomatoes (400g)
1.4 litres hot vegetable stock
salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan*, add the onions, and cook over a low heat for 6-8 minutes, or until soft and translucent. 

Add the garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes and the carrots and stir. Season with some salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the lentils, stir in, then add the tomatoes and the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a very low heat for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Make sure its a low heat and stir occasionally or else it may burn on the bottom of the pan!

Transfer to the blender and whiz up until blended and smooth. Taste and season if needed.

To serve transfer into a pan and heat until piping hot.

You can add a dash of cream if you have any, or a pinch of coriander is nice too. But this is not essential.

*If you don't have a large saucepan, then you can either half the recipe or split it in to two saucepans and then add them back together at the end.


We did the majority of the shop at Lidl. The remaining items we bought from Tesco.

Bag of onions 1kg (approx 8 onions) 63p
Bag of carrots 1 kg (approx 10 carrots) 75p
Red Lentils 500g bag 95p
Chopped tomatoes 31p 

Crushed chillies 95p
Garlic 25p
Value vegetable stock cubes 30p

I have assumed that people have the basics like olive oil, and salt and pepper in the kitchen already. However the cheapest olive oil i've seen so far is £3.48 for 1l at ASDA that works out about 35p per 100 ml.

So this meal should cost you around £2.56 for 8 servings.
For the lunch budget we suggested £5 a week (£20 a month) this works out around 66p per serving/meal.

This soup is coming in around 32p per serving, just under half the proposed budget! 
I might see if I can make some more soups around this price range, and then we can put the remaining budget to good use somewhere else, like in the dinner menu.

If you got some ideas what you could add to this recipe just drop us a comment.

Dinner budget to follow...

Monday, 3 June 2013

The first Weekend...

The Budget

So here we are, as you may or may not know the challenge is create a decent menu for people on a budget, that's tasty and healthy. The budget was set at £14 for the week, this includes breakfast lunch and dinner.

My plan is to make meals in bulk so that it works out cheaper per serving, and freeze the remaining unused portions for lunch and dinner in the following weeks. So I have a budget of approx £56 for the month give or take a day or two.

I am going to test out splitting the budget in to £12 for breakfast for the month, £20 for lunches and £24 for dinners. I have an inkling i may have been a bit generous with the lunch budget so that might change and adjust into the dinner budget. We shall see how we get on!

The first shop

With this project being National we had to take into consideration the location of the supermarkets we would use. They had to be available for the majority of people to travel to. Also we decided that we could not use the deals or offers that were on at any given time, due to them not always being available. I do however think that you should look at these deals for yourself if there are any good offers on, it would be crazy to pass up the better quality products at the lower prices... Just don't exceed the budget people!

  Sooo Hannah and I did some research into the various supermarkets checked the ASDA and Tesco websites, spoke to a few people about where they shop etc and came to the conclusion that we would do the majority of shopping at Lidl and whatever we couldn't get there we would use the value products from somewhere like Tesco, ASDA or Sainsbury's.

However as we were passing by Morrisons we thought it would be rude not to pop in! We bought the majority of breakfast food on Friday night. The main contenders for breakfast being 6 'M savers' crumpets at 37p, 1 kg 'M savers' porridge oats for 75p (Beast!) and 'M saver' Cornflakes for 31p

I'm thinking the porridge is going to go a long way, and i'm hoping the cornflakes taste ok!  Ive weighed up a bowl of cornflakes and i recon 30-35g is a reasonable portion which works out you can have 16 servings from the one box. (So thats half the month right there!) The porridge oats around 40g per serving thats provides you with 25 servings and thats nearly a whole month! happy days! 

Now I know that will probably get a bit boring so lets mix it up a bit and add some fruit and honey.
Banana bunch of 4 at 39p and runny honey £1.24. Milk is cheaper the more you buy of it, but remember it doesn't have a long shelf life only buy as much as think you will use. We bought a 2 litre (4 pinter) for 97p and of course you cant start the day without a very British cup of tea! tea bags Morrisons savers 80 for ...27p! Butter 250g for a £1(ASDA) and raisins 500g for £1.49(ASDA) Orange juice 1l £1(ASDA)

Total budget for the month £10.40

This leaves us with £1.60 to either think of another breakfast option or transfer into the Dinner budget.
I think it might be nice to have eggs at some point so I will look into that option in the coming weeks. 
Just to note also the next few weeks shop will be cheaper again due to some of the items lasting longer than a week.

First Breakfast Shop

As for now week 1 will be as follows...

Cornflakes with sliced banana and orange juice

Porridge with half milk half water and honey to top and a cup of tea

Crumpets with butter/honey and Orange juice

Porridge with banana and a cup of tea

Cornflakes with honey and orange juice

Crumpets with honey and cup of tea

Porridge with raisins and orange juice

so thats breakfast sorted, lunch to follow....