Category Archives: baking

The 25p Meal

One of the cheapest ways to pare your food budget right back is to find out what time your local supermarket marks down its perishable products and do your shopping then. This makes possible  what we call the 25p meal: feeding a family of four for £1, or under, all ingredients.

For example:

Cauliflower (25p) in a white sauce (milk/marg/flour/water totalling 20p), and 30p worth of leftover rice made into herby tomato rice by adding:  1 onion (7p, not marked down but really cheap in Lidl) a squirt of tomato puree (5p), dried herbs (5p) salt (2p).

Above was a nice meal based around getting an organic unsliced wholemeal loaf for 10p, and adding marg and garlic to make it into garlic bread. Cheap spaghetti (often around 20p for 500g in value ranges) mixed with a tin of kidney beans at 25p and marked down pepper and courgette, both 10p each. Salad was a 10p lettuce with a squirt of lemon juice. There was a LOT of garlic bread made with that one loaf!



A firm favourite now, actually considered a treat in this house, is the meal of pizza bagels, or pittas, or, as pictured below, pizza paninis. Made with 4 Paninis at 19p for 2, then with pizza sauce consisting of an onion fried in a tiny bit of oil, tomato puree, herbs and salt, totalling no more than 10p. They only need a few minutes in the oven or under the grill as the bread bases are already cooked. We paired them with a reduced salad bag at 10p, reduced hummus at 32p and a tub of pasta salad marked down to 26p. Over budget by 6p! If we’d used cheaper bread, such as one pack of bagels reduced to 20p, we would have been under.

It would be cheaper to use the pizzas as a side to homemade soup (see our many soup recipes). Of course, you can add any topping you like to these, but the sauce is delicious in itself.

This next one pushes the budget again, though only by 10p, for a luxury breakfast! It’s porridge (20p worth value range oats) made with water, but with a huge box of blueberries (marked down to 75p) and half a bar of Lidl dark chocolate (bar is 30p, so 15p), smashed up. Yum.

Our local Tesco usually does a big mark down around 6pm. The one in the next town is a little later at 6.45pm and its prices go right down to 2p for many items. Asda starts much earlier in the day with its reductions. Martin Lewis wrote an article on the different supermarkets and their reduction times here.

Unless we’re going to use them that day, we tend to avoid ready chopped things which go off quickly. Whole vegetables and fruit will keep for a few days and bread will be good for a couple of days or can go straight in the freezer. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve filled our freezer with 10p loaves and buns!

It can be fun to use your imagination and ingenuity to make best use of what’s available on any given day in the reduced section. Please feel free to share your ideas and successes in the comments below 🙂


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Brambling Free!

Underground, overground, brambling free! The brambles of Wimbledon Common are we…

I don’t know if Wimbledon Common is a good source of brambles (blackberries) but many hedgerows are this time of year, and that means: fruity purple cakes. With chocolate chips. Just because.

 

Bramble Chocolate Chip Cakes
Ingredients:
300g Doves Farm Gluten free Self Raising flour
100g caster sugar
a couple of handfuls of freshly picked brambles
about a third of a cup of soya milk
about a third of a cup of sunflower oil
100g of chocolate chips (we used Moo Free)
water to mix to a good thick batter – though you don’t want it too runny

Mix the flour, chocolate chips and sugar together (keep some chips back for sprinkling on top). Blend up the brambles with the soya milk and mix this in along with the oil, adding some water if the batter is too thick. It should be purple!

Divide between 12 cake or muffin cases. Place in a muffin tin if using paper ones; silicone reusable cases are better in many ways, not least of which is that the cakes will not stick to them like glue as gluten-free mixes are prone to do. Top with the remaining chips. Bake at 200C/400F for 15 to 20 minutes until well risen and browning. And slightly purpling!



Apple, Banana and Raisin Cake (gluten free)

This recipe contains no gluten and no refined sugar, but is sweet and even sort of juicy! It fitted a seven inch round cake tin.

Ingredients:
200g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
2 apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 bananas, mashed
1 cupful of raisins
half a cupful of sunflower oil
soya milk, or other milk of your choice to mix, about a cup and a half

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in your oil and some of the soya milk. Add the mashed banana and the apples and raisins and mix, mix, mix, with a wooden spoon, adding milk as you go for a good consistency (thick but not dry, pourable but not runny). Pour into a greased cake tin and bake at 200C/400F for about half an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

The juiciness of the fruit means this gluten free cake does not dry out like some and is good for two or three days. Best kept in the fridge.

All The Pies!

As in: who ate them? Who loves them? Who posts lots of recipes for them? We did, we do and we do!

deep pie dish

Well, what’s not to love? They’re simple and filling and people gobble them up. Last night we made the pictured potato and onion pie with a block of cheap puff pastry from Lidl on the top.

The filling was (ingredients for five people, adjust as needed):potato and onion pie
a little olive oil
1 bag of new potatoes washed and thinly sliced (skins left on)
4 onions, peeled and sliced up
3 tablespoons original Bisto powder (or other gravy mix)
salt to taste
water as needed (a cup or two)

In a large pan fry up the onion in the oil until softened and add the potatoes, mixing well. Add water (not actually to cover, it will form your gravy) and bring to the boil as you preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Cook the potato mix for a short time so that the potatoes are partly boiled and then add your gravy mix according to packet instructions, though you are going for thick not pouring. Combine well in the pan, adding salt as needed.

Transfer your filling to a large pie dish or casserole. Pictured is the Supersize Enamel Baking Dish from Kleeneze . Roll out your pastry to fit the pie and plonk it on top, tucking in the edges if needed.

Cook for at least half an hour, maybe up to 45 minutes, until the pastry is risen and browned and the potatoes are all soft.

open pie

Of course, all manner of ingredients can go into a pie! This one was originally intended to be a cheese, onion and potato pie, but all the cheese was gone at the end of the shopping week.

Other pies and pasties on site:
Sausage and Bean
Basic Pasties (good pastry recipe here if you want to make your own)
Aduki Bean and Amaranth Pie (a mash topped pie)
Lasagne (sort of a pie!)

and of course: Apple Pie and Crumble.

Autumn is coming. Enjoy your pies…

Sausage and Bean Pie

carlin peasDelicious and filling, a perfect winter dish, this pie can be made with a variety of ingredients which will affect the overall frugality of it. At the end of a shopping week we found Carlin Peas at the back of the cupboard and soaked them overnight but any beans would do. We combined these with a box of Linda McCartney sausages from the bottom of the freezer.

 

To make the pie:
Pastry ingredients (for four people, adjust as required):
300g of flour (any type, self raising will puff up a little, plain won’t – we used wholemeal spelt obtained from Approved Food in these pics, white would be lighter in colour).
150g of vegetable margarine
tiny amount of water (2 or 3 tablespoons)

Pastry method:
Place flour in a bowl. Break the marg into small pieces and rub it in to the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a very small amount of water and knead this into flour until you have firm dough (adding more water if too dry or more flour if too wet). Sprinkle flour on your working surface, divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each one out to fit your pie or oven proof dish. Line the bottom and edges of the pie dish with one section of the pastry, ready for the filling.

pieFilling and Baking:
Ingredients:
Beans of your choice (we used 200g dried beans). You could even used baked beans and skip the gravy part!
Sausages of your choice – we used six LM ones
a little oil
1 red onion chopped
gravy mix or flour to thicken
water as needed
salt to taste

Method:
Cook your beans and sausages as per packet instructions. Fry a red onion off in a little oil and add your pre-cooked beans along with their cooking water (or add water as needed if using tinned beans). Chop the cooked sausages into chunks and add these too. Make a thick gravy of the mixture (we used original Bisto) and add salt to taste. Place filling onto the pastry in the pie dish and then cover with the top pastry, sealing the edges with a little water. Make some cuts in the top to let out steam and bake in the oven at 200C/400F for at least half an hour or until the pastry is browned.

Nice served with a large salad.

carlin2

 

gluten-free veggie lasagne

lasange

This was made with gluten free lasagne sheets found in Lidl (Jan 2015), making it especially frugal, though many brands exist and the recipe will work with wheat based products too. It made enough for four huge portions or six medium.

Ingredients:
1 250g pack of lasagne sheets

For the tomato sauce:
a little olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 aubergine, cut into small chunks
4 sticks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 500g pack of passata
about 2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried oregano or other dried herbs
salt to taste
Method: fry the vegetables in the oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the passata, rinse out the pack/bottle with the water before adding it to the sauce. Bring to the boil, add your herbs and salt.

In a flat oven proof dish layer up the lasagne and the tomato sauce. It’s best to put a little sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking. The Lidl brand of lasagne did not need pre soaking (thank goodness! It always sticks together!) but check the instructions on your pack. Make the top layer sauce too.

For the white topping sauce:
1 tablespoon of vegetable margarine
1 tablespoon of gluten free flour
about a cup of soya milk
salt and pepper to taste
Method: melt the margarine and stir in the flour. Gradually add the milk over a medium heat, stirring all the time to avoid lumps (though don’t worry too much, in this dish they’re not very noticeable), until the sauce thickens. Add your seasoning and pour onto the top of the lasagne.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for at least forty minutes or until a knife slides easily into the middle of the lasagne.

Variations:
1. This recipe used the most basic of vegetables, you can use whatever you have to hand: peppers, courgettes, peas, sweetcorn. We added sweetcorn to the white sauce pictured.
2. A layer of tinned spinach instead of the last layer of tomato sauce is very nice and juicy. Ditto mushrooms.
3. We topped with a small packet of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
4. You can add tomato puree if the sauce seems overly runny, though remember it does need to have more liquid than plain pasta sauce as the lasagne will absorb some of it.

lasange



Crumble!

rhubarb crumbleFruit crumble is a wonderfully frugal dish. You can use virtually any fruit (perhaps not banana!) and it’s a good way to use up items that might be passing their best. Summer brings luscious pink rhubarb, perfect for crumble. Autumn delivers apples and blackberries/brambles, also delicious. Here is a basic recipe for a combination of rhubarb and apples, adjust as you require:

Filling:
2 or 3 apples, peeled and chopped (if you use eating apples you could reduce the sugar slightly)
4 or 5 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into chunks
4 tablespoons of sugar
Surprisingly, rose petals combine with rhubarb to give a beautiful flavour.

filling

Topping:
100g. flour (for a gluten-free version use Doves Farm gluten-free flour)
25g. sugar
75g. vegetable margarine
optional additions: grated lemon rind, sunflower seeds, rolled oats.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish and top with the sugar. For the topping: rub the flour into the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and any other additions and place evenly over the filling. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until everything is bubbling: crispy on top, soft below. Lovely with custard or ice cream.

If you like this, you may also like our recipe for Apple Pie


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