Ingredients to serve four people:
3 or 4 packs of value noodles (usually about 20p each – we have seen them at Approved Food for much less along with the more traditional rice noodles)
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion cut into inch/2cm long thin strips
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 red pepper cut into same strips
1 yellow pepper cut in the same way
1 courgette/zucchini cut into strips
(optional) about half a cupful of soya chunks, rehydrated (or you could use smoked tofu – a bit more expensive)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil (optional)
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet leaving out the flavouring sachet which is usually very chemical based (if you don’t mind that it is a very cheap way of making soup for another time). Cook the onions and garlic in the sunflower oil for a few minutes and then add the chilli and stir in well. Add your vegetables and soy sauce and cook for a few moments until slightly softened and then add the soya or tofu and stir fry for another 10 minutes or so before adding the rice noodles and combining well (you may want to cut them up if they are very long). At the last minute sprinkle the sesame oil over the dish and serve at once. This goes very well with a fresh salad of lettuce and herbs.
Extremely simple and cheap – even if you’ve never cooked before you should manage this one!
6 or 7 medium sized potatoes, peeled
1 large can of baked beans in tomato sauce (approx 800g – you could use 2 standard size tins instead)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 or 3 sliced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of margarine for dotting over the top
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds for sprinkling on the top
other optional layers:
1 or 2 cups of left-over rice mixed with some soya milk and herbs
sliced mushrooms mixed with a little veg. oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 can of sweetcorn
1 can of spinach
Part-boil the potatoes for 5 or 6 minutes until starting to soften. Thinly slice them. In a large casserole or lasagne dish place a layer of potatoes then a layer of beans, then onion and repeat until all used up. That is the basic dish but you can add any other layers you like (experiment! Any tins lurking in the cupboard?), such as the garlic mushrooms, sweetcorn, spinach or rice ones above, making the last layer potatoes. Spread the sliced tomatoes over the top, dot with the marg. and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are soft at 190C/380F.
Pictured Bake cooking in an energy saving Halogen Oven.
Chick peas are a very nutritious and cheap food – having dried ones in the cupboard ensures a cheap meal anytime (after soaking overnight). Check out cheap bulk deals such as available from Goodness Direct
1 – 2 Tablespoons of light vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped (this is a very good way of using up an apple that has gone wrinkly but is not rotten)
1 green pepper, finely chopped (optional)
2 – 3 teaspoons of curry powder
1-2 tins of cooked chick peas (or soak dried ones overnight and cooked – cheaper)
1 can of tomatoes
handful of raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut (optional)
some frozen peas (a cupful or more if you really like them)
Fry the onion, garlic and apple in the olive oil for a few minutes. Add the curry powder and stir for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes (chop them if needed) and green pepper. If you like really sweet tasting curry, then add the raisins and coconut. Cook for about 15 minutes at simmering level and then add your chick peas and cook for a further 10 minutes. Shortly before the end of cooking time put some frozen peas in, as these will go mushy if overcooked. Add salt to taste. We like this best with white basmati rice (you should get a whole kilo for unde £1 in the cheap supermarkets or value ranges) and lots of little toppings.
Ideas for toppings are chopped fresh tomato, cucumber, sliced banana (yes this does work!), sunflower seeds, avocado (not the most frugal ingredient but jam packed with nutrients), in fact anything you fancy! My kids love these all put in small separate bowls so they can help themselves.
A very frugal variation of this is to make potato and pea curry by replacing the chick peas with value tinned potatoes.
Beans are the ultimate frugal food. High in protein and vitamins and versatile in use. You can either use two tins of bought beans (less frugal but still cheap) or soak dried ones overnight and then boil until cooked (can be over an hour for some beans) – good ones for this recipe: chick peas, aduki beans, black eye beans, green lentils, kidney beans (usually 11p for a value tin), borlotti and lima but any will do. Check out bulk prices with companies such as Goodness Direct and co-operatives. Clearance food specialists Approved Food sometimes have some bean bargains too.
2 leeks or 2 onions, sliced into thin round slices
A little olive oil
Mixed beans of your choice, cooked (how much is up to you – 500g+)
2 tins plum tomatoes – chop them up (about 3 cups/800g in all)
half a cup of water or vegetable stock
a handful of fresh herbs of your choice roughly chopped or 3 teaspoons of dried herbs (suggested herbs – mint, thyme, sage, winter savory)
salt to taste
Fry the leeks in the oil for a few moments then add the beans and stir until coated with the oil. Add the tomatoes, water/stock, salt and herbs and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes until cooked – alternatively place in oven to cook – a good idea if you are already using it for baked potatoes or herb bread which go very well with this dish. Maybe you could fit a cake in there too? Sorry – off on a frugal tangent!
Variations are many with casseroles – they are great for using things up: Add the dumplings from our mince and dumplings recipe. Add any vegetables that need using up – tinned potatoes mixed through could make this a one pot meal. Add rehydrated soya chunks or chopped sausages Make it fruity with dried apricots. Pictured is a casserole made with tinned butter beans, aubergines and leeks served with mustard mash.