2 cups of porridge oats
1 large tablespoon of vegetable margarine
1 banana, mashed
a handful of raisins
a splash of unsweetened soya milk
Melt the marg in a pan and then stir in the oats. Mix in the banana and raisins, add the soya milk and stir well. Press the mixture into a flat cake tin or oven proof dish (10×10 inch did well) and bake for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven. Score while still warm, leave to cool and cut into squares.
If you would rather have a more traditional sugar laden flapjack, add a tablespoon of golden syrup to the mix, but really, they’re delicious without it!
Chocolate variant: add two heaped teaspoons (or more!) of cocoa in with the banana and raisins 🙂
Recipe inspired by Lucy who always adds banana to her flapjacks 🙂
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.
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 🙂
Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.
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
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!
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.
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.
As in: who ate them? Who loves them? Who posts lots of recipes for them? We did, we do and we do!
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):
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.
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.
Delicious 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)
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.
Filling 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fruit 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:
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.
100g. flour (for a gluten-free version use Doves Farm gluten-free flour)
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
Especially frugal if you should happen to have apple trees in your garden, but thrifty even if you have to buy them. These quantities make two pies – one for eating now and one for freezing – adjust quantities for your own needs.
600g/18oz/2 and a quarter cups of plain flour
300g/9oz. vegetable margarine
about half a cup of cold water
200/g/6oz/1 cup sugar
about ten medium sized cooking apples (Brambley are good) – peeled and sliced
Preheat oven to 190C/380F degrees. Grease 2 pie dishes (9 inch rounds do well but any shape will do). For the pastry: rub the margarine into flour until you have a breadcrumb like consistency. Add the cold water and mix to a dough (by hand is best) – add gradually as flours do vary and you may need slightly more or slightly less water than stated. Divide your dough into four (two bases and two tops) and roll out the two bases (on a floured board or surface) and place in the pie dishes. Place the apple slices into them, cover with the sugar and roll out tops – place on top and seal with water. Cut an X in the centre of each pie and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake in oven for about half an hour or until pastry is cooked and apple/sugar mixture is bubbling (peek into the X!). Delicious hot with ice cream or cold on its own.
kid tip: if you have some left over pastry let your kids (or yourself!) make some little pies of their own – pastry shapes topped with jam, chocolate, sweets or marmite go down well especially if made by one’s own fair hand!! They take about 10-15 minutes to cook, being much smaller.
variations: this basic piecrust can be filled with anything you like – blackcurrant and apple is good in the summer, brambles/blackberries grow wild in the woods in autumn and can be used in place of apples, as can rhubarb. The same pastry can be used for savoury pies too – try mince or a grated carrot, cabbage and onion filling is tasty with gravy. Mixed roasted vegetable with herbs – let your imagination go (or use up the left-overs in your fridge!)
An alternative, sugar free version has been sent to us by Peter: 1 apple pie flan = 9oz Tescos value eating apples, 90g dried stoned dates, 125g raisins, 12oz wholewheat flour, (as so cheap, could afford to use own brand organic wholewheat flour), 12oz flour, 6oz Tesco Pure soya margerine. Half pint water. Mix up flour and marg, rest/chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Bring the half pint to boil, turn down to simmer, add the dates, stir around, break up with a fork. (If doing more than one flan filling to put in freezer, don’t do loads of water, the reason of the water is to break up the dates). Chop up apples in processor, add apples and raisins to dates, mix all up, that is filling done. Get a standard flan case, (I use the one that bottom comes off, easy to remove flan). Smear the flan case with marge. Weigh out the dough, rollout 2 thirds of the dough, pop in flan case, tip- roll rolling pin around edge to remove excess over edge, pop the filling in. Wet inside edge of flan with water, rollout other third of dough. Place on top, pinch around edge with thumbs. I use a teaspoon handle to make a little hole in center of top of flan. Pop into the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 180 degrees C. Take out after 30 minutes and you have one lovely flan, very filling.
A truly versatile and cheap dish this as the filling can be more or less anything you want. Weve done basic vegetables here but leftovers can make a spectacular pasty to rival expensive ready made ones (chilli, curry, bean casserole). Making your own pastry is also very thrifty – at the time of writing value brands of flour come in at 43p for 1.5 kilos making the flour in this recipe cost just under 10p. If using margarine at £1 for 500g that’s your block of pastry for 40p all ready to make 4 substantial pasties (or one big pie).
for the pastry:
300g of flour (any type you like really, self raising will puff up a little, plain won’t – we used wholemeal in these pics, white would be lighter in colour).
150g of vegetable margarine
tiny amount of water (2 or 3 tablespoons)
for the filling:
teaspoon of oil (olive or sunflower)
1 onion, chopped
1 medium sized potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
a little salt for seasoning
That would make the basic pasties but we added optional:
a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme from garden (any herbs you like would do)
a half teaspoon of Vecon Stock (stock cube fine too)
a tablespoon of dried soya mince and a few spoons of water as needed for this and stock to combine well
other additions that spring to mind: frozen peas, red kidney beans, other root veg.
To make the pastry: 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 four equal pieces and roll each one out to a rough oblong shape.
To prepare the filling: add oil to pan and heat then add in the vegetables and salt and mix well. Add other ingredients if using, stirring thoroughly to combine and prevent sticking. Cook for a few minutes.
Share the filling out onto the pastry oblongs, placing it on the front half of each, then fold it over and squeeze the edges together to seal (you can use some water for this if a bit dry and not sticking well). Onto a baking tray and into the oven at 200C/400F for 20 minutes to half an hour until pastry is well browned. Nice served with oven chips (50p a kilo in Lidl at time of writing) and salad or great in a packed lunch.