Category Archives: beans and pulses

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 🙂

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Spring is almost Sprung!

snowdrop

Spring is almost sprung, it’s just waiting there on the verge! While it’s still cold we’re tucking in to hearty and warming meals such as our new recipe: Sausage and Bean Pie

Wild garlic is beginning to poke its shoots up in the woods; some areas may be further along than us so don’t forget our wild garlic soup and pesto!

Also looking ahead to Spring on the Free Food page, we’ve added links to SimplySeed who sell seeds at 50% less than High Street prices.

The Household Tips page has been tidied up a bit; don’t forget you can add your own tips in the comments section of the page.

Featured link: Approved Food, sellers of clearance food and household items, a source of many cupboard filling bargains! http://www.approvedfood.co.uk/?afid=7341ac

Enjoy the Sunshine!
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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

 

aduki bean and amaranth pie

aduki

A protein dense and filling meal, the recipe is a variant of red dragon pie. I bought the dried beans very cheaply from Approved Food, they do seem to get them in quite often. Mention goes to Lucy who reminded me of the protein rich properties of Amaranth, and then I was surprised to see it at only 83p for 250g from Goodness Direct (at time of writing).

The quantities listed are for an enormous pie that feeds four people with lots of leftovers for the next day. Adjust as required.

500g of dried aduki beans, soaked in water overnight
100g amaranth
4 scraped and chopped carrots
6 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves (remove before or while serving)
1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce
a bag of potatoes (I used 750g), peeled if needed and chopped. The smaller you cut them, the less cooking time they require.
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional, but they give a cheesy edge without being too rich)a dab of marge
splash of soya milk.
salt and pepper to taste.

Place your soaked beans in a large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer. Different brands seem to need different times of cooking. Supermarket ones could need an hour, organic types need less. Once they are beginning to soften, add your amaranth, vegetables, herbs and bayleaves and cook until tender. The amaranth will swell quite a bit so top up with water if needed. Once it’s all cooked add the soy sauce, tomato puree and season to taste.

It’s a good idea to put your potatoes on to cook at the same time as the amaranth, or before, for simultaneous readiness. Mash the tatties up with marge, milk and seasoning and place on top of the bean mix. It’s great if you have hob to oven cookware and can plop everything in the same pan, but if not layer them up in a suitable casserole. Run a fork round the top of the mash for a nice finish. Bake in a hot oven for 10-20 minutes until nicely browned.

The leftovers are often comprised of mainly bean mix, so get used as a base for pasta sauce the next day.

Gluten-free if you’re careful with your brand of soy sauce, some have wheat.

aduki2


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lentil soup

lentil

Lentil Soup – a nice broth with bread or a filling chunky variety. This soup is simple to make, nutritious and cheap, cheap, cheap 🙂 Quantities below makes a pan to feed four people.

Ingredients:
red lentils – half a cup to one cup depending how thick you want it
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, diced
water to cover well
stock of choice (we like a spoon of Vecon Stock with extra vits for winter!)
salt if needed, depending on stock used

Place lentils and water in pan and bring to the boil while preparing the other vegetables. Add them and stock, cook until tender. Mash or partially blend if you wish. Ta-da!

Variants:
Add other veg such as diced potatoes and celery or chopped greens near the end of cooking.
Add a tin of tomatoes and/or tomato puree with a handful of pasta to cook along with the lentils for a much thicker hearty soup.



beanburgers

From Jane of Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation and Viva!

1 medium onion, chopped quite fine
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp oil + a little more oil to fry burgers (or use 1-cal spray if you’re watching your fat intake)
1 medium carrot, grated on medium holes
1 heaped tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder or to taste
1 tin kidney beans or the equivalent weight of any cooked pulses (about 240g drained)
1 tbsp each of: French or Dijon mustard; soya sauce; tomato ketchup
75g/3oz jumbo oats (or more – to make the mixture stiff enough to form into burgers)

1. Saute onion and garlic in the tsp of oil until soft. (If adding chopped mushrooms or other finely chopped veggies, cook in at this stage too). If a little dry, just add a splash of water/stock.

2. Add grated carrot and spices and fry for a minute or two.

3. Mash up cooked beans/lentils with a potato masher and add them to onion/carrot mix.

4. Add tomato puree, mustard and soya sauce and mix in well.

5. Add oats and stir in well also.

6. Best made a few hours (or even night before) then stored in fridge, but they’ll still fry up if you make them straightaway.

7. Form the mixture into burgers (lovely and messy!) and fry gently on each side with the 1-cal spray or oil until they are browned.

8. Good on their own or in a wholemeal bun with vegan mayo or relish, plus salad and all the trimmings. Also nice with baked potatoes, potato wedges, brown rice salad… just about anything.

Try using a burger press with this recipe, for perfectly round burgers!

hummus or houmous

This is a Middle Eastern dish – can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. It is a lot cheaper to make than buy though many spermarkets do stock it. Even cheaper when using dried chick peas bought in bulk.

Ingredients:
1 can (approx. 400g)of cooked chick peas (or you can soak overnight and cook 1 cup of dried chick peas)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 – 2 cloves of fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste)
the juice of 1 lemon
a little water to blend
salt and pepper (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fairly smooth – you may need to keep adding water bit by bit until you get the consistency you want.

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chick pea curry

Submitted by Scottish author Ailish Sinclair

Chick peas are a very nutritious and cheap food – having dried ones in the cupboard ensures a cheap meal anytime (after soaking overnight).

Ingredients:
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)
salt

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.

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

mixed bean casserole

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.

Butter bean casserole

Ingredients:
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.