This apple chutney was inspired by a recipe from The Cranks Recipe Book, but we changed it a bit to our liking! It’s great for using up windfall apples in the autumn. The combination of flavours here make for a delectable chutney, completely delicious, and better than any you could buy.
Sometimes old railway lines have apple trees with fruit for the taking due to people throwing their apple cores out the train windows in the past. Parks and other public grounds often have the trees too. Look out for them in your area!
Apple Chutney Ingredients
These quantities fill about 3 medium jars. We doubled up and made 6 this year!
750 ml. cider vinegar
675g. molasses cane sugar (or any very dark sugar)
3 bay leaves (make little tears in them)
1 kg. cooking apples, peeled and chopped
100g onions, chopped quite finely
100g of raisins or sultanas
100g of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
a little seasalt
Slowly dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a large pan. Add the bay leaves. Prepare the apples, onions, garlic and ginger and add these also with the salt and raisins. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for about 2 hours, stirring frequently, until the excess liquid is gone.
Cool and jar. Gorgeous in a cheeze and pickle sarny, as part of a ploughman’s lunch or just with some crackers as shown above.
This purple pasta is a delicious and thrifty dish, made all the more frugal in this instance by the aubergine and beetroot being obtained during Tesco’s 2p evening reduction time (may not be all stores and times vary, worth asking).
Most supermarkets have value pastas available such as spaghetti for 20p and penne for 29p for 500g. Also try clearance sellers like Low Price Foods and Approved Food.
Ingredients for sauce (amount serves four)
a little olive oil
1 leek, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
a bunch of fresh beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small aubergines, cubed
a courgette, also cubed
1 pack of passata (we prefer Lidl’s cheap brand to Tesco value, much nicer)
1 can of red kidney beans
2 teaspoons of dried oregano (or other herbs, fresh are nice too)
salt and black pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, fry the vegetables in the oil until softened then add the passata. Bring to the boil, adding beans, herbs and seasoning as you go, water if too thick, tomato puree if too thin. Turn down to a simmer until all is cooked, probably for about 20 minutes; test for seasoning, adjust if needed, and pile the sauce on top of your pasta. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.
This gluten-free vegetarian lasagne was made with gluten free lasagne sheets found in Lidl, 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
an 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.
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.
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 and spread on top.
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.
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.
A layer of tinned spinach instead of the last layer of tomato sauce is very nice and juicy. Ditto mushrooms.
We topped with a small packet of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
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.
This is a basic tomato sauce recipe for pasta which costs a fraction of the price of ready made jars and tastes better too. It can be jazzed up in many ways – see suggestions at the end.
A little olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 can (approx. 400g) tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons of tomato puree
1 or 2 Tablespoons of oregano or mixed herbs
1 cup of veg. stock or water
salt to taste
Cook pasta according to the instructions on the packet. While it is cooking fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes, puree, stock or water, salt and herbs and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
That is the basic sauce – you can add anything you like to it. Any vegetables (see which are on offer this week in the shops?) can be chopped and added with the tomatoes. Soya mince or lentils make a more traditional Bolognese type sauce as pictured above. Beans, sweetcorn and peas are all great too.
A sweet and sour sauce is easy to make also – add a can of pineapple pieces in pineapple juice and leave out the herbs. A little vinegar is added too and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
This mushroom gravy is flavoursome and delicious and good as either a simple main dish over rice, spaghetti or a baked potato, or as a side as in the brunch pictured above with peas.
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons sunflower oil 1 onion, finely chopped 8-10 large portabello or other large, flat mushrooms, cut into 3 cm cubes (roughly) 2 cups of water sea salt to taste 1 cup of gravy mix or granules (original Bisto or cheap equivalent! – use 3 teaspoons of powder for 1 cup of water)
Fry the onion in the sunflower oil for a few minutes and then add the cubed mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms soften (five minutes approx) then add the water and gravy mix – stir until thickened.
Pictured mushrooms for prettiness; we don’t know if they’re edible!
Wild garlic pesto is a much eaten dish in this house in spring. Wild garlic grows wild in woodland areas. It is best harvested in April and May before the flowers are fully out, but still good after then. Easily identifiable by their strong garlic scent, the leaves are good in a variety of dishes. Try them in soups, stews, sauces, anywhere you want a garlic flavour. The flowers are also good to add to cooking or fry into fritters.
For the pesto: gather a couple of bunches of wild garlic leaves, wash, place in blender with small bag of nuts or seeds such as pinenuts, brazils, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, gradually adding enough olive oil to blend smoothly as you go. Once blended, mix into pasta. Pictured served with salad and some sesame seeds stirred in.
Variations: you can use traditional basil or other herbs instead of or as well as wild garlic adding lemon juice lessens the amount of oil needed other nice inclusions are nettles (yes really) and black pepper pesto is also nice mixed into boiled potatoes, in sandwiches, or diluted with vinegar/lemon juice and made into a salad dressing.
Seasonal, delicious and super garlic-y, this roast pumpkin and garlic pasta in a blended sauce makes a filling and nutritious meal. The texture of the pumpkin with the pasta works really well. Quantities are for four large portions. Butternut squash, available all year round, works well in this too.
You could use the scooped out flesh of a carving pumpkin for this recipe though culinary ones are more flavourful.
1 culinary pumpkin, de-seeded and chopped into chunks
1 bulb of garlic, with the cloves separated and peeled
a little olive oil
a handful of cashew nuts
the juice and rind of 1 lemon
a little salt
1 apple, roughly chopped
Place the chopped pumpkin and peeled garlic in a roasting tin and coat well with the olive oil (with hands is best). Roast for about half an hour at 200C/400F, then leave to cool.
Prepare pasta of your choice according to packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking you can make the sauce. Remove the skin from the pumpkin chunks and place them in a blender with all the other sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick add a little water and blend again.
Once the pasta is ready, stir in the sauce and there you go. Yummy Autumnal goodness!
Spicy variant: add a couple of red chillies to the roasting pan and to the mix (best to de-seed them after roasting).
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 in a Cheesy Sauce
Cauliflower (25p) in a white sauce (milk/marg/flour/water totalling 20p), and 30p worth of leftover rice made into herby tomato rice, we added: 1 onion (7p, not marked down but really cheap in Lidl) a squirt of tomato puree (5p), dried herbs (5p) salt (1p).
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!
Pizza Bagels or Pittas
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. Lidl has many things, including a basket of bread, reduced to 20p first thing in the morning. 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 🙂