Root Vegetable Soup, frugal cooking

This is a sweet and flavoursome root vegetable soup, perfectly fortifying for those colder days.

Ingredients for a large pot to serve four people

root vegetable soup
  • half a cup of red split lentils
  • 5 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 5 medium carrots, scraped and chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, diced but with skins left on
  • a couple of red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large sticks of celery, chopped
  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary (dried can be substituted), finely chopped or scissored into the pan
  • water to cover
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Place the lentils in a large pan and cover well with water. Bring to the boil and turn down to simmer while you prepare the other vegetables. Add the chopped veg and rosemary and cover well with more water (cooking time is reduced if you boil the water in a kettle first). Once the vegetables are tender, mash thoroughly and add salt and pepper. Nice garnished with fresh parsley or finely chopped spring onions as in the picture above.

If you liked this root vegetable soup, try our other frugal recipes here.

Chunky Purple Pasta, frugal food

purple pasta

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

Method

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.

If you liked this purple pasta dish, try our other frugal recipes here!

Crumble: fruit or rhubarb

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



gluten-free vegetarian lasagne, frugal food

gluten-free vegetarian lasagne

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

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.

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.

Variations

  • 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.

If you liked this gluten-free vegetarian lasagne, try some of our other frugal recipes here.

gluten-free vegetarian lasagne

rice salad, super simple, super frugal

rice salad

This rice salad was submitted by the Wee Writing Lassie

This recipe is quick, easy to make and a good way to use up all that old tat lying around your kitchen before it goes by its sell by date and gives you food poisoning!

Rice Salad Ingredients

  • cooked and cooled rice
  • 2 or 3 spring onions, chopped (or a bunch of chives)
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • a quarter of a cucumber, diced
  • olives
  • a tin of red kidney beans
  • a little vegetable oil
  • a little cyder vinegar
  • optional ingredients: any fruit or veg as long as it’s not rotten or a banana cause that’s just wrong.

Method

Mix Together. Really. It couldn’t be more simple. If you can’t manage that I have to question your ability to function in the world!

This rice salad is lovely with a baked potato. Below it is topped with borage flowers, from a herb you only have to plant once. As long as you are not too fastidious a weeder, it will self seed all over your garden!

rice salad with borage flowers
The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

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.

Welcome to Frugal Living in the UK!

Whether you want to reduce your debts, save for a holiday, stay at home with your children, live more simply or just beat the system a little and end up with more cash, we hope you find something here to help. Consider yourself as in a clothes shop – look around, try the ideas on for size, take what’s right for you and leave the rest for someone else. The main sections are listed above. Happy browsing 🙂

aduki bean and amaranth pie

aduki bean and amaranth pie

This aduki bean and amaranth pie is 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.

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

Ingredients

  • 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.

Method

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 bay leaves 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

Mushroom Pea Rice, frugal food

mushroom pea rice

Mushroom pea rice is a very simple dish, but utterly delicious. Nice with salad as a light meal or as part of a larger dinner with a baked potato or oven chips. It is pictured above as an accompaniment to a curry.

Quantities are entirely adjustable. For our huge horde we cooked 500g of rice, 2 punnets of mushrooms and half a bag of peas.

Extra frugal if you follow our food shopping tips or forage for mushrooms.


food for free -  a classic book on foraging

Food for Free by Richard Mabey is a great guide to Britain’s wild foods. A favourite reference tool of ours, detailing wild herbs, berries, greens, sea vegetables and fungi. 

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Ingredients

  • rice
  • a little olive oil
  • sliced mushrooms
  • frozen peas
  • salt to taste.

Method

Prepare the rice as per packet instructions. While it’s cooking, fry the mushrooms and peas in the oil. Cover and let the peas simmer in the mushroom juices for a few minutes until cooked. Add salt. Once the rice is ready, mix it all together.

Thrifty tip: prepare more rice than you need and make tomato and rice soup or rice salad the next day

If you liked this mushroom pea rice recipe, try our other frugal fare!

the mermaid and the bear

“The first time the sea killed me, my brother brought me back to life.”

So begins THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Set in a castle, this historical novel features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.

radish top soup, a no waste recipe

Radish top soup, a no waste recipe

This no waste recipe uses up the leaves of radish which are one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. Please don’t throw them away!

Radishes are one of the easiest things to grow in your garden. A pack of seeds are ready in a few weeks making lovely crimson additions to salads. We were delighted when Julia Barr sent us this great no waste recipe using their tops (leaves), the part which is usually thrown away. No exact quantities are given so adjust to how many tops you have!

Ingredients

radish top soup

vegetable oil or soya margarine
diced onion
diced potatoes
chopped radish tops
vegetable stock or water
soya milk
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Cook the onion in oil or margarine until soft, add the potato and radish tops, stir until coated in oil/margarine. Add the stock and bring to the boil, simmer until the potato is soft, whiz in a blender until creamy, add soya milk to loosen, add salt and pepper to taste.

A real treat, creamy and yummy and an extra revelation: fresh tarragon is an excellent inclusion! And some cashews, soaked, cooked and blended into the recipe make it a ‘cream of’ style soup.

If you liked this no waste recipe, try our other frugal recipes here!

rhubarb jam

rhubarb jam

A delicious jam, exceptionally cheap to make, especially if you have a free source of rhubarb.

It is very easy to grow, coming up every year without fail. Don’t be shy about asking friends and neighbours if they have any spare when you see it growing – it’s surprising how much sits there unused in gardens – and you can give them a pot of the resulting jam as a thank you!

Use the same weight of rhubarb as sugar, for 3 or 4 jars we used: 1 kilo rhubarb sticks; 1 kilo preserving sugar (theoretically cheaper as it’s not ground up fine but if you find discounted sugar go for it – it’s all much the same!); juice of 2 lemons; a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger.

Layer up a bowl with rhubarb and sugar and leave to sit overnight. Next day, pour it into a pan with the lemon and ginger and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer until the rhubarb is all mushy and the sugar mix is thickening. This is much quicker with rhubarb than many other fruit jams and it can be done in about 20 minutes. Leave to cool, remove ginger piece and then pour your rhubarb jam into jars.

Another simple way to use rhubarb is in a crumble or pie. It can be used in place of apples in our apple pie recipe.