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.
Delicious and filling, this sausage and bean pie is a perfect winter dish, and 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 (also check Low Price Foods) 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.
Simple to make, lovely to eat. Particularly frugal for us as we found these wraps reduced to 10p on Christmas Eve (freezer has quite a pile of them now) and the peanut butter at 4 jars for £1 at Approved Food, and it’s the nicest peanut butter we’ve tasted!
Ingredients for four people:
4 wraps or tortillas of your choice
a tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin sticks
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each: dried coriander, ground cumin, dried fenugreek. Or you could just use some curry powder.
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon peanut butter
salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pan and fry up the onion and sweet potatoes for a few minutes before adding the spices and mixing well. Add the coconut, peanut butter and salt along with a small amount of water (a few tablespoons), cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft. It should only take a few minutes: sweet potatoes cook much faster than white ones.
Lay out your wraps and divide the sweet potato mixture between them. We lay it out in a line and then fold down the ends of the wrap before rolling the fajitas up for less messy eating!
These beer battered onion rings are gorgeous! They’re light and crispy and fluffy and wonderfully flavourful. And really, really simple to make.
Ingredients (for four side portions or two greedy ones)
oil to fry; we used sunflower
one large onion
about a cup/120g of self raising flour, we used Asda’s gluten free
about 200ml of beer of your choice; you could substitute sparkling water instead
half a teaspoon of salt
a quarter teaspoon of dried turmeric (optional, makes the batter more colourful)
Slice up your onion to make the rings, not too thinly, and discard the skin. Whisk together the flour and beer/water until a nice thick batter forms. You don’t want it watery but neither do you want it too stiff like a cake mix.
Heat your oil. If you have a deep fat fryer: go for it! We used a large pan with the oil at about an inch deep and did the rings in three batches. Test the oil with a small drop of batter: if it starts bubbling and frying, it’s ready.
Dip the onion rings in the batter, coating them well, and then pop them into the oil to fry for a few minutes until the batter goes nice and golden. It’s best to do this, both the putting in and lifting out, with a fork or other implement: don’t burn those fingers!
You can lay them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil if you want.
This is a sweet and flavoursome root vegetable soup, perfectly fortifying for those colder days.
Ingredients for a large pot to serve four people
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 🙂