WITH food prices hitting 14 per cent inflation, the cost of ingredients is higher than ever, and coupled with rising energy costs, it means things are only going to get tougher.
So I wanted to arm you lovely lot with the best recipes, hints, tips and shortcuts, as well as helpful cooking principles – think bigging up batch-cooking, embracing the freezer and the microwave more, and making the most of your oven – then you can whip up great food even on a tight budget.
Jamie Oliver’s budget busting recipes come in at under £1 a portion[/caption]
We’re celebrating recipes that are resourceful, clever, joyfully delicious – and come in at under £1 a portion*.
What’s more, each portion contains all five of your 5-a-day.
The oven does draw more energy than, say, the hob or microwave, but that doesn’t mean it’s the enemy.
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When you do turn it on, let’s just use it to its full potential and fill it up.
No matter what’s happening out there, I hope these dishes will give you the confidence to keep costs down and flavour and nutrition up.
This is good food made with clever, humble ingredients, and these recipes will be up your sleeve whenever you need them.
*At time of filming, September 2022.
Most read in The Sun
WITH beautifully tender meat, oozy cheese and the most outrageous tomato sauce, this is the kind of food that makes me really happy.
By elevating one of the cheapest cuts of meat with clever flavour hacks, this classic recipe works hard for you and your wallet.
Total time: 1 hour
- 500g minced pork
- 1 large egg
- 2 heaped tsp dried oregano
- 50g Cheddar cheese
- 100g stale bread
- Olive oil
- 3 carrots
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 fresh red chillies
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1.5kg potatoes
- Put the pork, egg and 1 heaped tsp of oregano into a bowl. Grate in half the Cheddar, then sprinkle the bread with water and add to the mix.
- Add a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper, use your hands to scrunch it all together well, then shape into a loaf (roughly 20cm long).
- Place a large shallow casserole pan on a medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the meatloaf, turning until brown on all sides.
- Meanwhile, trim and slice the carrots at an angle into rough 1cm-thick chunks, adding to the pan as you go. Peel, roughly chop and add the onion and garlic. Halve the chillies lengthways and de-seed, then add them to the party, along with the chopped tomatoes and remaining oregano.
- Season to perfection, cover, turn down the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, chop the potatoes into 2.5cm chunks and place in a large pan. Then just cover with water, place a lid on top and cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Drain, then mash well, stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season to perfection. Once the time’s up on the meatloaf, remove the lid, grate over the remaining Cheddar, arrange the chilli halves on top, then cover again and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Remove the meatloaf to a board and slice up, mashing the chillies into the sauce for added heat, if you like.
- Divide the mash between warm plates, spoon over the sauce, and serve with a slice of meatloaf and an extra grating of Cheddar, if you like.
Nutrition: 526kcals, 19.3g fat (6g saturated), 28.2g protein, 63.7g carbs, 11.4g sugar, 7g fibre, 0.9g salt
Weight of portion: 626.8g
Special diet tags: Gluten-free
Veg portions: 2
Scruffy veg lasagne
This recipe is a great way to put frozen vegetables to good use[/caption]
MAKING the most of frozen veg, this lovely rustic lasagne is a joy to make and eat.
Total time: 45 minutes
- 1 leek
- Olive oil
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 160g mature Cheddar cheese
- 50g stale bread
- 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp English mustard
- 1 litre semi-skimmed milk
- 300g frozen peas
- 500g frozen broccoli
- 250g dried lasagne sheets
- Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put a large, shallow casserole pan on a medium-high heat. Wash, trim and slice the leek and place in the pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil and the dried mint.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper, then cover and fry for 5 minutes, or until soft, stirring regularly and adding a splash of water, if needed.
- Meanwhile, coarsely grate the Cheddar and finely chop the bread to create rustic breadcrumbs, and put aside for later.
- Stir the flour into the leeks, followed by the mustard, and slowly stir in the milk to give you a loose white sauce. Then add just half of the grated Cheddar and leave to blip away for a few minutes.
- Season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper, then stir in the frozen peas and broccoli.
- Snap in the pasta sheets, mix up really well to coat and separate, then pull some of the sheets to the top to create a top layer – use the back of a spoon to create some dips and wells.
- Toss the remaining Cheddar with the breadcrumbs, then scatter over.
- Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve topped with an extra grating of Cheddar, if you like.
Nutrition: 17.8g fat (8.7g saturated), 26g protein, 54.2g carbs, 12.8g sugar, 7g fibre, 1.3g salt
Weight of portion: 244.8g
Special diet tags: Vegetarian
Spinach, sweet potato and chickpea curry
I’M bigging up the humble microwave here, which is one of the cheapest ways to cook, energy-wise.
Packed with flavour and lots of lovely veg, this delicious curry could not be easier to rustle up.
Total time: 35 minutes
- 160g frozen leaf spinach
- ½ mug of basmati rice (150g)
- 1 onion
- 4cm piece of ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 1 heaped tsp curry powder
- Vegetable oil
- 1 green chilli
- 1 small sweet potato (200g)
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
- 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
- Take the spinach out of the freezer and place on a plate to start defrosting.
- Place the rice in a 2-litre microwave-proof dish or bowl with 1 mug of water (300ml) and a pinch of sea salt, then cover the bowl with a lid or a side plate.
- Cook in the microwave on a medium heat (400-500W) for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave), then remove and leave to steam with the lid on.
- Meanwhile, peel the onion, ginger and garlic. Place a box grater in a microwave-proof dish and grate the onion and ginger on the coarse side, followed by the garlic on the fine side.
- Add the tomato purée to the dish, along with the curry powder, a pinch of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and stir everything together.
- Prick the green chilli and sweet potato with a sharp knife, then add both to the dish and cover with a plate or lid. Set the microwave to high (800W) and cook for 10 minutes.
- Carefully lift the dish out of the microwave and uncover. Using tongs, remove the sweet potato, place on your board and slice into 3cm chunks, then stir back into the bowl.
- Add the chickpeas (juice and all), along with the frozen spinach, stir together, then cover and cook in the microwave on a high heat (800W) for another 10 minutes.
- Carefully lift the dish out of the microwave, uncover and stir everything together, breaking up the spinach with a spoon.
- Carefully taste (it will be hot), season to perfection with salt and black pepper, then stir in the yoghurt.
- Remove the chilli to your board, finely slice and stir back into the curry for added heat, to your taste, then fork up the rice to serve.
Nutrition: 11.6g fat (1.7g saturated), 18.3g protein, 68.1g carbs, 22.1g sugar, 16g fibre 1.1g salt
Weight of portion: 328.3g
Special diet tags: Vegetarian, gluten-free
Veg portions: 5
This big bolognese dish can serve as many as 12 portions[/caption]
MAKE your meat go twice as far with this batch-cook beauty.
I’m using half lentils and half minced beef or pork here, which means it’s not only kinder to the planet, but your wallet, too.
Total time: 2 hours 40 mins
- 2 tsp dried rosemary or half a bunch of rosemary (15g)
- 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon or smoked pancetta
- olive oil
- 750g minced beef or pork
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 500g fresh or frozen chopped mixed onion, carrot & celery
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 x 400g tins of lentils
- 4 x 400g tins of chopped or plum tomatoes
- METHOD: Put a large deep casserole pan on a medium-high heat. Pick and finely chop the rosemary leaves, finely slice the bacon or pancetta, and place it all in the pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, stirring regularly, until lightly golden.
- Stir in the mince, breaking it up with your spoon, and let it brown for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Peel, finely chop and add the garlic, along with the chopped mixed veg, season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for another 15 minutes, still stirring regularly.
- Stir in the balsamic, cook away, then add the lentils, juice and all. Next, add the tomatoes, then half-fill each of the four tins with water, swirl around and pour into the pan.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium-low heat for 2 hours, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Season to perfection, and enjoy with cooked spaghetti, batching up extra portions to stash in the fridge or freezer for future meals.
SLOW COOKER TIP: If you have a slow cooker it may be even more economical.
Fry the base in a pan on the hob first, then transfer into the slow cooker, and reduce the amount of liquid added.
Nutrition: 16.8g fat (6g saturated), 30.1g protein, 74.6g carbs, 10.6g sugar, 4.3g fibre, 0.5g salt
Weight of portion: 347g
Special diet tags: N/A
Veg portions: 2
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Jamie's top five budget friendly tips
FACING tough times? These may be small changes, but together they mount up.
FILL THE OVEN: If you’re turning the oven on, make the most of it by cooking two dishes at once. Don’t have time to make a second dish?
Prick a whole butternut squash and pop that in instead, then use cooked chunks in salads, soups, stews, pastas . . .
GO SMALL: It’s simple but the smaller you chop veggies, the quicker they’ll cook.
Cut potatoes to around 1in chunks and they’ll be done in about 10 minutes instead of 20.
And only just cover them with water, so you aren’t boiling water unnecessarily (don’t forget, it’s cheaper to boil it on the gas stove than in a kettle).
EMBRACE WONKINESS: Humble veg has always been budget-friendly, but wonky veg is even cheaper, so is a great way to keep costs down.
I love to see vegetables in all their wonderful sizes – perfectly imperfect is perfect for me.
MAKE MEAT GO FURTHER: My meatloaf is bulked out with bread, and in my 50/50 Bolognese the mince is stretched with lentils, making it go further while being more nutritious and delicious.
It still feels joyful and celebratory, but it will feed more people.
PUT A LID ON IT: Again, simple, but just by putting the lid on your saucepans, it’ll save you energy by keeping all the heat in.
It won’t take as long to bring things up to a boil, or to sustain it. It’s also cheaper to cook things at a simmer than a full boil.
- Jamie’s £1 Wonders airs on Monday at 8pm on Channel 4 & All 4.