Sandy’s Sausage Stew

Bob’s your uncle! 15 minutes prep, 40 minutes cooking time

 

Proper butchers sausages will likely be made from locally-sourced meat. If you buy 500g/1lb sausages, you can feed your family. To make six fat butcher’s sausages feed a family of five, I like to cook them in a casserole/stew. You can choose whether you ‘brown’ them first. Browning means frying until the meat is no longer pink, so that the meat is sealed. This applies to all types of meat and is done so that the fat won’t leak into the sauce. It also means the meat is already partially cooked by the time you put in the other ingredients, so it won’t take as long to cook the whole meal. If you don’t brown your meat, the fat will turn to oil and float around on top.

 

Sausage Cassoulet (fancy name for a stew/casserole with beans in)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (not olive oil) £1.50/litre

500g sausages (I’d recommend butcher’s sausages with locally-sourced meat, but supermarket sausages will do if money is particularly tight, or low-fat supermarket sausages if you’re concerned about the fat content) Smartprice sausages £0.84/681g (I’d use the extra 181g in the recipe; it’s not going to make any difference)

1 onion, chopped (I keep a packet of ready-chopped, frozen onion in the freezer – saves time and cuts wastage) frozen onion £1/500g

1 clove garlic, chopped (again, I keep a pack of ready-chopped garlic in the freezer) frozen garlic £1.27/80g

1 tin baked beans 25p/410g

1 carton passata 29p/500g

400g frozen mixed vegetables (you can include more) or the same of fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli or courgettes, chopped 75p/kg

2 chicken stock cubes (I use kallo organic free range chicken stock cubes) £1.08/66g

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce £1.19/150ml (tomato ketchup can be used instead)

2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs 19p/18g or 1 bouquet garni £1.05/5g

1.5l water (more can be added if it looks too dry)

Total 49p per person

 

1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot. On a medium heat, soften the onions and garlic. Brown the sausages.

2. Add beans, tomatoes, vegetables, stock cubes, Worcestershire sauce, herbs and water. The water should be covering the ingredients. Stir well.

3. Bring to the boil.

4. Turn down the heat and let it simmer (bubble gently, not vigorously) for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

5. Serve with mashed potato, jacket potatoes, fresh bread, rice or dumplings. My children love to add a little grated cheese.

Enjoy!

 

Alternatively, once you have done step 1, you can transfer to a casserole dish, add the remaining ingredients and cover with a lid (you may not fit as much water in). Place in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 45 minutes.

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Crunchy Chunky Flapjacks

Simple: prep time 10 mins max, cooking time 30 mins

After today’s butcher’s sausages and mash dinner, lovingly prepared by my wonderful husband, we prepared popcorn to last for several days’ worth of lunchboxes, followed by these delicious fruity, crunchy flapjacky delights; an ideal alternative to biscuits and cakes. They’re so easy, my 9-year-old did most of the preparation by herself.

250g margarine (I use dairy free vitalite, £1/500g)

250g sugar (I use unrefined demerara, £1.60/kg)

2 tablespoons maple syrup (£2.48/250g)

100g chopped mixed dried fruit (98p/500g)

75g chopped dried apricots (£1.12/200g)

300g oats (or wheatflakes, buckwheat, etc.) (85p/kg)

100g cornflakes, crushed (53p/750g)

70g dessicated coconut (96p/200g)

40g chopped nuts (67p/150g)

£2.56 total cost to make

1. Place the margarine, sugar and syrup in a large saucepan over a medium heat and stir gently with a wooden spoon until melted.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, folding in carefully until well mixed.

3. I used two 20cm square silicon containers, but if you use metal you should grease them. Press the mixture down firmly into the tins using the back of a wooden spoon and bake for 30 mins at 180°C (based on a fan oven).

4. Allow to cool and cut into flapjack-size pieces, or whatever takes your fancy! Ours yielded 32, which comes in at a niftily thrifty 8p per yummy slice.

5. These will last… well, not long in our house, but if stored in an airtight container these will last at least a couple of weeks.

Enjoy!

TOP TIPS

Although the above prices are based on current Asda prices, I actually used out-dated oats bought some time ago from a Cash and Carry shop, which were even less than listed above, and were mixed with various seeds. You could alter the recipe by omitting some of the oats and instead substituting other flakes and a few seeds,

to make the texture and taste more interesting.

Cheating Beef and Ale Pie

Ten minutes preparation, 2 hours cooking time

Still off-colour, I have resorted to a jar of Asda’s ‘Beef and Ale Slow Cook Sauce’ for £1.28, which boasts ‘no artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated fat’, 500g lean *beef mince for £3.75, two packets of Asda Smartprice *instant mash (which I keep as back-up for days like this) 20p/120g and some frozen peas, £1/kg

Total cost £1.17 per person when feeding a family of five. We will probably have some bread rolls as an accompaniment too. Just goes to show that the easiest food, when you’re not up to much, doesn’t have to be junk food. Beef and ale pie is my favourite, so I’m looking forward to this low fat alternative 😉

Here’s what you do:

1. Place the mince in a pan and heat gently until all the meat is brown instead of pink. Stir occasionally so that the mince doesn’t end up in big clumps.

2. Transfer to a 2L casserole dish with a lid, one of these things:

which you can buy here, if you can’t find one in the supermarket.

3. Cook for two hours, as instructed on the jar.

4. Serve topped with instant mash, seasoned with herbamare (my favourite), and a side of peas.

Enjoy!

 

TOP TIPS

*I used lean beef mince instead of the steak that the jar says. Beef is not good for your bowels, so we eat it very rarely. After the scandal involving burgers and horsemeat, I am oh-so-glad we tend to avoid processed meat…

*Instant Smartprice mash – what can I say? Not exactly wholesome and definitely comes under ‘processed’ but it’s a great low-fat standby for when you’re not up to much! And hey, I’m a human being, not wonderwoman o_O

How to Make Stock

Easy peasy, five minutes to prepare

As I was a little off-colour last night, and our budget doesn’t stretch to takeaways, we had a meal straight from the freezer: a small roast lamb joint, bought from Asda for £5, plus frozen *roast potatoes, £1/kg, and frozen mixed vegetables, 75p/kg. Served with onion gravy, £0.71 for 200g. Works out at £1.29 per person. This was followed by Banana Mess, as posted previously. I wasn’t expecting a great deal of meat for a fiver, but most of what had initially looked like a reasonably-sized piece of meat was actually bone.

What to do!

The healthy-cook-on-a-budget asks how far they can stretch the ingredients of each meal, with as little wastage as possible, so I decided to save the hunk of bone, refrigerate it, and make a stock, which will then form the basis for a vegetable soup which we will eat this evening.

Here’s how to make stock:

1 carcass (e.g. the remains of a roast chicken) or large bone (e.g. remains of a lamb joint)

Discarded vegetables (if you have them), such as tops and tails of carrots or celery, potato peelings, onion skins, etc.

Half an onion, chopped

1 teaspoon *Herbamare seasoning salt

2 teaspoons dried *mixed herbs or *bouquet garni

Anything else you think may add to the flavour, such as soy sauce or a teaspoon of yeast extract or a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, according to your preferences. You may even choose to add some garlic.

Large saucepan or stockpot

1. Soften the onion in a large pan. This brings out the flavour and makes it less bitter. You can add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the pan to do this, or simply ‘sweat’ them gently, over a low heat, until they are soft.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and top the pan up with water until the water line is about 6cm below the rim of the pan (you don’t want it to bubble over – this is annoying and makes a mess).

3. Cook gently for several hours. This can also be done in the slow cooker.

4. Strain through a colander and, if necessary, a sieve.

Et voila! Stock, which can be frozen for future use or used to make soup.

TOP TIPS

*Frozen roast potatoes are a handy thing to have in the freezer. Asda’s own brand are low in fat.

*Herbamare can be purchased in your health food shop, or online

*Asda smartprice dried mixed herbs cost pennies

*Bouquet garni can be bought in little bags, or you can make your own, see here

Banana Mess

Two minutes, easy peasy

Looking for a no-frills, no junk pudding? Look no further! Get the kids to help – even a small child can use a table knife to slice banana.

To feed two adults and three children you will need:

500g tub plain *yoghurt 65p at Asda

5 *bananas 20p each

1 teaspoon of honey per person (squeezy honey is easiest when you have children – less potential for mess) £1.58 for 250g at Asda, I estimate that that works out at 5g per person, which is 3p per serving

A pudding bowl each

Total cost per serving = 33p

 

1. Slice a banana into a pudding bowl, squirt with a teaspoon of honey. Repeat for each person.

2. Divide the yoghurt between the bowls, using a dessert spoon.

3. Mix.

Enjoy!

TOP TIPS

*Alpro soya plain yoghurt can be substituted if, like me, you’re dairy free.

This increases the price to 48p per person.

* Just because we’re on a budget, doesn’t mean we get to rip-off poor people;

the price above is for FAIR TRADE bananas.

Popcorn: No More Crisps!

15 minutes start to finish, max.

Crisps are seemingly fairly cheap, but they are high in salt and fat. For an easy, cheap alternative, why not have a go at making your own popcorn?

Popcorn kernels are high in fibre and low in fat. Asda sells 1kg popping corn for £2.50, which yields enough for dozens of snack-sized portions, perfect for lunch boxes.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil in a saucepan with a well-fitting lid.

2. Add a handful of popcorn and heat over a medium heat.

3. The grains will start to pop and will rapidly fill the pan. Kids love watching this bit!

4. When the popping slows, remove from the heat.

5. When the popping stops, remove the lid.

6. Place into container of your choice, with a sprinkling of salt, or herbamare (a tasty, healthy alternative to salt) which you can buy in your local health food shop, or online. It is more expensive than salt, but it lasts a long time and is very tasty. Certain ingredients are worth paying a little more for, on occasion.

Here is the finished result:

to be uploaded when my phone has stopped playing up