With food prices inflated by 14 percent, the cost of ingredients is higher than ever, and energy costs rising, it means things are only going to get tougher.
So I wanted to arm you a lot with the best recipeshints, tips and shortcuts, as well as useful cooking The Principles – Think more batch cooking, embracing the freezer and microwave more, and making the most of your oven – then you can cook up great food even on a tight budget.
We’re celebrating recipes that are lively, smart and delicious – and for less than £1 per portion*.
What’s more, each portion contains all your 5 servings per day.
The oven consumes more energy than, for example, an oven or microwave, but this does not mean that it is the enemy.
When you turn it on, let’s just use it to its full potential and fill it up.
No matter what happens out there, I hope these dishes give you the confidence to keep costs down and increase flavor and nutrition.
This is good food made with clever and humble ingredients, and these recipes will come in handy whenever you need them.
*Time of filming, September 2022.
With beautiful tender meat, soft cheese and the most horrible tomato sauce, this is the kind of food that really makes me happy.
By elevating one of the cheapest cuts of meat with clever flavor hacks, this classic recipe works hard for you and your wallet.
total time: 1 hour
- 500gm minced pork
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 50 gm cheddar cheese
- 100g stale bread
- olive oil
- 3 islands
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 fresh red peppers
- 2 x 400gm chopped tomatoes
- 1.5 kg of potatoes
- Put the pork, eggs, and 1 teaspoon full of thyme in a bowl. Grate half the amount of cheddar, then sprinkle the bread with water and add to the mixture.
- Add a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and using your hands to rub it together well, shape into a loaf (about 20 cm long).
- Place a large, shallow saucepan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and meat foam, stirring until browned on all sides.
- Meanwhile, trim and angle carrots into 1cm-thick coarse pieces, adding them to the skillet as you go. Peel and chop into coarse pieces, add onion and garlic. Cut the chili in half and remove the seeds, then add it to the party, along with the chopped tomatoes and remaining oregano.
- Season until tender, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until meatloaf is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into 2.5 cm pieces and put them in a large frying pan. Then cover with water only, put a lid on top and cook for 10 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- Drain, mash well, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season well. Once time on meatloaf is up, lift lid, grate over remaining cheddar, arrange pepper halves on top, cover again and cook for another 2 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
- Remove the meatloaf to a board and cut it into strips, mashing the chilies into the sauce for more heat, if you like.
- Divide the puree among warm plates, spoon it over the sauce, and serve with a slice of meatloaf and an extra shred of cheddar, if you like.
feed: 526 calories, 19.3g fat (6g saturated), 28.2g protein, 63.7g carbs, 11.4g sugar, 7g fiber, 0.9g salt
Serving weight: 626.8 grams
Signs of a special diet: gluten free
Vegetable servings: 2
Dirty vegetable lasagna
Getting the most out of frozen vegetables, this beautiful rustic lasagna is a joy to make and eat.
total time: 45 minutes
- 1 leek
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 160gm mature cheddar cheese
- 50 g stale bread
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 teaspoons English mustard
- 1 liter of semi-skimmed milk
- 300gm frozen peas
- 500gm frozen broccoli
- 250g dried lasagna slices
- Preheat oven to 200°C / 180°C / Gas 6. Place a large shallow saucepan over medium to high heat. Wash the leeks, chop, slice and put in the skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and dried mint.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper, then cover and fry for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly and adding a little water if necessary.
- Meanwhile, grate the cheddar coarsely and chop the bread finely to make rustic breadcrumbs, then set aside for later.
- Stir in the flour with the shallots, then the mustard, and slowly stir in the milk to get a loose white sauce. Then add half of the shredded cheddar cheese and let it disappear for a few minutes.
- Season well with sea salt and black pepper, then add the peas and frozen broccoli.
- Lay out the pasta strips and mix well to coat and separate, then pull some sheets up to create a topping – use the back of a spoon to make some dips and wells.
- Stir in the remaining cheddar cheese with the breadcrumbs, then spread.
- Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and boiling. Serve with an extra net of cheddar, if you like.
feed: 17.8g fat (8.7g saturated), 26g protein, 54.2g carbs, 12.8g sugar, 7g fiber, 1.3g salt
Serving weight: 244.8 grams
Signs of a special diet: vegetarian
Spinach, sweet potato and chickpea curry
I am developing the humble microwave here, one of the cheapest ways to cook, in terms of energy.
Packed with flavor and plenty of lovely veggies, this delicious curry couldn’t be easier to stir.
total time: 35 minutes
- 160gm frozen spinach leaves
- ½ cup basmati rice (150 g)
- 1 onion
- 4 cm piece of ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- Vegetable oil
- 1 green pepper
- Small sweet potato (200 g)
- 1 x 400 grams of chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons natural yogurt
- Take the spinach out of the freezer and put it on a plate to start defrosting.
- Place the rice in a 2-quart microwave-proof bowl or bowl with 1 cup (300 ml) water and a pinch of sea salt, then cover the bowl with a lid or a side dish.
- Microwave on medium heat (400-500W) for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on microwave power), then remove and steam with the lid on.
- Meanwhile, peel the onions, 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 puree to the dish, along with the curry powder, a pinch of sea salt and a tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir everything together.
- Pierce green peppers and sweet potatoes with a sharp knife, then add them to the dish and cover with a plate or lid. Set the microwave to high (800 watts) and cook for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the dish from the microwave and uncover the lid. Using tongs, remove the sweet potatoes, put them on the board and cut them into 3cm pieces, then flip them back into the bowl.
- Add the chickpeas (juice and everything) with the frozen spinach, stir to combine, then cover and microwave on high (800W) for another 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the dish from the microwave, uncover the lid and stir everything together, breaking up the spinach with a spoon.
- Carefully taste (it will be hot), season well with salt and black pepper, then stir in the yogurt.
- Lay the chili on the board, chop it fine and stir it back into the curry for more heat, to your taste, then roll the rice to serve.
feed: 11.6g fat (1.7g saturated), 18.3g protein, 68.1g carbs, 22.1g sugar, 16g fiber, 1.1g salt
Serving weight: 328.3 grams
Signs of a special diet: Vegetarian, gluten free
Vegetable servings: 5
Make your meat go twice as far with this beauty of group cooking.
I’m using half lentils and half ground beef or pork here, which means it’s not only the cutest on the planet, but your wallet too.
total time: 2 hours and 40 minutes
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary or half a bunch of rosemary (15 grams)
- 6 pieces of smoked bacon or smoked pancetta
- olive oil
- 750g minced beef or pork
- 8 garlic cloves
- 500gm fresh or frozen chopped onions, carrots and celery
- 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 x 400 grams of lentils
- 4 cans x 400g chopped tomatoes or prunes
- Method: Place a deep saucepan over medium to high heat. Peel and finely chop the rosemary leaves, cut the bacon or pancetta into thin strips, and place them all in the skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, stirring regularly, until slightly golden.
- Stir in the minced meat, chop it up with a spoon, and let it brown for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Peel garlic, chop finely and add to it with chopped mixed vegetables, season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the balsamic and cook away, then add the lentils, juice, and everything. Next, add the tomatoes, fill half of each of the four cans with water, wrap them around and pour them into the pan.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 2 hours, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Season to perfection, enjoy with cooked spaghetti, and prepare extra to stash in the fridge or freezer for future meals.
Slow cooker tip: If you have a slow cooker, it may be more economical.
Fry the base in a skillet on the stove first, then transfer to the slow cooker, reducing the amount of liquid added.
feed: 16.8g fat (6g saturated), 30.1g protein, 74.6g carbs, 10.6g sugar, 4.3g fiber, 0.5g salt
Serving weight: 347 grams
Signs of a special diet: Unavailable
Vegetable servings: 2
Jimmy’s top five budget-friendly tips
Are you facing hard times? These may be small changes, but they stack together.
Fill the oven: If you’re running the oven, take advantage of it by cooking two dishes at once. Don’t have time to prepare a second dish?
Prick and chop a whole squash nut instead, then use the cooked pieces in salads, soups, stews, and pasta. . .
go small: It’s simple but the smaller you chop the vegetables, the faster they cook.
Cut the potatoes into about 1 inch and they will be cooked in about 10 minutes instead of 20.
And just cover it with water, so you don’t boil the water unnecessarily (don’t forget that it’s cheaper to boil it on a gas stove than on a kettle).
Emperor’s Splendor: Humble greens have always been budget friendly, but wonky greens are cheaper, so it’s a great way to cut costs.
I like to see vegetables in all their great sizes – total lack is perfect for me.
Eat more meat: My meatloaf is filled with bread, and in 50/50 Bolognese, the minced meat is sautéed with lentils, making it more nutritious and delicious.
It still feels cheerful and festive, but it will feed more people.
Put a cap on it: Again, simple, but once you put the lid on the pots, it will save you energy by keeping all the heat inside.
It won’t take long for things to boil or preserve. It is also cheaper to cook things on low heat than to cook them at full boil.
- Jamie’s £1 Wonders airs Mondays at 8pm on Channel 4 and All 4.
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