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simple economical recipes - Carers UK Forum

simple economical recipes

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.

This has been a family favourite for years. They like home made Cornish pasties but they are fiddly to make, even with a plastic pasty maker. After making a few I ran out of time, so I got a pie tin, lined it with pastry and filled it with pasty mixture, put the lid on, and cooked it. Everyone loved the result. A few weeks later I made another with more meat, but they preferred the one with less meat! It's a good way of dealing with left over veg in the fridge drawer at the end of the week!

I started cooking with mum before I went to school, and cooked with my gran, and did Domestic Science, so was very happy doing basic cooking as a teenager. I married and bought a house with my husband at 19, , everything in the house was second hand apart from the bed and I was on a tight budget. Ingredients tended to be whatever was around!

Make some shortcrust pastry. 1lb flour, 8 ioz lard/cooken, Trex, or whatever you prefer. (I have a Kenwood so often make 3 lots of pastry in one session, you might need more if you end up with a lot of mixture. Line pie tin or tins, individual, medium or large, whatever you need.

Prepare some veg. Potatoes, carrots, and swede (optional). About 1lb of veg altogether, maybe more. Cut into cubes, put it in the microwave for about 10 minutes on medium heat until it's almost cooked,

While this is cooking, gently fry some onion in a frying pan. Put the onion on a plate, then raise the temperature and fry some mince. I usually use about 1lb, 454 grams which is enough for two or three pies. Once nicely browned, tip the pan to one side, get a bit of kitchen roll and mop up any fat. (I have an electric frying pan with a tilt facility!)

Then put onion back in the pan, sprinkle over an Oxo cube or two, drain off any water from the veg, add about a dessertspoon of Bisto powder dissolved in some water, two or three tablespoons and stir in. You don't want a runny mixture.

Add the veg to the meat and gravy mixture. It never tastes the same if you add the veg to the meat and then do the gravy, no idea why!!

Let it cool slightly, then put in the pie tin, cover the mixture, and cook at about 180 degrees until done. Serve with some peas, cabbage, and more carrots. (We love carrots!)

The average pie probably works out at about £1 per medium size pie, enough for 2 hearty appetites.

If you are worried about getting a soggy pie bottom, put a circle of Bakewell parchment underneath and cook it hotter to start with, then turn down the heat.

OK, here's my first contrib! (Not exactly a recipe, more a recommendation!)

Mince with Bisto gravy and LOTS of root vegs. (onions. mushrooms, carrots, swede/turnip and cabbage)

Get some mince (beef or lamb), as good quality as you can afford (the lower the fat percentage the more expensive, just about).(lamb mince will always be fattier.)

Fry lots of onions. Then fry lots of mushrooms. Then fry the mince.

Boil some chopped/sliced carrots (I do mine in 'rings', fastest way of chopping them)

Add in the carrots.

Make some Bisto gravy (I like the original 'proper' Bisto, ie, the powder kind, not the granules kind - the flavour is different!)

Pour the Bisto gravy into the pan with the meat and veg. Dilute with water as thick as you like the gravy. It's usually pretty dark and 'meaty' when it's Bisto.

Cook for about twenty minutes, if that, basically until the mince is cooked through, and the flavours have absorbed and it all looks nice and 'stewy'.

Meanwhile peel a swede, and chop into rough squares (takes a while, they are quite resistant to chopping), and then place in a sauce pan with enough water just to cover them and add a knob of butter. Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until the swede ahs absorbed the water and btutter, and is nice and soft. (add more water as necessary, little at a time.)

Mash the swede.

Chop the cabbage and boil or steam it (won't take long - don't overcook, turns to unpleasant green mush!)

Then, you can either just serve the whole lot up together, ie, mince stew plus 'sides' of swede and cabbage.

Or you could put the mince in an ovenproof dish, with a large surface area, ladle the swede over it, and dot with butter and grill till crispy.

The whole point of this meal is that it uses a very small proportion of meat (expensive) to root veg and cabbage (very cheap).

It goes a long way, is very filling (you can have either mashed or baked potatoes)(or cook sweet potatoes and mash them up with the swede), and last for ages - just bung the leftovers in the fridge and reheat the next day on the hob or microwave (best to cook the cabbage fresh each time - unless you like it refried maybe).

I usually make one huge lot, and spend the rest of the week eating it! (I'm a creature of habit....:) )
In general, there are just SO many cheap ways to eat providing you like lots of:

- carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread etc)(to FILL you)

- root veg (carrots, swede, parsnips etc)

- cabbage (lots of varieties)

- pulses (I loathe them, so never eat them ,but they are very filling, full of protein and usually pretty cheap)

- tinned tomatoes (the budget ones are absolutely fine)

- eggs. (Even free range can be pretty cheap - and even Waitrose charge only a pound for six 'mixed' eggs, so that's 17p an egg)

You have to be prepared to cook from scratch. Anything pre-prepared is going to be more expensive and usually chock full of additives etc etc.

You can have a couple of 'cheats' like gravy mix, stock cubes, that sort of thing.

You need some butter and oil. Butter always lends taste, especially to plain cooked veg.

Either cook on the hob, or, if you put the oven on, make sure you cook in a large batch, to use the fuel most efficiently, and store left overs in the fridge.

Top tip: Sainsbury's small gammon joint (smoked or unsmoked). Only £3.30 (about half the price of any other gammons I've seen!). Feeds a good four greedy people, and keeps for ages.
Top 'luxury' pud: Pancakes.

Pancake mix (NOT ready bought!) is dead cheap (flour, two eggs, milk) and then you can turn the pancakes into treats by adding whatever you want - from sliced bananas to golden syrup to cream etc etc.

The mix keeps for ages in the fridge, at least a week, if not longer.

Pancakes can be REALLY yummy just eaten with butter and a bit of salt.

They can also, of course, be used as savoury - fry bacon (or that gammon as above!), and grate cheap chedder, and then scatter over the freshly made pancake and roll up. Yum.
I've noticed that the most expensive item on the supermarket shopping list these days is fish.

Doesn't seem to matter if it's white fish or pink.

Salmon is currently horrendously expensive, I think because of the horrible plague of sealice infecting farmed salmon.

The cheapest I've found so far is Lidl (one salmon 'steak' costs about £1.80), and the next cheapest is the Coop. Everywhere else is horribly expensive now.

White fish is also horrendous price wise.

Fresh mackerel is quite cheap, but an acquired taste.

Smoked mackerel is pricy too alas.
One of the better sites for comparing food prices ... using salmon steaks as an example :


Very handy for those like myself living near to what now passes for a high street , 5 supermarkets within 15 minutes walk.

Me ? Mainly an Iceland man , caters for the single person ... very little ever goes to waste and under one roof.

And , with an oven / hob , small fridge + 2 saucepans for equipment , and a budget of £ 25 per week including household essentials , works well. ... since moving to Worksop just under 7 years ago.

No takeaways ... bane of my neighbours if one goes by the packaging in the communial bins.

I suspect that any dietitian and / or female would have a field day with most single males ?

For example , 7.5 kg. bag of spuds ( £ 1.99 not 150 yards away ) lasts me 6 days.
We had fish pie last week, I had to pay £5 for 1lb fish, chopped "scraps". In the good old days when there was a proper fishmonger I could get scraps for next to nothing!!
The same goes for grated cheese too.
It's a standing joke here that no one gets anything unless it's had a reduced label, and actually, they're right. Most supermarkets have something on special offer.
It's more economical to plan meals around whatever is on special offer, rather than plan a menu in advance and stick religiously to it.
Most meals I cook involve some meat, two veg, and rice or potatoes. I always have a curry sauce and sweet and sour in the cupboard. I could be even more economical and cook these from basic spices etc. but don't have the time.
I almost always cook a roast at the weekend so then I have two days left overs.
I live in a very "posh" area, and so cheaper bits of meat are less desirable, more likely to be reduced. I can cook almost anything, and most of the butchers know me, so they often offer me a special deal, especially if it's towards the end of the day.
Anything tastes better cooked slowly in the oven. Alternatively use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. Don't be afraid of pressure cookers, ignore tales of disaster. I play with a traction engine, over 100 years old, that's a pressure vessel too, working at 180lbs per square inch. A pressure cooker operates at 15 lbs psi!
It's more economical to plan meals around whatever is on special offer, rather than plan a menu in advance and stick religiously to it.

One downside I've experienced is the decrease in the " Special offers " , particularly anything food related , usually found at the end of an aisle ... as more of the supermarkets are supplying the food banks , such offerings are now removed , stored and collected daily for them rather than being offered for sale.

Condiments ? Very handy if ever buying , say , a pack of 6 loin chops ( Smallest available ) ... over 3 days , adding English mustard on day one , French on day 2 , and horse radish on day 3 does tend to break the monotony ... especially if one like loin steaks and nowhere to store them for future use.

ps. Most male carers could learn a thing or to on this thread even if they do not post on it !

When the internal fire alarm goes off , that means dinner is ready ... not me , for at least 3 of my neighbours !

I'll be the first to hold my hand up and say I'm monitoring ... and learning !

Keep 'em coming !
Fish Pie

Tinned fish ( tuna/ salmon/ pilchards etc, whatever you fancy/ is on offer.)
seasonal veg or frozen veg

Peel and steam/ boil potatoes
Fry the onions, mix in the drained fish.
Season with lemon juice & herbs ( parsley or mint,)
Top with mashed potato
Brown under the grill
Serve with seasonal or frozen veg

Mince Pasta bake

Beef mince or veggie mince
Stock cube
Onions, and any other veg eg mushrooms, peppers, carrots etc
Tinned tomatoes
Mixed herbs or thyme
Grated cheese
Seasonal veg/ frozen veg

Fry the onions, brown the mince if using beef mince
Add all veg to mince, tinned tomatoes, stock cube, a little hot water, herbs and garlic & cook
Cook pasta
Thicken mince with a little flour mixed with water ( cornflour works best, if you have some in the cupboard.)
Stir pasta into mince mixture
Sprinkle with grated cheese
Brown under the grill

Chris, advertise on Freecycle that you want a small freezer. They can be a mixed blessing, but I've now started shopping in Costco once a month.
The pork loin and lamb steaks are superb, and the chipolatas and smoked rindless back so cheap.
If you buy small plastic bags and freeze them individually, you can save so much money but eat really well (I put the chipolatas in bags of 8, then lay the bags in plastic trays so they freeze individually.) Bacon goes in packets of 8 slices 3 for eldest son and me, 2 for grandson;, or two each if my son M is also home),