Welcome to episode two of my recap of ITV’s Save Money Good Food which shows everyone how to use up leftovers, and avoid overspending on food in the first place.
Food is an easy way to make huge gains ricketytick if you’re saving for a big goal like a house deposit. Everyone’s gotta eat, but many of us also find ourselves buying too much, or we’re lured into choosing products and ingredients that are available cheaper for the same or even better quality.
My other posts so far have mostly been property-focused, but I wouldn’t have been able to buy my first house without zeroing in on my spending priorities. Getting the best value for money at mealtimes was one of the areas that really helped. This show taught me plenty of additional tips to last me years even though I thought I was already the budget queen of groceries. Or if you’re completely lost, this is a great place to start.
I explained in detail in the episode one recap for series one all about the premise. Basically you should find this useful if:
- You want to spend less than £1 or £2 on each dinner
- You want to know how to batch cook, freeze, and reuse meals
- You want to know how to cook flexibly without exact recipes
- You don’t want to spend too long cooking
- You want nutritious food without getting a PHD in food science first
- You want variety without blowing a budget
Here’s what I’ve covered below:
The Problems: Entertaining guests
Recipe #1: Salmon Piperade
Recipe #2: Gammon with Sage Roasted Veggies
Recipe #3: Meringue Dessert
Recipe #4: Leftovers Pie
Recipe #5: Lamb Shoulder
Recipe #6: Tiffin Dessert
How to Get Better Value for Money
I am not a nutritionist, or talented with a chopping knife, or someone who loves to spend hours cooking. I’ve learned how to make quick meals that are value for money and not a danger to my life generally. I don’t see why anyone else shouldn’t benefit from this knowledge.
A lot of information out there like this programme is geared at families, but we can use the same lessons if we’re only feeding ourselves or a couple.
I also find it easy to compare prices without any effort because of the way my brain is wired, so I’ve put underneath the show’s recipes how to get better value for money. This information should also give you a shortcut.
Want to know how to save in other categories besides food?
Try these posts:
Save Money Good Food Episode Two
The Problems: This week’s family were spending £205 per week and £250 per week on special occasions like Easter. They had an open house, so always had food on standby for entertaining. They also had a menagerie of 11 pets. The chickens ate their leftovers, but the husband liked yellow stickers, multibuy offers, buying in bulk a bit too much, and he was a feeder. They had a bottomless chest freezer where food entered, never to resurface…
Top tip! Take a photo of your fridge/freezer before you go shopping to avoid overbuying what you’ve already got.
Recipe Ideas – Entertaining Guests
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Recipe #1: Salmon Piperade
Wait! Where are the quantities? I mentioned in the episode one recap that the show is vague about measurements. The only way I learned how to use my leftovers properly was through caring less about perfect quantities. I always reduce the amount of onion/garlic/chilli specified in a recipe anyway…
Unless you’re a precision baker, you can experiment with ratios. Any raw ingredients that come in a packet will tell you how much to weigh out per person, or just follow portion sizes. I wrote about portion sizes at length in the first recap. At its simplest it means the majority of the recipe is vegetables, with protein that matches the size of your palm, and starchy carbs that equal the front of your fist. Here’s the link to that again. (Thanks to dietitian Priya Tew).
- Fry sliced red onions and sweat sliced peppers
- Stir in tomato puree, or you can use up fresh tomatoes
- Add bay and thyme before pouring in water and balsamic vinegar and simmering for 20 minutes
- Prepare couscous as per the packet, and add any additional flavouring you want
Total cost: £8.56 or £2.14 per head. This week’s volunteers normally spent £3.67 per head, so this was still a significant saving for them. If more people show up for dinner you just eat less salmon!
Recipe #2: Maple Syrup And Mustard Gammon With Sage Roasted Veggies
Root vegetables of your choice
- Boil the gammon for 90 minutes
- Score the fat and stud with cloves
- Cover the fat with maple syrup, caster sugar, and Dijon mustard
- Cook at 190c for 20-30 minutes until glazed
- Roast your chopped root veg in a little oil and sage
Total cost: £1.89 per person
Remember this episode is for special occasions. If it seems a bit schmancy to roast a whole gammon joint for dinner, it’s designed to feed a lot of people as a one-off. The final cost per person really isn’t bad for a roast. A vegetarian roast would likely be even cheaper.
Recipe #3: Leftovers Pie
Cubed ham, chicken or veg (anything goes!)
- Fry the onions and mushrooms
- Add flour and stock to make a sauce
- Cook your filling in a pan with herbs
- Hardboil an egg per person
- Fill a dish with the eggs, filling and sauce and cover with puff pastry
Recipe #4: Meringue Dessert
- Whisk the whites with a tiny bit of lemon, slowly adding the sugar while whisking
- The mixture is done when you can hold the bowl upside down without it dripping out!
Total cost: £2.30 per head for both courses. They added cream and frozen fruit to the meringues.
Recipe #5: Lamb Shoulder With Boulanger Potatoes And Spring Greens
Remember this episode was about special occasions, hence some of the pricier meals!
- Season and oil the lamb before making cuts in the meat
- Put garlic and rosemary in the incisions
- Ovencook at full temperature for 10-15 minutes
- Add a glass of white wine, tomato puree, and stock
- Cover and roast for 2 hours at 120c until the meat falls off the bone
- Slice the potatoes thin and bake in thyme, onion and stock
Recipe #6: Tiffin Dessert
Melt the chocolate with maple syrup and butter
Crush the biscuits and add to the melted mixture with the raisins
Set in a loaf tin in the fridge overnight
Total cost: £3.35 per head
How To Get Better Value For Money From All The Recipes
The show’s tips
It’s cheapest to buy salmon frozen and even cheaper to buy white fish. (They said salmon sales also go up over Easter. I figure this means it will be on offer in some places, but watch out that it hasn’t been priced up elsewhere to take advantage of demand). I think you’ll find Iceland and the discounters have the cheapest frozen fillets, especially when Iceland run their 3 for £10. The husband on the show was overspending with multibuys. They’re only a saving if you eat what you’ve already bought on offer before going back for more.
Fresh tomatoes are more expensive than puree if you’re buying them especially. Puree keeps for a long time in the fridge once opened. I found Lidl cheapest for puree, while Sainsbury’s usually have the cheapest salad tomatoes. The puree has a more intense flavour anyway, so a little goes further.
Couscous is cheaper to flavour yourself with ingredients like stock, olive oil, lemon juice, chopped celery, and parsley.
While this was a more expensive episode than the first because of the agenda to feed guests, lamb shoulder is still cheaper than leg. (I don’t think you should ever feel like you need to spend more than you can afford to impress either though. The company is more important!)
They melted broken chocolate from leftover easter eggs for the tiffin, but this was purely to use it up. This is gram for gram more expensive than chocolate bars, so you wouldn’t want to buy Easter eggs especially to do this. The crushed biscuits are a way to avoid chucking stale biscuits.
I covered the cheapest ways to buy mixed peppers, couscous, stock, eggs, garlic, onions, and herbs in the episode one recap. (This family had their own chickens, so that’s where they got the eggs for the pie and the meringues…)
I’ve seen chicken piperade made almost identically to their salmon version before. There was no bay or thyme (less herbs, no problem), and they threw in the end of a white wine bottle instead of water and balsamic vinegar.
The cheapest gammon joints (depending on your local butcher’s offering) are heavy joints from Aldi, or Lidl at around £3.10-3.30/kg. Unless you are feeding an entire army, you’ll likely want to use the meat in more than one recipe and make sure there’s room in the freezer for leftovers. If going for smaller hunks of meat, it’s cheaper to buy a joint of any size and roast it yourself than to buy shanks that have been seasoned for you.
Maple syrup can be tricky to price compare as some brands come in ml and others in grams. Generally if you can find a 500ml bottle of Clarks in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda etc then this is usually the cheapest at around £1/100ml. This episode had two uses for maple syrup, although most of us would have no difficulty dropping it in our coffee, on our breakfast etc.
Lidl has the cheapest Dijon mustard at half the price of the cheapest in Waitrose etc. They also sell caster sugar for under 10p/kg; Asda are runners up and significantly cheaper than Sainsbury’s still.
Morrisons own brand jars of cloves (whole or ground) were cheapest when I last checked. £2.70-2.80/100g for whole cloves is fairly standard wherever you go otherwise. I wouldn’t invest in these especially unless you know what else you plan to use them for though.
The pie in recipe #3 is economical because you can really make whatever you like. They used some of the gammon from recipe two. They used individual pie pots, but there’s no need to buy these especially. Iceland has the cheapest puff pastry at 20p/100g, but Lidl, Tesco and Morrisons are next with ready made pastry for around 22p/100g. This can be frozen.
Fruit and veg
Mushrooms are cheapest frozen which is one of those bizarre times where it actually costs less even though it’s been chopped for you, when buying chopped fresh veg is always the most expensive way. (Chop your own fresh veg!)
They used frozen fruit with the meringues because it’s cheaper than fresh, but frozen fruits can also vary quite a bit in price per weight. I use these for my morning porridge. The cheapest are summer or forest fruits from Aldi/Lidl followed by 500g of strawberries or cherries.
Blueberries are usually higher priced, plus they often come in a smaller bag so that you don’t realise the gap in price is bigger than it seems. This is still far cheaper than buying blueberries fresh though. Tesco also do a multibuy offer on frozen fruit now and again.
Wine and chocolate
Ah yes, that other essential food group that science doesn’t recognise… Perhaps I could have left this under the fruit and veg section.Wine is a fruit, right? It’s made from grapes. Chocolate is plant-based too…
If the wine is mainly to cook with, go for the absolute cheapest bottle. If it tastes like the finest nail varnish remover by itself then that’s one way to avoid drinking the rest of it too quickly!
Just because wine is cheap though, don’t assume it will taste worse than a pricey bottle. It really just depends on the variety. Add lemonade to make it go twice as far with spritzers. Diet lemonade in the discounters is about 17p for two litres. Or box wine is often the exact same wine as a bottle we like but in different packaging. Give it a go if you see it’s cheaper per 100ml.
When melting chocolate, I don’t think you’ll taste the difference if you use the cheapest own brand chocolate from the baking aisle. (Sainsbury’s and Aldi do sugar free blocks for 85p/100g too if you’re concerned about sugar overload).
If you buy biscuits especially to make tiffin then again you can go for the cheapest own brand you can find since it’s all getting broken up and mixed in anyway.
Probably only the frozen fruit will be fit for breakfast. For everything else, seal it up well and reheat thoroughly. There weren’t any recipes this week that are just as good cold the next day.
Food that has been defrosted can usually be frozen and cooked one more time. I linked to it in episode one, but the NHS guidelines are always worth another look.
The salmon ticks off a weekly portion of oily fish. The other meals were a bit more balanced compared to last week’s overemphasis on protein, but it’s still very much aimed at carnivores.
If a portion of protein is the size of your palm unless you’re trying to bulk up intensely in the gym, then the egg and meat combo in the pie can be balanced out with veg.
The portion sizes are according to people more qualified than me. By all means do your own research via nutritionists and dietitians regards your circumstances. Don’t be afraid of sugar or entire food groups either though! Fear of foods that leads to restricting them entirely comes from not knowing how to eat them in moderation. Just don’t aim to regularly eat the entire tiffin in one day by yourself. Simples!
Potatoes don’t count towards our five a day, but the root veg in recipe #1 do. As per the same link so do sweet potatoes. Balance this with cost if you swap them for the boulanger potatoes in recipe #5 as white potatoes can be found for 40p/kg at the discounters. Sweet potato however is more like 95p/kg in most places.
Hot cross buns
In a public taste test at Greenwich Market volunteers settled on the following leaderboard:
1st: Lidl 14p per bun
2nd: Sainsburys 14p
3rd: Aldi 8p
Save Money Good Food Series 1 Episode 2
The key takeaways this week were:
- Lamb shoulder is cheaper than leg, but gammon is even cheaper than both
- Repurpose Sunday roasts into pie instead of overeating or binning the leftovers
- As with frozen veg, frozen fish and fruit are often cheaper than fresh
- Don’t worry about big brands when cooking with wine, chocolate, biscuits etc as it will be unrecognisable after
- Tomato puree is your friend
Regards the last one, I know I keep typing “cheap”, “cheap”, “cheapest”, but value for money is not just about price. Befriend ingredients that give a lot more flavour for a smaller quantity. Puree also keeps for ages before opening, and for various weeks in the fridge after opening.
This kind of spending leads to less waste providing we use what we’ve already got instead of trotting back to the shops on autopilot just because it’s Monday or Saturday, or whatever day we like to lose our money on…
Remember you can’t get that time back! You spent all week earning (or possibly earning very little depending on your coronavirus fortunes). Invest that money in the ingredients that work the hardest, or scavenge from your own kitchen instead of spending yesterday’s entire wages stocking up when you’ve already got…erm, stock. As ever, let me know in the comments if any of this has changed the way you think about food, or if you’ve got tips to add.
There is a Save Money Good Food book if you think you can make back the investment quickly based on what I’ve recapped so far.
Next time on Save Money Good Food…
Episode Three includes recipes for Toad in the Hole with Veggie Mash, Shakshuka with Flatbreads, Shakshuka Prawn Pasta, Lemon Possets, and a Chinese Fakeaway of Sweet and Sour Pork, Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, and Egg Fried Rice… Plus New York Cheesecake recipes!
Episode one if you want to go back was about using cupboard staples. Recipes included Cajun Chicken with Pomegrenate Salad and Tuna Fishcakes, Broccoli Seafood pasta (and Tea Fruit Cake), Chorizo Frittata, One Pot Chicken and Chorizo Rice, and an Indian Fakeaway of Pork Curry, Lentil Dahl, Roasted Spiced Cauliflower and Chapatis.
Join the mailing list to make sure you don’t miss any posts in the series, and to get all kinds of savings and earnings tips straight to your inbox for the foreseeable. Recaps of all the Save Money Good Food episodes are on the way. I’ll also get round to adding the Save Money Good Food series 2 recipes and Save Money Good Diet recipes in future. (Save Money Good…is a whole stable of ITV shows, so I’ll have plenty for you to read!)