Welcome to episode three 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 super easy to make huge gains ricketytick if you’re saving for a big goal like a house deposit. We all gotta eat, but many of us also find ourselves overbuying, or we’re tempted into choosing products and ingredients that are overpriced just because of the logo on the packet.
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: Recycling Leftovers
Recipe #1: Toad in the Hole with Veggie Mash
Recipe #2: Shakshuka with Flatbreads
Recipe #3: Shakshuka Prawn Pasta
Recipe #4: Lemon Possets
Recipe #5: Chinese Fakeaway – Sweet and Sour Pork, Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, Egg Fried Rice
Recipe #6: New York Cheesecake
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests – Chocolate Digestives
Other Ways to Save – Love Food Hate Waste
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 Three
The Problems: Amy and Steven had a whole host of habits that meant they were throwing away entire portions of pasta, spag bol, and sausages. Firstly, they weren’t checking the kitchen before they shopped, or planning what to have for dinner, so they bought more than they needed.
They ordered takeaways when there’s food in the fridge. They put leftovers in the fridge, but those leftovers just travelled to the bin next.
They also owned more than one fridge (sell it!). They were buying multiple types of the same product because they have two kids, but they were overestimating what they would eat. Susanna and Matt pulled at least 10 unloved yogurts from one of their fridges.
Recipes Ideas – Recycling Leftovers!
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Food processor is optional for recipe #6
Recipe #1: Toad in the Hole with Veggie Mash
Root veg of your choice for the mash
Wait! Where are the quantities? I mentioned in the previous recaps that the show is vague about measurements (they’re more specific in the Save Money Good Food book). The only way I learned how to use my leftovers properly was by caring less about perfect quantities.
Unless we’re baking, we can often experiment with ratios without much consequence. (Whereas getting the ratios “wrong” in baking can affect texture quite differently). Any raw ingredients that come in a packet will tell us how much to weigh out per person.
I also wrote about portion sizes at length in the first recap. Following portion sizes at its simplest means the majority of the recipe is vegetables, plus protein that matches the size of your palm, and starchy carbs that equal the front of your fist. Here’s the image again.
Regards the batter in the first step, this article shows that even the big name chefs don’t agree on how to make the perfect batter.
I would just start with 100g flour, 2 eggs and 150ml of milk and add more milk to make it thinner…and if it gets thicker than you like, add more flour…Play around! For the gravy the principle is the same. If it’s too thin, add cornflour, or if it’s too thick, more liquid.
- Make a batter from flour, milk, egg (and thyme)
- Cook chopped onion and garlic
- Add red wine and thyme to the onion and garlic to make a gravy
- Boil the root veg to mash with pepper and butter (or reheat leftover roasted veg)
Total cost: 64p per portion I think, but the programme was a bit garbled around this point.
Recipe #2: Shakshuka with Flatbreads
The ingredients and method can be found here.
Total cost: £4.02.
Recipe #3: Shakshuka Prawn Pasta
Leftover shakshuka sauce from recipe #2
- Boil pasta
- Fry anchovies
- Mix both with shakshuka sauce and prawns
Recipe #4: Lemon possets
- Add sugar and lemon to leftover cream
- Set in the fridge
- That’s it!
Total costs: £4.88 including dessert
Recipe #5: Chinese Fakeaway
Matt made Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Egg Fried Rice, so it’s actually three recipes. They didn’t go into detail about the soup and rice though, so here’s a similar budget recipe for the soup:
Chicken and sweetcorn soup
Egg fried rice doesn’t really need a recipe per se…Generally the egg and the rice are just cooked in oil which is what makes it so greasy.
Not a fan of fried food? Boil some rice, and poach the egg. Then cook the drained rice in a teeny bit of soy sauce and sesame oil until it browns off and there’s no liquid left. Mix the egg in, or you can make it a whole veggie meal instead of a side if you add in peas or other veg.
For the Sweet and Sour Pork
Fry chopped pork in sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, stock and ketchup
Recipe #6: New York Cheesecake
They only used two tbsp of leftover yogurt to make their cheesecake. This is one they didn’t detail again, but Matt Tebutt has a recipe here where you could substitute yoghurt. The ingredients list is quite long overall.
I found this cheesecake recipe which only has four ingredients. No baking required either!
I don’t own a food processor, but to make a biscuit base you can just bash the biscuits in their packaging or a bag. Then crush them until they’re fine enough for the base. If you’re allergic to nuts or just don’t like nut butter (blasphemy! ahem), you could mix the yoghurt with whatever you prefer.
Total cost: £4.99 for four portions of the Fakeaway including the cheesecake. This family of four regularly spent £80 per week on a takeaway, (so £20 per week if we’re Jenny No Mates, or buying in with friends).
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
The show’s tips
You can actually freeze yoghurt and milk about to go out of date…It will keep in the freezer for another month. They also mention in the Save Money Good Food book that the fridge door is actually the worst place to keep milk because it’s where the temperature changes the most.
If you’re not a big dairy drinker and it goes off before you get to the bottom of the bottle, try storing it in a different part of the fridge. Or put a smaller amount in a separate container when you open it and freeze the rest. This way you can buy the biggest cartons/bottles which cost less per ml without wasting any.
Dry out hard herbs like thyme, rosemary and garlic on your window sill to create dried herbs.
If you’ve got a kiddie of your own, or kiddies visiting then don’t write off recipes with alcohol in if it’s the only thing you can think to make. You can still cook with alcohol if you’re trying to use up other ingredients in a recipe containing wine. Children can eat the red wine gravy in recipe #1 because boiling evaporates the alcohol.
They used up carrots and swede in butter and pepper for the mash. If you’ve ever had bubble and squeak, then you’ll know the majority of leftover veg can be turned into mash. It doesn’t have to be potatoes just because you’ve always had potato mash.
It’s typical to use peppers in shakshouka (it can be spelled different ways), but you can substitute other veg for this too. They then used the shakshuka again, so leftovers can be turned into leftovers. Shakshuka is tomato-based, so I’d say the point with this is that you can recycle any tomatoey sauces very easily if you’ve got pasta (and/or prawns), but you can also put a tomato-base with rice or couscous.
Normal prawns are usually cheaper than king prawns. Remember this episode was all about cooking again with what the house had already made/ owned, so no anchovies, no problem, or no prawns, no problem!
The less of a stickler we can be for having every single ingredient mentioned in the recipe, the more freedom we have to cook with what we’ve got and the less we end up in the shop to buy one thing…that turns into 10 things we didn’t really need…
The absolute cheapest prawns per kg are if you buy frozen from Iceland and shell them yourself. Otherwise Lidl, Aldi and Iceland are all priced very similarly for shelled frozen prawns. It’s even cheaper sometimes to buy a frozen seafood mix, so if you like seafood anyway or want to try something beyond prawns, look for that in the freezers.
For the Sweet and Sour Pork, Matt said don’t leave the sinew on because it tightens in the pan and makes it chewy. That part of the meat goes better in soups. They reckoned tenderloin pork retails for around £1.60 per 400g versus £2.31 for chicken, but I couldn’t find anything that matched this. It might be one for a market butcher rather than a supermarket at the moment.
They mentioned in episode one that Aldi ketchup is cheaper than Heinz and actually used more tomatoes. If you usually buy all the big brands, try an own brand. Expensive doesn’t always equal better quality.
I covered the cheapest ways to buy peppers, chorizo, stock, eggs, garlic, onions, sweetcorn, chicken, and herbs in the episode one recap. I wrote about tomatoes and puree in the episode two recap.
The cheapest way to get lemons is often to buy a multipack of fresh, and then preserve them. I normally slice all of mine when I get them and freeze them. This is fine to pull out for cooking, but also makes ice cubes for gin and tonic.
Soy sauce keeps FOREVER. Okay, maybe not forever. The cheapest I could find per ml was actually a Kikkoman 1 litre bottle in Tesco on offer, so sometimes a big brand works out cheaper if you go for the biggest quantity. I use it probably every week, but it’s lasted me months and months and months. (Remember best before dates are just a guide. Who knows if it’s BBD by now, but it’s been in the fridge all that time. Smells, looks, and tastes fresh = no reason to send it to landfill). If you’re not cooking weekly with soy sauce then a smaller bottle from a discounter might be better value for you.
How to fund a peanut butter habit
For the alternative cheesecake recipe, I buy peanut butter by the kilo because that’s the most economical way considering how much of it I eat. This is one of the few times also that Holland and Barrett are sometimes competitive, but only because I stock up when it’s a)reduced b)can be combined with an extra discount code c)I have a loyalty voucher to use and d)I can get free delivery.
The free delivery is usually in exchange for orders over £20 or £25 (MSE sometimes have free delivery and extra discount codes with no minimum spend). Because I might order 3kg in one hit and all the other things I want like Nakd bars and Jim Jams on offer, it’s easy to reach the minimum spend because I’m stockpiling stuff I won’t have replaced for months.
You can also go via TopCashback and they’ll pay you a percentage back from your order. Using cashback credit cards gives you a further discount or money back off something you were going to buy anyway. (Only spend what you can afford to pay off in full when you get the bill, otherwise this benefit gets crushed if interest isn’t 0%). Otherwise a small jar of peanut butter is cheapest per 100g from Aldi, and they have started doing 1kg tubs for £3.99.
No breakfasts by my definition, but most of these have strong lunch potential the next day. If you’re worried about how well things like the shakshuka will travel, make more of the flatbreads and use those instead.
As ever, be careful of preserving rice.
The general rule is only to freeze something and cook it one more time after it’s already been (frozen and) cooked. The majority of the recipes in this episode were already reheating up leftovers so ideally these would be eaten ASAP precisely because they wouldn’t be suitable for freezing again. The prawn pasta is a good cold lunch candidate.
I mentioned I use soy sauce almost weekly. It’s very high in salt, but I don’t cook with salt otherwise. (Ever. I don’t even salt vegetables. I know other people think this is unusual, but I get my flavours from everything else I add. Plus I think the more vegetables you eat, the more you develop a taste for them as they are). If you add salt to everything, you can probably skip this out when using soy sauce as it’s already there.
The show continues to be a big promoter of animal protein and sweet things because of it’s aim at meat-eaters and dessert lovers. The Chinese Fakeaway/Cheesecake example aren’t designed to be eaten every night though. Making your own cheesecake and possets also gives you lots of room to control the amount of sugar and fat while not being afraid of something sweet.
At Greenwich Market the public preferred the following budget brands in this order:
Aldi (chocolate content 30%)
Asda (23% chocolate)
Tesco Everyday Value (24% chocolate)
So the Tesco are better off in the tiffin from episode two perhaps…
Other Ways to Save
Apparently we bin seven million tonnes of food a year, or £700’s worth per family. That’s five million potatoes a day and 800000 litres of milk…I’ll say it could also be two months of mortgage payments, or enough to pay solicitor’s fees on your first house, or one person’s food budget for the entire year.
James Macgowan from Love Food Hate Waste told the show we throw away bread, milk, fruit, and veg the most. While these are cheap, it’s a false economy obviously if we chuck it (especially when most of it can be frozen!) Their website has lots of ideas to use every last bit of food in the house.
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.
Save Money Good Food Series 1 Episode 3
The key takeaways (not fakeaways) this week were:
- Leftovers can be turned into shiny new tasty things
- Learning how to make basics like batter, gravy, and tomato sauces gives endless possibilities
- Check the kitchen top to bottom before food shopping
- If you still want to shop, plan exactly what you’re going to buy to combine with existing ingredients
- Desserts can be made with only three or four budget staples instead of buying readymade
So which episode has been most useful so far? Let me know in the comments.
Episode four is all about premium foodie alternatives for picky eaters. Recipes include Bacon and Red Pepper Tortilla, Chicken and Leek Pie, Pie Risotto, Japanese Katsu Curry. I’ve done recaps of all the Save Money Good Food episodes so far, so as I’ll be posting these for a while.
If you want to go back, episode two was all about entertaining guests. Recipes included Salmon Piperade, Gammon with Sage Roasted Veggies, Meringues, Leftovers Pie, Lamb Shoulder, and Tiffin.
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!)