Welcome to episode four 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: Premium Foodie Alternatives for Picky Eaters
Recipe #1: Bacon and Red Pepper Tortilla
Recipe #2: Chicken and Leek Pie
Recipe #3: Pie Risotto
Recipe #4: Japanese Fakeaway – Vegetable Katsu Curry and Veg Fritters with Miso Soup
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests – Prosecco
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 Four
The Problems: This family of four were throwing away fruit and salad that had gone past its best before, but it all came from the fridge so it was already being preserved. Presenters Matt and Susanna found unopened and visibly fine potatoes, bread, and asparagus in the bin.
Nicky also liked premium products, so their average meal was costing £12.20. That’s £231 on groceries per week. The kids didn’t like lasagne, fish, or chilli, and thought pasta was boring.
Recipe Ideas – Premium Foodie Alternatives For Picky Eaters
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Blender for recipe #4 ideally
Recipe #1: Bacon And Red Pepper Tortilla With Salad
For the tortilla
For the salad
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 experiment with ratios without much consequence (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.
- Parboil potatoes
- Fry onion, red pepper, and bacon in a separate pan
- Add the potatoes
- Pour over whisked eggs
- Shred cheese or crumble feta on top
- For the salad, mix spring onion, asparagus, cucumber and leaves
- Mix three parts oil and one part vinegar for the dressing
Total cost: £3.34 for 4 portions
Recipe #2: Chicken And Leek Pie
Creme Fraiche/Parsley/Parmesan (optional)
- Brown the chicken thighs then simmer in stock
- Keep the stock, but remove the chicken
- Strip the meat from the bone
- Fry leeks, onions, and mushrooms in the stock then sprinkle with flour
- Stir in creme fraiche, parsley and parmesan if you have them
- Scrunch and place filo pastry on top of the filling in a baking dish
- Brush with oil and bake
- Serve with any veg
Total cost: £4.97
Recipe #3: Leftovers Pie Risotto
Half the filling from the pie in recipe #2
Truffle oil/cheese (optional)
- Soften the onions in butter then put the risotto rice in the same pan
- Add hot chicken stock one ladle at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed each time
- When the rice is tender, stir in the leftover pie filling and frozen spinach
- Add any additional oils or cheeses on top
Total cost: £2.31 including the pie filling
Recipe #4: Japanese Fakeaway – Vegetable Katsu Curry With Fritters And Miso Soup
For the curry
- Sweat chopped onion, carrot, celery and apple as the sauce base
- Thinly slice the portobello mushrooms
- Dip in flour then egg then panko breadcrumbs
- Add a heaped tbsp of curry powder and vegetable stock to the sauce base and blend
- Shallow fry the mushrooms then cover in sauce
For the vegetable fritters
- Grate carrot and courgette and mix with onion
- Coat in flour and beaten egg
- Shallow fry
Total cost: £4.49 including miso soup
Total savings: Up to £60 per week, or around £3000 annually.
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
The show’s tips
All the ingredients for recipe one were retrieved from the bin in fine condition. Don’t be restricted to best before dates. Especially for food that’s been preserved in the fridge anyway, is unopened, and smells/looks/tastes fresh still.
One of their boys said he didn’t like egg, yet he ate the tortilla fine. Momma Austin didn’t like omelette, but also liked the tortilla perfectly well. The children also ate the Japanese Fakeaway, although usually if they had been told in advance what they were going to eat they would have refused to like it…
Give things a go even if you or someone else at the table might not usually like it, and get children to try things without telling them all the ingredients first.
Half of the filling from recipe #2 was excess, so they whipped it straight into recipe #3 instead of resigning it to the bin. Pies and risottos are turning into quite the fallback.
Matt recommended risotto rice and a stock cube to use up anything green. If putting cheese on top, this also takes care of really any type of cheese from parmesan to cheddar. (If you’re buying new, own brand hard cheese is cheaper than parmesan specifically by the way).
Japanese Katsu Curry traditionally uses chicken, but vegetables will nearly always be cheaper than meat. If you’ve got vegetables that need using up, there’s no need to squeeze them in alongside buying meat when you could just skip the meat altogether.
I covered the cheapest ways to buy peppers, stock, eggs, garlic, onions, leeks, chicken, spinach, and herbs in the episode one recap. I wrote about tomatoes/puree and puff pastry in the episode two recap.
Filo pastry has a different result to puff pastry, but puff pastry can be found for less per 100g. If you think a pie is a pie is a pie, then use whichever you already have or whichever is most economical to buy. Like puff pastry, filo pastry sheets can be frozen if you’re not likely to use the whole box.
I mentioned in a previous recap that it’s cheaper to buy block cheese and grate it yourself, (or use a knife if you don’t own a grater). Feta works for the tortilla recipe too, but it is more expensive to buy initially.
The salad dressing in recipe one is also a dressing that will go with just about everything green, so no need to buy expensive branded dressings that have lots of sugar added.
I listed the truffle oil as optional because I doubt how many renters have truffle oil in the back of the cupboard. Matt says truffle oil isn’t expensive, truffles are. Compared to other infused olive oils, he’s right. Unless we’re a foodie like Mrs Austin though, or you want to rely on risotto a lot to use up odds and ends, it’s probably not an essential on our shopping list.
Risotto rice tends to cost more per kg than white or brown rice, but is very versatile. Cooking other rices in stock and mixing in leftovers will have a less creamy texture. If you dislike this, then risotto rice would be better value for money despite the higher price if it means things get eaten.
Asparagus is cheapest in the discounters, although it usually matches their price per kg when it’s on offer in Tesco/Morrisons etc (around £6/kg). It’s invariably cheaper to buy salad ingredients individually rather than salad bags.
I won’t get super specific about buying bacon since I’m mainly vegetarian, but look at the price per kg and balance buying British with the fat content you want (streaky vs back bacon vs lean).
Apples are cheapest in the bags aimed at children in Lidl (funsize). They usually do a multibuy on fruit that brings this down even further. Unfortunately the plastic bag can’t be recycled; I’m going to look at adding some info to the blog going forward and how to still shop cheaply without plastic. Either way whack apples in the fridge to stop them going powdery sooner rather than later. (Using them in curry sauce in recipe four is a great way to use up apples that are losing their texture and are not ideal for snacking anymore). They can also go on a salad, in porridge/cereal, in a smoothie, or in other sauces seeking cider.
Celery is a bit like Marmite in popularity. However, it’s a great way to bulk out any recipe especially anything resembling soup or stew, and tastes less intense once it’s cooked. Avoid it prechopped to save.
Doublecheck the world food aisle for panko breadcrumbs and miso soup. These might be sold in two separate aisles at very different prices under the same roof. Check where you find rice and pasta and noodles and sauces anyway, and compare to the international section.
Egg tortilla qualifies as breakfast leftovers as far as I’m concerned, and should travel well as a cold lunch.
If you’ve read the previous recaps, then you know the drill regarding rice.
Otherwise the point of the risotto in this episode was really to conjure up a spontaneous dinner that tidies up loose ends, rather than batch cook for the rest of the week.
Filo pastry is not very resilient. To batch make lots of portions of pie, you might want to freeze the filling and the pastry sheets separately and then assemble when you’re ready to cook.
Finally an emphasis on vegetables with the Japanese Fakeaway, except that it’s all fried. Cooking this at home though does mean you can use as little oil as you like.
It’s not that they don’t feature veggies in each recipe, but it’s good to see an entire dinner with a variety of different coloured veg. (You don’t have to restrict yourself to carrot and courgette for the fritters either).
You’ll notice there were no desserts in this episode, so they obviously weren’t a house with a sweet tooth. If you don’t make it, you don’t have to burn it off or pay for it funnily enough…(We could argue that’s the same thing).
I found it curious that the show decided whether to include dessert recipes based purely on whether the family usually eat/spend on them or not. Then again, apart from the overemphasis on meat, they were trying to offer balanced mealtimes overall. They weren’t really trying to debate whether dessert should only exist if we’re active, or if dessert is purely an emotional ritual.
Prosecco. Mm, bubbles…
The public preferred Tesco overall, then Aldi, then Lidl.
All their bottles retail for under £6.
Save Money Good Food Series 1 Episode Four
The key takeaways from this episode were:
- Be adventurous because you might like something cooked differently
- Don’t tell picky eaters what’s in their dinner upfront if it stops them trying it
- Salad dressing only needs two ingredients after all these years
- If in doubt, will it go in risotto? Or a pie? And a tart therefore? (Yes!)
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.
So which episode has been most useful so far? Let me know in the comments.
Next on Save Money Good Food…
Episode five is all about quitting ready meals. Recipes include Smoked Haddock Fishcakes, Chicken Kiev, Tomato Pilau Rice, Veggie Burgers, and Banoffee Pie.
If you want to go back, episode three was about making leftovers from leftovers. Recipes included Toad in the Hole, Shakshuka with Flatbreads, Shakshuka Prawn Pasta, Lemon Possets, Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, Egg Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Pork, and New York Cheesecake.
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.
I’ve done recaps of all the Save Money Good Food episodes so far, so there’ll be more four more posts for series one. 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.
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!)