Welcome to episode five 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: Quitting Ready Meals
Recipe #1: Smoked Haddock Fishcakes
Recipe #2: Chicken Kiev
Recipe #3: Tomato Pilau Rice
Recipe #4: American Diner Style Fakeaway – Veggie Burgers, Milkshakes, and Banoffee Pie
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests – Mature Cheddar
Other Ways to Save – Frozen Foods
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?
Save Money Good Food Episode 5
The Problems: The Smiths relied too much on convenience. The average family spends 34 minutes making dinner, or half the time we spent in the 80s. I don’t like to spend more than 30 minutes making dinner either, even if I’m making more than one meal for the rest of the week. I don’t think we need to aim to spend longer.
The Smiths often only had 20 minutes to feed the kids between picking them up from school and taking them to after school activities. They were spending £140 per week, but £30 was going straight in the bin.
They routinely made expensive ready meals for time reasons, but they were doggedly buying fresh fruit and veg as well with the best intentions. With no plan as to how and when they’d eat it with such busy lifestyles, it was all wasted. Matt and Susannah pulled unopened corn on the cob from the bin, plus organic celery and parsnips. The freezer was empty besides some chicken burgers.
Recipes Ideas – Freezer Friendly Cooking = Death to Ready Meals! Mwahahaha!
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Blender for the milkshakes
Recipe #1: Smoked Haddock Fishcakes
For the fishcakes
Smoked haddock fillets
For the ketchup
Or for hollandaise
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.
- Boil and mash potatoes
- Poach the smoked haddock fillets in milk with onion and bay leaves for 10 minutes
- Mix the fish with the potatoes, breadcrumbs and dijon mustard
- Shape into cakes and dust in flour
- Panfry the cakes for 3 minutes on each side
- Serve with poached eggs and spinach, or anything else you prefer
- For the ketchup, soften diced onion, then add chopped tomatoes, sugar and vinegar
- Or for hollandaise, melt the butter
- Balance a bowl in a saucepan of hot water
- Whisk two egg yolks with white vinegar in the bowl
- Remove from the heat
- Whisk in the butter in small amounts at a time until it thickens
Total cost: £4.41
Recipe #2: Chicken Kievs
- Mix garlic, chives, and parsley with softened butter and beat until smooth
- Wrap in clingfilm in a sausage shape and leave to set
- Chop into roundels and stuff in the breasts
- If making your own breadcrumbs, break up the end of a loaf or stale bread
- Dip each breast in flour, egg and crumbs
- Fry to make the breadcrumbs golden then bake at 200 for 10 minutes
Recipe #3: Tomato Pilau Rice
They suggested serving the kievs with tomato pilau rice. Waitrose have a recipe here which includes aubergine too.
Aubergine bakes well in breadcrumb usually, so aubergine kievs for the veggies among us methinks also?
Buying rice in bulk is far cheaper though than using microwave rice as suggested by Waitrose though. Skip the chilli also if we’re not a chilli fan.
Of all the many pilaf/pilau recipes out there, I’ve also never seen any need for a special pilau spice blend, so I wouldn’t buy this especially if I had cumin in the cupboard either. I’m not trying to disrespect traditional cuisine. It’s simply possible to make tasty versions of popular food with less ingredients if we can’t afford to live like a chef or recipe purist.
Total cost: £4.99
Recipe #4: American Diner Style Fakeaway – Veggie Burgers, Milkshakes and Banoffee Pie
Sweet potatoes (for fries)
For the milkshakes
For the banoffee pies
- Chop sweet potatoes and bake for the fries
- For the burgers, grate carrot and courgette
- Softened diced onions and sautee the carrot and courgette
- Add cumin
- Take off the heat and combine in a bowl with precooked kidney beans
- Mash the mixture until smooth and make into burger shapes
- Griddle for 3 minutes on each side
- Serve in buns with lettuce and cheese
- For the milkshakes, blend the chocolate biscuits, chocolate powder and milk
- For the banoffee pies, just layer bananas, biscuit crumbs, toffee sauce and cream
Total cost: £4.67. Not to replace a takeaway as such, but The Smiths would spend £40 or £50 on the above amount of food in a restaurant. (We sometimes have more free time than we think I guess… I’ve never had a restaurant meal in under 30 minutes).
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
The show’s tips
Smoked haddock has lots of flavour on its own making it economical. The fishcakes are versatile because they can be served one way for picky kids and another way for adult palates.
Potatoes are an easy way to bulk out the fish. It’s cheaper to make this yourself than buying ready made fishcakes. As mentioned in a previous recap, the egg whites can be frozen for later endeavours.
Homemade kievs also mean a lot more chicken for the money. I agree with Momma Smith that Matt’s recipe was quick because you can heat the oven while frying, but cooking a kiev from frozen including heating the oven takes around 40 minutes. The difference is that we can wander off and do other things while a frozen kiev is cooking depending on what sides we’re having.
However this recipe can also be frozen so long as it’s eaten within six months. Making and freezing a huge batch would save a lot of cooking time in the long term.
It’s cheaper to make homemade veggie burgers than homemade beef burgers, but both are cheaper than buying ready made, plus we can use up leftover veg.
Homemade ketchup is cheaper than shop-bought too. Since it’s homemade you can also substitute whatever sweetener you prefer if you don’t like adding refined sugar.
I covered the cheapest ways to get a lot of these ingredients in the previous recaps, so make sure to read those (all the links are at the bottom of this post). I’m also compiling a page of the cheapest common ingredients and where to find them, so join the mailing list for when that’s ready.
Smoked haddock fillets are cheapest frozen from Lidl, or about the same price when Iceland runs its 3 for £10 on frozen fish. Make salmon fishcakes if you don’t want to buy three bags of smoked haddock…
Not surprisingly since these were alternatives to ready meals, there isn’t anything here that would pass for breakfast, so lunch looks more promising.
Once cooked the fishcakes can be frozen and reheated straight from frozen. Don’t freeze them before cooking otherwise the potato will store too much water.
The veggie burgers can be frozen before griddling.
As per the previous recaps, check your rice facts when freezing.
Massive potential for this family with almost anything they make as it’s not hard to beat the lacklustre nutrition of a ready meal. Matt points out in the Save Money Good Food book that accompanies the show that ready meals are poor value for money because they’re usually calorific in a small portion.
People think it’s portion control, but we’re like to still be hungry afterwards as there’s not a lot of food there really. They’re also very high in fat and salt for the little amount you do get. You could get a lot more satisfaction and value from a whole plate of veggies.
Regards the diner fakeaway, they used white buns, but there’s no doubt that wholemeal rolls have more fibre. Or go bunless if you’ve already had plenty of starch and fibre by dinnertime.
I’m not really sure why they made milkshakes specifically for the kids; they made my teeth hurt just thinking about it! Putting biscuits in a blender would be a lot of sugar for an adult daily allowance, let alone a child’s. Mini milkshakes?
For the banoffee pie, you can of course tweak it to make it more nutritious or less sweet than a shop bought version.
At Greenwich Market 2/3 of the public preferred Iceland in the following ranking:
Market leader Cathedral City is double the cost of these three brands which were the three cheapest available mature cheddars while filming.
The last time I checked Asda’s was cheaper per 100g than Iceland. Lidl and Aldi don’t have websites with the same capability as the major supermarkets and so sometimes the only way to find out what’s new price-wise is in the shop.
This will come as no shock to you, but I don’t shop very often. Let me know in the comments if you spot a better deal before me on any of the taste tests and I will aim to keep these updated!
Other Ways to Save
Buy more frozen food! The common misconceptions about frozen is that it’s more expensive, doesn’t taste as good, isn’t as nutritious, or that it negatively affects the texture of foods. It is usually only more expensive if we’re buying prepared foods.
- The British Frozen Food Federation have calculated that frozen food is at least 34% cheaper than fresh
- We’re less likely to waste frozen food, so it’s double value for money
- Lots of independent research shows there’s no loss in nutrition
- Lot of foods are actually ideal for freezing
- Salmon freezes well because its high (good) fat content means it doesn’t form ice crystals
Ice crystals are what affect taste and texture. That’s why in recipe #1 cooking the potato first before freezing prevents too much ice forming. This would make the recipe soggy when reheating from frozen. Enjoy!
Save Money Good Food Series 1 Episode 5
The key takeaways from this episode were:
- Making ready meals from scratch has huge health benefits
- Frozen “convenience” food can take longer to cook than cooking from scratch
- We get far more meat and fish for our money when cooking from scratch
- Fish can be adapted with a sauce to avoid kids and adults eating separate meals
So which episode has been most useful so far? Let me know in the comments.
Also rain down any reviews of the Save Money Good Food book if you’ve found that useful.
Next on Save Money Good Food…
Episode six is all about food ruts. Recipes include Chicken and Vegetable Pizza, Sweet Calzones, Beef and Bean Stew, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Lemon Sorbet, and a Thai Fakeaway including Pad Thai, Thai Basil Pork.
If you want to go back, episode four was all about premium foodie alternatives for picky eaters and included recipes for Red Pepper and Bacon Frittata, Chicken and Leek Pie, Pie Risotto, and Japanese Katsu Curry with Fritters and Miso Soup.
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, and there’s only a few eps left of series one before I’ll move on. 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!)