Welcome to episode seven 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: Feeders and Leftovers That Are Just As Good The Next Day
Recipe #1: Feta and Black Olive Stuffed Peppers With Pesto Pasta
Recipe #2: Fish and Lentil Curry
Recipe #3: Mexican Feast
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests – Prosciutto
Other Ways to Save – why Aldi and Lidl are so cheap
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 7
The Problems: This family The Harveys cooked too big portions and binned the excess. Momma Irene is Greek-cypriot and Greek culture traditionally provides lots of food for everyone at mealtimes.
They loved to cook, and Irene was intentionally cooking too much so that the family could have seconds, but thought they were wasting £30 pw. I’d say food is fuel…if we don’t need the energy, and it’s ending up in the bin therefore, don’t aim to have enough for seconds, or store any leftovers before dishing up. (I mean, do what you like. I can’t tell you what to do. But they wouldn’t have appeared on the show if they didn’t want to change this way of spending and eating).
They were spending £145 per week, or £11.20 on average per meal for four to eat (not for four portions, since they were making more like eight portions on purpose…) Like most of us, they underestimated their spending, guessing their shopping came to £100-£120.
Husband Sean was trying to eat all the leftovers at the table because he thought nothing tasted as good afterwards. Not a long term strategy health-wise!
He didn’t like thawed food, so Sally and Matt found no leftovers in their freezer therefore. They had loads of milk and cheese in the fridge though, and whole peppers in the bin which they rescued for the first recipe.
Recipe Ideas – Feeders And Leftovers That Taste Just As Good The Next Day
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Food processor for the pesto in recipe #1 and for recipe #3
Recipe #1: Feta And Black Olive Stuffed Peppers With Pesto Pasta
200g Mince (50g per person)
Tbsp tomato Puree
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
For the pesto
Broccoli or kale/spinach/broad beans
Wait! Where are the rest of 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.
- Brown chopped onion in oil
- Add the chopped courgette, cinnamon, tomato puree, and mince
- Cut the peppers in half and bake at 180 for 15 minutes
- Take the mince off the heat and add chopped black olives
- Stuff the peppers with the mince mixture and crumble feta on top
- Put the peppers back in the oven for 5 minutes
- Boil pasta
- For the pesto, grate broccoli including the stalks
- Blitz in a food processor with almonds, garlic, and cheese
Total cost: £4.26 for four portions
Recipe #2: Fish and Lentil Curry
Coley or white fish
- Fry star anise, chopped onion, ginger and garlic for 5 minutes
- Add chilli powder, turmeric, and separated coriander stalks
- Add grated lime, then lentils
- Cover with fish stock and simmer for 20 minutes
- Add coley pieces
- Roughly chop basil and coriander to stir through
- Serve with rice
Total cost: £4.74
Recipe #3: Mexican Feast
3 cloves garlic
- Chop red onion and roughly chop the garlic
- Zest and juice the orange
- Process the red onion, orange zest and juice, garlic, and half a tin of the chopped tomatoes
- Add oregano, thyme and smoked paprika to the blitz
- Cover chicken thighs with wet baking paper or foil to bake at 140 degrees for 1 hour (long and slow)
- For refried beans cook 400g of tinned red kidney beans
- Serve with tortillas and lettuce
Total cost: £4.74
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
The show’s tips
The cheapest olives are fine for recipe #1 because this has lots of other flavours. (My cheapest for what’s stocked locally is Lidl, but you might find bigger jars in Sainsbury’s that are cheaper by weight depending on what’s available).
Just about anything green will make the pesto in recipe #1. It’s much more common to see pine nuts in pesto, but almonds are much cheaper.
Apparently we waste £43m worth of pasta each year because it swells, so we cook too much. Use scales, or a measuring spoon with a hole in the middle for spaghetti like this: Brabantia Spaghetti Scoop.
Fresh fish can be up to 14 days old by the time it is stocked on supermarket shelves, so frozen can be fresher and cheaper.
The leftover chicken from the Mexican feast can go in sandwiches/pies/salads (and judging by previous episodes risotto and cannelloni…) As was said in previous episodes chicken breast is the most expensive way to buy chicken, followed by filleted thigh then thigh with the bone left in. The bone also adds flavour and chicken breast would dry out in this recipe, so there are culinary reasons to use cheap cuts!
If served with tomato salsa, tortillas and lettuce, the chicken and the salsa are the most expensive components of the feast. For an ordinary weeknight we don’t have to make all of this. The beans only cost them 44p.
I covered the cheapest ways to get the majority of the ingredients in the previous recaps, especially in episode one.
I also have a page ready imminently about where to get over 100 common ingredients as cheaply as possible, so join the mailing list for that update.
They used coriander stalks in the curry because I think that’s what they already had, but any coriander should do.
Mexican for breakfast?
This fish and lentil curry will soak up even more flavour in the fridge. This achieved Matt’s mission therefore to convince Sean that leftovers can still taste good, if not better the next day. I know someone who always refrigerates their spaghetti bolognese to let it marinade before reheating it to actually eat for this reason, so homemade tomato sauces are good for this also.
The peppers would want freezing before cooking I would think. Vegetarian fillings that require no cooking before stuffing would probably be better. Otherwise freeze away!
While the other episodes all had problems with throwing away food because of buying too much, this was the first episode that tried to tackle overeating.
It’s one thing when food goes off before it gets eaten, or ends up in the bin because of a mistrust of best before dates. It’s doubly stressful to a) spend too much and feel like you have to punish yourself by eating everything therefore and b) still ultimately throw some away because it’s just not physically possible to get through it in one evening.
Through seven episodes I think they’ve demonstrated that there’s really no need to waste anything. If the freezer is full, stop shopping. If we’ve already got lunch sorted for the week, we can stop shopping. Unless we want to start having curry for breakfast…
They didn’t go into the psychology behind feeding, and I’m not a psychologist…But if we love someone, we don’t have to show it with food. (I’m not trying to psychoanalyse the family in the episode. I’m just thinking about how their situation might apply to others). If we feel pressured to eat or guilty in response to someone’s hyperactive cooking, that’s contrary to the intention. Talk about it and find other ways to show you care…
…and try not to replace the food with overspending on other material things. We can’t buy someone’s time and attention with money either.
Greenwich Market visitors ranked the following budget options:
Other Ways To Save
If you’re still suspicious about why Lidl and Aldi are cheaper than major supermarkets, it’s not a quality issue. Here’s some of the reasons why these discounters can sustain much lower prices:
- They keep the layout very simple, so there’s not much overhead for their interior decor
- Products have multiple barcodes, so they can be scanned super quick
- They profit from limited time offers at rock bottom prices
- Most of the stock is own brand
Having mainly own brands limits choice, but is much cheaper for everyone involved. The limited time offers attracts anyone who wouldn’t pay full price, but you’re also likely to buy more than usual to see out the winter as it were.
Regards the quick checkouts, they also expect you to do most of your packing away from the till. This way staff can close their checkout the second the queue dies and go back to shelf stacking etc, so that they’re as productive as possible…German efficiency, eh?
They also rely on the “special buy” aisles in the middle. They call them special buys because the stock changes regularly, so you never know what might be there.
However, for that reason, I don’t think of these as special buys. If it’s not on my list, and I didn’t plan to buy it, then it can’t be special by definition! A special purchase to me is something I really need and an impulse buy is usually the opposite. So stopping at Aldi or Lidl instead of Tesco and friends is only cheaper if you make a pact with yourself not to rummage in the middle aisles…
The exception is if you find something in the middle aisles that you were planning to buy but that you’d thought you’d have to travel somewhere else for if it’s not normally stocked in Aldi/Lidl.
Save Money Good Food Series 1 Recap Episode 7
The key takeaways from this episode were:
- Recipes that soak up flavour over time are ideal if you definitely want extra portions for the fridge
- Portion out pasta (and rice) as it expands when cooked
- Don’t pay a premium for “fresh” fish as it’s less fresh than frozen(!)
- If it’s green, it will generally make pesto
Would you or have you made any recipes from this episode? What do you do for inspiration when having a clear out of your kitchen cupboards? Let me know in the comments.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve had kitchen success with the Save Money Good Food book also.
Next time on Save Money Good Food…
The end is nigh! Episode eight is all about food ideal for sharing. Recipes included Chicken in Tarragon Sauce, Ham and Cheese Tear and Share Bread, Tomato Bruschetta, and Tapas of Meatballs, Polenta, Patatas Bravas, and Churros.
If you want to go back, episode six was about food ruts and included recipes for Chicken and Vegetable Pizza, Beef and Bean Stew, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Pad Thai, Thai Basil Pork, and Lemon Sorbet.
Episode five was all about freezer-friendly alternatives to ready meals and included recipes for Smoked Haddock Fishcakes, Chicken Kievs, Tomato Pilau Rice, and an American Diner Style Fakeaway of Veggie Burgers, Milkshakes, and Banoffee Pies.
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 if I’m honest…I’m pretty fricking hungry by now! There’s only one to go. 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!)