Welcome to episode eight 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: Food Ideal for Sharing
Recipe #1: Chicken in Tarragon Sauce with Hasselback Potatoes (and Bread and Butter Pudding)
Recipe #2: Ham and Cheese Tear and Share Bread
Recipe #3: Party Food – Tomato Bruschetta, Mini Burgers
Recipe #4: Tapas of Meatballs, Polenta, Patatas Bravas, and Churros
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests – Ketchup
Here are the previous recaps if you need to catch up:
Or if you haven’t got time to read the series now, best bookmark it and join the mailing list to get your weekly reminder of what’s new plus extra income tips.
Want to know how to save in other categories besides food?
Try these posts:
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.
Save Money Good Food Episode 8
The Problems: How to feed a family of 15! So…yeah, while I can’t relate to having that many people in the house, they still had some useful ideas in this episode that anyone can use to buy less and buy better value ingredients for making plenty of food to share socially.
The Wilkinsons from North London included one baby, one toddler, four primary schoolers, four teens, three adults in their 20s, plus the parents.They had to eat at different sittings in three shifts because of the age range and to fit everybody in, and were cooking too much (even for 15 tummies!)
Because everyone was fed in age from the youngest up, the parents were ordering takeaway because they couldn’t be bothered to cook their own dinner after everyone else’s!
They thought they were spending £50 PER DAY and throwing away 10-20% uneaten. They shop every other day and do top up shops every day. I hope they use loyalty cards!
They were spending £400-500 according to Mr Wilkinson and £520 according to Mrs Wilkinson. The show found the real figure was actually £632 on average or £35 each night…That’s £33000 per year. Or a deposit for some houses!
Matt and Susanna found perfectly good carrots, leek, and potatoes in the bin just because they’d gone past their date, but it all looked and smelled fresh.
They had chicken legs/thighs in the fridge which is a saver compared to chicken breast as mentioned in other episodes. But they also had ready made packed lunches in the fridge like Attack a Snak which has overly processed bread/ham/cheese inside. These ingredients are much cheaper to buy yourself. The Wilkinsons had plenty of labour they could employ to make lunches…
Not my fricking problem
Why am I even writing about someone who can afford to spend a house deposit on food each year? As established after episode one aired (where the volunteers were spending £170 weekly), I know some viewers were peed off that this kind of show would help anyone that could “afford” to spend this much on food.
I’d like the blog to be as judgement free as possible, so I got two crucial things from this.
A) Just because someone spends more than us, doesn’t mean that they can afford it
B) Everyone should be able to get help wasting less money (and food) regardless of their income if that’s what they need.
I have no idea what the Wilkinsons earn, or if they were in debt. If they were happy spending this much on food per year, they wouldn’t have taken part in the show. Without commenting on their finances specifically, sometimes when people overspend it’s actually because debt has become normal for them. We can’t assume someone is a high earner necessarily.
Anyone can benefit from better value for money whether it’s to avoid debt traps, or because we have a low salary and a big savings goal (which was my situation and the reason why I watch shows like this). Savings are relative. Whether you usually spend £20 per week or £200 per week, if you cut that in half then that would be life-changing.
Recipe Ideas – Ideal For Sharing
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Pestle and mortar for recipe #3
Blender for tomato sauce in recipe #4
Recipe #1: Chicken In Tarragon Sauce With Hasselback Potatoes
*They used 2kg of potatoes for a party of 15.
Wait! Where are the quantities? The show is pretty vague about measurements overall, and I actually think this is a good thing. The Save Money Good Food book has exact measurements, but if we’re going to learn to use our leftovers, we need to get less hung up on perfect quantities.
Unless you’re baking, you can quite often be free and easy with ratios. Or if we’re cooking staples like lentils, it will usually tell you on the packet how much to weigh out per person.
Following portion sizes at its simplest means the majority of the recipe is vegetables, with the protein and starchy ingredients taking a backseat. Use this image via dietitian Priya Tew to help. It’s labelled a “handy” portion guide. (For anyone who’s been reading the blog since the beginning I hope you admire my uncharacteristic restraint. I waited a whole eight episodes to jump on that pun. Normally I’m on a bad joke quicker than a honey badger on honey).
- Score the potatoes 3/4 of a way through
- Stuff the incisions with thyme
- Heat oil and brown the chicken
- Fry onion and garlic
- Add chicken stock then tarragon leaves
- Put the chicken in a baking tray
- Pour the stock mixture over the chicken and bake for 45mins
- Stir in double cream, season and return to the oven for 10 more minutes
- Top with green beans and mushrooms
For dessert, they retrieved perfectly edible bread from the bin to make bread and butter pudding. (Put bread in a dish, pour custard and dried fruit over, bake. Who says you need a recipe?)
Total cost: The dinner was 90p per head and pudding 41p per head.
Recipe #2: Ham And Cheese Tear And Share Bread
- Fill a bowl with tepid water and add dried yeast
- Add flour slowly and mix
- Knead for 5 minutes then let rise for an hour until double the size
- Fry red onion in balsamic vinegar
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle
- Top with the onions, cheese and ham
- Brown in oven for 45mins
Total cost: 45p per head including flapjack for 15 people
Recipe #3: Tomato Bruschetta
- For the salsa, grind garlic, anchovies and basil with a pestle and mortar
- Mix into a paste with squeezed tomato juice (or use tinned tomatoes)
- Chop red onion, more basil and tomatoes
- Grill the bread
- Put the salsa and dressing on top and fresh basil
Total costs: Just under £24. This family have a birthday party every month and spend £120 on party food normally. The bruschetta was 25p per head.
They suggested it’s 30p per head to make your own sausage rolls for all ages. Jamie Oliver has a recipe here as a basis, but to keep the cost down use any herbs you have instead of buying sage especially if you’re not likely to use it again. The sausages will be the biggest deciding factor on cost otherwise.
They also made mini beef and onion burgers at 71p per person. They didn’t detail a recipe; it should be possible just to form patties out of onion and minced beef and then cook however you prefer. Bulk them out with breadcrumbs to make the beef go further.
Lastly, they made a jelly and ice cream mountain dessert instead of buying a supermarket birthday cake.
Recipe #4: Tapas – Meatballs, Polenta, Patatas Bravas, And Churros
For the meatballs
For the sauce
- Mix the garlic, cinnamon, sultanas, breadcrumbs, egg, basil, and pork mince
- Roll into meathballs
- Sautee tomatoes for the sauce
- Blend red onion and peppers with the tomatoes
- Cook the meat in the sauce on the stove
Total cost: 75p per head.
Polenta can just be made to the packet instructions, or I think you’ll find there is a specific recipe in the Save Money Good Food book.
They didn’t detail how they made their patatas bravas. However, most patatas bravas just involve boiling potatoes, letting them dry, frying them with onion and then adding tomato (puree/chopped/fresh) at the end. (Unless they have a recipe for that in the book too. Shout in the comments if you verify this before me).
There’s a recipe for churros from Thomasina Miers here. She created Wahaca, so I trust her to make a good churro… Her chocolate sauce is a bit special. The show served their churros with dipping sauce, but I bet they just melted own brand dark chocolate. You don’t need a big investment for chocolate that’s going to be a)melted and b)devoured in about two seconds.
Total cost: £1.50 per person overall.
Total savings: If the Wilkinsons continued to cook this way they could save £150pw or £7800 every year.
Because their bill was so mega high to begin with, they would still be spending £25200 on food annually, but at least then they could buy a game of Scrabble with the savings. I’m guessing a lack of evening entertainment was an issue for them in the past.
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
The show’s tips
Like the smoked haddock fishcakes in episode five, the chicken tarragon recipe can be made two ways. That way if children are picky, they can have plain chicken and potatoes without any tarragon.
If the tarragon leaves are added at the very end, the adults get the dinner with more flavour. Tarragon leaves are another ingredient where a little goes a long way because they are strongly flavoured.
Matt said the tomato bruschetta is best made with stale bread and tomatoes on the turn. It’s a great way to make a dinner or sharing food without wasting ingredients.
The tapas was chosen for the friday night feast because it’s easy to enjoy at separate sittings, or in spite of different tastes because there’s a mixture of dishes and it doesn’t require trying to sit everyone around a table.
The last flat I rented could sit four people at the table a squeeze and any gatherings over that we resorted to snacky foods. We should have made tapas!
I covered the cheapest ways to get the majority of the ingredients in the previous recaps, especially in episode one.
I’ll have a page ready any day now that lists all the cheapest ingredients in one place. Join the mailing list at the bottom of this post to find out when that’s live.
Tarragon leaves are cheapest in Tesco fresh rather than buying from the herbs and spices aisle. The price to beat is £3.50/100g.
Double cream is cheapest from the discounters (even if buying the 600ml tubs from Sainsbury’s/Tesco etc) and comes in a more manageable size therefore. Elmlea is a substitute and is even cheaper if you can find it in Iceland (£2.75). Elmlea also make a plant-based version, so let me know in the comments if you’ve tried it, or any other recommendations.
Tomato Bruschetta the morning after me thinks… And Patatas Bravas depending on your feelings towards potato as a breakfast food. Otherwise any of these should be good for lunch besides the tear and share bread made exactly for that purpose.
They suggested the tapas dishes are convenient for occasions where not everyone will eat at the same time, but they can also be frozen for later. So if you’re cooking for one instead of 15, you can still have tapas! The meatball mixture can be frozen before cooking (for up to three months).
For the bread and butter pudding, white bread is traditional. I’ve seen it made with wholemeal bread for more fibre before too. You can also up the fruit quota in exchange for making the custard less sweet.
Making the custard at home is usually cheaper than shop- bought depending on what format of vanilla you use. Making it yourself obviously means you can control how much sugar you add.
The tear and share bread can be used for any occasion with lots of people to feed, but the show intended it to replace the family’s expensive ready made packed lunches.
One of the boys said it was like eating pizza though and someone else online suggested flapjack isn’t even allowed in some schools as a packed lunch item. I’m not sure how schools regulate this because the whole point of home cooking is that you control the nutrition, so it’s possible to bake a flapjack that’s lower in sugar. At any rate the tear and share bread would have a lot less salt and preservatives than things like Attack-a-Snak. (Snak’s not even a word!) Grr! Agh!
For the jelly and ice cream mountain, there are sugar free jellies. Jelly made with diet lemonade is fun times.
Greenwich Market visitors ranked the following supermarket brands:
Don’t forget they made ketchup in episode five too, and Aldi’s ketchup contains more tomatoes than Heinz according to episode one.
How To Save Money And Eat “Good” Food
Finally…According to the show, more than half of us visit the supermarket more than three times per week. Imagine how much free time we’d have if we shopped once a week or less…? (I was going to say I assume this number went down during coronavirus, and then the second sentence made me think some people will have had even more free time to go shopping needlessly…)
Top up shops are mainly to blame for this. Follow a list carefully to make sure you don’t forget anything, or if you do, ask yourself if you really must go back for that one thing, or can you substitute something at home.
If you absolutely must go back for one item, make it a mission not to buy anything else just because you’re back in the shop. If you’re trying to make the effort “worth it” by picking up extras, then did you need to go at all? Or was that one item you forgot not really “worth it”?
More than half of us leave the supermarket with more than we planned. This is partly down to being a magpie for promotions, but shopping without a budget in mind and underestimating how much we spend also contributes.
Add up what you’ve really been spending on food including takeaways. Are you unhappy with the total? An extra £20 a week in top up shops and £30 on takeaways and eating out means overspending by £1000+ a year that we could put towards a house. Only you can change this. Pick a limit for your next shop.
Save Money Good Food Series 1 Episode 8
The key takeaways from this episode were:
- The less often we top up shop, the less likely we are to impulse buy
- Always shop with a budget in mind
- If you’re cooking for picky eaters, make a plain version first and add flavours at the table
- Do the maths on whether it’s cheaper and quicker to make the things you buy constantly
We’ve reached the end! So which episode was most useful? Would you or have you made anything featured? How do you try not to go overbudget usually? Let me know in the comments if you’ve got a tip that was missed.
I’m hoping to dig into the Save Money Good Food book sooner rather than later, so I’ll update these posts if I do any recipe testing from there. (Yeah, yeah, I know I said I don’t cook with recipes usually, but we’ll see if I can find anything more useful in there for ya. Give me some time).
Previously on Save Money Good Food…
If you want to go back, episode seven was about feeders and leftovers that are just as good the next day. Recipes included Black Olive and Feta Stuffed Peppers with Broccoli Pasta, Fish and Lentil Curry, and a Mexican Feast.
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.
That’s all the Save Money Good Food episodes from series one! The mailing list will be the best place to find out when I add a recap of the Save Money Good Food series 2 recipes and the Save Money Good Diet recipes. Yes, there’s more than one Save Money Good…show and I recapped all of them. They’re a whole franchise. Lucky us.
I’ve also created a page inspired by my research for the show of over 100 common food ingredients and where to grab them cheapest. Hop on the mailing list to have that at your fingertips as soon as it’s live as well as weekly tips to earn and save more.