Welcome to this recap of ITV’s Save Money Good Food series two episode four. If we are saving for a big goal like a house deposit, this programme shows us how to get better value for money on food by using up leftovers, and avoiding overbuying in
the first instance.
My first posts were mainly property-focused, but I wouldn’t have been able to buy my first house without setting some spending priorities. Getting the best value for money from food was one of the areas that made a bear-sized difference.
I thought I was already the budget queen in the kitchen, but this show taught me lots of extra tips to last a lifetime. It’s also a good place to start if the only mixing you do normally is in a cocktail glass.
Here’s what I’ve covered below:
The Problems: No Leftovers Left Behind
Recipe #1: Cheese and Tomato Pastry Spirals
Recipe #2: Thai Green Curry
Recipe #3: Chocolate Rice Balls
Recipe #4: Moroccan Tagine
How to Get Better Value for Money
Other Ways To Save: Avoiding Convenience
Taste Tests: Merlot
I explained the premise more in the episode one recap. 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
I am not a nutritionist, or talented with a spatula, and I like to spend as little time as possible cooking. I’ve learned how to make quick cheap meals without having a death wish, so I don’t see why anyone else shouldn’t benefit from this knowledge. While the volunteers on the programme are families, we can use the same lessons if we’re only feeding ourselves or a couple.
Want help to save in other areas of food and fitness?
Try these recent posts:
Save Money Good Health Series 2 Recap
Save Money Good Food Episode Four
The Problems: The Dhillons from Ashford had a mix of Italian and Indian heritages and loved cooking. But momma Dhillon cooked too much and they threw away the excess. Matt and Susanna found rice in the bin, prepared onions, a pastry bake…
Recipe Ideas For No Leftovers Left Behind
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Recipe #1: Cheese And Tomato Pastry Spirals
Capers or olives
- Spread tomato puree and capers (or olives) on the pastry
- Grate any hard cheese over
- Roll up the pastry into a long sausage and chop into small chunks
- Spread passata in the bottom of a dish
- Turn the pastry sections on their side and stand in the dish
- Fill the gaps in between with tomatoes and grated cheese
- Lay shredded parma ham on top when it comes out the oven
Total cost: £3.33 for three portions. The Dhillons were spending £7.78 on average (£103 per week, or £5356 per year).
Recipe #2: Thai Green Curry
Kaffir lime leaves
- Chop the coriander (and stalks), onion, chillies and lemongrass
- Fry courgette then add coconut milk to the pan
- Cook a handful of rice (60g) per person
- Add coriander leaves, lime and fish sauce
Total cost: £4.11 total, saving £3.67. Add chicken thighs the next night if there’s any veg going still.
Recipe # 3: Chocolate Rice Balls
- Roll cooked rice into balls
- Toast dessicated coconut
- Melt chocolate
- Dip the balls into the chocolate and the coconut
Total cost: £2.65 for three portions.
Recipe #4: Moroccan Tagine
Dried apricots or raisins
For the tzatziki
- Season the meat and leave in a pan of hot oil
- Remove the meat to rest
- Cook sliced onion in the same pan
- Add garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom pods
- Add chickpeas then chopped tomatoes
- Add dried apricots or dried raisins
- Roast squash as a side with the skin on
- For the tzatziki, grate cucumber
- Squeeze out the water using a clean tea towel
- Mix into yoghurt with chopped mint and crushed garlic
Total cost: £3.40 per meal because they made enough for two nights. The tzatziki was 78p per 330g vs £1.78 for premade.
Total savings: £1727.10 per year if they continued to eat this way.
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
For recipe #1, they costed capers at £1.50/100g and green olives at 46p/100g, so only use capers if they’re already in the cupboard.
There’s also no need to buy parmesan especially; any hard cheese will do if you have some leftover. Own brand hard cheese not labelled as parmesan is usually cheaper to buy in the first place. Salad tomatoes are also cheaper than cherry, but again you can use whatever you’ve already got that needs eating up.
Thai Green curry and too much rice!
For the Thai Green Curry, Matt said they seem pricey ingredients. However, kaffir lime leaves for £1 makes eight curries compared to buying ready meals and jar sauces etc. Adding flavour with raw ingredients goes a long way.
They suggested 60g or a handful or rice per person (especially as rice swells when cooked too). This might still be too much for the smaller bears among us. See the diet facts vs diet fiction section of this post for more on portion sizes:
Cheapest Diets: Save Money Good Health
Many of us use a cup to measure rice, but a 350ml tea mug usually holds 180g of rice, so if you’re not using scales and you always end up with too much, this is why!
When I used to buy brown rice from Sainsbury’s the bag said to cook 75 or 85g per person, so this is not always a reliable guide either. (It’s cheaper to buy a kilo of brown rice from Lidl these days).
The Thai Green Curry was designed to use up rice, but can then become leftovers again if you add meat the next day. They used leftover rice for the rice balls also. Any chocolate or even broken biscuits will do, and then they can be rolled in nuts at the end also. Another idea is to dip them in blended raspberries.
As you may have guessed because I don’t hear many people saying “I’m gonna roast a good bit of lamb neck this weekend”, this part of the lamb was chosen for the tagine for cost. They costed it at £3.65 for 250g of lamb neck. Stewing lamb was £1.42/250g so even cheaper, but it takes longer to cook.
The chickpeas in the same recipe are also cheap for their protein content. Dried apricots or dried raisins work, but they found dried apricots were 31p/50g whereas the raisins were 15p/50g.
Roasting the squash with the skin on also meant there was less need to buy prechopped which the supermarkets charge you for the convenience.
Momma Dhillon thought she might replicate the tagine one night with meat, one night without to make it all go further.
Matt said because they often had pastry at their disposal too, they could break that up on top and bake with butter to add crunch. Nom!
For the cheapest places to find common ingredients, try these pages:
In the series one recaps I’ve compared fresh versus frozen, prechopped versus loose etc.
Other Ways To Save: Avoiding Convenience
Shopper insight expert Vanessa Henry met up with Susanna to discuss convenience branches of the big supermarkets. These are usually more expensive because they have high rents and high delivery costs.
Susannah bought eggs, bread, milk, cereal, baked beans, tea bags and mayonnaise from a Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express. From Sainsbury’s Local her shopping came to 80p more than their big store, and Tesco Express added £1.03 to the basket compared to their large stores. The Heinz Mayonnaise was around 50p more in the small branch (and there’s often no own brand alternative due to lack of space).
This kind of basket inflation can really add up over a year.
Vanessa suggested raiding our cupboards instead and planning better to get everything on a big shop. Other brands were the same price either way such as Covent Garden soup while Pizza Express pizzas were cheaper in the local branches. (Except no brand at all is nearly always cheaper, and making your own pizza will likely be even cheaper still. See the homemade pizza recipe from series one.
When online grocery shopping is better value
What if convenience branches are literally the most convenient supermarket for you though? This is common in London. If so, going online might be better value overall, especially if you can add a discount code or cashback via TopCashback. If you struggle to reach the minimum spend for delivery, fill up on frozen veg and cupboard staples that last for ages like varieties of tinned beans and lentils. Or see if you can’t split the shop with a friend or neighbour.
Otherwise compare the cost of travelling farther out to a cheap discounter versus paying a premium in a convenience store.
Erm, I think the rice went through enough recycling without being made into rice porridge for breakfast! I wonder if something peanut buttery and breakfasty would be viable instead of tomato and cheese in the puff pastry rolls though. Let me know your thoughts and experiments in the comments.
Matt borrowed their puff pastry for recipe #1. Buying readymade is cost-effective, but you’ll inevitably have more than needed. Fold up the extra section, and wrap in clingfilm to freeze.
Rice can be a bit of a pain to preserve; follow the NHS guidelines.
The Moroccan tagine has protein even without the lamb because of the chickpeas, but I don’t see a proper portion of protein in the Thai Green Curry if it’s made with vegetables only. This could be rectified with sweet potato, red lentils or tofu.
The chocolate rice balls are very energy dense for after dinner. Just a thought.
Because this was intended to use up a bit of leftover rice, this should limit the portions available though unless we’ve cooked enough rice for an army. Also, don’t be afraid of carbohydrate or sugar for energy generally.
Merlot – Britain’s fave red wine!
55% of greenwich market testers chose Aldi in a taste test versus Tesco and Sainsbury’s own brands.
Here were the prices:
In the second test, visitors preferred Hardy’s varietal range (£6) compared to Aldi, but for the price difference, give Aldi a go!
Save Money Good Food Series 2 Episode 4
That’s a (pastry) wrap. Don’t worry, I’ve got enough puns to see us through the whole of Save Money Good Food series two.
The big savings this episode were:
- Adapting meals across more than one evening by adding or subtracting meat
- Using up every last bit of rice!
- Investing in raw ingredients for more flavour and value
- Giving convenience stores a miss for top up shops
- Quitting top up shopping altogether!
So what do you think? Could you make any of these with what’s already at the back of the shelf, or are of these go-to recipes for you already? Let me know in the comments.
Do you own the Save Money Good Food book? Have you made back what you spent by spending less on food as a result?
Episode five is not just about Christmas, but all party food. Recipes include Ham & Onion Tart, Rolled Steak Bites, Baked Camembert, Prawn Cocktail, Christmas Dinner, and Christmas Pudding.
Save Money Good Food so far
If you want to go back, episode three was about quitting takeaways and included recipes for Strata, Homemade Fish and Chips, Chicken Chow Mein and Szechuan Pork-Filled Lettuce Cups.
Episode two was about quitting gourmet ready meals, and included recipes for Chicken Corden Bleu, Salmon Fishcakes, Molten Chocolate Pudding, and Steak with Potato Gratin.
Episode one was about picky eaters and included recipes for Salmon Carbonara, Hidden Vegetable Meatballs, and Chicken Nachos.
I’ll be recapping the rest of the episodes, so join the mailing list if you want to keep up with all the Save Money Good Food series 2 recipes. I’m also sending out other tips to rocket your savings and earnings in the emails for the timebeing.