Welcome to episode six of my recap of ITV’s Save Money Good Food series two. If we’re 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: Packaged Food Ruts
Recipe #1: Beef Koftas
Recipe #2: Fish Pie
Recipe #3: Chicken Curry, Rice Pilaf and Saag Aloo
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests: Cola
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 more food and fitness savings?
Try these recent posts:
Save Money Good Health Series 2 Recap
Save Money Good Food Episode Six
The Problems: The Evans were stuck in a rut of eating everything out of a packet or jar from sauces to rice to chopped garlic. A stash of spices and fresh mince/peppers suggested a desire to cook.
They were spending £86 per week, so they budget more easily than some families. This adds up to £4628 per year though.
Recipe Ideas For Packaged Food Ruts
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Recipe #1: Beef Koftas
For the pittas
- Stir a sachet of yeast into warm water
- Mix with flour then knead
- Leave to rise for an hour somewhere warm in a bowl with clingfilm on top
- When it’s doubled in size cut into six and roll out into pitta shapes
For the koftas
- Add dried herbs and spice to the mince
- Add diced onion and grate in garlic
- Make into sausage shapes and fry
Total cost: Less than £4 for five portions. Matt made a diced cucumber and pepper salad and a tomato salsa from what was already in the fridge. They costed the koftas at £3.16 versus £4.25 to buy premade.
Recipe #2: Fish Pie
Any frozen fish
For the bechamel
- Put the parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, dill, and chopped onions in a pan of milk
- Warm for 30 minutes to infuse the milk.
- Place the fish skin side up in the milk straight from frozen
- Raise the heat from a simmer; as it starts to bubble, turn it off and leave to cook
- Boil potatoes
- For the bechamel, saute onions in butter
- Mix with flour to make a paste
- Whisk in the strained milk slowly
- Strain any lumps in the sauce through a sieve
- Boil eggs
- Mash the potato and put to one side inside the pan
- Heat oil/butter or milk in the other side of the pan and stir the potato in
- Flake the fish into an oven dish
- Halve the hardboiled eggs in the dish
- Pour the sauce in and layer potato on top
Total cost: £4.60 for five portions
Recipe # 3: Chicken Curry, Rice Pilaf And Saag Aloo
For the pilaf
Herbs and spices
- Chop the onion and coriander and grate the garlic
- Peel the ginger with a spoon
- Fry the onion and garlic then the ginger and turmeric.
- Add a tsp of garama masala then chopped tomatoes, coriander, and seasoned chicken thighs
- Cut a chilli in half (remove when it reaches the spiciness you like)
- Add chicken stock at the end
- For the Pilaf, boil rice in stock
- Bake in the oven with herbs and spices in the bottom of the pan e.g. cinnamon and bay
- For the saag aloo, fry chopped coriander and onion, turmeric, and spinach in a splash of water
- Add boiled potatoes
- Cook for 10 minutes
Total cost: £4.58 for six portions (the previous recipe was made for five people, but grandma came for tea for this recipe…)
It was £2.82 for the curry sauce for six servings if you remove the chicken, or £3.27 overall. The rice was 8p per head instead of paying 75p for pouches.
Total savings:Cooking this way would save £3.24 on their average spend or £1070pa.
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
They made beef koftas instead of the traditional lamb because beef was much cheaper. They costed it at £2.20/500g. To make the pittas cost them 20p versus 50p to buy. Shop-bought pitta bread costs far more than an own brand loaf of bread and is more expensive by weight, so you might only get six pieces versus a loaf that would last a week or more.
Making bechamel sauce for the fish pie saved £70 per year versus buying jars, but can also be used for lots of other recipes like lasagne and pasta bakes.
Adding chilli to the pan instead of slicing means you can control the heat more easily (but by all means slice up after to add more spice).
How to beat shrinkflation
Making what you can at home instead of buying multipacks also combats manufacturer’s tendency to downsize our food without downsizing the price.
Susanna met Ratula Chakraborty, a senior lecturer on retail and marketing from the University of East Anglia to find ways around shrinkflation. We often can’t tell when our products have been shrinked. e.g Jaffa Cakes are 10 in a pack, but only the eagle-eyed would notice or remember that there used to be 12 in a pack. (It really is a half moon these days. Eventually they’ll be selling an empty packet, or a total eclipse…Showing my age with that advert nostalgia!)
They found the Tesco own brand cost 44p/100g for 12 compared to 82p/100g to buy McVities.
Maltesers bags have reduced in size twice down to 93g instead of 121g. They retail for 83p/100g if you buy a 360g box versus £2.14/100g if you buy a bag. It’s a £110 saving per year if you switch brand on the Jaffas and buy Maltesers in a box instead of a bag.
For more tips on avoiding shrinkflation and other retail tricks see my Supershoppers recap.
No breakfast potential in my books, but I think leftovers from all of these are on the menu for lunch.
Freeze away! As ever, be careful with rice.
The fish pie wants some veggies either in the pie or on the side.
Remember if you read the series one recaps, potatoes don’t count as one of our five a day.
The curry and sides were a more balanced approached to an Indian takeaway, (or a fakeaway if we tend to use shop-bought sauces, naans and sides to bulk out this dinner unnecessarily).
Jump in the comments if you have anything to add. In future, I’m going to be covering more plant-based recipes, so pipe up if you have veggie versions to recommend of anything from the show.
Greenwich Market testers liked Lidl best up against Aldi and Asda.
Aldi and Lidl were both 21p/1l, and Asda 25p/1l.
In the second test between Lidl and Coca Cola (95p/1l) more testers chose Coca Cola by taste.
However when they were told the price difference, nearly everyone found them so similar, that they said they would buy the cheaper version.
Save Money Good Food Series 2 Recap Episode 6
Only one more episode to go!
The big savings this episode were:
- Use a cheaper meat, recipe and tradition be damned
- Make your own pitta and sauces
- Don’t be precious about which frozen fish to use in recipes
- Avoid ready made rice or pouch meals and sides
- Buy seasonings and garlic etc in their raw form
So what do you think? Do you rely on packets and jars to make anything? What stops you from cooking from scratch more? Did any of the above inspire you? Let me know in the comments and let me know if the Save Money Good Food book has helped you.
Save Money Good Food so far
If you want to go back, episode five was about Christmas and parties and included recipes for Ham & Onion Tart, Rolled Steak Bites, Baked Camembert, Prawn Cocktail, Christmas Dinner, and Christmas Pudding.
Episode four was about using every last leftover, and included recipes for Cheese and Tomato Pastry Spirals, Thai Green Curry, Chocolate Rice Balls and Moroccan Tagine.
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.