Welcome to episode seven and the final episode of my recap of ITV’s Save Money Good Food series two.
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 how to stay away from 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: Food Boredom
Recipe #1: Chickpea Pancakes (Socca) with Salmon and Roasted Veg
Recipe #2: Prawn and Lemon Risotto
Recipe #3: Gooey Chocolate Cake
Recipe #4: Spatchcocked Chicken with Potato Wedges and Corn on the Cob
How to Get Better Value for Money
Taste Tests: Instant Coffee
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 savings on food and fitness?
Try these recent posts:
Save Money Good Health Series 2 Recap
Save Money Good Food Episode 7
The Problems: The Puris in Kent had automated beautifully so that they eat the same meals on the same day each week, but they were bored. This meant they sometimes chucked their ingredients and ordered takeaway instead.
In the kitchen snoop Matt and Susanna found they had lots of spices and staples, but they were also buying pricey marinated fish and had binned a mountain of baked potatoes and perfectly ripe tomatoes. They were spending £2k on top of their food shop on takeaways and eating out twice a week.
Recipe Ideas For Food Boredom
Chopping board and knife
Large bowls for mixing (or use a spare saucepan)
Pestle and mortar for recipe #1
Blender for recipe #4
Meat scissors for recipe #4
Recipe #1: Chickpea Pancakes (Socca) With Salmon And Roasted Veg
- Grind the fennel seeds
- Mix the chickpea flour and cover with stock
- Leave to rest
- Roast the peppers, tomatoes, red onion and chickpeas in garlic at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes
- Cook the salmon in a pan
- Fry the mixture into pancakes
- Put on a plate and cover in yoghurt and cumin
- Pile everything on top of the pancakes
Total cost: £4.72 for three portions versus the £11 the family usually spent (or £3k per year). Matt said he would use courgette if there wasn’t any leftover salmon.
Recipe #2: Prawns And Rocket In Lemon Risotto Rice
- Soften onions and garlic in butter
- Put the risotto rice in the same pan
- Add hot fish stock one ladle at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed each time
- When the rice is tender, stir in the prawns until they go pink
- Add rocket with lemon zest and juice
Total cost: £1.62 each for 3 portions. The risotto base was £1.22. Prawns go a long way in a risotto which makes them cost-effective, but also makes it easy to stick to a palm-sized portion of protein.
Recipe # 3: Gooey Chocolate Cake
- Melt chocolate and butter over a pan of hot water
- Add sugar
- Remove from the heat and add the eggs
- Add flour and beat together
- Pour some of the mixture to cover the base of a lined baking tray
- Whip vanilla extract into cream cheese
- Layer on top of the chocolate
- Pour the rest of the chocolate over the cream cheese and swirl with a knife
Total cost: 34p per piece for eight portions.
Recipe #4: Spatchcocked Chicken With Potato Wedges And Corn On The Cob
Red wine vinegar
Potatoes or sweet potatoes
Corn on the cob
- Spatchcock the chicken (cut out the spine and push the rest flat)
- Put in a baking tray and make cuts in the back
- Deseed chillis and blend with garlic, tomato puree, lemon juice, paprika and red wine vinegar
- Massage the paste into the chicken and the cuts
- Roast at 200 degrees for 30 minutes or longer if needed
- Cut potato into wedges and roast in oil and paprika
- Cook the corn on the cob
Total Cost: £5.81 for three versus £35 for a takeaway.
Total savings: Cooking like this and quitting their takeaways and meals out would save them £2937 a year. That’s while also eating more of a variety and curing their meal boredom.
How To Get Better Value For Money On All The Recipes
As mentioned in series one, we can add almost any leftovers to a base of risotto rice cooked in stock and onion such as meat, tomatoes, fish, peas, mint etc. Anything green! Even the Christmas dinner from episode five can go in a turkey risotto in another one of Matt’s recipes.
Chickpea flour is gluten free by default, but will likely cost you less than buying other specialist gluten free flours. The protein is a bonus!
Susanna suggested overripe bananas could go in the chocolate cake too (maybe skip the sugar therefore), or Matt suggested it’s a way to melt down leftover chocolate at Xmas.
They used corn on the cob for recipe four, but I think you’ll find frozen sweetcorn is cheaper. It’s not like we eat the cob…
They also spoke to a butcher about how to choose cheaper cuts of meat:
- Choose beef shin, cheek or oxtail
- Bavette steak is the cheapest steak (cook rare then slice thinly)
- To make lasagnes and bolognese etc cut beef mince with cheaper pork mince
- A whole chicken is still usually cheaper than any of these
- A whole chicken is also cheaper than buying wings, breast, legs separately
- The carcass can be used to make stock or soups
Going plant-based is even cheaper still…There’s always this page as a handy guide to where to find items cheapest:
Chickpea pancakes for breakfast perhaps? Let me know in the comments if this is your forte!
Matt suggested the chicken from recipe #4 will store in the fridge for three days, but I see no reason why it can’t be frozen either.
Susanna said they “needed” to make the cake because the family were spending a quarter of their evening budget on readymade dessert…This was interesting logic. What if we didn’t “need” dessert at all?
They pointed out that sweet potato wedges in recipe #4 changes the nutrition. It sure does, as sweet potatoes and white potatoes are not a straight swap for each other. This doesn’t mean one is “better”. They have different nutritional benefits. Sweet potatoes cost more, but they also count as one of our 5 A Day, unlike white potatoes.
64% of Greenwich Market tasters preferred Budgens up against Tesco and Asda.
Tesco was 79p/100g, Asda 78p/100g and Budgens £1.11/100g.
2/3 of testers preferred Nescafe (£3.25/100g) to Budgens in the second test until they were told the price difference.
This is Budgens only appearance on the show! They suggested giving convenience stores a swerve where we have a choice in episode four. As you can see their brand is significantly cheaper than the big brand Nescafe, but still pricier than the supermarket own brands. Does anyone have any luck shopping there, or is it usually a convenience store ripoff? Let me know in the comments.
Save Money Good Food Series 2 Episode 7
The big savings this episode were:
- Rescuing tomatoes and veggies by roasting
- Using a risotto base for almost any leftovers
- Going back to basics when buying cuts of meat
- Marinading our own chicken and fish etc
So what do you think? Are you suffering from food boredom? Can you “afford” to be bored? 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.
Time travel with Save Money Good Food
If you want to go back, episode six was about packaged food ruts and recipes included Beef Koftas, Fish Pie, Chicken Curry, Rice Pilaf, and Saag Aloo.
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.
That’s it for the Save Money Good Food series 2 recipes. I’ve got a series coming up next on diet myths and how to avoid getting rinsed financially by that industry if you’re interested in eating healthily. Join the mailing list to keep up with the blog and receive email tips to rocket your savings and earnings.