Advanced search

Cheap, but interesting meals.

(28 Posts)
NettoSpookerstar Wed 07-Nov-12 14:18:13

So, having a tight couple of weeks because I spent too much on crap and need some meal ideas.
I know how to cook cheap food, but I'm struggling with interesting.
I love to cook, and am not inspired by tomato pasta or jacket potatoes and beans.
We eat anything except for celery, jam, rice pudding and peppers, not big fans of fruit with meat either.
I'm a SAHM so have loads of time, and a well stocked cupboard with spices, oils, vinegars, soy, chilli sauces etc.
Anyone have any ideas?

eeky Sat 17-Nov-12 09:14:35

no problem, gracious of you to come back and apologise.

And thanks, Netto! Blimey, we are all being very polite aren't we? Must be Christmas

I get in exactly the same kind of rut. I can cook pretty much anything and dh is a good cook with a more - ahem -limited range. But every so often you find because of work/particularly skint periods/sheer tiredness that the same half dozen keep appearing.

We are less skint than we have been over last few years, but still loving cheap and cheerful food. I find it helpful to have several variations on a theme -

home-made macaroni cheese with bacon/ham, fried chorizo bits, fried mushrooms, stealth veg of broccoli and cauliflower for veg phobic ds. Dd's fave is tuna and/or small amt prawns stirred in.

Home-made chilli - usually do meat but am very tempted by Remus' veggie version on another thread. Always heavy on beans either way, and if can be arsed to soak, cook and freeze a few packets of beans it's so cheap. The frozen beans are handy to make a salad too.

Jacket spuds with beans/cheese/chilli etc. Posh it up with lots of salady bits in bowls for dc's.

Dd (4y)watched Nigella with me the other day - starting her early on food appreciation! She begged me to let her make the sausage meatballs and spaghetti, which was cheap as chips. I couldn't run to poncy italian sausages, so just used bog-standard bangers. Got dd to squeeze them out of skins and roll into teeny-tiny meatballs, fried them briefly in a little olive oil with a bit of chopped spring onion. Tip in a tin of chopped toms, some dried oregano and a squirt of ketchup. Simmered slowly for 20 mins and served up with cheap spag and some parmesan. Dd now thinks she is a cooking goddess and both the dcs and dh thought this was the best meal ever. An astounding amount of kiddie meatballs can be made from 6 sausages!

Now, my preference would be for "proper" meatballs made from scratch with decent quality meat, fresh breadcrumbs, egg and some stealth veg, ina more exciting sauce. Not as cheap but still makes a small amt of meat go a long way. See Nigella "How to Eat" for several versions. I also like a goulash-style meatball with pork mince, paprika and red peppers in sauce, but am thinking the sausage version of this would be great too.

More soups - cheap and nutritious, and nicer for work lunches than sandwiches.

Risotto? again stretches a small amt nice ingredients and feels like a treat. Even better with home-made chicken stock from carcasses - I make a huge vat and reduce down to v concentrated to freeze in ice cube trays.

Dd loves anything in a wrap since discovering these at school dinners - small amt leftovers and some salad and sour cream.

Keep meaning to make more bread or try making wraps - is the no-knead bread as good as it looks, Netto?

multitaskmama Fri 09-Nov-12 23:55:23

eeky point taken, apologies blush

NettoSpookerstar Fri 09-Nov-12 19:02:06

Don't like butter beans, would sub another type though.
Do you have a recipe?
Love the idea of garlic roasties too.

Ooh yes - baked feta is yummy. It would be great with some roasted garlic new potatoes (still in their skins) and some homemade tsatziki made with really thick Greek yoghurt. Greek baked butter beans are gorgeous too, and v cheap to make if you use dried beans (and not expensive even with tinned).

NettoSpookerstar Fri 09-Nov-12 18:15:07

I saw a recipe on a TV show a while back, with feta baked in foil with lemon juice and oregano. I'll maybe do that with some homemade no knead bread and a soup. The greek lemon one I've been meaning to try.
My inspiration is returning!

NettoSpookerstar Fri 09-Nov-12 16:28:59

No red wine but have port and puy lentils and potatoes and carrots.
Asda delivery came today.

Am trying the turkey meatballs up thread later, but with salad and mint/yoghurt sauce in wraps.
Will fry some peppers for DD as she likes them, its me who doesn't.

No feta but have an unused block of paneer still, must look for new recipes to try with it, then could do a dhal too one night.

Things aren't desperate or anything, it's more a case of still enjoying cooking whilst saving, especially with Christmas coming up as usually I'd choose a recipe then buy whatever I want for it.


If you've got any red wine or port in the house, you could cook puy lentils in it with stock and maybe some rosemary etc. Meanwhile roast a pan of carrot chunks, shallots, garlic, whatever. Mix them together and eat with mashed or dauphinoisse potatoes. Tastes like it's v expensive (esp with the dauphs) but it isn't.

Sainsbo's do feta-style cheese for about 75p a pack. You could probably think of something exciting to do with that - eg pasta persto with rocket leaves, halved cherry tomatoes and feta, plus some herbs.

sashh Fri 09-Nov-12 04:03:15

The hairy dieters veg soup is fab. Various veggi rissoto would be cheap. Sweet potato wedges with lots of chill and paprika.

NellyJob Thu 08-Nov-12 20:59:17

A paella looks lovely and goes down a treat, as well as being cheap.
Fry some finely chopped onion and garlic, add some turmeric and paella rice and Fry it some more.
Add boiling water or stock, salt and pepper (to about twice the volume of rice)
At some point add frozen peas, and strips of red pepper and later some cooked mussells (v cheap)
Decorate with unshelled prawns (cheap) which have been heated separetely with some lemon juice.
serve with wedges of lemon and decorate with some flat leaf parsely.

NettoSpookerstar Thu 08-Nov-12 20:50:04

With you on that eeky, which is why I haven't answered her.
I do have a blog, I do sometimes link to it, but only when really relevant, and not to push it for the sake of it.
I also participate in the whole site, which she doesn't.

eeky Thu 08-Nov-12 20:25:20

multitaskmama,I really wish you would stop using multiple threads as advertisement for your website. I haven't looked at it, and it may be great, but please could you stop using OP's question as an excuse to promote it? Thanks.

NettoSpookerstar Thu 08-Nov-12 08:05:30

Well I'm trying chorizo and cheese sausage rolls with cauliflower soup tonight.
I'll sub the cheese for mature cheddar as I have it in already, so I just need to buy puff pastry.
It'll use up the random sausages in the freezer, the rather sad looking cauli and some chorizo, which I've loads of from the Good Food show the other week.

MotherOfNations Wed 07-Nov-12 18:38:09

multitaskmama I can't wait yo try some of your recipes.

multitaskmama Wed 07-Nov-12 17:10:28

I am a SAHM and even when I worked, I cooked on a low budget, fresh food daily. The kids and hubby were happy with what I used to dish up as were my friends, so to help them out I put all my recipes here:

Here, you have curries, kebabs, desserts and a lot more. All made with basic ingredients, nothing fancy.

Oh, there is an article about a three course meal for less than a fiver too:

Good luck smile

Ruffello Wed 07-Nov-12 16:42:06

Ottolenghi's turkey & sweetcorn meatballs are cheap and cheerful. Maybe substitute the pepper sauce for tomato, if you don't like peppers. Falafels are also good if, like me, you always have tins of chickpeas in your cupboard!

NettoSpookerstar Wed 07-Nov-12 15:56:06

Had forgotten about fritatta, have plenty of eggs in and we haven't had it for ages.
Thanks, Knock, I made the burgers a while back and we loved them.
Have made the mushroom soup too, and yes, I do have sherry in!

We're not in danger of going hungry, it's just that I want to try new recipes and cook interesting food, rather than something that bores me to death.
Cooking is what I do, and the thought of cooking/eating boring food depresses me.

MotherOfNations Wed 07-Nov-12 15:53:29

African chicken stew.
Fry onions chilli and chicken. Add tinned tomatoes and a vegetable stock cube and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Serve with rice.

KnockKnockPenny Wed 07-Nov-12 15:42:44

A few ideas from my blog. I know I sent them to you already Net, but some others might find them useful

Tuna Sweetcorn Burgers

Breadcrumb Pesto Spaghetti

Brown butter, sage & chicken spaghetti

mushroom soup though this is only cheap if you already have Sherry in the house!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 07-Nov-12 15:37:32

Frittatas.... Great way to use up bits and pieces of cheese and vegetables. Cook up some potatoes, cool and slice. Mix together plenty of eggs, some grated cheese, chopped spring onions, grated courgette or wilted spinach..... tip it all into a big frying pan, cook for a few minutes and then put the whole pan under the grill until risen and golden. Nice in wedges with salad

NettoSpookerstar Wed 07-Nov-12 15:15:56

Ooh yes, breast of lamb.
Have only cooked that once but we loved it.
I'm hoping to get to Morrison's tomorrow for their cheap meat and fish, plus stock up on dried beans/lentils.

4merlyknownasSHD Wed 07-Nov-12 15:11:42

Rolled and stuffed Breast of Lamb. Pouting or Sprats (fish). Toad-in-the-Hole.

NettoSpookerstar Wed 07-Nov-12 14:48:26

Good ideas, have made both BBB and lentil curry several times.
We do enjoy them though.
No one to give me game, wish there was, we love it.

MarzipanAnimal Wed 07-Nov-12 14:28:15

Oh and add water with the lentils obviously

MarzipanAnimal Wed 07-Nov-12 14:27:02

Not everyone might find this interesting but I like it! Lentil curry: fry onions garlic and ginger, add spices, add red lentils, veg (I usually put sweet potato in) and coconut sachet (cheaper than coconut milk, ASDA sell them). Serve with rice. It's quite mushy/sloppy but I like that

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now