Frugal food round-up

Food ingredients

Claire crumbs


Our first round-up theme was Frugal Food and we handed the reins over to Claire from Crumbs...

What a generous lot you are.

We're a bit skint at the moment and we asked you to share your favourite frugal recipes. And you did. By the bucket-load. Some of them were reminders of old favourites – the forgotten deliciousness of French toast. So easy. Some of them are great but simple pasta dishes, quick and delicious. And some of them are great twists on old classics: baked bean lasagne. Need I say more? Read on for some top frugal food recipes and tips.



Pasta Amatriciana - Gourmet MumThe world's easiest pasta sauce - The ever brilliant Reluctant Launderer comes up with the easiest tomato sauce ever. Pop it on pasta (she recommends a liberal sprinkle of shop-grated cheese, but she does have three kids under five, so we are not judging. Ok. So we buy it too).

Spaghetti Amatriciana - What would we do without Gourmetmum? Here she makes great pasta on a video blog. It's a really simple, but scrummy sounding recipe and she gives some brilliant cooking tips: start cooking bacon/pancetta in a cold saucepan. As the saucepan heats up the bacon gives up its oil and that's what you cook it in, rather than adding olive oil. Genius.


These bloggers have all stumbled upon something which I've been thinking a lot about recently. How everything tastes better with bacon. 

Leek and bacon pasta bake - "There is just something about bacon..." says the wonderful Recipe Junkie. Even the most passionate vegetarians falter when faced with a bacon sarnie and lashes of ketchup. And it jazzes up the most mundane ingredients. She shares her recipe for a delicious-sounding leek and bacon pasta bake.

Cheesy bacon and pesto baked gnocchi - Gourmet MumCheesy bacon and pesto baked gnocchi - Ah, gnocchi! The quickest way to get tea on the table ever. Quick AND delicious. Add pesto for more deliciousness. Add cheese for even more. And then bacon. Need we say more? Thank you Gourmetmum.

Bacon and broadbean risottoScreenfulofwords does my kind of cooking. Slow stirring? No thank you! Isn't that what non-stick pans are for? Homemade stock? Only if it makes you happy, she prefers shop-bought. This flavoursome recipe is easy to make, and if you keep frozen beans in your freezer, it's one you can have on standby for when you've run out of everything else.


When it's cold outside there's nothing better than a big bowl of steaming soup and some crusty bread. And from a frugalista's perspective, there's nothing cheaper. Check out the back of your vegetable drawer, pop it in a saucepan and add relevant herbs and spices. Eating doesn't get cheaper or healthier than this.

Spiced tomato, tamarind and lentil soup - How to Cook Good FoodBlood clot soup - Of course, you don't have to call it this. It's just Relentless Laundry's attempt to get her children to eat tomato and lentil soup by calling it the most revolting name possible. She suggests serving it with flaky goblin skin (a parsley garnish to you and me). Whatever you call it, it looks (if not sounds) delicious and can be made from all your store cupboard staples.

Spiced tomato, tamarind and lentil soup - The lovely Laura at How to Cook Good Food came up with this, and says if you don't have any tamarind just use lime juice instead. It can be jazzed up with a boiled egg and some pickled jalapenos to make a full nutritious meal. Yum.

Spiced carrot, cardamom and orange soup - How to Cook Good Food has come up trumps again with this tasty but unusual soup made from the fruit and veg lurking at the bottom of her fridge.


Crumbs and yoghurt - EcothriftylivingCrazy about crumbs - What a brilliant idea! Those pesky things that go all over the floor can be harnessed and harvested to make a scrummy pud. Eco Thrifty Living is trying to reduce waste, so when she bakes (a lot, it seems) she puts the crumbs in a jam jar and then uses them for pudding on yoghurt or ice cream, or she saves them for a cheese cake base.

Banana bread - Don't throw out those over-ripe bananas. Instead throw them into this banana bread! It's super-fast, just put all the ingredients in a bowl, whizz them up and ta da! Cake. Cheap but delicious cake.

Cheese and onion bread - This looks good! A yummy homemade bread from Chez Foti, made from all those nubbins of cheese which lurk at the back of the fridge. Not one for dieters though.

Leftover cheese and onion bread - Chez FotiRoast pepper and feta pasta - The wonderful View from the Table is seriously worried about waste. She also had her own personal cheese mountain to scale. But she's done it, and she's up there, waving from the summit, wearing a fetching pepper-red moustache. Well done VFTT!

Chicken and chorizo soupThe Frugal Farmhouse has come up with a great way of using up the very last bits of that roast chicken, and any vegetables. Just add chorizo. Yum.

Leftover mash - If I have learnt anything since having children, it is: always make too much mash. There are so many delicious things you can do with it. Here is Mummy of Two's great idea for turning it into potato croquettes.


Who doesn't love a curry? Kids. That's who. But try them on one which has lots of flavour but not much heat, and you could be in for a pleasant surprise. Alternatively these recipes will make a great evening meal with a beer. Or two.

Sweet potato, spinach and peanut curry - This one is from Gourmet Mum, and has the killer ingredients of sweet potato and peanuts – what kid is going to say no to that? It's big on flavour with cumin and coriander, but no heat. The lovely Gourmet Mum has even worked how much it costs to make – just 80p a serving. Bargain.

Dahl - Gujerati GirlDhal. It just looks so ... dull. A big plate of brown slush. And that's the trick with dhal, expectations are low, so when you tuck in it's a revelation! Delicious flavours, maybe a spot of spice. And cheap, so cheap.

Gujerati Girl's Dhal - Oh yum. This isn't dull at all. GG's thick dhal has a long ingredient's list, but the chances are you have most of the things on it. She has it with rice, on it's own, and despite being a good Gujerati girl, has been known to serve it with pitta or couscous. 

This Tarka Dal from We Don't Eat Anything With a Face is also worth a try.

Comfort food

When it's cold outside, you need to be warm on the inside. That's what comfort food does. Save diets for the summer when lettuce leaves are in season. Now's the time for treats.

Dough balls - I love Normal Mum, although I think she's anything but normal. A great writer, baker and blogger she permanently kept her calm on the Great British Bake Off in 2011. These dough balls seem like the perfect treat when times are tough. Dipped into garlic butter – gorgeous. She also recommends dipping them into Nutella, oh yes!

French toast - Best and BeyondFrench toast - How could we forget the gorgeousness of French toast? But forget we did, until Best and Beyond reminded us. Stale bread and egg, it doesn't sound great, does it? But put them together, add some herbs, maybe some cheese et voila! French toast is served.

Homemade peanut butter - Good peanut butter isn't cheap. But making it yourself is quite easy (if you've got a salad spinner) so why not follow Growing Patch's example and give it a go?


Say what you like about vegetables, they're cheap. And delicious. Just maybe not when you are five. But these recipes are all guaranteed to get your kids tucking in.

Butternut squash risotto - Ooh. This is posh. It looks delicious. But it's cheap. Every bit of that squash is used, from the skin – transformed into butternut crisps, to the seeds – baked in the oven. If you ever get the chance, go and have dinner at Chez Foti's house. It's in the French Pyrenees, but I think it will be worth the travel.

Veggie chilli - Chocolate Is Not The Only FruitVegetarian chilli - Where would we be without the one pot dinner? At the sink, that's where. So this is a healthy option for people who don't like Marigolds. With Quorn, mushrooms and kidney beans, all is ago-go on the protein front, and there's enough here for two day's worth of dinner. Thank you Chocolate Is Not The Only Fruit!

Roasted vegetables and couscous - Delicious, easy to prepare and served with Ainsley Harriot's couscous – the best thing to come out of the larder since Angel Delight, according to Yumyumbubblegum. We might have to give it a try ourselves. 

Storecupboard staples

Chickpea ketchup chilli - Recipe Junkie has given this a lot of thought and she thinks you'll almost definitely have all of these ingredients in your storecupboard, ready to knock up a feast for when the ravenous hordes descend.

Puttanesca - You can't go wrong with Puttanesca. Most of the ingredients are in your cupboard, and make too much so you can have it for lunch the next day with a slice of focaccia. Daisies and Pie calculates it costs about 79p per serving, so it's pretty cheap too.

Baked Bean Lasagne - Mama OwlBaked tomato and cheese risotto - This dish is a great one pot wonder – perfect for the washing-up averse (surely all of us?). It's a creamy baked risotto which is super-easy to put together and perfect for a chilly winter's night. Feeding Boys and a Firefighter always comes up trumps, so give it a go!

Baked bean lasagne - Yup. You read that right. Baked bean lasagne. Inspired. Why didn't we think of it first? Well done Mama Owl.

Butter bean and feta stewRiding the Stork has done the work for you. She's done the research and put together a stew which you can throw together in minutes, all from the things you've got in your cupboard already. Perfect.

Meal planning

We all know meal-planning is a great idea. Good for your wallet, waste and health. But do we do it? No! Well, actually, I tell a lie. Some people DO do it. Not only that. They put it up on t'internet so you can use it too. How nice is that?

Meal planning - CarlywritesLow faff luxury meal plan for £70 - How does she do it? Utterly Scrummy not only writes detailed shopping lists and recipes, she works out how much it all costs for you. In her spare time she words for the NHS and brings up her three daughters.

Meal planning ideasMaking It Up has got a big family and a small budget. Here she puts together a list of what she plans to feed her family of six with this week for about £85

How to write a meal planCARLYwrites a great meal plan, and she tells you how you can do it. She shops fortnightly and thinks chorizo is the perfect ingredient to jazz up any meal. And as we know, chorizo is very similar to bacon.

All the rest…

Trout fishcakes - Elizabeth's KitchenTrout fishcakes - Oh yum. These really are the business. And as well as being really good for you, trout is cheap and plentiful at the supermarket. Good job Elizabeth's Kitchen.

Corn beef hash - It's a taste from childhood, but chances are you haven't made it yourself. So give it a go and check out Ninja Killer Cat's blog while you're there.

Fish pieFab Food 4 All has some great advice: check out the frozen fish aisle. You might be surprised at what you come across. She made a delicious leek and fish pie with a bag of frozen white fish. Dinner came in at 85p per person. Result.


Crumbs is a brilliant blog by sisters Claire and Lucy who, since having children, "spend less time choosing between sushi or salami and more time scraping porridge off the walls." Entertaining, empathetic and entirely in favour of the culinary short-cut, Crumbs is the go-to blog for cheerfully chaotic but food-loving parents who can't resign themselves to a diet of leftover chicken dippers.

Keep an eye out for our next food theme. We can only include you in a round-up if you are a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network so hurry and sign up here


Last updated: 22-May-2013 at 3:37 PM