Category Archives: Frugal family recipes

Here’s where I’ll post all my family recipes that cost around £3 to cook.

Rhubarb Crumble!

It’s rhubarb season and we were given a generous bunch by a friend here in Oxford. I like nothing better than a good old fashioned rhubarb crumble. Though I hate it went they get all soggy and floury. So here’s my healthy version. It contains tonnes of oats and a few ground almonds to give that crisp yet nutritious crumbly crunch.

Rhubarb crumbleBest known for its digestive properties, rhubarb is high in fibre easing constipation and promoting regularity. Full of antioxidants as well as vitamins K, C and A it helps limit age related brain damage, fight infections, improve vision and possible protect against lung and mouth cancers. And if that doesn’t convince you to include it in your diet, it also contains just as much calcium as milk!

To make the fruit purée for this crumble, stew 4 cups of chopped rhubarb and 2 tbsp of sugar until soft. For the topping I use 1 cup of each – ground almonds, whole oats, and brown sugar, plus 1/2 cup of dessicated coconut. Place them all in a bowl and mix together. Now rub a tbsp of butter into the crumble mixture. Put the stewed rhubarb into an oven proof dish and scatter the crumble on top. Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes on 200C, 400F gas mark 6 until golden brown. Serve with natural yoghurt – delicious!

Frugal Fish pie

It’s the beginning of the month and I’m feeling flush. A new budget means new possibilities. Although I must remember not to over spend at the beginning so we don’t exceed the budget at the end. Fortunately, February is a short month! 4 exact weeks – no extra days!

Oxford fish marketI really missed Salmon last month so I thought I’d kick start with a frugal fish recipe. The Fish Market Oxford on Botley Road do a frozen fish pie mix that I keep in the freezer. It cost £6.95 / kg but contains a mixture of salmon and white fish. That might feel steep but it’s a lot cheaper than buying salmon fillets. Plus I like the fact that it’s all the left over tit bits that would usually go to waste – somehow it feels good not to use every bit of the fish. After all, Salmon is a very healthy omega rich fish that should be celebrated. This recipe is super simple as well as hearty and healthy.

Frugal Fish & Leek pie with mustard mash

frugal fish pie and peasDefrost the fish thoroughly. Infuse a pint of milk with nutmeg and a couple of peppercorns by warming them gently together in a saucepan. Place the defrosted fish and 1 or 2 sliced boiled eggs in the bottom of a deep casserole pan (you may need 2 pans – this is a lot of fish) and squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon. In the meantime, boil about 1 kg of potatoes until cooked through and set aside.

In a saucepan melt 30g of butter and gently fry leeks until very soft (about 10 minutes), add 2 tbsp of plain flour and mix to form a roux. Gently fry the leek roux for 30 seconds before whisking in the milk, leave over a gentle heat to thicken. Mash the potatoes with a little milk and some butter and 2-3 tsp of English mustard, season with salt and pepper.

Scatter some parsley over the fish and pour over the thickened white leek sauce. Top with the mash. Place in the oven for 40 minutes at gas mark 5 / 180C, until golden brown. Serve with peas.

This is enough for 2 family meals. So unless you want to eat it 2 days in a row, divide in half and freeze.


1 kg fish pie mix = £6.95 (Fish Market Oxford)
1 kg potatoes = 28p (Rectory Farm)
3 leeks = £1
Organic Milk = 60p
Butter = 20p
Lemon = 25p
Herbs, salt, pepper, mustard = 10p

Total = £9.38 for 8-10 portions (93p a portion)

Left over potato skin crisps and spicy tomato sauce

potato skinsThe problem with living on a budget is that you become obsessed with food waste. This is a good thing really, but does make me sad when I have to throw something perfectly edible away. Now that we’ve gone local and organic with our veg, I’ve already stopped peeling my carrots and potatoes in favour of scrubbing. But when I’m making mash I still peel as my daughter won’t eat mash with lumps in. It’s been breaking my heart throwing away these edible potato skins especially as most of the nutrients in vegetables lie just below the surface. We’ve been missing crisps this month, so I thought I’d attempt a home-made healthy version using the left over potato skins tossed in olive oil and sea salt and roasted in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes (or until crispy).

You can eat these on their own but there’s nothing better than a spicy dipping sauce. If you use tinned tomatoes it’s really cheap too. Here’s the recipe –

potato skin crisps and spicy tomato sauceDrain off the juice from one tin of tomatoes and then chop the tomatoes roughly. Finely chop 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic and 1 small red chilli. Place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, 100g of castor sugar, 2 tbsp of cider vinegar and 1 tsp salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a medium heat and gently simmer for 15-20 mins until it’s a sticky chutney. Spoon into a sterilized jar and seal. Or if you’re like us – serve immediately with warm potato skin crisps. A yummy Saturday afternoon snack!

I’m struggling to put a cost on potato skins as they would’ve usually ended up in the food waste. But I would imagine this recipe costs less than 50p to make. And if you’ve got squashy tomatoes at the back of the fridge that need using up – even better!

Pumpkin and Almond Chocolate Cake

Harlequin squashI’ve wanted to bake this week but having run out of butter as well as ideas I was stumped. Then came to me some inspiration from a lonely baby pumpkin sitting at the bottom on my vegetable rack. Small pumpkins are known to have a lovely sweet almost honey-like quality. When roasted they also have a beautifully moist gooey texture. I pondered, could I bake a cake using pumpkin purée instead of butter? Or would I be ruining some beautiful and much needed ingredients. What do I have to lose?… I thought. And I’m glad I did because when all hope was lost, out emerged a sensational cake that could also count as one of your 5 a day! Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin almond choclate cakeFirst roast the baby squash whole in the oven for about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Once soft and squidgy allow the squash to cool a little then cut it in half and remove the seeds without losing too much of the flesh. Whisk 3 eggs with 200g of sugar until light and fluffy. Melt 100g of dark chocolate. Add the warm squash flesh (about 150g) to the melted chocolate and stir vigorously until completely combined. Add 40g of ground almonds to the sugar egg mixture (you can make your own by blending almonds or buy them already ground). Add 40g of flour to the mixture. Finally add in the chocolate pumpkin purée. Whisk everything really well together until the consistency is smooth. Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking tray very well and pour the mixture in. Bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/350°F) for about 25-30 minutes, test with a toothpick to make sure it’s cooked through. Leave to cool before cutting into 24 chunks – delicious and (apart from the sugar) pretty healthy too!

100g chocolate (tesco basic) = 30p
40g ground almond = 40p
40g flour = 10p
3 eggs = 60p
200g sugar = 25p
Small pumpkin = 50p
Total = £2.15 for 24 slices (9p each)



My basic frugal curry recipe

I use this recipe a lot, all the time, every week at least once! It’s easy, delicious and very budget. You can add leftover roast chicken, frozen fish or just some wholesome chickpeas and spinach to complete this dish. With rice on the side it will feed a family of 4 easily.

Here’s the recipe –

Chicken curryIn a blender place 3 large peeled white onions, 5 cloves of garlic, 100g grams of creamed coconut, 1 tin of tomatoes, 2 cups of water, 3 tbsp tomato purée, 2 red chilli’s or more if you like it hot, 1 small knob of ginger, 3 cardamom pods and any leftover stems from some fresh coriander. Blend until smooth.

In a heavy duty casserole dish fry 2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp of cumin, 1 tbsp of garam masala, and 2 tsp of turmeric (in a little olive oil or butter) for a couple of minutes until the aroma fills the room. Pour in the blended curry sauce you have just made, mix it altogether, season with salt and pepper and allow it to simmer away for 10 minutes. Taste to see if it needs more salt, pepper or spice – adjust accordingly.

Now add your filling, and place the casserole dish in the oven on gas mark 5 / 190c for 1 hour. Do check it now and then to make sure it doesn’t burn, and give it a stir. If it reduces too much add a dash of water. The sauce should become thick and flavoursome. Serve with basmati rice and natural yoghurt.

Here’s the cost –

1 tin tomatoes = 34p
Tomato purée = 15p
Creamed coconut = 50p
Onions, garlic & ginger = 30p
Spices = 10p

Total = £1.39

Add roast chicken = £2
Add pollack = £2
Add cooked chickpeas = 28p

Monday Shop and Kale Aloo Recipe

Sarah at Monday ShopI was at the Monday Shop, on Monday funnily, where you can pick up surplus organic vegetables that have been on market stalls or veg vans around Oxford over the weekend. The shop runs by donation only, to help reduce food waste in Oxford. It’s a clever way of getting slightly tired looking vegetables to people that want buy organic and create healthy meals on a budget.

I couldn’t wait to get down and see what was on offer. The shop runs every Monday from upstairs at the Cowley Road Community Centre from 4-8pm. Cornflower Bakery in Wheatley and Sesi also showcase their products.

Kale from monday shopI arrived at around 6.15pm to many friendly faces. Thank you to everyone that welcomed me.

I was surprised to see that the vegetables were anything but tired looking. North Aston Organics had contributed some beautiful fresh herbs and there was an abundance of leafy green kale from the Cultivate Veg Van, as well as carrots, potatoes, parsnips and beetroot.

I picked up a bunch of fresh coriander and some of the kale and pondered over what I could do for dinner. I had some leftover chicken curry in the freezer from the other week and an idea popped into my head for Saag aloo – but using kale instead of spinach. So there it became Kale Aloo with fresh coriander.

Here’s the recipe;
Kale aloo1 bunch of kale
4 large potatoes
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp creamed coconut
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 small chilli
Salt and pepper

Scrub and chop the potatoes into small pieces and then boil until soft. Fry the potatoes in a little olive oil with 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a small onion for 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, garam masala, chopped chilli and turmeric and fry for another 2 minutes until you smell the aroma of the spices. In the meantime, remove the very tough bits from the kale and slice finely before adding to the potatoes. Finally, add 1 cup of water, the tomato purée and creamed coconut. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook for a further 10-15 minutes until everything has infused together. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve alone with rice or as an accompaniment to other curries. Simple yet delicious!

How much does it cost?

It’s difficult to say how much this dish costs to make. But I would say you can buy all the vegetables for about £1 and the spices, tomato purée and creamed coconut come to about 50p. So £1.50 for 4 people.

Sprouting chickpeas

I love sprouts and have often bought a pot of mixed sprouts from health food stores, but I’ve never attempted my own. Why I’m not entirely sure, but it’s probably because I consider sprouting like having a mini garden inside and I’m always the first to kill a pot plant.

Despite my trepidation I gave it a go, and I Chickpea sproutshave to say, sprouting chickpeas this week was probably one of the most enjoyable gardening sessions I’ve every had. Plus, I didn’t even have to buy any fancy equipment or even put on some gardening gloves! My kind of gardening.

When you sprout chickpeas it reduces the phytic acid content by about 40%.  This means that you absorb a lot more of the minerals and protein that chickpeas have to offer.

In fact, one serving of sprouted chickpeas contains 105mg of calcium, 115mg magnesium, 366mg of phosphorus, 875mg of potassium, and a whopping 557mcg of folic acid. As well as trace amounts of iron, sodium, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin K. Nutritious stuff!

Sprouting chickpeas is easy –
  • Rinse and soak 1 cup of dried chickpeas overnight.
  • In the morning drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly.
  • I just placed the drained chickpeas in a glass bowl and loosely laid a tea towel on top.
  • Every 8 hours or so I rinsed and drained the chickpeas in clean water. I also occasionally gave them a gentle shake to allow some air to get to all the chickpeas.
  • After just a few days they grew little tails.
  • After several days they looked like the picture.
  • When you’re satisfied with the length of tail, thoroughly rinse and drain the chickpeas and store in the fridge to stop them sprouting further. They’ll last about a week.

Frugal organic peanut butter hummusI love sprinkling sprouts on my salad, but I’m also going to try making raw sprouted hummus and a quinoa and sprout salad this week for some variety. I’ll post the recipes here.

These sprouted chickpeas coast 14p to make – but you can buy them for a few pounds in health food shops if you prefer!


Cheap and Easy Spinach Falafels

This is a quick, easy and healthy weekend lunch.  It would also make a great picnic addition, or lunch box snack.

Homemade gluten free greens falafelsThe combination of spinach greens, chickpeas and peanut butter makes this recipe great for getting your calcium quota.

1 cup of spinach has twice as much absorb-able calcium as a cup of milk. Chickpeas are also high in calcium, and peanut butter, which binds these beauties together, is just brimming with magnesium; which you need to insure that calcium is fully utilized. In other words, these Falafels are a perfect source of vitamins for strong healthy bones. Also a wonderfully versatile meal or snack for those of us that like to use our fingers to eat (which lets face it is most of kids and adults too). This recipe is a doddle and the end results are beautifully light fluffy green tasty morsels. Here’s the recipe:

Put 4 tbsp of oats in a blender and whizz until they turn to flour consistency. Add 200g of Spinach with 1 drained and rinsed 400g tin of chickpeas (or to be more frugal soak 120g of dried chickpeas overnight and boil for 1 hour). Squeeze in the juice of a whole lemon, and add 1 tsp of cumin, a pinch of salt, 3 cloves of garlic, 1.5 tbsp peanut butter and a handful of fresh herbs (I used coriander and fresh mint from the garden). Blend until it forms a smooth paste. If your blender is having trouble cutting through all this fibre add a dash of warm water to get things moving. Once your batter is formed roll it into balls and place on a greased baking tray. My mixture ended up a bit wet, so in the end I spooned quinelles (like they do on masterchef) of the mixture onto the baking tray. Bake on a moderate to high oven( Gas mark 6 / 200C / 400F) for 25 minutes until they are crispy on the outside but still gooey in the middle. Serve with lashings of home-made hummus either on their own, or with salad – delicious!

How much do they cost to make?

120g dried chickpeas = 14p
peanut butter = 20p
Oats = 20p
Spinach = 50pHerbs, garlic, salt & pepper = 20p

Total = £1.24 for 12 falafel.

Cumin roasted pumpkin soup

I love squashI love the sunshine that pumpkins bring to a Winters day. When I received two beautiful baby Squash in our Westmills Organic Veggie box I couldn’t resist a warming soup.

Squash and pumpkins are a perfect match for the spice cumin. It’s earthiness really complements the slightly sweet plump flesh. Together they create a meal that has a restorative quality. Now that I’ve discovered how easy it is to boil my used bones to make stock, the whole combination is a marriage made in heaven.

Roasted squash and cumin soupSquash are one of the most nutritious and healthiest vegetables you can eat, with a rich array of vitamins, minerals as well as lots of fibre. It has a high content of flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as leutin, xanthin, and carotenes which have cancer fighting properties and are good for eye health. It is also a good source of B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid and rich in minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

There’s nothing complicated about this recipe. Simply slice the squash in half, don’t bother to de-seed. Sprinkle with olive oil and a tbsp of cumin. Roast on a medium oven for 1 hour. The roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the squash as opposed to boiling which can wash away the delicate flavour.

Scoop out the pips and discard. Then scoop out the flesh and add them to your pre-prepared stock. Blitz with the blender and add salt and pepper to season. Best served on a cold day with a dash of cream or natural yoghurt. Hearty and delicious.

If you make your own stock from left over bones, this recipe can cost as little as £1 for 4 portions.



Deliciously warming French Onion Soup

I’m fighting a cold. It’s the first one I’ve had all Winter. I’m winning at the moment but I don’t want things to deteriorate, so I must have an action plan.

French onion soupI don’t have fancy supplements or expensive Super Foods like acai or blueberries but I do have an Allium Family Army made up of onions, shallots and garlic.

Onions may possibly be one of the healthiest foods on Earth. They contain quercetin, a nutrient that breaks up mucus in your head and chest while boosting your immune system. When the smell of raw onions makes your nose run and your eyes tear up, this stimulates your immune system to fight infection.

Onions and garlic also contain allicin, which slows down and kills a variety of viruses and bacteria. The pungency of onions and garlic increase your blood circulation and make you sweat. This helps to prevent infections and allows you to sweat out a cold or flu. Consuming fresh raw white onion and garlic within a few hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu is when you’ll get the strongest immune effect.

French onion soup 2I’m not into eating a bunch of raw onions and garlic, nor would my husband like the smell on my breathe that much, but I’m quite happy to have a good cry whilst peeling them. When onions are cooked to make soup, their quercetin does not get degraded. It simply gets transferred into the liquid part of the soup. If you allow garlic and onions to simmer slowly in some home-made beef stock they become deliciously sweet and savoury. Here’s the recipe…

French onion soup

I like making my own stock from beef bones boiled in water and seasoned with salt, pepper and bay leaf. Alder’s Butchers on Cowley Road will sell you a huge bag for just £1 with the proceeds going to charity. However, if you prefer you can always buy pre-prepared stock.

Finely slice 4 large onions and 2 cloves of garlic. Place them in a heavy duty sauce pan with 50g of butter and 1/2 tsp of salt. Allow them to cook very gently, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes. During this time the onions with caramelise at the bottom of the pan. This is what give the sweet taste to the onion soup and should be encouraged, but do not allow them to burn. Once the onions are ready add in about 750ml of beef stock. Gently simmer again for another 30 minutes until everything is infused. If you have any leftover red wine, port or sherry this can also be added but it’s not necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a grating of strong cheese and crusty bread. Warming and nutritious!

This is easy on the budget

4 large onions = 40p
Beef stock = £1
Butter, sugar, salt pepper = 25p
cheese = 50p

Total = £2.15 for 4