Category Archives: Frugal family recipes

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

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


Budget Chickpea Chocolate Brownies

chickpea browniesI like to make a batch of something sweet for the week, and this is a family favourite.

Now, I know that chickpeas aren’t supposed to go with chocolate, but this recipe is one of the best brownie recipes I have EVER found and nobody can tell the difference! I’ve tried it out on many different friends and their children and it is always a hit. Occasionally, I may put some nuts, raisins, dried cranberries or cherries in to create some texture, but they are seriously pleasingly decadent just on their own.

Plus chickpeas are high in fibre and iron; great for growing children. A good source of protein for vegetarians, and have been shown in research to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. What could be better! Here’s the recipe –

Chickpea chocolate brownies

Melt 100g of dark chocolate with 150g of butter. Whisk 3 eggs with 200g of castor sugar. Add 80g of chickpea flour and 3 tbsp of cocoa powder. Finally, pour the melted chocolate/butter mixture into the egg/flour/sugar mixture and stir well. Grease a 20 x 30 cm baking tray very well and pour in the mixture and spread evenly. Bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/350°F) for about 25-30 minutes, test with a toothpick to make sure they’re cooked through. Leave to cool before cutting into 24 chunks – delicious!

….and the cost?

100g Chocolate = 30p (Tesco basics)
3 eggs = 60p
150g butter = 60p
80g Chickpea flour = 15p
Cocoa powder = 20p

Total = £1.85 = 7p per brownie

Spring Greens Spaghetti

Spring greensOnce I’ve finished this month of budget eating I think I might write a book called 101 ways to cook a cabbage, because it does feel like we’re eating it about 3 x a week. No offence to the humble cabbage intended. It is actually a delicious vegetable when prepared with loving care.

This recipe discovery has renewed my passion for the younger variety of cabbage just coming into Season now. The Spring Green is a tender fellow that doesn’t need much cooking at all, and as a result this meal can be cooked in as long as it takes to boil some spaghetti.

Spring greens provide you with a serious hit of vitamin C to support your immune system, and vitamin K, to build bone strength. They also contain natural compounds, such as sulforaphane and indoles, and research suggests that these plant chemicals have significant anti-cancer action, as well as anti-inflammatory properties, which could help protect against heart disease and stroke.

Anchovies contain omega 3 fatty acids as well as plenty of calcium from the bones when you eat them whole. I’m always trying to find sneaky ways to get fish into our diet, but fish can be an expensive commodity, that’s why the tinned variety can sometimes be useful.

This recipe disguises the fishiness of anchovies making them more like a salty seasoning that complements the Spring Greens beautifully.

Here’s the recipe –

Spring cabbage spaghettiBoil some 300g of spaghetti until it is al dente. In the last minute before the spaghetti is ready, throw in a generous bunch of finely sliced Spring Greens. Meanwhile, as the spaghetti is cooking, mix a 50g tinned anchovies in olive oil, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, the juice of half a lemon and 1 chopped dried red chilli. Cook in a pan until the anchovies disintegrate. Add more olive oil until the mixture is runny enough to mix with the spaghetti/cabbage. Once the spaghetti and cabbage is cooked drain immediately. Stir in the anchovy sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice as required. Serve with black pepper and a sprinkling of strong cheese. Simple yet delicious.

How’s the budget?

Spaghetti = 20p
Spring greens = £1
Anchovies = 50p
1/2 lemon – 15p
Olive oil, chilli, pepper = 10p
Cheese  = 50p
Total = £2.45 for 4


Beetroot Chocolate Cakes

Budget chocolate beetroot fairy cakesWe love chocolate, and have we’ve been missing it these last 2 weeks of budget eating. Better still I love the combination of beetroot and chocolate, but struggle to get my daughter to eat beetroot alone, so when we got some in our Westmill Organics veggie box this week I jumped at the chance to make these delicious fairy cakes. With friends coming for tea this weekend it was the ideal opportunity to put our aprons on and get baking. One of the best things about beetroot is the way it can turn white icing a glorious pinky purple colour!

Beetroot is an exceptionally nutritious and overlooked vegetable; It’s beautiful colour demonstrates that it is full of vitamins and minerals and protective antioxidants essential for health. Although the leaves have always been eaten, historically the beet root was generally used medicinally for a range of ailments, including fevers, constipation and skin problems.  It’s a good source of iron and folate (naturally occurring folic acid). It also contains nitrates, betaine, magnesium and other antioxidants (notably betacyanin).

More recent health claims suggest beetroot can help lower blood pressure, boost exercise performance and prevent dementia. Beetroot together with dark chocolate and ground almonds in this recipe is a powerfully wholesome combination which is much healthier than a shop bought wheat cake or biscuit. Here’s the recipe –

Chocolate beetroot fairy cakes

Beetroot fairy cakesBegin by whisking 3 eggs with 100g of sugar until fluffy. Melt 100g dark chocolate with 50g of butter. Stir in the chocolate plus 200g of fresh grated beetroot, 100g of ground almonds, 1tsp baking power and 2 tbsp of cocoa powder. Spoon into 20 fairy cake cases and bake for 20 minutes on 200C. Choose your favourite icing. I like butter icing coloured with beetroot juice, but chocolate icing also works really well. If you can resist temptation, they taste even better after a night in the fridge. Make sure any cake containing vegetables is stored in the fridge to keep fresh.

Getting veggies into kids has never been so much fun!

And the budget?

I’d usually make 12 muffin sized cakes but opted for 20 smaller fairy cakes so they’d stretch further. Sweet potato also works really well in this recipe. Or sometimes I do a combination of both – 100g beetroot and 100g sweet potato – the results are light, moist and fluffy.

200g Beetroot  = 50p
100g Ground almonds = £1
100g sugar = 12p
100g dark chocolate = 30p (Tesco basics)
3 eggs = 60p
50g butter – 20p
1tsp baking powder = 5p
2tbsp cocoa powder = 20p
200g Icing sugar = 30p
100g butter = 40p

Total = £3.67 for 20 cakes

Huevos Rancheros – another awesome brunch recipe

Huevos racheros - mexican breakfastAs I’ve mentioned before, weekend brunch is pretty important to us. It signifies a lazy morning where we don’t have to rush off to school or work. It’s a time to enjoy each others company and eat something delicious and hearty. This recipe has been a family favourite for many years. It incorporates some of my favourite flavours – spicy tomato, cool avocado and runny farm eggs (now sourced from Headington Farmers Market).

Corn tortillas are made with masa harina, finely ground cornmeal – which can be picked up from any Asian supermarket for about £1.20 a kilo. Tortillas are very quick and simple to make, and are a great accompaniment to any Mexican dish. They can also be deep fried to make tortilla chips.

Cornmeal is very high in potassium, magnesium and B6, with one corn tortilla providing about 8% of your RDA for these vitamins. Coupled with farm eggs and avocado and this becomes a very nutritious breakfast.

Here’s the recipe –

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup of corn flour and 1/2 a cup of hot water until thoroughly combined. Turn the dough onto a clean surface and knead until pliable and smooth. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour; if it begins to dry out, sprinkle with water. Then cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle to medium-high. Divide the dough into 8 equal-size balls. Using a rolling pin, or your hands, press each ball of dough flat between two sheets of plastic wrap. Immediately place a tortilla into a preheated pan and allow to cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until browned and slightly puffy. Turn the tortilla over to brown on the other side for approximately 30 seconds more, then transfer to a plate. Repeat the process with each ball of dough. When cooked, do keep the tortillas covered with a tea towel to stay warm and moist until ready to serve.

In the meantime, finely slice an onion and 1 clove of garlic and fry in a little olive oil until brown. Add 1 tin of tomatoes and 1 or 2 dried red chilli’s depending on how hot you like it and allow to simmer until it reduces and infuses (about 5-10 minutes), season with salt and pepper. In the last couple of minutes poach some eggs and blend an avocado. Assemble together and enjoy.


6 eggs = £1.20
1 tin of tomatoes = 34p
Onion, chilli, garlic = 20p
Corn flour = 80p
Avocado = 44p

Total = £2.98 for 4

Tip to keep the budget low – many grocers will sell avocados cheaply when they are over ripe – which is perfect for making guacamole. Any leftover cheese that needs using up is delicious grated on top.