Category Archives: Frugal family recipes

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

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.

Farinata – Chickpea flat bread

Farinata gluten free grain free paleo chickpea flourFarinata is a traditional pancake made from chickpea flour that originated in Tuscany. It is a delicious alternative to pizza and is often flavoured with fresh herbs and olive oil. Chickpea flour, otherwise know as Besan or Gram flour, contains 8 times as much folic acid as wheat flour and is also a good source of Thiamine, vitamin B6 both needed to regulate appetite and mood, plus iron, magnesium and phosphorus for healthy blood circulation, muscles and strong bones. Plus it’s a very cheap way to get these nutrients when on a budget, without having to take an expensive supplement.

The recipe is extremely simple – consisting of very few ingredients. 1 cup of chickpea flour and 2 cups of water need to be whisked together with 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt, and then left to stand at room temperature for 3 hours (or over night).

Olive and sage gluten free paleo farinataTraditionally baked like a pizza, you need a very hot oven to cook the Farinata. So pre-heat your oven as high as it will go (gas mark 9, 240C, 475F), for one hour before baking. Use an oven proof heavy duty pan and place it in the oven to warm through.

Once you’re ready to cook, remove your pan from the oven (using oven gloves), coat the pan with olive oil and pour in 1 cup of your mixture which should sizzle and start cooking immediately against the hot pan. Quickly scatter a layer of your chosen topping (olives, sage, rosemary and fried onions) and place in the top shelf of the oven for 12 minutes. When it is cooked through transfer to the grill for 2-4 minutes until it is golden brown. Repeat with the left over mixture. Serve warm with any thing that takes your fancy – a few salad leaves or sliced tomato. Or perhaps some avocado or hummus dip. It’s filling, yet light and nutritious, as well as easy on the budget.

I buy my chickpea flour from an Tahmid supermarket on Cowley Road, but any India supermarket will stock it at around £3 per kilo.

This recipe is very frugal.

1 cup of chickpea flour = 80p
Olives = 30p
I used sage and rosemary from the garden
1 onion = 5p
Olive oil = 10p

Total = £1.25 for 4 people
+ £1 for salad leaves and avocado

Vietnamese Spring Roll Wraps & Asian Coleslaw

Vietnamese rice wrapsI love Vietnamese food, but I’ve never attempted spring rolls at home before. When I was out locating some of our local Asian supermarkets in Oxford – Thong Heng Oriental on Windmill Parade in Headington, Jing Jing on Cowley Road and Lung Wah Chong next to Oxford train station – I noticed just how cheap the spring roll rice wraps were. You can buy a pack of about 40 (maybe more) for just £1.99. Plus you get to fill them with exactly what you want (or whatever you have left in the fridge at the end of the week).

I’ve also been on the hunt for good cheap fish in Oxford. Geographically Oxford isn’t really well positioned for fish, and as a result we are short of local fishmongers. I did however come across The Fish Market Oxford, which is the wholesalers that supply the fish to the Oxford Covered Market. They also deliver to your door.

Before Christmas I paid them a visit and found some excellent deals which I’ll be blogging about soon. One was their large bag of cooked and peeled prawns that I keep in the freezer for rare occasions. When used in spring rolls this way, you don’t have to use too many and so it can work out quite cost effective. Here’s the recipe:

Rice Wrap Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls

Vietnamese rice wraps and asian coleslaw 2Take 100g of rice vermicelli noodles and soak them in boiling water for 5 minute until they are soft, then drain. Finely slice any vegetables you have in the fridge that you think may be suitable. I used cucumber, mushrooms and grated carrot and a handful of home grown coriander and mint. But spring onions, peppers, courgettes and even grated beetroot would work. Once you have about 1 cup of chopped vegetables add these to the noodles plus 100g of defrosted cooked peeled prawns. Season with the juice of half a lime.

Fill a flat serving dish with hot (not boiling) water. Soak 1 pancake at a time for 15-20 seconds until nice and soft. Spread the rice wrap on a plate making sure it’s not sticking to itself. This bit can be a bit fiddly but after a few it’s easy to get the hang of it. Place a handful of the noodle prawn mixture into the centre of the wrap. Roll from the side nearest to you tucking the bottom edge over and under the filling. Fold in the sides and roll upwards to complete the roll. The rice wrap should stick to itself to form the seal. I made 3 per adult and 2 per child. They are quite filling. Don’t over fill or they split.

For the dipping sauce you can make a simple chilli dip with grated garlic, ginger, chilli, lime juice and 1 tsp of sugar in a little warm water. If you like it salty you can add a tbsp of soy or fish sauce too. Or my favourite, home made Satay sauce. This is easy to make and absolutely delicious on anything and everything.

Satay Sauce Recipe

Take half a tin of coconut milk and heat with 2 tbsp of home made peanut butter. Season with 2 tsp of soy sauce, grated ginger, 1 glove of crushed garlic and 1 dried chilli. Delicious!

I served everything with an Asian coleslaw which was simply grated cabbage, carrot and onion with a chilli, garlic and lime dressing. EASY!

How’s the budget?

10 rice wraps = 40p
Rice noodles = 50p
Chopped veg for filling = 30p
100g of prawns = 85p
1/2 lime = 15p

£2.20 for 10 wraps

Satay Sauce
1/2 tin of coconut milk = 50p
2 tbsp peanut butter = 20p
soy, garlic, ginger, chilli = 20p

Total 90p

Asian coleslaw
1/2 cabbage = 50p
Carrots = 20p
Onion = 5p
Lime, chilli, garlic, olive oil = 30p
Total = £1.05

Everything together = £4.05 for 4 people

If you want to make this even more frugal you could replace the prawns with crushed peanuts and use the chilli lime dressing instead of Satay sauce. This would probably save you £1. You could also experiment with left over roast chicken or sliced tofu – a very versatile recipe.


Organic peanut butter recipe

Roasting peanuts to make organic peanut butterAs I’ve posted before, we love peanut butter! We we spread it on toast, dollop it into morning porridge, dip carrot and apple sticks into it and even eat it by the spoonful.

I usually buy Whole Earth Organic Peanut butter which is £3.19 a jar. Yet we can sometimes get through a whopping 3 jars a month! Seeing as we’re trying to feed our family for just £100 this month, I thought it high time I attempted my own. The results were outstanding! Delicious liquid gold! I have sworn never to get shop bought peanut butter every again.

Peanuts are rich in energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

They contain sufficient levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid which helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” level in the blood.

The kernels are a good source of dietary protein; compose fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth and development, and the husks are a fantastic source of fibre.

Research studies have shown that peanuts contain high concentrations of resveratrol and other poly-phenolic antioxidants, thought to have a protective function against heart disease, stroke, cancers and Alzheimer’s. Roasting or boiling apparently enhances the antioxidant bio-availability in the peanuts.

Peanuts also score well on vitamin and mineral levels containing good amounts of vitamin E, B complex vitamins and folic acid. 100g of peanuts provides about 85% of RDA of niacin (B3), which contribute to brain health and blood flow to the brain. They are also are rich source of minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium essential for bone health.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler:

frugal organic peanut butter recipeRoast some skin on organic peanuts in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until you see a sheen of oil appear on the dark skins. Place the nuts into a blender (I used a Kenwood) and blend for 5-10 minutes. Firstly you’ll see the peanuts blend into a crumb, then after a few more minutes the oil will start to ooze and it will become more liquid. Keep going until you have the consistency you require. I added no salt or sugar – it simply didn’t need it.

Supermarket nuts can be expensive. I buy kilo bags online from places like wholefoods online. 1 kg is about £4 and 5 kg is £17. If you’re able to buy in bulk you can save a fortune. this recipe also works well for cashew and almond nut butters – deliciously healthy.

Bargain Saturday Brunch Bubble & Squeak recipe

frugal bubble and squeak brunch recipeInviting friends over for a meal can always be a challenge when you’re on a budget. But watching the pennies doesn’t mean you have to compromise on flavour. Brunch is always a good meal to have guests over for, as breakfast items are usually a lot cheaper when catering for large numbers. I thought I’d combine the flavours of the beautiful Farm Eggs I purchased from Headington Farmers Market yesterday with my budget local Rectory Farm potatoes and Summertown market cabbage to create a sumptuous bubble and squeak with a golden yolked egg on top. Here’s the recipe:

Frugal Bubble & Squeak

friends over for brunchTake half a kilo of potatoes, peel, cut them into chunks and boil in salted water until soft. Mash with a little milk and butter, salt and pepper until they are nice and smooth. Fry an onion and some garlic in olive oil until golden brown add 1/2 a cabbage chopped into fine strands and stir. Splash in 3 tbsp of water and place the lid on allowing the cabbage, onions and garlic to steam/fry together for 5 minutes. Once the cabbage is tender, season with salt and pepper. Mix the mashed potato and cabbage together throughly. If you’ve used a red cabbage it will turn the potato a lovely purple colour. Heat some olive oil or butter in a frying pan, then add the potato cabbage mixture and pat it down. Leave to cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes until it begins to crisp up on the underside. Flip in over (don’t worry about it breaking up) and repeat on the other side. Poach some eggs until they are soft boiled and on top of the bubble and squeak. Serve with fried chorizo and beans – delicious frugal brunch for friends!

How much does this dent the Budget?

1/2 kilo of potatoes = 14p
6 eggs = £1.20
1/2 a cabbage = 50p
1 onion, garlic, butter & oil = 50p
Tin of beans = 24p
Chorizo (optional) = £1

Total for 6 people
= £3.58
Price per person = 59p
Price per person without chorizo = 43p

Kale pasta pesto

Kale pasta pestoThis has got to be one of the easiest and most versatile dinners to make. You can whip it up in about 15 minutes flat.

Plus kale is a super healthy vegetable containing plenty of calcium and magnesium which are essential minerals for bone health.  1 cup of kale contains 100% of your RDA for vitamins A, C and K and more iron per calorie than beef! Iron is essential for healthy blood, the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.

Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

Wow what a food!

£10 veg and fruit box from The Garden Market at EynshamI got a beautiful bunch of black kale (cavolo nero) in my veggie box from The Market Garden at Eynsham on Tuesday (please see details of their awesome veggie box here) and I’ve been looking forward to making this recipe ever since. Here’s how it goes….

All you do is steam -fry the kale with a little garlic and olive. Basically begin frying the kale and garlic in oil but then add a dash of water and put on the lid to steam everything together.

Then blend the garlicy kale with 2 handfuls of grated cheese and 2 handfuls of cashew nuts (ground almond flour works too if your blender’s not strong). You can add olive oil or a tbsp of natural yoghurt to thin it out if necessary. Season with lemon juice and black pepper and stir through pasta. Many vegetables work in this recipe but my favourite to use are kale, broccoli and mushroom.

Is it within budget?

Bunch of kale = £1
100g cheese = 75p
100g cashew nuts = £1
Pasta = 40p
1/2 Lemon = 15p
Olive oil, garlic, yoghurt – 20p

Total = £3.50 for 4

Frugal peanut butter hummus recipe

As I posted on day 2 of this journey I’ve come to the realisation that I’ve been wasting a whole heap of money on buying tins of chickpeas and also jars of organic peanut butter!

Dried chickpeasOne 400g tin of chickpeas at Tesco’s is 55p but if you soak your own dried version the equivalent works out as just 14p.

We eat a tonne of hummus a week. It was one of the only foods my daughter would consistently eat as a baby.

Like oats (see our flapjack recipe here), chickpeas, are rich in soluble dietary fibre which is great for removing cholesterol from the body and keeping you regular (if you know what I mean). Soluble fibre also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, so if you have diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycaemia chickpeas can help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.

Chickpeas are high in protein and an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defences. Just one cup of chickpeas supplies 84.5% of the daily value of this mineral. They also contain good levels of folic acid and magnesium both essential in pregnancy, with 1/2 a cup making up around 30% of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).

Chickpeas have a high iron content and therefore are an essential component to a vegetarian diet. Just 100g provides over a third of your RDA. Iron is an integral component of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.

Hummus usually contains tahini (sesame paste), but this is an expensive commodity on a frugal budget. We always have peanut butter in the cupboard, and are now making this ourselves (recipe here). So I thought I’d devise a hummus recipe that replaces the tahini with peanut butter. Here we go…

Frugal organic peanut butter hummusPeanut butter hummus

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (made from soaking 200g of dried chickpeas over night and then boiling for 45 minutes until tender)
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin

In a blender combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. If the mixture is sticking drizzle in a little boiling water until things get moving. You can then continue to add water until you reach the consistency you require. I like it to be the consistency of whipped butter. If you like it hot, add 1 dried chilli. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with chopped British carrots (ours were from our veggie box supplied by The Market Garden at Eynsham) or on toast.


In total this hummus which is equivalent to 3 large tubs of supermarket hummus (costing £3), cost only £1 to make.