My 78p Dinner: Runner Bean and ‘Feta’ Pasta

Ok, disclaimer. One of the ingredients in this dish was given to me free from my boss, and I am totally not including the store cupboard ingredients of oil and lazy garlic. Sue me.

Feta appears as ‘Feta’ in the title because to drive the cost of this meal down I bought ‘salad cheese’ not real Feta.

I am also not including my glass of Rioja in the cost of this meal.

INGREDIENTS (Makes enough for two generous portions which I am basing the 78p price on)

Tesco Salad Cheese – 90p

Tesco Loose Red Onion – 17p

Last dregs of my Spinach – around about 20p

200g dried pasta – a Tesco 500g bag of dried pasta is 59p so 200g = 24p

Runner Beans – Free from your boss at work.

Store Cupboard – Garlic, Oil, salt, butter (optional)

 

METHOD

Prep your runner beans, these are the bugger to do veg, you need to ‘top and tail’ them and de-string them. If, like me, you have never done this before then watch the same video on YouTube that I did. Cut them into small pieces.

Put your pasta on to cook.

Add some oil to a pan and sweat your garlic and onion.

When the pasta is about half way there add your runner beans and spinach to the onion/garlic pan.

When the pasta is done and your runner beans are at your desired softness mix it all together with the salad cheese that has been cut into small chunks. Mix in a little butter at the same time over a low heat if you like.

Eat. Drink Rioja. Remember your favourite line about drinking Rioja from the song ‘TCR’ by Sleaford Mods. Hope that people don’t think you are a wine twat.

 

 

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Potato (and carrot) Peel Soup for One

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In true ‘Money Saving Fashion’ I take books out of the library in my city and one book I took out recently (and am gutted I had to return) was River Cottage Love Your Leftovers.

There was a recipe that really intrigued me, which was Potato Peel Soup where the main ingredients is Potato Peels (no prizes for guessing that correctly).

Today my boy and I were having our traditional Sunday Pie and Veg meal, and I looked at the little pile of potato peels from our roast potatoes and decided to put them to good use.

I am going to give you the recipe for what I made, which was inspired by but varied greatly from the River Cottage recipe.

The River Cottage recipe used whole milk and solely potato peels, whereas I didn’t want my lovely carrot peelings to go to waste.

Potato and Carrot Peel Soup For One

Ingredients

Peels from 3 medium potatoes and 2 medium carrots (I had 80g potato peels and 40g carrot peels, also I hope I don’t have to tell you this but do scrub your potatoes/carrots well but generally the peel is safe to eat and is good for you as most of the fibre is in the peel)

2 tsp of vegetable stock powder made up with 300ml boiling water (I like my food salty, you may wish to adjust to your own tastes)

About 50g frozen onion (you can use fresh, and again adjust to your tastes)

Parsley, dried or fresh (optional and I used dried)

A lump of butter (approx 30g is what I used)

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Method

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, cook on a low heat just to get some colour or if using frozen onion to just cook it a little.

Add the peelings and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking/burning.

Make up the stock, adjusting to your own personal tastes, and add to the vegetables. (300ml is not a lot of stock, it just about covers the veg, this is because I like my soups thick and strong. As I have said, adjust to your tastes)

Cook for around 10 minutes.

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Add to a blender/food processor or use a hand blender to blend the soup.

Voila, soup!

It is currently waiting for me in my takeaway soup cup for my lunch tomorrow.

I am not going to work out an exact cost, but it was probably less than 50p, and true to my beliefs it meant that from my boy and my’s evening dinner the only food that went in the food bin was the tip and top of the 2 carrots.

It has a very earthy taste (maybe I didn’t clean the potatoes well enough, haha) and apparently the River Cottage version takes a bit like mushrooms (Food heaven for me, Food hell for my boy)

I am very happy about this little dish, and it only took about 15 minutes to make.

What do you do with a packet of instant mash?

Today’s recipe comes courtesy of a lovely little book I got for Christmas called Eat Well, Waste Less: An A-Z guide to using up your leftovers by Bish Muir.

As you know from my previous post  I have a food cupboard crammed to the brim with ‘Why the hell did I buy that?’ packets and tins.

Today I banished the packet of instant mash potato and my two tins of pink salmon from the cupboard and into my stomach in the form of fish cakes.

The instant mash wasn’t as disgusting as I thought it would be and I would be happy to have a packet of it in my cupboards again.

The fish cakes were so delicious that I ended up having 4!

I used:

2 x Instant Mash Potato sachets (the recipe in the book used ‘real’ mash potato)

2 x eggs

Peas

6 spring onions

2 x 213g tins of pink salmon

about 1/5 of a tub of breadcrumbs (true frugal people would have made their own)

25g butter and oil (for frying)

and 50g Brown basmati rice on the side.

There isn’t really too much to the making of these. You make the mash, add all the other ingredients to it, form into balls, roll in breadcrumbs, fry and scoff.

I made 8 hefty fish cakes. I have estimated that if you aren’t a greedy guts who eats four and are a bit more sensible with the sizes and make 9 fishcakes and serve 3 people 3 fishcakes each, then with rice the meal was about £2.63 per portion.

Not bad, I’m sure there are plenty of ways to bring the cost down but I am a bit new to this.

The fish cakes are very delicate, so handle them in the pan carefully (you may wish to make the instant mash thicker by using less water) and if you use the very cheap tinned salmon that I had then beware of the small bones that will most likely be in it. They are soft, to a certain degree edible, bones but I think the fish cakes were nicer without them in so I ‘fished’ them out (oh dear, I think I need to sit in the bad pun corner).

I am so pleased with myself for making these and for cooking from scratch. I can’t remember the last time I actually cooked rice rather than using a microwave packet. I had a bad day at work, I get back late, I had a small lunch, but I loved every second I spent in the kitchen making these.

It does help if you listen to the radio station Absolute 80s.

A nice variation would be to make very small ones and have them with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

 

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I Made a Food!

Today I banished three of my tins from the tin store of hell.

I made the above, a little red bean chilli, adapted from ‘The Bean Book’ by Rose Elliot.

When I say adapted, I mean I went totally renegade on the recipe and added frozen sweetcorn and peppers, paprika, smoked paprika (when one type of paprika just isn’t enough), oregano, and I may have been a little liberal on the garlic.

The jury is still out on whether the smoke paprika was a wise decision.

Still it used up a tin of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans.

I estimate the cost of this meal at being around £1 per portion including the rice (there were two portions). I know it’s hardly the 9p Jack Monroe Burger (she is the food love of my life!) but I am so pleased I actually made something from scratch with ‘real’ food in it and used up some tins from my stores in the process.

I also made a delicious hummus, also from the same book. And in true money saving spirit I didn’t buy this recipe book I borrowed it off my boyfriend’s sister.

There is no picture of the hummus because, lets face it, hummus is just gloopy chickpeas and isn’t exactly picturesque. It is delicious though.

Between my boyfriend and I we also used up a packet of wholemeal pitta breads which had been in the freezer for about 5 months.

I do have a little more time this weekend to cook/make things.

I have really enjoyed doing some cooking of any description and may make some more stuff tomorrow.

In other news we took a small car’s boot worth of stuff to the tip, it doesn’t really seem to have made any difference to the state of our house but at least we no longer have broken crap in our house.

I also was waiting for my statement to come through on the credit card I had ‘cleared’ in January to see if there had been any interest added to it. The new statement said the balance was £0 so I phoned the credit card company to close that card once and for all.

I am still waiting on two statements, but my debt is now around £5576.53 which is down £166.75 from last month.

I started 2017 with £5996.12 of debt so I have already paid off over £400.

Just a few more £1 meals and I will be ok.

Eventually is where I got

Had a half day at work today. I celebrated having extra time at home by doing something extremely exciting and dangerous.

I did a complete food cupboard inventory.

Whaddaya mean that’s not dangerous? A tin could have fell off the shelf and hit my foot!

As mentioned before I have food hoarding tendencies. There are a few reasons for this but it mainly comes down to the fact that as a teenager my family struggled with money and we would frequently be making the best with the very little we had.

Sure none of us exactly looked like we were starving (I blame the three different types of potatoes we would usually have at meals to fill us up), but our diet wasn’t great. I didn’t know what a butternut squash was until I was about 16! And I am relatively knowledgeable…

As a result of being scared that the food will run out I have some pretty bizarre ’emergency’ food items in my cupboard.

Like a packet of instant mash potato.

I have never in my life, not even as a child, eaten instant mash potato. I don’t entirely believe that it actually contains any real food in it.

And yet in my cupboard proudly sits a packet, for a ‘just in case’ moment.

I also seem to have a split personality when it comes to food buying, as I have the ‘foodie’ side of me that loves cooking, that loves ‘weird and healthy’ things like nutritional yeast and quinoa and loves stocking up the cupboards with exotic ingredients…

And then I have the ‘F***, dinner needs making and I’ve only got 5 minutes’ side of me that loves quick fixes like crumble mix, instant noodles, pizzas and microwave rice.

There’s not much I can do at the moment. I spend 3.5 hours travelling to and from work each day, meaning during the week I am out of the house for over 60 hours. This is the price I pay for having a job I love, which is fine, I would rather have it this way round then a job over the road that I hate, but it does mean I am time poor during the week. The week tends to be about ‘surviving’ rather than living.

I also have a boyfriend who, bless him, is a bit fussy as an eater. He has moved on from the childhood phase of eating rice, chips and ketchup for dinner and is much more experimental when you compare it to how he used to be, but we are still at odds with what we like to eat.

This is a list of what I won’t eat:

Meat (I eat fish)

Tinned macaroni cheese (yuk!)

This is a list of what my boyfriend won’t eat:

Mushrooms

Bacon

Eggs

Mayonaise

All fish apart from scampi

Lamb

Pretty much all meat really other than beef, chicken and pork sausages

Garlic

Anything too ‘oniony’

Anything too spicy

Most pasta dishes as they are too ‘boring’

Any nuts of any description

Spinach

‘Stinky’ cheese

I don’t want it to seem like I am making fun of my boy, as people are allowed to have specific tastes (not eating meat is a pretty specific taste, I could be considered just as fussy easily), I’m more explaining why it is a bit hard for us to find meals that we both like to eat. For instance most of my boyfriends strongest dislikes (stinky cheese, garlic, fish, pasta, mushrooms) are my FAVOURITE things to eat.

But enough is enough, and I have decided I am not going to do any large food shops until I have cleared my cupboards of all the emergency/just in case/weird and healthy foods that I have collected.

I have a few things I specifically want to tackle in my cupboards and they are:

Bread Flour

Dried Soya Mince

2 x tins of rice pudding

bag of mixed seeds

jar of molasses

dried fruit

that darn instant mash potato

all my dried lentils and grains

2 x tins of broad beans

and my 13 other tins of various beans/pulses (how the hell do I have that many when only one of us eats them?)

I am going to try and make some new, interesting and cheap dishes that both my boyfriend and I can enjoy (or at the very least I like and I can take in to work as lunch)

First up I think will be broad bean pate.

And maybe some stinky cheese on the side.