Turning the tables: here’s my food, what should I make this week?

Dear lovely readers,

Every week I get inundated with emails and tweets from readers who have a handful of ingredients in their cupboard, fridge and freezer, and don’t know what to make out of them. This week I thought I’d turn the tables!

Here’s what I had already before I went shopping this afternoon (please excuse the labels, it’s how I organise myself or I would literally live on carbs… Mm, pasta, risotto, potato salad, granola….)…


And here’s what I picked up on my shop (£13.91, for interested parties.)




So in all, I have for the next week or so:


6 eggs
400g red kidney beans
A can of baked beans
6 mackerel fillets
250g turkey mince mixed with 200g chickpeas

9 bananas (I rifled through every bag to get the one with the most in!)
6 apples
Broken mandarin segments
Lemon juice

Frozen spinach
Green beans
Chopped tomatoes
Tomato purée
Sweet corn
18 onions
16 and a half carrots
2 bulbs of garlic

Greek salad cheese
Natural yoghurt
Soft cream cheese
400g milk powder (makes up to 4l of milk)

Instant chicken noodles – don’t judge me!
Dried yellow split peas
A tin of potatoes
6 pitta breads

And a few spices, oil and flour in the cupboard too… And half a bag of oats on top of the microwave that I forgot about!

So, tables turned! What would you make out of this lot? I’ve got a few ideas – but I thought I’d see what you come up with!

Jack. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Categories: Recipes & Food


  1. Mackeral fishcakes with potatoes yoghurt and a finely chopped onion and a few teaspoons of horseradish if you have it. you can coat in flour egg and blitzed pitta ! yumm .

  2. a savoury crumble maybe, throw a few of the oats on top for crunch, and the kidney beans for the protein with whichever veg you fancy. i find you cant beat a nice comforting hot pot casserole type meal.

  3. I would make a risotto with the rice — some of ther onion and garlic, some carrot, that sweet corn, a little of that spinach finely chopped, and a spoonful of the tomato puree ( unless you have some saffron) and spices as you like.

  4. What about a mackerel kedgeree, with your rice, spinach, onion and a couple of chopped eggs. A little bit of curry powder for flavour. Any mackerel left over could be made into a pate with some soft cream cheese, and a bit of lemon juice.

  5. For a treat, Apple Fritters. Make up a slightly sweetened flour & milk w/ one egg. to make a quite thick batter that’ll cling. Mix until bubbly. Slice apples into rounds, dip into the batter and fry in hot oil (mild tasting oil) until golden and puffed up. Scatter with a little more sugar -whatever sugar you have and apply to mouth!

    I know you can’t live on these all week (although goodness knows these dank cold days makes me want to try) but I’ll leave the more healthy stuff to others!

  6. I would make a garlicky, spinach and Greek cheese mix, and make a thin dough from flour,oil and water. Roll into circle, form into cones/samosa shapes, fill and shallow fry. Gorgeous faux spanokopitta!

    Mackerel fillets coated in oats, shallow fried, served with a fresh apple/mandarin dressing (usually gooseberry but should be interesting.

    I’m a big fan of winter salad, shredded carrots, corn, apples and onions. A dressing of natural yoghurt with storecupboard spices….

    Umm. …could go on all night 🙂

  7. Make veggie Singapore noodles! with shredded carrot, onion, green beans a garlic clove and a couple of mushrooms, make up the noodles to two thirds done, but put a bit of cumin and turmeric, or just curry powder in and then stir fry the veg and add noodles for couple of mins at the end x

  8. 1 or 2 cloves garlic
    1 onion
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tin chopped toms
    Your turkey/chickpea combo
    4 (ish) carrots
    Whatever other veg you feel like bunging in
    A glug of veg stock (but water works too)

    Fry the onion & garlic for a few mins to soften, then add the spices and fry for a few secs more. Then bung everything else in, give it a good stir, put it on the lowest possible heat with a lid on it and leave it for ages (made something similar which I left for two hours, but you do need to keep an eye on fluid levels). Serve with whatever carbs you like! Will probably make 4-6 portions…

  9. well as i cant go a week without curry, i’d use some of the onions, two of the carrots the tinned tomatoes, some of the puree, some garlic and the spices you have (ginger too if you have it) and a big spoonfull of sugar to make the base sauce for any curry at all that takes your fancy. my fave is salmon which is £3,79 for five or six frozen wild salmon fillets in aldi right now. frozen is best to make curry with. i made enough for four dinners out of it so thats what i’m haveing this week cos i love it so much, but anything added to this base works. i know you’ve done your shop now and this strays from the point of this post, but powdered coconut milk is about £1.25 for a massive packet from most indian stores and goes on for months. makes this curry sauce into a creamy curry. nom nom.

  10. A few thoughts:
    Spinach and the Greek salad cheese and a couple of eggs for a greek-ish frittata.
    Porridge (but I’m in Scotland).
    A dahl with the yellow split peas served with rice, and a yogurt lassi.
    Carrot and coriander soup (if you have coriander seed in your spice collection) which would need onion too.
    Smoked mackerel pate with some of the cream cheese and some of the mackerel

  11. Carrot & coriander or cumin soup? Assuming you’ve got a stock cube in your cupboard! Maybe with some soda bread…??

  12. Mushroom and bean ratatouille?
    Carrots, apple, flour, oil, yoghurt, eggs, sugar, baking powder
    mixed spice, lemon juice….carrot cake?! 🙂

  13. I would make a risotto, with the pearl barley, tomatoes and bit of flaked mackerel (like a Mediterranean type flavour) then what was left over try and make patties and fry them ( works with normal risotto rice)

    As you have a lot of onions you could make some bhajis… To go with saag aloo ( potatoes and spinach) left over saag can be turned into a spiced hash witha fried egg on top

    I’d make a dhal

    The instant noodles I would cook as normal, but would crack an egg in whilst cooking

    pasta cooked with a stock cube in a frying pan, plus black pepper and a clove of garlic creates a yummy sauce, blob of soft cheese, cooked mushrooms, onions, sweet corn ….

    Hummm not sure what else…

  14. Use the noodles to make home made pot noodles with very finely sliced mushrooms, spinach, sweetcorn, peeled ribbons of carrot and small bits of green beans. Could add turkey mince too – poss fried with some garlic/spices that that you have.

  15. Spinach pie… but you will have to make your own dough very easy to make really (2xflour,1/2 oil,1/2 milk, salt & pepper)

  16. One thing I’d definitely do is to make spinach and yoghurt pasta.

    Fry an onion, add tin of toms and a squidge of puree. Chuck in some herbs if you feel like it. Cook pasta. Defrost spinach and mix with yog.

    Make a sort of lasagne as follows. Layer of tomato stuff, Payer of pasta. Layer of spinach stuff. Chop 2 or 3 feta cubes on top, and bung in oven until spinach is bubbling and feta is a sticky mess.

    Serves 4 in the sort of quantities I am imagining, but can be used to use up any big or small quantities of any of the above. (If really skint, forget the tin of tomatoes and just fry an onion and add a bit of puree and some water. It will still be delicious! You can throw a bit of cooked carrot into this, as well.)

      • Actually it would be a good end-of-week dish, as it’s almost infinitely malleable. Just make sure you have some spinach and yog. The tomatoey sauce needs a tin or some puree, and an onion is recommended but you can throw in some beans or veg into this sauce and it’s unfailingly delicious. (Can you tell I’m at the end of a ‘fast’ day lol)

  17. Veggie stir-fry may not be very original but it’s where I would use up the instant noodles, along with onions, carrots and mushrooms. I often save the flavouring sachets from ramen noodles and use them in stocks or even as a hot drink.

  18. I’m up for the challenge but need to know the rules. Is this for 3 meals a day for one small adult and one SB or does he go to a nursery and get FSM. You have got to set the goal posts, also do you have flour in your larder?

  19. Spiced carrot soup (maybe with some onion and split peas) with pitta bread
    Tomato and spinach pasta
    Egg curry with rice and onion bhajis
    Mackerel with potatoes, egg and green beans, kind of like a nicoise salad but without the salady bits!

  20. Crustless quiche with veg and feta and roasted carrots
    Chilli made from mince with rice
    Saag aloo
    Your famous bean burgers in pita bread
    Mushroom and onion stroganoff with rice (using yoghurt)
    Onion, veg and noodle soup (using the flavour sachet as stock)
    Pasta with cream cheese and feta sauce (with spinach?)

    Not sure what to do with the fish as I’m veggie 🙂

  21. Tomato or mushroom omlette
    turkey chilli
    caribean mackerel and rice
    carrot soup
    mushroom pasta
    veg curry
    apple crumble
    baked apples

    • It’s just ideas I’m after. But I will have to make a weeks meals out of this lot – with just over £1 left in my pot for this weeks food budget for any extras I might need… Just thought I’d give a more detailed insight into what a weeks shopping looks like these days, and get some new ideas in the meantime 🙂

  22. I’m sure with the mince, a tin of chopped tomatoes, an onion (or 2? they look small), garlic (maybe a clove or 2), maybe one or two veg (certainly chop up a carrot and maybe some mushrooms?), tomato puree and a bit of seasoning, and pasta, I’d probably manage to make some sort of bolognese out of that.

    Trouble is that’s pretty much *all* I know how to make…

    I’m pretty sure sardines on pitta bread toast mightn’t go down too badly.

    I wonder if you could make some sort of dessert with the mandarin segments (personally not to my taste), or if the apples couldn’t be stewed? (With yoghurt on top?)

    Noodles I’d personally eat by themselves as a snack, though you’d probably be best served doing something else with them…

  23. A lentil loaf! With the split peas. Cook, preferably in stock or not if you don’t have, drain and mash a bit. Add a whisked egg, some milk ( or powder and water in your case), a chopped onion, a couple of chopped mushrooms and some herbs. Maybe another veg too if you fancy, and crumble in some of the salad cheese. Bake in oven at about 180 for 45-50 mins. Serve hot with potatoes and salad, or maybe in a Pitta with some salad and yoghurt for lunch. Or maybe with some rice, green beans and a homemade tom sauce. The choices are many! 🙂

    ps I have been following your blog for many months and this is the first time I have left a comment, it’s a great thread to get people talking. I think what you are doing is really inspirational and I’m sure you are helping many people than you ever thought possible. All the best to you and small boy 🙂 x

  24. I’m not sure about the food, but I do know that milk powder burns well when it’s in a cloud. Light a bonfire, then throw the entire contents into the air above it so it forms a cloud of dust and floats down into the fire – kerboom! Instant fireball! Best wear fireproof gloves and some kind of helmet…

    Ok, right, food. Frozen spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic… says some kind of curry to me! I have a craving for sag paneer right now. You don’t have any paneer (and I don’t know if the greek salad cheese would be a worthy substitute), but a the kidney beans might go nicely in instead…

  25. I’d perhaps go with kedgeree with the mackerel, eggs, onion and rice – if your spices include curry powder or the makings thereof. Save some of the mackerel to make pate with some of the cream cheese. Chilli with the turkey mince and kidney beans. Dahl with the split peas and spinach. Perhaps some onion bahjis. Mine like tuna and sweetcorn pasta – and I see no reason why the sardines wouldn’t work in place of the tuna. Stir fry with the veg and the chicken noodles. Or curry, using tinned potatoes, carrots, green beans in a tomatoey/curry sauce base.

  26. indian curry: Saute 4 onions until soft. Add indian spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala, tumeric). tin of kidney beans, tin of tomatoes. Serve with rice and yoghurt.

    Or carrot risotto. boil carrots until soft. purée. could add cube of bullion. use carrot broth to make risotto.

  27. I make a pasta sauce by blitzing defrosted spinach with any sort of cheese/yogurt/milk combination that I have, some softened onion or garlic would make it tastier, and you could add some sautéed mushrooms. My 3 year old boy loves it!

  28. Hi Jack – just loving this! Your blog is great and today I made your Romesco sauce and it’s delish!

    So from your ingredients demo a turkey/chickpea curry but split in two and make a bolognese as well.

    Mackerel served with sweetcorn or other veg fritters and some of your romesco sauce.

    Some soup – minestrone, spicy carrot, French onion.

    Risotto of sorts,

    Spanish tortilla using your eggs and veg.

    Pitta bread pizzas

    Mixed bean chilli

    Carrot cake for dessert


  29. Thai Egg rolls – beat together 4 of your eggs with some garlic, soy sauce, a little water and a teaspoon of lemon juice or finely grated lemon rind (should be kaffir lime leaves finely chopped for authentic flavours but use what you have!). Make really thin omelettes with the mix (like crepes) and set aside. Put your instant noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, cover and set aside to soften. In another bowl mix julienned carrots & beans, sweet corn, finely chopped onions and mushrooms. If you have any bean sprouts or water chestnuts in the cupboard, add them too. Mix with some coriander, chopped chilli (if you like it) & hoisin sauce (or soy). Put spoonfuls of the mix & the noodles in the middle of the omelettes and roll up like a spring roll. Put on a baking paper lined tray and bake for 10 mins in a moderate oven. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or soy sauce.

  30. Definitely French onion soup with that quantity of onions. I’m also picturing some kind of pitta bread calzone pizza with lots of veg and some of the cheese. Most of the other things I thought of were your recipes! If you have leftover veg at the end of the week, bubble and squeak is always a good choice.

  31. How about faux spanokopitta? Mix some spinach garlic Greek cheese, use to make a filling for some thin flour,oil water dough parcels. Shallow fry. Serve with a winter salad of shredded carrots Apple corn garlic dressed with spiced yoghurt.

    Oat dredged mackerel, pan fried, served with a /mandarin,Apple salsa.

    Spinach, split pea dhal. Tons of onion and garlic, with roti. Onion raita on the side.

    Thick carrot and split pea soup.

    Turkey noodle soup….I’m thinking of those Thai broths with noodles, a bit of corn, a shred of spinach, carrot batons, onions, garlic….

  32. A really nice veggie meal would be to roast the carrots (cut in long batons, rather than chunks) with some oil and whole garlic cloves, on about 160 for about 45min/hour, until starting to caramelise slightly. Once done mash up a bit with a fork, mix with some ground cumin if you have some (or toasted cumin seeds ground with a pestle and mortar for a stronger flavour). Scatter with feta, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, and serve with tasted pittas.

  33. Very important, never mess with a mackerel, most devious fish ever! Simply coat in seasoned flour and fry. Why not try lightly steamed green beans and a few orange segments (also delicious with a little feta crumbled over the top)
    That is assuming mackerel is fresh.
    Also a massive fan of your kidney bean burgers – although we eat them like a veggie fish cake, go really nicely with your salad.

    Some fab ideas from people, feeling very inspired!

  34. Carrot and split pea soup.
    Turkey mince chilli con carne.
    Smoked mackerel kedgeree.
    Pasta arrabiata.
    Banana plonk – egg custard with banana chopped and plonked into it.
    spicy onion dhal with naan made from the flour and yoghurt

  35. Could you make a flat cake using oats yogurt two eggs two sliced apples…a pinch of spice…. Put in a shallow dish and expect a flapjack type of result ?

  36. For a lunch or evening meal I would use the carrots and onions to make soup, I like to use my hand blender to make it smooth and creamy and you could add a dollop of cream as you serve it. I would maybe put in some sweetcorn or mushrooms or beans (really I throw in anything that is handy or needs using up). I prefer it with bread so I would have it with a pitta, but it could have pasta or noodles.

    It’s not very original but with the mince I would make a basic tomato bolognaise type mix and then add seasoning and extra veg etc to customise for different meals. I may have a pasta bake one day and a chile with rice the next etc, then if I had nachos or wraps I would do that the third! I add different veg as I reheat sometimes for variety as well as to make the more expensive protein go further.

    If I had time this week I might make a cooked pudding, I love pastry so depending on your store cupboard I might make some pastry and do little jam tart style treats with chopped apple and a few raisins. A portion of fruit as well as a treat!

    I am allergic to eggs and fish so I will stop with the ideas there!

  37. I`m a pasta lover, so:

    1. You could cook some mushrooms(you can add some onions and garlic for extra flavor, but I don`t), when the mushrooms are cook and a mixture of 1-2 spoons of flour(this would be for 500g mushrooms), with a few spoons of powder milk and some water (about 1 +1/2 mugs of liquid) and boil until thickens, add any spices. Pour the sauce over the pastas and enjoy, no need for cheese.

    2. Fry 2 garlic cloves in a bit of oil, cut the fish and add it to the pan, cook the fish, add some chilli and any type of tomatoes that you have and a bit of water. Add some dry herbs if you have any. Pour this sauce over pasta and Enjoy!

    Hope this helps, as some of the recipes above are great and I already saved a few. 🙂

  38. Mackerel Kitcheree – rice , mackerel , lemon juice, curry powder and a hard boiled egg if you can spare it. Delish and quick

  39. Wow everybody truly inspiring, for real “simples” what about some nice brown carmelised fried onion .. sorry you got me dreaming of fried onions. Frozen banana chunks sugar and yoghurt whizzed in processor also equals icecream. If you have the technology….Thanks again Jack.

  40. Tunafish and Sweetcorn Popovers except with sardines or mackerel (just stuff the popovers like you’re making individual clafoutis)

    Pasta Chi Sardi – basically just sardines and fried breadcrumbs and onion over pasta, dressed with a bit of acid like lemon juice, wine, or capers and brine.

    Carrot soup is a good idea – or you could use the split peas and some tomatoes for a heavily carroty soup like Potage Esau…

    You don’t list peanut butter, but I make a kind of oatcakes with banana and peanut butter that we call Fried Elvis Oatmeal – just wet the oats a little, mash banana and peanut butter in. I suppose it would work with cream cheese, too, or other nuts mashed to butter.

    Caramelized onion soup with your turkey and chickpea mince and your mushrooms as a base.

    You’ve got at least one traditional pasta sauce in all those tomatoes, onions and garlic – not as good without basil, but still delicious. What do you have for fat? Bacon fat or butter really help if you don’t have herbs. You could use the greek salad cheese instead of parmesan for a protein.

  41. Veg balti: fry onion rings, add 250g rice, fry for one more minute, add 500ml stock and curry powder or curry paste to taste, stir once, turn down the heat and put a lid on and leave, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Check that the rice has absorbed the liquid, if it hasn’t just add a bit more at a time and check every minute ( so that it doesn’t burn). Once the rice has absorbed don’t stir it, just add spinach, tinned pulses (chick peas are nice) put the lid on again and leave for another 3-4 minutes. Don’t stir until the end. You can bulk this up with sweetcorn, sardines or hard boiled egg and it will last a few days. Also try tomato, carrot and lentil soup , fry onion, add 100g lentils, stir for 1 minute, add chopped carrot and if you like thick soup, a chopped potato, dried herbs and seasoning, tinned tomatoes and about 1 litre stock, bring to boil, then simmer for 20-25 mins,. Add a spoonful of yogurt if you like creamy soup (I do). Baked bananas with orange juice (from the tin) and cinammon if you’ve got any, or sliced apple baked in the oven to make fruit crisps, nice sprinkled with cinnamon and a bit of sugar.

  42. Pasta salad – with mackerel, finely sliced onions, green beans, sliced boiled eggs, and olive oil.

    But why not fresh potatoes? You have everything else for a delicious veggie shepherd’s pie.

  43. Soups for the week:

    Corn chowder -soften a finely chopped onion in a little oil,add a pint of stock, a pinch of mixed herbs, a coarsely grated carrot, half a can of whizzed sweetcorn, the rest of the sweetcorn,bring to boil and simmer for 10mins.Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

    Tomato soup with rice – make a herby tomato sauce with onions and garlic,divide in half,(the rest to use for mains below),add extra water or stock and add some cooked rice, (leftover from a main below),reheat thoroughly.

    Porage soup – cook a finely chopped onion in a little oil until golden, add a pint or more (depending how thick you want it to be), of stock and mixed herbs and a grated carrot,bring to boil and stir in a couple of tablespoons of oats,Simmer for 10 mins and add black pepper & chopped parsley when serving.

    French onion soup.Serve with pittas or some other bread.


    Stuffed spinach pancakes filled with herby tomato sauce and cheese. Make pancake batter – use half for a dessert,leave the other half in the fridge overnight with 2 ‘nuggets’ of frozen spinach dropped in. Next day give it a good stir and make spinach pancakes, spread with soft cheese and roll up with tomato sauce& grated carrot inside. Pour over a little yogurt, sprinkled with paprika or chilli powder.Serve with green beans.

    Refried beans, (kidney beans, onion, garlic, chilli powder, cumin and a spoon of tomato sauce) with rice and green beans and a couple of sliced cooked mushrooms.

    Mushroom risotto, served with carrot discs and green beans.

    Saag paneer, using the Greek-style cheese, Bombay potatoes, carrots cut into batons, cooked briefly in stock,drained, (use in soup) and fried in a little oil with crushed garlic and cumin.


    Pancakes with chopped apple and banana.

    Banana and custard

    Apples stuffed with granola and baked, served with yogurt.

  44. Roasted carrot soup! Also, pasta with Greek cheese, caramelized onions, and tomato sauce – simple, but a really great combination of flavors!

  45. How about chilli con carne with the turkey mince/chickpea combo, onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes and grated carrot; and some cumin, paprika and chilli flakes if you have them. Just brown the mince and the onion, chuck everything else in and give it a damn good simmer. Yum! You could even put some of the natural yogurt on top- make it a little more tame for small boy if you like it hot 🙂

  46. 1. Carrot, onion, spud and tomato tagine over rice.
    2. Turkey, chickpea, spinach, onion, tomato (sort of bolognase) over pasta.
    3. Whole onions stuffed with rice, yellow split peas, cinnamon, nutmeg, parsley, drizzled with tomato sauce.
    4. Spinach soup with rice, yoghurt, mint, onion, garlic and tumeric.
    5. Scrambled eggs with cream cheese, minced onion, garlic and spinach. Serve in warm pita.
    6. Dry Stir fried green beans with garlic, onions over instant chicken noodles ( not sure what they are…..ramen?)
    7. Fried bananas in butter caramelized with sugar swimming in a nice creme anglais.
    You are on your own with the sardines, mackerel and baked beans, I’m afraid.

  47. Roasted onion soup – I would make a large batch with those onions
    You could also make sweetcorn soup

    Spinach and onion frittata with some of the Greek salad cheese in it

    I’m veggie but I’d go for fish curry if I had to cook fish

    You could also make Dahl with the split peas

    You could make kedgeree

    With the turkey mince you could do a stir fry with onions, carrot, mushroom and well I’d bung pretty much any veg in and have with the noodles or you could use it to make turkey burgers using some of either the Greek salad cheese or the soft cheese and either have them in pittas or with grilled veggies and that would be nice with some grilled apple I think or you could put apple in the burgers

    You could make potato and carrot pancakes – which is just potato, carrot, flour, egg, herbs and seasoning and just shape them and fry them off

    If you don’t go for the soup you could do sweetcorn fritters and I’d serve that on minted yogurt (is mint one of the herbs you grow?) and grilled veg. Or i think you could make banana and sweetcorn fritter which I’ve seen recipes for but never tried so no idea if that is actually nice. I can’t eat sweetcorn it makes me ill.

    A creamy veggie pasta bake would be easy with some of the cheese and natural yog. Or you could do pasta with tomato and the tinned sardines

    Or you could make baked eggs and use the tomatos and sardines in that

    Breakfast foods you’ve got porridge and fruit, you could make banana or apple bread, smoothies, overnight oats

    Have you got sugar, if you have I’d be tempted to make banana pancakes

    You could make bread or make a pizza base and then use your tomatoes and cheeses and assorted veg

  48. Hi there, I have a few suggestions.

    1. Mushroom and spinach pasta. Make a tomato based sauce by frying off a chopped onion, then chopped mushroom. Then add a tin of tomatoes and a handful of frozen spinach. Bring to the boil and then simmer with the lid on partially for 20 mins. Served with cooked pasta.

    2. Spicy carrot soup. Chop carrots (400g approx) and 1 onion, then fry in a bit of olive oil, add 1/8 teaspoon of chilli flakes. Once softened add 600ml of stock made using an organic stock cube or water. Cooke with the lid on until the carrots are soft then blitz in either a blender or using a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. Mackerel pate,made using the mackerel fillet, soft cheese, yoghurt and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and then serve with toast.

    4. Turkey chilli con carne. Made using the turkey mince, kidney beans, tinned tomatoes, onion, cumin, ground coriander and dried oregano. Served with boiled rice.

    Best wishes. Julie

  49. 2 ingredient banana pancakes with the banana and an egg? You could add some baking powider along with a dollop of peanut butter if you have any. I did when I made them at the weekend and they were lovely!

    Melting turkey and chickpea (or veggie) burgers? Basically a normal burger recipe but with a cube of Greek salad cheese hidden in the middle of the burger that will go all deliciously melty when cooked. You could serve them with sweetcorn fritters?

  50. Can’t think of anything people haven’t already said but if there’s any onion left over, slice it and freeze it to save for another week. The carrots you can peely, cut into chinks, parboil and then open freeze before bagging. Or just chop the two together and open freeze for use in soups and casseroles a bit at a time.

    Ah – a thought. perhaps use some of the turkey and chick pea mix with onion, carrot (grated), spinach, chopped, some of the feta and maybe a bit of egg to make patties, balls, sausages or whatever. Sort of mush it all together. make a sauce with some of the chopped tomato, a bit of the puree and some finely chopped onion and mushroom with herbs or spices (or both) to taste.

  51. Soup ( from carrots, potatoes and onions).
    Meatballs in tomatosauce, serve with Rice.
    Pancakes ( both sweet ones for dessert and unsweetend ones to fill With spinach and mushrooms).
    Bean casserole With chopped onions, carrots and potatoes.

    I would also bake a bread where I would use some of The porridge oats.

  52. Fruity breakfast flapjacks (mash 2 bananas, grate an apple, mix with oats, a little honey or sugar, few tbspns milk and nuts/raisins if you have them and bake), sweetcorn & potato chowder (maybe with a little fish in there?), carrot cake & mandarin muffins with a cream cheese frosting, spicy carrot & split pea goulash with rice & yoghurt, pasta with garlicky cream cheese & mushroom sauce, turkey mince & chickpea curry, stuff some of the pitta breads with a spanakopita mix and fry, banana pancakes with mandarin & lemon sauce, warm 3 bean salad with some of your fish, savoury flapjacks with carrots, onions & cheese for portable lunch or to have with soup. I’d maybe use the noodles to make a substantial egg drop soup, using more of the veggies in it too. I have a carrot stash I need to tackle this week too!

  53. Make a kind of pissaladiere with scone type base, loads of onions fried to gooey sweetness and sardines. If you have any olives delicious on the top too

  54. How about a sweet corn chowder with pizzas made by using the pittas as the base and covered in whatever toppings you fancy!

  55. Spinach dumplings, spinach, flour, spices, mixed tog and fried, with rice. I usually use chickpea flour for this, so if you have any spare cooked chickpeas, you could blitz them up to make flour
    Mackerel kedgeree
    Mackerel pate with the soft cheese, with carrot batons, or stirred through pasta. Had that recently, it was yum
    Roast some onions and carrots, flake some mackerel in for a salad, maybe a tiny bit of pasta mixed in
    Stir some of the tomato purée into some of the soft cheese to make an instant pasta sauce
    Sweetcorn fritters, oven wedges and beans
    Pancakes stuffed with sautéed carrots, onions and green beans
    Make a ragu with the mushrooms and some onion, use some of that cheap red wine if you have any, a bechamel with milk, butter and flour, pasta sheets with flour, and egg and water. Roll it out into sheets, very thin. Then thin layers, grease a dish, layer of mushrooms, bechamel, pasta, repeat twice, top with bechamel. Med oven for half an hour
    All the recipes except the mushroom lasagne on thriftylesley.com

    I love that soft cheese, such a versatile ingredient, I use it all the time now!

  56. I would make a veggie chilli pasta bake by making a tomatoe sauce by sauteeing an onion, garlic, pepper if you have it, adding the tomatoes, a blob of puree, and/ or tomatoe ketchup, mixed Italian herbs, chilli powder to taste and a twist or two of black pepper. I would then add kidney beans and mushrooms, and then cook for about 10 minutes. Add enough cooked pasta for 2 or 3, ensuring that the mixture isn’t too dry by adding some water left from the pasta. Transfer to a baking dish and top with bread crumbs (or pitta crumbs), top with squares of feta (or cheddar or grated mozzarella). Cook in the oven on a medium heat until the bread crumbs are brown and the cheese has melted. Yum.

  57. For a delicious veggie meal I would sprinkle half of a tin of those potatoes with a chopped chilli pepper, rosemary and a garlic clove and pan fry.Blanch the green beans and put them on top. Poach an egg and put that on top and then dig in!
    Ooh now what else….

  58. Home made Pizza

    Use the flour to make a dough (do you have any yeast)?

    Use the onion, garlic and mixed herbs to make a tomato base and then top with whatever you fancy!

    Maybe some onion, mushrooms and greek cheese?

    Or spinach with an egg cracked on top and baked in the oven?

  59. You could soak the dried yellow split peas overnight, blitz them and make Burmese yellow split pea fritters with one of your onions, dried chilli, paprika and turmeric and a handful of fresh coriander. Shallow fry them, and they are freezable.

  60. Red Dragon Pie – hearty, healthy, filling and full of flavour

    55 g (4 oz) aduki beans soaked overnight – substitute some of your kidney beans
    1/2 tablespoon oil
    1 medium onion, peeled & finely chopped
    (8 oz) carrots, diced
    1 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoons tomato puree
    1 teaspoon mixed herbs
    salt & black pepper
    225 g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled – substitute tinned potatoes and carrots for a carrot mash

    Drain the aduki beans then simmer in 2 pints water for 50 minutes, or pressure cook for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock. (Or open tin of kidney beans and remove the required amount)
    Take a large pan, fry the onion for 5 minutes in the oil, add the carrots and cook for a further 3 minutes, then add the cooked beans.
    Mix the soy sauce, tomato puree and herbs with the reserved stock (or water)
    Pour this over the bean and vegetable mixture.
    Simmer for 20 minutes so that the flavours are well blended. Season to taste. Meanwhile steam the potatoes (or carrots) and mash them (with the tinned potatoes).
    Put the bean mixture into a casserole dish, spread the mashed potatoes (or carrot/potato mash) on top, and bake in an oven until the potato (or carrot/potato mash) is crisp and brown.

  61. Fry up some onions and very thin sliced carrots, add instant noodles, water and frozen beans, with any spices that would give an “eastern” flavour if you have them, serve with a halved hard boiled egg on top for miso-less (but still delicious) miso soup!

  62. Veggie chilli with baked eggs – kidney beans, tomatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, spinach, spices. Cook it all up in a pan, make a hollow, crack an egg in, put a lid on and cook for a few more mins until the egg is cooked, but the yolk runny – yum!

    Freeze a chopped up banana and then mash it all up for delicious ice cream, whizz up a pancake with your flour etc for a treat?

    Mackerel nicoise salad (my tea tonight!)

    Turkey burgers

    Turkey meatball tagine with your chickpeas and spices

    Chicken noodle pad thai, using an egg, and stir fried veggies

    Apple crumble with homemade custard, using an egg yolk, and use the white to make meringue to go with banana, or to make a healthy mushroom and tomato frittata, maybe with sardines for a bit of protein.

    What do you think? Do you make your own bread?

  63. for breakfast, bircher muesli, soak the oats in the juice from the tinned mandarins overnight with grated apple and if you have any nuts or sultans you can chuck a few in finely chopped, serve with any fruit(maybe 1/2 a banana) and some yoghurt

  64. Cooked pasta – take a little of the hot pasta water and thin some of the cream cheese so that it’s ‘sauce’ consistency. Add some basics mixed herbs to taste and a handful of sweetcorn. Add cooked pasta back to pan and toss 🙂 (Also nice with garlic and mushrooms)

    Noodles – stirfry some veggies of choice (mine would be mushrooms, thin carrot strips, onions, garlic and sweetcorn) Add cooked noodles and toss together and serve. Ideally a little soy sauce would be good

    Turkey/ chickpea combo. Take part of it and add fried off garlic and onion with a few chopped mushrooms and possibly some sweetcorn (if any left). Make either meatballs or patties – shallow fry. Serve with pitta, yogurt and grated carrot.

    Turkey/ chickpea combo – small meatballs of this in a curry made with spinach, green beans, mushrooms, onions, chopped tomatoes, water and spices (obv inc cumin!) Serve with rice or pitta and a yogurt dip (pref with mint – either chopped fresh or for ease I often use a teaspoon of value/ basics mint sauce in it)

  65. I didn’t read all the comments so someone might have already suggested it but I would make a big big batch of spanakoryzo, rice with spinach and onions and eat it with some lemon juice on it and a bit of greek cheese on the side. And with the leftovers I would add an egg, make little patties, coat with bread crumbles and fry with little oil…for the rest..lots of options…You can make the chicken noodles into a meal for two, adding two shredded carrots and other veggies and two poached eggs, it’s a very good supper…anyway, have a great week, thank you for all the ideas you give, I am a great fan of your fish curry ^^

  66. I’d make a big turkey and bean chilli (spices allowing). I’d probably stick the mushrooms and spinach in there too. And then have whichever carb I fancied 🙂

  67. Every week I make a chilli made from turkey mince, chickpeas, kidney beans, onions, garlic, peppers (you don’t have those so throw the mushrooms in instead. In fact aren’t peppers expensive for what you get?) and two tins of chopped tomatoes. I don’t eat white rice but you can serve it with that, Crack on Monroe…

  68. Gosh, that Lesley is a tough act to follow! I was thinking for breakfast: oatmeal (i like it raw with milk and sugar and sliced fruit as well as made into porridge), yogurt & fruit; scrambled eggs, fried eggs, cold rice with milk and sugar. For lunches: beans & potatoes, veggie soup, lentil soup, pitta bread with tomato puree and sardines, veggie omelette, pittas spread with cream cheese. For dinners: turkey mix in tomatoes with pasta, mackerel and potato patties, mackerel and tomato sauce with rice, veggie stir fry with sardines, pasta with spinach and feta and rice dish:http://shelleyshouse.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/rice-dish.html
    I’m not good with inexpensive fishes and so I’m looking forward to learning more about what you do with them! Love your blog, Jack – I tell everyone I know about it (and your fish paste pasta was brilliant, much to my husband’s surprise!)

  69. I would make turkey meatballs with pasta and tomato sauce. Maybe a sprinkling of the Greek cheese on top if you want to be naughty : ) xxx

  70. Pasta Fagiolini – Make a tomato sauce, then throw your green beans in the boiling water with the pasta, drain and mix in with the tomato sauce. Classic italian dish.
    Oh and banana cake, great for breakfast!

  71. Mackerel and spinach pasta:

    defrost spinach
    prepare pasta according to instructions
    break up your mackerel (a little goes a long way!)
    mix pasta, spinach, mackerel and soem of your cream cheese together
    add lemon juice and parsley to taste

    This is delicious cold as well.

  72. Do you make your own yoghurt Jack? I’d use a couple of tablespoons of the store-bought stuff and some of the milk powder to make a huge jar of homemade yoghurt – yoghurt goes with everything – curries, smoothies, on cereal, with bolognaise to give it a ‘lasagne-y’ sort of taste, as a salad dressing – endless!

    For those who haven’t tried you don’t need anything fancy to make it from a small amount of store bought natural or plain greek – I just sterilise a big jar with kettle-boiled water (pour in, swoosh round and pour out), fill it with water & put that amount into a saucepan (so no waste), add milk powder & heat to blood temperature, no hotter (should be comfortably warm, not burning, when you stick a finger in!), pour back into the jar and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt and screw the (sterilised) lid on tightly. Because it’s milk powder not fresh milk you don’t need to boil then cool the milk – it’s ok as is. To set it I wrap the jar in a towel and put it into an insulated shopping bag (or two, one inside the other if you have them – the more insulation the better!) or esky with another jar of hot water (sealed and unwrapped) and leave it sit for 4-8 hours (takes longer if it’s cooler) in warmish spot (easy in Australia at the moment – maybe not so easy in the UK? The water jar can be replaced a few times to keep the temperature up). That way I’ve spent maybe $1-1.50 on ingredients (plus a bit of electricity to heat and sterilise of course) to make a jar of yoghurt I’d have to pay $6-7 for at the shops. Tastes good too – it’s a bit milder to start with, but if you keep using it as a starter it gets better and better. The jar lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge – just make sure to keep it uncontaminated with other food if you want to use it as a starter again. You can experiment with smaller jars and less ingredients if you’re nervous about it working and don’t want to waste anything – it’s a ratio of something like 3:100 yoghurt to milk, so even just a couple of teaspoons in a smaller jar should work. There are a few recipes online but I can usually guess OK – if in doubt add a bit more starter, there’s no upper limit on that!

    From the rest of the ingredients? Maybe a simple tomato, bean and pasta soup with water, tinned tomato, garlic, onion, beans (canellini/washed baked beans), 1/2 a stock cube and a handful of pasta (maybe some spinach?) – with a nice big spoonful of yoghurt and a small squeeze of lemon juice on top.

    (sorry for the novel!)

  73. I have a friend whose a vegan activist. I challenged him to come up with 5 delicious vegan recipies I could eat – I have an allergy to all tree nuts and loads of vegan food has nuts in (I have similar problems with vegetarian and gluten free food)
    Tonight I’m going to try one of his suggestions, a mushroom, carrot and red kidney bean stew – you could join me!
    He suggested having it with brocolli and quinoi, but I’m having jacket potatoes (as I know the kids will at least eat those if they hate the stew) and braised red cabbage.
    I realised that I only ever use red kidney beans in chilli’s, or occassionally blitzed up with onion and breadcrumbs to make beany burgers so this will be interesting. (I haven’t tried the recipie yet by the way so can’t vouch for it but it comes recommended).

  74. Carrot, onion, potatoe soup.
    Meat balls in tomato sauce, served With Rice.
    Bread made of flour and porridge oats.
    Been and vegtable caserole served with potatoes or Rice.

  75. I was reading this at 1am, buzzing with ideas but am a bit late to the party. I think variations for some of it are already in the thread by now, but here goes:

    * Turkey and chickpea meatballs with finely chopped onion, an egg and whatever spices you feel like. Serve with pasta in a light tomato/garlic sauce (spicy if you have chilli) or in warmed pittas with a spiced yogurt and lemon dressing.

    * mushroom omelette

    * French onion soup with crisped up pitta as crouton. Brush with garlic & oil before grilling/toasting the bread.

    * pasta tossed with smoked mackerel (looks smoked?), softened thinly sliced onion and julienne strips of carrot. Toasted cumin seeds would probably be nice if you have them. Cream cheese or dollop of yogurt could be added to give a saucy consistency, with sone of the pasta water added to the pan.

    * feta spinach bake with 1 egg. Some cooked split peas could be added too. Dried mint would lift the flavour and add some interest

    Baked apples with or without an egg custard. If you have butter and sugar you could make a crumble mix with flour and oats and bake alongside then crumble/sprinkle it on top (nuts and would be nice too if available – and then you can core the apples and stuff them with this as they bake)

    * smoked mackerel fishcakes using the potatoes and some milk plus spices. Could add lemon juice, but would have to taste as you go and see if you fancy the citrus

    * Greek green been casserole (onion, garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, olive oil if available otherwise whatever you have). Serve with pittas and crumbled Greek salad cheese

    * Bircher muesli – oats, milk keft to soak, then add grated apple +extra milk or orange juice to soften the consistency. If you have nuts and sultanas they can be added while soaking. Serve topped with mandarin segments (or chopped inside, instead of sultanas/juice)

    * a veg chilli if you have enough of your veggies left (eg carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms and kidney beans) served with rice

    Grated carrot (or carrot/apple) salad with a tangy dressing with sardines. You could drain the sardines and halve them lengthways, top the salad with them and freshen up with some of the lemon juice, letting the juices drizzle over the salad

    That’s as far as I got x

  76. Don’t you think this would be a brilliant idea for school cookery lessons? A list of a weeks worth of ingredients, homework everyone to come up with a few recipes using them, as a class pick a couple of the most popular and in another class cook them. How useful a life skill would that be.

    • I agree. It should definitely be put onto the school curriculum. How about getting it started Jack? 🙂

    • Were you earwigging on the conversation I had with friends the other day 😉 Much more useful than knowing how to bake cakes – especially when there is meant to be an obesity problem in the country.

  77. I;m certainly not as creative as the rest of these commenters, but I would definitely make several meals from this great list, including a savory stew and a tasty pasta. I love working with fresh ingredients so I’d have fun doing that! 🙂

  78. Hi Jack, I can see that your ingredients should make enough filling and tasty meals for the week as they are carbohydrate rich but I am worried that you and SB may not be getting enough Vit C. I know that citrus fruits can be expensive but does your budget stretch to some cartons of fruit juice? Even juice from concentrate is a great source of Vit C which you needed to have regularly as the body can’t store it.

    • From Jacks list you’d find vitamin c in garlic, mandarins, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, apples, onions, carrots maybe in some other items too. Citrus fruits aren’t the only source – in fact potatoes are an important source in our diet because of the volume most people eat. I’m no expert but that looks like a pretty well balanced week of food to me.

    • Agreed with Gill – potatoes are incredibly high in Vitamin C, and most of the other fruit and veg will contribute enough for a balanced amount of all vitamins. Fruit juices are nutritionally a bit of a waste of money if you’re on a super tight budget, contributing a tonne of fruit sugar and vitamin C but none of the fibre – or stodgy fillingness – from eating whole fruit and vegetables that keep you satisfied for longer.

  79. Hi Jack, How about homemade lemonade with your lemon juice sugar and water, to get that vitamin C. Maybe flavour it with some mint or rosemary from the window sill and make with boiling water and let cool in the fridge.

  80. Although I am a big fan of porridge, how about mixing up breakfast a bit and making some bircher muesli: soak a portion of oats (enough for 1 serving of porridge) in milk or water, add some grated apple, pinch of cinnamon, pinch of ginger; ideally let sit overnight. In the morning, add a good dollop of yoghurt, stir and enjoy. Scale up as required.

    If you have any, add some dried fruit. (Sainsburys basics really shriveled sultanas/raisins are perfect as they plump up in the liquid overnight). If you have any nuts or seeds knocking around – peanuts wouldn’t work but if it’s autumn and you’re lucky enough have a walnut tree nearby…! – they add a nice crunch.

  81. How about:

    Homemade fish fingers with the makrel or sardines. Roll in flour, egg and then breadcrumbs (making some breadcrumbs with the pitta)

    Carrot and onion rosti

    Burgers or sausages out of the turkey mince mixed with some grated onion served with some fried apple slices or apple sauce

    Pancakes with grilled banana (sprinkled with nutmeg and sugar) and yogurt or a a savory/fishy filling

    Cut up the pittas and make them into tortillas by toasting under a grill or in the oven and dip them in a spicy yogurt dip or tomato and onion dip

    Creamy mushrooms made with an onion, garlic, spinich, thyme, cream cheese and milk. With pasta or rice

    Fish pie with sweetcorn (and onion and spinich?) either a potato top and/or with breadcrumbs served with green beans and carrots

    Mixed bean stew with the tinned toms, onions and whatever else you want to throw in

    Vegetable noodle soup if you have a stock cube

    Pizza (with homemade dough or pittas) with whatever you have left at the end of the week topped with some Greek cheese and cream cheese.

    I’m wondering why I can be so imaginative with other people, but rely on recipes when it comes to my own cooking!!! I need trust myself more I think x

  82. I’ve recently started reading your column and like it. But it shows me how relatively extravagant I am about ingredients, though think I am not (because we grow our veg and buy cheap cuts of right-on meat!). So I’m not an expert on sardines or baked beans – but things that came to mind were a spicy carrot and bean dish using the kidney beans and baked beans together – to have with rice, or you could use it as a veggie cottage pie filling if you have enough potatoes for mash. I’d start by frying onions and julienned carrots with cumin and paprika or other spices you have, then when getting soft, add the tinned beans.
    And not quite sure what form the turkey and chick peas are in, but they could be mixed with frozen spinach to make patties to eat with the pitta bread and a grated carrot salad.
    Mushrooms, sweetcorn, green beans would be nice added to a pasta bake with greek cheese on top.
    And I would save lots of the eggs to eat in one meal as omelette, because it is one of my favourite things – to eat with rice or potatoes depending on whether you have already used the potatoes!
    Haven’t read all the other ideas but noticed mackerel fishcakes and veggie chilli with baked eggs, both of which sounded good.

  83. Spicy mince flatbreads

    Sauté the turkey mince with chopped onions, garlic, and spices. Serve on warmed pitas with a bit of the feta salad cheese. A salad made with shredded carrot with a citrus based vinaigrette would be nice (using a bit of juice from the mandarins).

    Vegetable fritters (like a colourful veggie latke): using some spinach, Shredded carrots, sweetcorn, shredded onions, spices, flour, and egg. Serve with green beans vinaigrette.

    Veggie pot pie: using the carrots, potatoes, green beans, sweetcorn, sauteed mushrooms and onion. Make a bechamel to cover veg and cover with home made pie crust.

  84. Oranges and lemon cake
    Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
    Apple and banana fritters
    Some sort of oaty flapjacks with the apples
    Apple and cinnamon porridge (we had that yesterday)
    Mashed banana and peanut butter on toast (you could try filling some pastry cases) my SB loves it.

    Mushroom pate for the pitta crisps
    Potato hash. Fry onion, mushroom, bacon and tomatoes (if you had them) and precooked potatoes, plate and top with a poached or fried egg
    Egg, spinich, split peas and Greek cheese curry (not sure how!)… think I’m out of ideas for now haha x

  85. wow – a lot of ideas above… I had a glut of onions today too and made a batch of onion marmalade (1kg of onions, a bit of oil to slow fry, then add 150ml vinegar, sugar to taste, thyme and reduce it all). I put 1/3 in a jar in the fridge, and made up two little bags for the freezer. Delicious with cheese, cold meats or stirred into curries / stews / pasta. So much cheaper than store bought onion marmalade, and probably a lot less sugar. NB i needed two frying pans for the above, I think it would just stew rather than caramalise if you just piled it into a saucepan…

  86. Middle-East inspired breakfast:

    Lightly fry garlic and chilli (in any form) to your taste, then add chopped tomatoes to a large frying pan and simmer for a bit. Make dips in the surface of the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each, 1-2 per person. Cook for ten minutes until whites set, but yolks nice and runny, or cover the pan with a lid to speed things up.

    You could scatter cubes of greek cheese over 5 mins before end, or add cubed potatoes to mix beforehand, or both or neither!

    Serve with the plain yogurt and dig in with pitta for a tasty, filling brunch.

  87. I’d use the turkey mix to adapt one of my fave pasta dishes – normally uses pork sausages with skins taken off. Fry onions, garlic and meat together with grated carrot, add a tin of tomatoes (or could be a squirt of puree plus watee) plus seasoning (I’d go for bay, oregano, pepper but rosemary, sage, fennel or thyme would also be nice). Simmer for maybe 20 minutes or a bit longer. Would do for two days at least.

  88. Chop 2 of the bananas into 1 inch chunks and set aside. Put 2 tablespoons of sugar and about 4 tblspns of water (or the mandarin segment juice) into a small non-stick frying pan and heat gently, stirring until sugar dissolved and reducing to a thin syrup. Sprinkle in a pinch of a warm spice (cinnamon/nutmeg/5 spice etc), take off heat and allow infuse for a few minutes. Put bananas sliced end into the frying pan and allow to cook on gentle heat in sugar liquid base for a couple of minutes until end is soft but top still has texture.

    Serve hot with a dollop of cold yoghurt and drizzle juices over – waste not a drop.

  89. I’m vegetarian so am not even going to attempt to make any suggestions regarding how to use the sardines and mackerel, and like another person said am a little late with my contribution as had left it for a little while hoping for some inspiration to pop into my head.
    First thought when I hear the mention of baked beans is Star Wars Stew, something apparently quite well known in the UK from a book called, ‘Blue Peter book of gorgeous grub’ that dates back to people’s kindergarten time, but one I discovered from a book we have in Australia called the $21 Challenge, won’t digress any further than that though, you can google that to find out more, but yes, the Star Wars Stew would be my first pick with the baked beans, tinned potatoes and other veg included the tomatoes.
    Then another great one from the $21 Challenge book is a quick microwave apple pudding, you don’t even need eggs for the batter!

    3 Tsp golden syrup (or honey if you don’t have this in your cupboard)
    1 apple
    125g SR flour
    125g marg or butter
    125g sugar
    8 Tsp milk
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Put the syrup in the bottom of a medium sized microwave proof bowl. Peel and slice your apple (or can leave skin on, I do) and place in the bottom of the bowl (and around sides if you need to). Mix all other ingredients together and pour over your apple. Microwave on high for six minutes, then stand for 5 minutes. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream, or is good on it’s own but may be a bit dry without an accompaniment, personal choice.

    The instant chicken noodles I would definitely turn into savoury noodle fritters, these are super yummy and my daughter has always loved them. Cook the noodles as you would normally, drain most of the liquid keeping maybe one or two Tsp’s. Place in mixing bowl, allow to cool, then add 2 eggs, enough milk to get the right consistency (maybe 2-3 Tsp), some chopped mushrooms, chopped onion, even some diced carrot, anything you feel like throwing in, this is a very versatile ‘add what you like’ kind of recipe. Also can add some chopped herbs, I know you have those.

    Then mix and get some egg rings of freestyle it, and heat up a frypan, putting dollopfuls into egg rings, cook on med-high for a few mins until golden, flip and cook other side. Can be served with some nice herbed rice on the side, a selection of veg of choice etc, and are quite filling enough combined with side of choice due to the noodle content, very tasty!

    Apart from that I would only have suggestions for the obvious ideas such as risotto, simple tomato, onion pasta, braised carrots to go with most meals, also sweetcorn fritters for another option, nice pasta bake with some veg added such as spinach and your mushrooms. I always use tinned tomatoes as we have here, equivalent to your packet tomatoes and some herbs, don’t need the fancy pasta bake jars of sauce as I’m sure you know already. Makes a lot thouigh and is tasty and filling.

    If I think of anything else inspiring and clever I will let you know, but feel that you probably have just as good if not better ideas anyway, all of your own recipes speak this! Enjoy!

      • Excellent to hear that you are willing to try the noodle fritters, I like them a lot and they are often a regular in my house. Would like to hear what you think of them once you’ve made them. Thought I’d add too that the original recipe used bacon instead of the mushrooms and veg that I use, but being vegetarian and also wanting it to be more wholesome I opted for my version instead, but you may want to go with the bacon instead. They also used spring onion instead of a normal brown onion, but both ways work well and are tasty, and it’s the kind of recipe that can be adapted to use whatever you have on hand, perfect for me! Enjoy!

    • Hi Bridget – these were a big failure – they tasted lovely, but all stuck to the egg rings and then fell apart as I tried to turn them. I think next time I’ll use more egg and grease the rings! But I love the idea, versatile too as you say, so will try again 🙂

      • I’m sorry to hear that they didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped, but at least if the flavour was there and you liked that it’s fixable for next time. The original recipe calls for 4 eggs but I always find this too extravagant to tend to use 2 or 3 at most and add in the milk to stretch it out that way, but feel free to add more eggs if you like next time. I should have mentioned about spraying the egg rings with some cooking spray but thought this was self explanatory, sorry! Hope you will give them another shot and that they’re more successful the next time!

    • Thanks for the microwave apple pie recipe, Bridget. I tried it and it turned out very nice – though I needed to cook it a little longer in my microwave. Quick, easy and tasty!

      I was thinking I could make endless variations of this with different fruit and spices/extracts. For example, pineapple and ginger, raspberry jam and coconut sponge (jam on the bottom instead of the syrup), pear and chocolate etc.

      I made a nice vegan soya milk custard to go with it:

      500 ml soya milk, 3 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp cornflour. Use a little of the soya milk to make a paste with the cornflour to get rid of any lumps. Add everything to a saucepan on a medium heat and stir until thickened. You can add more sugar and vanilla to taste, and change the quantity of cornflour to vary the thickness.

      • Hi Heath,
        Thanks for the comments above, I’m really pleased to hear back from someone who tried my microwave apple pudding, and also love your creativity to come up with other variations to this, that’s how some of the best recipes in the world came to be!
        I’ve often thought of making it with peaches instead, but would obviously work with pears, apricots would be another nice one, plums also.
        Really appreciated reading your way of how to make custard, I didn’t know that there was a way to do this without custard powder so great to learn this. I think the recipe time is meant for a 1000 watt microwave so not sure what the wattage is on yours, but glad that you worked it out and it turned out well enough that you felt like letting me know.

  90. Tonight I made a strange kind of stew sort of thing, it doesn’t have a name because I sort of just worked it out as I went along and kept adding what I thought would blend well, but once I got to the end it struck me that some of the items might be considered as things that should necessarily mesh all that well, but I’m pleased to say I was very happy with the results surprisingly!

    So this is what went into it and the method to which it miraculously came about –

    1/2 onion, chopped
    1 carrot, diced
    1/3 zucchini, diced
    about a dozen green beans, chopped into smallish pieces
    a few cauliflower florets, cut smaller into pieces
    1/2 cup green split peas
    1 tin tomatoes
    1 1/2 tins of water, using the tin to rinse out the remnants
    1 1/2 tsp curry powder
    1/2 tsp parsley flakes
    1/5 packet of spaghetti, broken up into 1 inch pieces
    1 tsp veg stock
    oil for cooking
    salt and pepper to taste

    First put a medium sized pot on to heat up, then add some oil, enough to cook the veg in. Chop veg and add as you go, first onion, then carrot, zucchini, beans and lastly cauliflower, stirring after each addition. Then add the split peas and curry powder and toss everything around in the oil to coat. Leave for 5-7 mins to caramelise the veg a bit and to start the split peas cooking process, then toss in everything else, breaking the spaghetti into the pot by hand. Give it all a good stir then leave to simmer away on a low bubble for about 50 mins or so or until the sauce has thickened well to a stew type consistency, the pasta is cooked through and the split peas have softened down mostly, is alright for them to have a bit of texture to them still, well I think so anyway. Season with salt and pepper and serve, or can add this halfway through as I did rather than right at the end, personal choice.

    Now I know some of these ingredients don’t exactly match what you had displayed above but this recipe would lend itself to be adjusted to suit whatever you have on hand. You can easily swap the green split peas for the yellow ones, use any mix of four or five veg that you have, and could be done with macaroni or rice instead of the spaghetti, something just told me that the spaghetti would be a good addition so I went with it and have to say it was a good move! So you could still make this with what you have or with what I used at another time, but seeing as how I was so pleasantly surprised with how it turned out I felt like sharing it.


  91. call me cynical, but come on Jack enough is enough!! They didn’t pay you peanuts to advertise Sainsbury’s on national TV now did they? or is the price you have to pay for that. Soul-Devil-Devil-Soul.

    • I’m not ‘poor’ any more but I’m not about to trot off to the shops and spend £50-£60 a week on food again. Probably not ever. The past two years have changed how I cook and how I shop – I stick to about £15 a week for food now, same as anyone else who sets themselves a food budget.

      Re Sainsburys though, I took the living wage out of that, and have just signed the cheques for Oxfam and my local food bank to split the rest. It’s not as much as people think.

  92. Couldn’t give a fig what you earn but variety is the spice of life – and the continuous promotion of the same old Sainsbury’s basics goods has been a little off putting to say the least.

    • It’s not promotion, it’s what I use – and the ‘same old Sainsburys basics’ stuff I blogged about for 2 years before getting an ad deal. They’re just ideas – people can shop where they like, use tinned, fresh or frozen where they like, I’m just showing what I do… I’m really conscious of it these days, but I won’t apologise for where I shop or what I buy.

      • And no reason why you should! . We all tend to shop at our nearest supermarket and basics are a good range, just in more boring packaging. Its inspiring to see what you and others do with the food in your cupboard, and to share tips. And there’s not many of us who don’t have to work to a tighter budget these days. Keep up the good work Jack!

      • I think it’s brilliant that you’ve finally had a chance to take life a little bit easier… long overdue! People who are struggling to get by are inspired by what you’ve done and continue to do; they don’t want you to remain broke forever! They’re celebrating your success! Good on you, Jack. Keep on trucking …

  93. I would say that from what I see Jack provides many a variety of meals, I’m constantly impressed with that! And buy Sainsbury’s basics, or any other homebrand/storebrand item is just that, no matter how much variety you cook with during the week most meals start with the basics, with staple ingredients that then build to become whatever meal you create, but most meals have some sort of veg, some sort of carbs, some sort of protein, and often some sort of dairy, in whatever brand you choose it still boils down to the same thing. Why would anyone change drastically from that, I think Jack stays true to herself and to what she knows works, and that to me is a very humbling thing with all the attention and adoration she’s acquired, I take my hat off to her any day for what she manages to do, certainly someone to look up to and be proud of in my book. Well done Jack, keep up the good work and keep ignoring the cynics, you know who you are!

  94. It’s a shame that some people have turned what started off as a great interactive blog about sharing recipes into a row about sponsorship etc. Does it matter? It’s not a “you must buy Sainsbury’s products” page – it’s a “what can you do with a small amount of money” page. Those products could just as easily be the basics/essentials/value range from any supermarket. It’s completely missing the point of the blog, and a disappointing sidetrack. I shop at Aldi’s and the weekly market – Jacks post does not entice me to shop at Sainsbury’s, but it does give me ideas about what I can do with value products.

    I am a single parent to a small boy, and I cut my food budget from £40 per week (at Sainsbury’s funnily enough), to around £20 per week, and found your posts inspirational to help me do this. That extra £20 per week means I can do fun things with my son, that I don’t have to take too deep a breath every time I open a utilities bill, that I don’t feel like I’m on the brink of disaster all the time. When you are skint, a little money is actually a lot of money – and learning to shop smart and cook clever, has helped us out a LOT.

    Keep up the good work, and as much as your charitable donations are honorable, with your next cheque – you know what, have a little fun-time with it too! I think you deserve it. Don’t pay attention to “tall-poppy” haters.

      • My issue isn’t with promoting Sainsbury, my issue is the pretence she has no choice.

      • I have a choice. I can choose to spend the money I have in my bank account in a week on champagne and caviar, or I can choose to live more modestly and spend it over a month or whatever. I can choose to buy my clothes from high end stores, or charity shops. I can choose whether to pay my rent and bills or not. I can choose whether to shop at my nearest supermarket (still Sainsburys) or whether to hike a few miles to competitors to – what? – prove a point? That they all have broadly similar products at broadly similar prices? I thought everyone knew that.
        My blog is my space where I write about what I do with my time. I’m not ‘poor’ as I was – but I never know where my next pay cheque is coming from, so I’m being careful. Being careful isn’t ‘pretending to be poor’. It’s being careful.

  95. Whilst I don’t disagree with you Bridget this is no longer a blog from a ‘poor’ person showing how you can live well on a tight budget, no, this has turned into a holier than thou campaign of ‘look at me, I am no longer ‘poor’ but I still like to act like I am & look how clever I am with so little money. The point is Jack now has a choice, whereas so many other people don’t, so my comment was really to say enough is enough, we all know how inspirational she initially was but I am afraid the wave of support is turning and the comments – not just mine- reflect that, unfortunately tides have turned. We have to accept the choices we make & then live with whatever the consequences of those choices are.

    • I think that comment is largely unfair. I’m not ‘acting poor’, I’m choosing to stick to a low food budget because I’m a freelance writer and don’t have a fixed or guaranteed income. I could spend more, but then if I lose my guardian column or don’t sell as many books as have been forecast, I’ll be skint again – and what will be the point of that?

      • I aggree with you Jack, I had to raise three kids, 11 to 14 years old, whilst on benefit after a divorce which left me homeless. I fed them well on a low budget. They were skinny but not hungry. When they saw other people’s fridges loaded with sweet puddings and Kids junk food they thought they were glimsing Heaven… But they grew strong without the puffy skin look so many of their friends had. They all are careful with money now that they are in their twenties, they respect money. I do not regret bringing them up under finacial pressure. I still have to be careful with money and know how to do do. The world is fickle, nobody knows what might happen, illness, loss of work, death of a partner. I admire you and wish you well.

      • The irony of that statement cannot have
        even escaped you Jack. The average guardian reader is male, and 47% of guardian readers earn £30,000 as an average. The people you are claiming to appeal to couldn’t even afford the guardian, but i guess they pay more than Big issue.

    • I’m curious to know what parts of what I said you ‘didn’t disagree with, as for the most part it still sounds like you do? As many people have said, it seems a shame that what was supposed to be an interesting and fun blog for this week about what to use certain ingredients for a week’s worth of meals has somewhat turned into something else.
      Jack more or less explains herself below anyway, but saying that while she could splurge if she wanted to maybe sometimes she has decided to be careful with what she has now, knowing that nothing is guaranteed in life and how quickly things could turn around and not be going as well for her, and I think we can all relate to that.
      I remember something I was watching once about people judging people who lived on Skid Row and saying that for many people they’re only a couple of pay packets away from that, you’ve got to be careful with what you have when you have it because no one knows what lies ahead. Jack also points out too that there;s no certainty with how many copes of her book she might sell etc, so spends less knowing that is the sensible thing to do, so again I commend her for her choices, and would never choose to criticise anything she does, she always has hers and SB best interests at heart, is not trying to promote any particular company and certainly isn’t pretending to be poor or anything similar, she’s merely showing what she had from last week in her cupboards, fridge etc, showing what she bought this week and asking for creativity and inspiration from others to get some new ideas, it was never meant to be anything more. I think she is still very much justified for doing what she does, she would not be in a position to claim riches or grand wealth, most of us while we might consider ourselves comfortable enough are still below the poverty line in general terms, but having often been worse off know how to be careful so as to not be back there again, and I don’t see any harm in that at all. This all needs to be looked at in the bigger picture and without insult, there’s just no need, nothing about Jack is fake, that’s one of the many reasons we all have so much respect for her and for what she does, and the basic meaning of where this blog first started are still there, a person wanting to be careful and to provide a safe and healthy environment for her son, that is still the case now as it was then.

      • I agree that she was inspirational, I agree that she cooked well on basic ingredients, I agree she provides a safe and loving environment for her son. However, i do not agree with this pretence that she has no choice any longer. As for her not promoting any particular products or company, are you serious? I dont see tesco,morrison,asda,aldi or any other brands mentioned do you? I suggest that perhaps you remove your rose coloured spectacles and look at the bigger picture yourself.

    • Just because Jack is no longer ‘poor’ it doesn’t automatically make her ‘rich’. Many of us are ‘comfortable’, but there is no doubt that for many of us (certainly for myself) our food budget hasn’t risen over the last few years, but the price of food certainly has so we have to be creative and thrifty if we still want to feed our families healthily. These recipes help brilliantly. And the last few years have been very uncertain for many with job losses etc. Even if things have picked up, you don’t forget that easy. Its sensible to not be prolifigate and save for the future. If you don’t have to – good luck to you. But I get the impression it would be out of character for Jack to start throwing caution to the wind.

    • So, let me get this right – unless you are poor, you have no right to promote shopping and cooking on a budget? That is facile and insulting and illogical. Oh dear, we do like our heroines to remain disadvantaged, don’t we?

    • I think you should reflect on your choices – you don’t have to read this, and if you are bored why not stop? That would leave the space and atmosphere clearer for people to get on and share good ideas for creating good things out of not very much, and that might be a good ethos for all of us regardless of income.

    • For someone who has very few nice comments to make about where Jack shops [like she should produce a variety of labels to make you happy when, in truth, shopping in one store makes financial sense all round], who she works for [like there was a big choice and quite obviously it makes perfect sense to say ‘NO THANKS’ to Sainsbury’s and The Guardian] and whether or not she’s ‘poor’ [like it’s anyone’s business], you’re spending an awful lot of time and effort on her blog Dee Watson. For such a devoted reader/commentor to JM’s blog, I’m assuming you either have too much time on your hands or you secretly love it here….hmmmmm????

      I applaud her for not cutting and running at the first sign of a decent meal/wage-packet, and abandoning her readers. Good job too really or you’d not have anywhere to vent your spleen….I’m intrigued to know why you even care. Some people just don’t like to see others doing well……it just makes them mad…..!!!

  96. Sauté mushroom,onion and garlic in a little oil, add a few woody herbs. When cooked; stuff in a pitta bread with some soft cheese (or any cheese). Delicious!

  97. This is crazy. Whatever happened to ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all?’ Whatever happened to being happy for anyone that makes good and does well for themselves? And who on earth wouldn’t want to read about delicious, nutritious food ideas that don’t cost the earth? The simple fact is that nobody is obligated to follow this blog. If you get nothing out of it, stop reading it and allow those of us that do to continue to enjoy it.

    • Lucy, you are spot on. I’m a bit behind with this so reading all the comments at once and I can’t believe what I’m reading! It’s about food, making nice food and not spending the earth. For people who think they can’t afford it, showing them that they probably can. Nice one Jack, keep it up!

  98. Couldn’t agree more with Lucy. Jack is showing (fantastically well!) how to make great food on a budget. It’s her money, her budget, and her food shop, and it’s not for anyone else to dictate how she spends it or where she shops. She’s said before Sainsbury’s is her local shop – should she start paying extra on public transport to travel to her nearest Aldi, Asda or Morrison’s just to provide more variety? A carrot is a carrot and a tin of tomatoes is a tin of tomatoes, and Jack shows people how to make nutritious and easy food out of basics.

    As to the size of her budget, well for one thing that is her business and nobody else’s. And for another thing, it makes far more sense after what she’s been through with benefits and so on to be frugal now and save for the future, just in case. Keep up the good work Jack, write your blog your way for those that love it and don’t feel you have to justify yourself to the naysayers. There’s a big internet out there if they don’t find something to their liking here.

  99. To respond to Dee Watson, I’d like to ‘turn the tables’ back to you if you will, and ask where did Jack ever say that she is ‘claiming to be poor’? When I look back all I see with my rose coloured glasses (not) is how she showed and explained how she got here and along the way has explained where she is now. Not once has she hid from any of that, when she got her column at the Guardian she was upfront about it, when she got her book deal she proudly told us about that also, but I don’t recall her ever trying to convince us that she’s still poor, she’s actually said that she isn’t but is simply being careful, and I doubt anyone who had to go through what she endured would do any different!
    She’s also not claiming to be rich either, just that she’s keeping to a budget to ensure that bills, rent and other essentials get paid, again nothing wrong with that.
    This blog, from what I can tell, has always been about offering good decent recipes that have modest costings, and the fact that she lets us know that she buys her ingredients from Sainsbury’s is simply just saying that because that’s where she shops and what she knows. It would only be promoting if she was constantly raving about their products, telling everyone to go and shop there or something to the equivalent, but from what I can see she merely lets us know it came from there for cost reasons of the recipes themselves, and the fact that this is what she bought, that’s not singing their praises it’s simply stating a fact, telling us where she did her food shopping, much the same as if she lived closer to another store that would probably be where she’d shop and would tell us that also.
    The purpose of this blog and this past week’s message was just saying what she bought and looking for inspiration for meals from other readers, so what does it matter where she bought the items? Other people have enjoyed swapping recipes, sharing ideas, getting inventive and so on, it;s a shame that you couldn’t have put your energy into that as much as you do criticising where it’s really not needed or validated, I didn’t see you making a comment on anyone’s recipe ideas, you only jumped on my comments when it became about something else, shame you couldn’t have taken the time to contribute that same effort and energy for what it was supposed to be for!

  100. I’m afraid, reading this blog, that some people who comment on this site are, all be it very eloquent, trolls. Nowhere has Jack ever said she is the messiah, or that she still has no choice anymore, and this supposed lack of understanding of Jack’s point of view re choice (of spend, supermarket, Guardian) is spurious to say the least.

  101. Wow! Didn’t expect to find such a controversy. I’d seen Jack on the Channel 5 Benefits Debate and googled to find her blog. My husband and myself both work, but, hey, times can get a bit tight and ideas of how to maintain a food budget and interesting menu ideas are more than welcome. I personally don’t care how much Jack earns or doesn’t. I’m just grateful to have somewhere to get ideas on how to make our food budget stretch that bit further. So, thanks from me, Jack 🙂

  102. Being broke is not just few those on benefits, I am educated to PhD level, have what is considered a ‘good job’ and a supportive family, but similarly am a single parent of a small child and give up half my salary just on child care each month. Then of course all the bills, and bills.. There is no money left. My mum was a baby boom child born in 1945, things were tight, I remember my mum telling my my granny never made a meal for herself, just ate what the children left on their plates. That’s what I do with my girl, just make one meal, make sure she is full then have what’s left. In shops i consider stealing stuff because I haven’t the money to buy it. Now that I have Jack perhaps I won’t have to.

    • Don’t know if you have this available to you where you live, but I do some part-time work for mystery shopping companies, basically playing a role if you like being a shopper in different stores and carrying out set scenarios, making simple enquiries etc. One of the ones I do on s regular basis is supermarket enquiries, and get paid to do my shopping while making a few enquiries whilst doing so, so hardly ever have to pay for my groceries providing I grab enough of these jobs each month. So I thought I’d pass this information on and then it can be something you can look into if you’re interested; just like to pass on what I know to someone who can benefit from it if I see an opportunity. If you need to know any more about it just let me know, but thought this could keep you honest and avoid you needing to feel the need to steal items if you can get them free another way instead! Good luck!

  103. Dee Watson: I came here to look at recipes I can cook without breaking the bank – what did you come here for?

    • Seems Dee Watson perhaps has learnt the lesson we all got taught growing up, that if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all? I haven’t always agreed with this exactly in this form, as I do believe in sticking up for yourself, but am not that much in favour of the ‘Dee Watson’s of our society that get pleasure from throwing out unnecessary insults to others just to make themselves feel better!
      I came here looking for inspirational, interesting and affordable recipes too much like yourself, so hopefully the ones who don’t find that fulfilling anymore have turned away, or perhaps the last message I directed at her put her in her place and made her stop and think, not sure, but here’s hoping things can return to a more pleasant manner and for this to be what it’s meant for.

  104. Wow! How much emotion here! It beggars belief as mentioned above that some people struggle to support good old common sense and see calculated, cold marketing where as far as I can see there is not. I suppose this is the society we have learnt to expect. For the record, I am not poor. Both my husband and I earn a good wage and we live comfortably, being able to splash out, go on holiday when we want to. Having said this, we also know how fickle life can be and how quickly things can change. So we choose to spend a lot of our well earned cash by overpaying our mortgage, saving money and hopefully being financially stable and independant, protecting ourselves against whatever could happen in the future. I believe in good healthy homemade food and I choose this for my family in myself and by planning my menus a week in advance, use promotions and spending time looking for yummy recipes online and in magazines, I manage on a small budget. Does that make me an hypocrite? i think not, it makes responsible for my today and for my tomorrow.Actually I’m rather proud of that and when somebody like Jack comes along and shares her experience of having to live on very little and making the most of it, i embrace it, I’m inspired and strengthened in my belief that you can eat healthily on a small budget. And now that she can afford to spend more, does it mean she has to? If we behaved more respectfully of all our resources, might they be food, water, energy, maybe we wouldn’t be in a place where our children and grand children may inherit a planet from us that is on the brink of not being able to support our living.So Jack, well done then and well done now. Keep showing us that being thrifty is something to be proud of.

  105. Hi Jack – brilliant and much needed blog.

    Here are a couple of other recipe ideas using this week’s stuff (if not too late):
    – sweet corn fritters with chilli butter (courtesy of Ainsley Harriott; a bit like your banana pancake batter but lighter)
    – French onion soup (yep – better with brandy but okay without; can have garlic croutons with it using your pitta, or, on other weeks, sliced French bread with toasted cheese on top to float on the top of the soup)
    – a vegetarian version of Spanish huevos rancheros – essentially eggs baked in the oven in a garlicky, tomato and onion sauce with green beans (again nice with bacon or – on really splash out occasions – chorizo);
    and a basic one: garlic mushroom stuffed pittas.

    Hope these help!

  106. Great blog with great cheap recipes, please keep at it. Jack…. enjoy your opportunities and keep blogging about them too, it gives us all a glimps.

  107. If you really want to eat like a king on no money, go vegan… then you could also afford to support co-ops like Suma and local organic growers. Buying Sainsburys basics just so you can afford meat & fish? Really?

  108. In a baking tray toss carrots cut into fat discs and thinly sliced onions with olive oil, two or three sprigs of thyme, and two bay leaves. If you can possibly find some potatoes cut into chunks, add those,too. Bake at (pre-heated) 200ºC/Gas 6 for 30mins. Give one good stir about halfway through. Season the mackerel fillets with ground black pepper and lay them on top of the vegetables, then bake for a further 10 minutes. Simple, nutritious, tasty, one-pot meal. Amongst my children’s favourites.

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