Feed a Family of 4 for less than £9/week: Dinnertime

Starting with a Sunday roast and breaking it down into leftovers the way my mother always did – although in her case it was a chicken made into chinese chicken curries and avgolemono soup, recipes for which are available on my blog. I’ve started with a pork shoulder, I don’t buy meat just for myself any more but recently cooked a roast for my parents and younger siblings and clocked that an 800g pork shoulder joint was £2.50 – it served six of us with leftovers, so I’ve used it here. I always say those people who don’t like pork haven’t had it cooked properly. Overdone chops are a travesty, but a rolled shoulder joint rubbed in salt and oil and cooked slowly is a beautiful thing.


Sunday roast pork with veg and gravy.
1kg roast pork shoulder

1 tin of potatoes (tinned ones make excellently fluffy roasties because they have been pre-cooked)

6 carrots

200g frozen peas

For the gravy:

2 onions

2 fat cloves of garlic

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp flour

a pinch of mixed dried herbs

1 stock cube dissolved in 600ml water

For the yorkshire puds:

2 tbsp oil

125g self raising flour

½ tsp mixed herbs

2 eggs

150ml milk

Preheat your oven to 220C. Score the fatty top of your pork with a sharp knife, and rub a little salt and oil all over, working it into the scores. Place in a roasting tin and cook for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C, cover loosely in tin foil with the shiny side down, and cook for another hour.

Next make your gravy – peel and finely slice your onions and garlic and add to a pan with the oil. Cook on a low heat to soften for a few minutes, then add the flour and herbs and stir well to coat the onions. Add a splash of stock and mix well. Add a splash more, and repeat. Repeat until all the stock is used up – it may look a little thin at the moment but it will thicken as it cools. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool and thicken.

Wash and chop your carrots and place in a pan of cold water on the hob, and pop your peas in cold water in a separate pan. Do your Yorkshire pudding prep – frop a little oil into the bottom of each muffin tin and set to one side. Take a large mixing bowl or jug (I use a jug to make pouring it easier). Add the salt and herbs and mix. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients – admittedly a little harder in a jug. Break in the eggs, pour in the milk and beat to form a smooth runny batter. If it’s lumpy for any reason, cheat it in the blender on a quick pulse. Cover and chill it in the fridge – the best, lightest, crispiest batters are made when very cold batter meets very hot oil – and relax for about 20-30 minutes.

When the pork has just 30 minutes to go, drain your potatoes and toss in a little oil, a pinch of salt and herbs, and place around the outside of the joint.

Remove the pork, wrap tightly in 2 layers of foil to retain the heat, and rest it to one side. Pop the oiled muffin tin in the oven for a few minutes. Bring the carrots to the boil. Remove the hot muffin tray, pour a little batter into each tin until around a third full and put back in the oven. Reduce the carrots to a lively simmer, cover, and cook until tender.

Warm the peas through and warm and taste your gravy, if it is too salty for your liking, add a dash of lemon juice to balance it out and stir well.

Remove your yorkshires and potatoes, drain all the veg, uncover and slice the pork (remembering to leave some for tomorrow – be strict about seconds!), and serve.


For a quick instant gravy without all the onion hassle, I keep a jar of this in my cupboard: Finely chop 4 stock cubes to powder with a very sharp knife and tip into a jar. Add 2 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp dried herbs, screw the lid on and shake well. To use, shake again to evenly distribute as the ingredients may settle when stored. Mix 1 tsp of the mixture per person, with a splash of boiling water, and stir to form a thick paste. Add a little more water, stir well, and repeat until it is your desired consistency. I make a big jar of this, multiplying the above quantities, and use it for a quick gravy fix or as a base for meaty casseroles and stews.



300g leftover cooked pork, diced small

2 tbsp oil

2 onions

2 fat cloves of garlic

200ml strong black tea (or red wine if you have it…)

400g tinned tomatoes

1 tsp mixed dried herbs

1 tbsp sugar (optional)

300g rice

frozen spinach

Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic and pop into a pan with the oil. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes to soften. Add the tea (or wine) and tomatoes, stir well, then add the pork and herbs and sugar. Bring to a boil to heat through, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Drop in the frozen spinach and cook until the rice is soft. Drain – in a sieve to catch the spinach, add a dash of lemon juice, and serve with the kokkinisto.

1 onion

2 carrots

100g cooking bacon

1 tbsp oil

2 fat cloves of garlic

½ tsp mixed dried herbs

all remaining pork, thinly sliced and shredded

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 stock cube dissolved in 200ml water

400g chopped tomatoes

400g baked beans, with the sauce rinsed off thoroughly

Peel and slice the onion and garlic and wash and dice the carrot, and chop the bacon. Pop into a pan with the oil and bring to a medium heat, stirring to disturb so the onions don’t burn. Finely chop all your remaining pork and add to the pan with the herbs. Add the stock, tomatoes and beans, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the carrots are tender – between 10 and 15 minutes depending on how small you chopped them! Serve in a bowl with green veg of your choice in the side.

MUSHROOM AND BACON RISOTTO – makes extra for tomorrow’s soup

1 tsp sunflower oil

4 fat cloves of garlic

100g cooking bacon

400g mushrooms

1 tsp mixed dried herbs

400g rice – (basic rice will do, the ‘ris’ in risotto means ‘rice’ not ‘specific fancy rice’)

300ml black tea – in place of red wine – it’s a tannin thing and my readers swear they can’t tell the difference in recipes – though I can’t vouch for it as a lukewarm evening beverage to relax…

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 stock cube dissolved in 1l water

frozen peas to serve

Heat the oil gently in a frying pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic and chop the bacon and add to the pan.

Gently clean any excess earth from the mushrooms with a clean tea towel, chop them into small chunks and add to the pan. Shake the herbs over and allow everything to cook together for a few minutes to soften the garlic and mushrooms.

Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. When the rice starts to turn translucent, pour in the tea (or wine if you insist…) and add the tomato puree, stirring constantly to prevent any of the rice sticking to the pan.

When almost all the tea has been absorbed, start to add the stock, half a cup at a time. Stir in each time until almost all the liquid has also been absorbed and then add more. Repeat until either the stock is gone or the rice is cooked to your liking. Sprinkle on additional herbs to taste and serve.

You can cheat the peas in the microwave – I learned this in a pub kitchen in my youth and it works for most frozen veg. Put them in a microwave-proof bowl, add a splash of water, cover with clingfilm, pierce in the middle and heat on high for a minute. Instant peas, a little energy saved, and handy to know. For even easier peas, fling them in the risotto at the end and stir to defrost and warm through – but this makes for a slightly funky coloured soup for tomorrow’s lunch…


400g kidney beans

400g baked beans

1 onion

a pinch of dried chilli

½ tsp cumin

1 tbsp oil

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 stock cube dissolved in 200ml water

20g dark chocolate

250g rice

Tip both tins of beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly. If you are using baked beans in tomato sauce, make sure to rinse it all off for this one! Pop the beans into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Peel and dice the onion and put into a large sauté pan along with the chopped chilli and cumin. Add the oil and cook on a low heat until the onion softens into a spicy sweetness. Pour in the tea (or wine if you insist), add the tomato puree and the stock, then simmer all together on a low heat.

Drain the beans and tip into the sauce. Add the chocolate and stir until the beans are mixed through and the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly – the flavours develop as it rests.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the rice. Reduce to a simmer and cook according to packet instructions – the basic rice is broken bits and tiny grains so cooks faster than the posh stuff. When soft, drain and fluff with a fork. Heat the chilli through on a high heat on your biggest hob, stirring well, and serve. Young children would benefit from a dollop of natural yoghurt to calm the heat, or if you’re worried, simply leave the chilli flakes out when cooking and just sprinkle them onto the adult portions to serve.



600g tinned potatoes (approx drained weight of 2 tins)

2 onions

a pinch of mixed dried herbs

400g frozen white fish fillets

100g tinned sardines

300ml milk

2 tsp flour

2 eggs

100g frozen spinach

a handful of cheese

peas and carrots to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.

Wash and dice the potatoes and bring to the boil in a large saucepan of water. Reduce to a medium heat and cook until tender – tinned potatoes take a matter of minutes as they are already cooked, but generally not soft enough to mash.

Meanwhile, poach the fish. Peel and quarter the onion and put into a large sauté pan or saucepan with the herbs. Add the fish, cover with the milk, and defrost-to-poach on a low heat for around ten minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, take out the fish and onion pieces and place on a plate. Add the sardines, removing the large bone down the middle carefully with the prong of a fork. (It is edible and a great source of calcium, I leave it in if cooking just for me but take it out when cooking for my 5 year old son.) Break up all the fish gently with a fork. Reserve the poaching liquid to make the sauce with later.

Boil or poach the eggs in a small saucepan for six minutes. Drain and carefully spoon on to the fish plate.

Drain the potatoes and tip back into the saucepan. Mash with a little milk. Grate the cheese into the mash – if using – and stir well to melt through.

Warm the oil gently in a pan over a low heat and add one tablespoon of the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon to make a thick paste. Add the other tablespoon of flour and repeat. Now take a tablespoon of the reserved poaching liquid and stir it into the paste until well mixed in. Repeat, gradually adding more liquid, until blended together in a thick sauce. Add the spinach, stir to defrost, then tip in the cooked eggs, mashing them with the back of a fork to break up. Add the onion then the flaked fish and mix everything together well to coat in the sauce.

Spoon the fish mixture into a large ovenproof casserole dish then top with the potato mash, starting at the edge of the dish and working inwards, using a fork to fluff up the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the mash is golden and crispy on top.Tips: Instead of one big pie, make individual pies to freeze separately. Fill small freezer and ovenproof dishes half full with the fish mixture then top with the mash. Do not cook but instead allow to cool, cover and freeze for up to three months. To cook, remove from the freezer and bake straight from frozen in an oven preheated to 180°C/ gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.


300g cooking bacon

2 onions

1 tbsp oil

1 stock cube dissolved in 300ml water

a pinch of mixed dried herbs

1 tin of potatoes

150g frozen peas

a dash of lemon juice, to serve

Dice the bacon, and peel and slice the onions. Put into a pan with the oil and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to give the onions a chance to sweeten and the bacon to seal. Drain and rinse the potatoes, slice or dice, and toss half of them into the pan with half of the stock. Put the remaining potatoes and stock in a blender and blitz to make a thick sauce. Tip this into the pan and stir well. Add the frozen peas, turn up the heat and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until piping hot. Add a dash of lemon juice and pepper to serve (no salt needed – the stock and the bacon will see to that!)
You can follow me on Twitter @DrJackMonroe and on Instagram @MxJackMonroe

Jack Monroe. November 2015.

Exit mobile version