All posts tagged: easy lunch

Beer Bread, 5p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

I had a small gathering of friends for lunch yesterday – the recipes of which are numerous and will follow in good time – and as is usually the way when a gathering imbibe themselves on sun and soaking up well-deserved drinks, as I tidied up this morning (for I am a slattern, but also have concussion and took my sober self to bed early after such frivolity), I came across half a glass of warm beer that had been sitting on the table all evening. Rather than pour it down the sink, I decided to rework the very simple Pint Glass Bread recipe from Cooking On A Bootstrap, and make use of it. Makes one small loaf, proportions dependent on how much or how little skanky warm beer you find behind the couch.  Serves 4-6 from 5p each. 240ml leftover beer, 14p (Tesco Everyday Value Bitter is £1 for 4x440ml) 300g flour, 9p (Tesco Everyday Value flour is 55p for 1.5kg) 1 tbsp/8.5g yeast, 8p (Allinson Easy Bake Yeast, £1/100g) First, measure your leftover beer. …

Mac n Swede, 19p

The humble swede is a much misunderstood vegetable, and one I can truly empathise with. Misshapen, lumpy, outwardly tough, slightly bitter and difficult to get under the skin of, but once you get inside, it’s soft, delicate, sweet and surprisingly versatile. Asda have them for 20p each at the moment, and as the author of an ultra low budget cookery website, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up really getting to know the inscrutable rutabega once and for all. The cheese in this recipe can be substituted for any vegan cheese of your choice – I didn’t have any to hand, and am not going to pretend otherwise. (I made myself a separate cheese-free portion but my 8 year old would not have touched it without the cheesy element, and parenting is challenging enough at times without fighting over liquidised root vegetables). Can be made gluten free by using GF pasta of your choice. Serves 4 at 19p each 1 large swede, 20p (20p each, Asda) 2 tbsp cooking oil, 3p (98p/1l, Asda) …

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Soup, 18p [A Girl Called Jack]

. I wanted to write another recipe, but I felt sullied, trite, misappropriated, and used. So instead I am going to rewrite my recipes from 2012 – that many of you will not have seen buried beneath the beautiful new ones – and re-cost them to demonstrate the soar in prices in the Basics range over the last 6 years, and how it is always the poorest who shoulder the burden of economic inequality. 

Spinach, Lentil & Lemon Soup, 34p [Cook For Syria]

This easy, comforting spinach and lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in Saha, by Greg and Lucy Malouf. I made it a few times as a quick late-night supper, before I lost the notebook with the details in one of my many house moves. For a long while, as a single mum on benefits, I all but lived out of a pile of boxes as I ran from rent arrears to damp and mould to a single mattress on a floor in a shared house, and a lot of pieces of paper – and nerve endings – got lost along the way. Here’s what I remember of it, in happier times these days, with a few blanks filled in. Homely, comforting and filling, it can also be made with tinned lentils and frozen spinach for the ultimate easy, inexpensive lunch or dinner. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if …

Use-Me-For-Anything Tomato Sauce, 13p [A Girl Called Jack]

This tomato sauce is exactly what its name says – a wonderfully versatile sauce for all occasions. I make a large batch and freeze it in small jars or ice cube trays to use as the base for pasta sauces, soups, stews, or anything that could do with a bit of pepping up. It stands alone as a pretty decent pasta sauce, too. This recipe first appeared in my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, in 2012, but I have updated it slightly here to reflect the rise in basic food costs, eliminating the red wine vinegar and tomato puree for a simpler splat of tomato ketchup – which does the same job, but far more cheaply. Every day is a school day round here. Makes approximately 6 generous portions at 13p each (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) 2 tbsp …

Bread, Bean & Fennel Stew, 17p

The idea of putting bread in stew is one that dates back hundreds of years, to a medieval broth known as ‘caudle’. It is both a use-up for stale bread, or crusts cut off for fussy children, and adds both texture and thickness to a liquid broth. This soup is hearty, wholesome and delicious – made in a grey January fog for a group of hungry friends, and devoured with gusto. The ingredients are all fairly interchangeable; the beans can be any kind you fancy, even plain old baked beans will do. You can extend this with some diced chopped veg, or sweeten and substantiate the base with chopped onion and garlic, but I like it just as it is, simple and huggy. The fennel is just there for a touch of sweetness; if you don’t have any in, a teaspoon of sugar and some herbs will do the job just fine. To make this gluten free, simply replace the bread with gluten free bread of your choice. I make mine with kidney beans sometimes, …

Dollar Pancakes, 6p [A Year In 120 Recipes]

In case you ever find yourself wanting pancakes, but not having any eggs in the house (or bananas, or chia seeds, or flax seeds, or vegan egg replacer), here’s a cheeky cheaty recipe – because some things are just too good to keep to yourself. Serves 4-6, depending on appetite, from 6p each 150g plain flour, 7p  (65p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics) 2 tbsp cornflour, 5p (£1.30/500g, Sainsburys) 1 tsp baking powder, 4p (90p/100g, Sainsburys) A pinch of salt (optional), <1p (45p/750g, Sainsburys Basics) 2 tbsp sugar, 1p (80p/1kg, Sainsburys) 150ml milk (I use soy for vegan pancakes), 14p (90p/1 litre, Sainsburys) 2 tbsp water 2 tbsp oil, 3p (£3/3 litres vegetable or sunflower oil, Sainsburys) Weigh the flour and measure the cornflour into a large mixing bowl, add the baking powder, salt (if using) and sugar, and mix well to evenly distribute throughout the mixture. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients (a rough hole, nothing too precise or technical) and pour in most of the milk and water, and the butter or …

Applesauce Pancakes, 17p [from ‘Veganish’]

Pancakes became something of a tradition in my household when Small Boy started school; our lazy days of laconic love-ins giving way to 6am alarm calls, nervous breakdowns in the morning about where the blinking hell the latest school jumper could possibly be, finding every left shoe in the house and not a single right one. Weekend breakfasts became a snapshot of togetherness, long lazy breakfasts rolling into lunches, often eaten in bed, with newspapers for me and a comic book for him. Saturdays are pancake days, and no two weeks are the same – and this is one of our favourites. Serves 4 at 17p each 270g plain or self raising flour, 12p (65p/1.5kg, Basics flour) 4 tbsp sugar (80p/1kg, Fairtrade white sugar) 2 tsp baking powder,4p (90p/160g) 4 tbsp apple sauce,20p (60p/jar) A pinch of salt, <1p (45p/750g basics table salt) ½ tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (80p/100g, KTC or Natco brand) 2 tbsp oil, 3p (£3/3l sunflower or vegetable oil) 260ml soya milk or equivalent, 23p (almond, coconut and oat milk all …

Vegan Moussaka, 31p [from ‘Veganish’]

As the granddaughter of a Cypriot immigrant, I know my claim to have made the ‘ultimate’ moussaka is indeed a bold one. My grandfather would laugh in my face at the very notion of this vegan offering being considered anything close to the original, but, being a former chef himself (he once had a restaurant called the BellaPais in Southend, before moving on to greasy spoon fry-ups at his humble guest house), his laughter would surely dissipate into an appreciative growl once he got this past his guffaws. I have long feared making moussaka, worrying it would not pass muster with my Greek bones, but tonight, I think I have cracked it. Gone are the eggs that would normally bolster the white sauce, replaced instead with unctuous cashew milk and a smattering of mustard for richness. The lamb becomes lentils, a sort of poundshop reverse Jesus trick, and the whole thing luxuriates, dense yet sloppy, earthy yet bright, wholesome yet decadent, and 31p per portion. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the …

Black Bean & Peanut Stew, 26p

The original version of this dish contained chicken, so I have substituted it with black beans here. It makes for a more filling meal, and a cheaper one, too, as beans and pulses are generally far cheaper than meat and pulses. Dried beans work out even cheaper, but they require a degree of organisation to remember to soak them the evening before, or even to know what you will be eating in advance. I have never managed to be quite so organised, so it would be disingenuous of me to urge you all to do so, but if you are a meal-planning person, bear in mind that dried pulses are a lot cheaper than the convenience of popping open a tin of pre-cooked ones. If you find black beans difficult to get hold of or not to your taste, you can use kidney beans, green lentils, or really, any bean will do. The cooking time given here is a minimum, not an absolute, as with any pulse-based stew, it will simply improve the longer it …

Slow Rich Lentil Ragu, 29p (slow cooker)

Cooking anything for 12 hours when on the most stringent of budgets sounds like an eye-popping luxury, but fear not bootstrap fans, there’s only as many hours actual cooking as you want to stretch to, and done in a slow cooker it costs less than keeping a lightbulb on. For the last few years readers have been asking me to venture into slow cooker recipes, and mine is this nifty little £12 number from Wilko (no I’m not on commission, unfortunately!). At 1.5l it just holds enough for a main meal for two hungry people or four smaller appetites. I have had mine for around 4 years and it is still going strong, so it is well worth the investment if you can afford it, for what you will save in energy costs, time, effort and headspace alone. It is no big secret that I am not always in the greatest of health, mental or physical, and on low spoons days I need something that delivers the maximum nutrition on the minimum of effort; I’m …

Tomatoey Baba Ghanoush, 30p [A Girl Called Jack]

Baba Ghanoush is a popular Middle Eastern dish, often served as a dip with flatbreads or pitta. I sometimes add cooked chickpeas to mine for a simple, flavoursome supper, or toss it through pasta with fresh mint for an easy lunch. I highly recommend cooking the aubergines over an open flame for a deep, smoky intensity – I hold mine over a medium gas hob with a pair of barbecue tongs and my sleeves rolled up – although charring under the grill is nearly as good. For the accompanying toasted pittas, slice pitta breads through the middle then cut into triangles, brush with a little oil and pop under the grill for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy. This recipe first appeared in my cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) Serves 4 as a snack at …

Tofu Shashlik, 51p [Cooking On A Bootstrap]

I ordered a rare takeaway last week, having spent 2 days gutting and cleaning my school-holidays-ravaged house from top to bottom, exhausted, and unwilling to mess up my kitchen having spent 17 hours in a pair of marigolds and mostly on my knees. They had a fairly decent range for us herbivores, but I found myself hankering after a shashlik. Shashlik is usually skewered meat cooked in spices before being blasted in a tandoori oven, and having neither a tandoori nor any inclination to nibble on a duck or a lamb, I started to ponder how I could make a reasonably authentic veggie version. Mushrooms were out, aubergine would probably be okay but not quite what I wanted, and then I landed on the reduced tofu in Tesco. Bingo. The tofu shashlik was born. I posted it on Twitter and hundreds of you asked for the recipe, so here it is. As usual, prices are based on Sainsbury’s Basics, but other supermarkets offer similar products at competitive prices. If you know of any real bargains, …

Carrot Ribbon Pasta, 30p

This recipe was one of my favourite, simple ones from my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. Originally borne of a way to use up a bulk-buy bag of carrots (in the days before the guinea pig!), and to make veg exciting for a then two-year-old boy, it’s a simple, bright staple in my home today. In fact, I’ve just had it for my lunch. It’s beautiful, simple and delightful, and can be enjoyed all year round. Use whatever herbs you have to hand for the green sauce, I usually like basil or parsley in this one, but the Chief Herb Buyer in our house accidentally bought a ton of dill last week for a cooking project, and I’m reluctant to buy anything else until I’ve made a dent in the dill mountain in the fridge. Turns out it’s really yummy with dill, but if you don’t have it in or won’t use it in a week or two, don’t buy it specially – stick to a failsafe herb that’s easier to use up, like …

Penny Pizzas [A Girl Called Jack]

I make penny pizzas as way of using up leftovers such as Mamma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli or Lentil Bolognese – but they are just as good topped with a dollop of tomato purée and some grated cheese. Or they are a good way to use up sliced mushy tomatoes that have passed their best and the dry ends of cheese. I have collected novelty cookie cutters over the years, so Small Boy often asks for ‘duckie pizza’ or ‘lorry pizza’ – resulting in a frantic delve through my kitchen to find the right one. (This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a purchase.) Makes 14 mini-pizzas (using an 8cm cookie cutter) 250g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast optional: a pinch of salt 1 tablespoon oil, plus extra to oil the baking tray 200ml warm …