All posts tagged: live below the line

Chickpea, Carrot & Coriander Falafels [A Girl Called Jack]

This recipe uses tinned chickpeas, but can also use dried chickpeas if you have them available. Dried chickpeas work out cheaper but will need to be soaked in cold water for at least 8 hours before starting the recipe, and then need to be cooked (put in a pan, cover with water and boil vigorously for at least 10 minutes before draining and using). If you have dried chickpeas, use half the quantity of tinned, i.e. 200g. I like to serve the falafels accompanied by couscous made up with vegetable or chicken stock, lemon juice and coriander, and with green beans or another green vegetable. Makes 12ish falafels (4–6 per person) (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.) 1 onion 1 carrot a generous shake of ground cumin 1 tablespoon oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the falafel 1 x 400g tin …

Lemon Curd Sponge Puddings, 24p [A Girl Called Jack]

Luckily for me, as I shop very carefully, I have most of the ingredients for this in the cupboard at all times. Unluckily for my jeans, that means I’m never more than thirty-two minutes away from a cake… This is a simple, classic, sticky treat, that Small Boy and myself enjoy every now and again. They also freeze well, so I make four – we have one each, and pop the remaining two in the freezer. If you don’t have pudding tins, then a deep muffin tray will do the job just as well, but may make six smaller desserts instead. 95p for 4 or 24p 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.) 100g self raising flour, 4p (65p/1.5kg) 70g butter, 34p (£1.20/250g) 2 eggs, 44p (£2.65/12 free range) 50g sugar, 5p (89p/kg) Splash of lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml) 8 heaped …

Oh My God Dinner, 28p [A Girl Called Jack]

Oh My God Dinner (or, ‘I Was Going To Make Pasta Alla Genovese And Then I Remembered That Sodding Courgette Rolling Around In My Fridge…’) 55p for 2 portions, or just under 28p 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.) 70g bacon, 11p (£1.09/670g) 1 chilli (free, grows on my window ledge) 80g spaghetti, 6p (39p/500g) Fistful each parsley, mint, basil (free, grows on my window ledge) 10ml lemon juice, 2p (60p/250ml) 50g green beans, 7p (£1.40/kg, frozen) 20g Brie, 11p (£1.09/200g) 1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs with average 8 cloves each) 1/2 courgette, 15p (£1.80/kg, 6 in my bag) Chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the sauté pan with the lemon juice (10ml is 2 teaspoons), diced courgette and chopped chilli. Cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally to turn. In the meantime, break …

Peach & Chickpea Curry, 61p [A Girl Called Jack]

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I used to make it with a cheap turkey leg, but any protein source will do – so feel free to chuck a fistful of whatever you fancy in with the onions if you want to bulk it out or extend it. Recipe from A Girl Called Jack. Serves 2 from 61p 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 if you make a purchase.) 400g canned chickpeas, 40p 1 onion, 5p (54p/1kg) 2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p (17p/bulb) 1 chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes, <1p (80p/100g) a splash of oil, 2p (£1.10/1l) 1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds), 2p (£1.15/100g) 1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins), 33p (33p/411g) 1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes, 30p a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped …

Bootstrap Chilli, 25p

This chilli is adapted from a beef chilli recipe by Gordon Ramsay. I simply left out the beef and halved the wine to make it cheaper – plus, of course, Mr Ramsay doesn’t use a tin of cheap baked beans in his version! I’ve tweaked and fiddled with it so much over the years that now it’s not Gordon’s chilli, it’s mine. It first appeared in A Girl Called Jack, and has since been stripped back to this even simpler recipe, where it is handed out on recipe cards at Trussell Trust food banks – minus the red wine, because it isn’t strictly essential. (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 from 25p each 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, 30p  1 x 400g tin of baked beans, 23p 1 onion, 5p (54p/1.5kg) powdered chilli, to taste, <1p …

Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Burgers, 9p [A Girl Called Jack]

This burger is where the media storm began, and dubbed ‘the 9p burger’ because of the low cost of the ingredients used to make it, it’s one of my most popular recipes. A can of value range red kidney beans is a cheap but excellent source of protein and I built a lot of my early cooking around it, and they became a firm staple in my household. I triple the recipe to make a batch of them, and freeze them in patties to whip out at a moment’s notice and fry on a low heat. I like mine best in a pitta bread (22p for 6) and a dollop of mango chutney or mayo… (I’m currently trialling a partnership program with the budget supermarkets that I shop in for my recipes. If you click the links in the recipes I may earn a small commission, but don’t just click for the sake of it as they’re wise to that! As ever, I don’t promote anything I don’t genuinely use and love myself, but if …

School Dinner Days Jam Sponge, 23p [A Girl Called Jack]

90p for 4 at 23p each 100g self raising flour, 4p (65p/1.5kg) 70g butter, 34p (£1.20/250g) 2 eggs, 44p (£2.65/12 free range) 50g sugar, 5p (89p/kg) 4 heaped teaspoons of jam, 3p (29p/454g) Place the butter in a microwaveable dish and heat on the defrost setting for 30 seconds until soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and sugar, and break the eggs in. Mix well with a fork or wooden spoon to create a smooth batter. Lightly grease each of your pudding tins with a little extra butter to stop the puddings from sticking to the sides – which will ruin a seriously good dessert! Dollop a generous blob of jam in the bottom of each pudding tin. Spoon batter on top of the jam until each tin is approx 2/3 full. Cook in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes at 170C. They should be risen, light and golden, and should come away from the tin easily to serve. Tip into a bowl to serve. Can be served with …

Simple Tomato & Bean Soup, 20p [A Girl Called Jack]

This simple staple started off as a tin of baked beans, thoroughly rinsed, plus a carton of chopped tomatoes – out of which I made a hearty, filling soup suitable for lunch or a light supper. I’ve jazzed it up a bit since then! And don’t be scared of rinsing baked beans, they are normally just haricot or borlotti or cannelini beans slathered in ‘that’ bright orange tomato sauce, and the value range versions are much cheaper than their plain counterparts. In case you’re interested, this recipe cost 15p per portion in 2012, and is up to 19p per portion 6 years later. Not the worst price rise I’ve seen when rewriting my older recipes, but still a little annoying.) (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 at 20p each 1 medium onion, 7p (59p/1kg, Farm Stores at Asda) 2 …

The difference between poverty and poverty tourism? You’ll never live like common people.

Every now and again, a minor celebrity or institution will announce that they are ‘challenging themselves’ to ‘be poor for a day’ in order to raise awareness of the plight of people living in poverty in the UK. Sometimes this is done through charitable initiatives such as Live Below The Line, which I have done myself for several years running, fundraising for Oxfam and Street Child United. I use my own experiences of living in real food and fuel poverty, as a single mum on benefits, to cook and eat for £1 a day, and write about it extensively. It usually causes some degree of mental anguish, flashbacks, reliving of some of the worst periods of my life, and is not something that I enter into lightly. I have not done it for the last two years, to protect and preserve my own mental health. I am not sure if I will do it again. Compare this, then, to YouTube star Alfie Deyes, deciding to live on just one measly pound for a day, as …

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 …

White Chocolate Tea Bread [A Girl Called Jack]

This came about because I LOVE chocolate chip brioche – so I decided to try to make some chocolate chip bread as a replacement. Unfortunately, though, the chocolate chips all melted into the dough as I added my usual boiling water and I ended up with this Chocolate Tea Bread instead – but it was still delicious! I eat mine in chunks, warm with spread and a cuppa. I’ll make true chocolate chip brioche another day, but this is no apology – I’ve stumbled on something heavenly. Bliss! Makes 1 small loaf 275g self-raising flour (or 275g plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder or bicarbonate of soda), plus extra to knead the dough a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast 50g sugar 200g white chocolate 25g butter, plus extra to grease the loaf tin 150ml boiling water with a tea bag steeped in it and allowed to cool (Trust me on this one!) Measure the flour, yeast and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Break the chocolate into chunks. It’s up to you how …

Sunshine Bread [A Girl Called Jack]

The quantity given for the tin of pineapple chunks is approximate. Some tins are 200g, some are 227g, so don’t worry about weighing and measuring – just throw about half the tin in! you can put the remaining pineapple chunks from the tin into an airtight container with just enough juice to cover and pop into the fridge to snack on or use in another recipe. For a portable breakfast for me and Small Boy, or as a snack to keep in my drawer to chipmunk away on in the busyness of my day, I like to make individual buns – see the tip below. Makes 1 small loaf ((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 or purchase any ingredients.) 350g plain flour, plus extra to knead the dough a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast 1 carrot 30g sultanas 1⁄2 x 200g tin of pineapple …

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 …

Courgette, Tomato & Brie Gratin [A Girl Called Jack]

This dish was born of a sad-looking courgette in my fridge, half of a very large onion that was starting to dry out, and some bits and pieces from my cupboard. The rice makes this filling and comforting, and the cheese, tomato and slightly crisp courgettes have me reaching for a second portion even when I am pleasantly full. If you have always been a bit disdainful about courgettes, this simple supper might just change your mind… You can double the recipe quantities to serve 4 people, in which case, use a roasting tin rather than individual ovenproof dishes. (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 2: 1 onion 150g rice (I use standard long grain but wholemeal is really good in this) 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water 1 x 400g carton or tin of …

Breakfast Sunshine Buns, 6p [A Girl Called Jack]

Breakfast Sunshine Buns – Pineapple, Carrot and Sultana – 49p for 8 at 6p each. 250g flour, 11p (65p/1.5kg) 1 sachet fast action dried yeast, 11p 30g sultanas, 6p (99p/500g) 1 carrot, 5p (part of a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1) 1/2 can pineapple chunks, 16p (32p/227g) Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast. Finely grate the carrot in, and add the sultanas. Mix in together and make a well in the centre of the dry mixture. Strain the pineapple pieces over a bowl, reserving the juice to use in a minute. Put half of the pineapple pieces into the centre of the dry mixture, and put the other half into an airtight container and pop into the fridge to snack on, or to use in another recipe! Add boiling water to the pineapple juice to make up to 160ml. Pour into the well in the centre of the dry mixture, and combine to make a soft, sticky dough. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly – …