Cheap, cheerful (& healthy!) recipes - eating well despite the recession!

Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 03:12 am

Jacket potatoes are good (and cheap)
You can have them with so many different toppings

Garlic mushrooms, homemade coleslaw and rocket salad mmmmmm
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 03:18 am
Jacket potatoes are good (and cheap)
You can have them with so many different toppings

The humble potato, trusty food of the poor.
I love potatoes!
0 Replies
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 04:06 am
Lemongrass chicken wonton soup:
(for 2)

* 200g chicken mince
* 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
* teaspoons finely grated ginger
* 1 egg white
* 12 wonton wrappers
* 1 litre (bought, homemade or st0ck cube/s) chicken stock
*2 slices of ginger
* 2 kaffir lime leaves, crushed (optional)
* 1 long red chilli, sliced (or chilli flakes if that's what you have on hand)
* 350 gail larn (Chinese broccoli) or Chinese greens


* Combine mince, lemongrass, ginger & egg white.
* Place a tablespoon of chicken mixture onto each wonton wrapper.
* Brush the edges of each wrapper with water, fold in half & press edges together to enclose filling.
* Place stock, ginger, lime leaves & chilli in a saucepan over medium-high heat & bring to a simmer.
* Add wontons & simmer for 6 minutes, or until wontons are nearly cooked.
* Add gai larn or Chinese greens & cook for a further 2 minutes.
* Divide wontons between bowls, serve with soup & gai larn.

Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 04:25 am
Chickpea burgers:

* 1 small onion
* 300g can chickpeas
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup tahini
* 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* Peel & chop onion roughly.
* Drain chickpeas & place in food processor or blender.
* Add egg, tahini, breadcrumbs, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, salt & onion.
* Process to combine & until chickpeas are coarsely chopped.
* Form into 4 patties. (You can cover & put in the fridge at this stage, if you like, to firm up a bit more )
* Heat oil in a frying pan & gently cook patties till lightly golden on both sides.

Serve as a burgers in buns with lettuce & salad vegetables, or as part of meal with vegetables and/or salad of choice.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 04:46 am
Inexpensive, simple to make & very tasty. One of my trusty stand-by dishes for when I haven't had time to shop or am in a hurry.

Spaghetti al tonno
(Spaghetti with tuna)

(for 4 - or less, if super hungry!)

* 4 tbs olive oil
* 2 (or more) garlic cloves, crushed
* 3 tbs finely chopped parsley
* 1 small dried chilli pepper
* 2 anchovy fillets
* 200g (7 oz) canned tuna in olive oil, drained.
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 500g (1 lb) spaghetti


* Heat olive oil, garlic, parsley & chilli in a large frypan & cook gently for 2 minutes.
* Add anchovies & tuna & break up with a wooden spoon.
* Cook gently for 10 minutes.
* Taste for pepper.

* Cook pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente.
* Drain & tip into the sauce, mixing quickly.
* Serve.

Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 06:17 am
msolga - thanks for starting this thread, a lot of these sound so good. I could eat some of those chickpea burgers right now.

The simpler the better, 5 or less ingrediants. (sorry if my spelling is horrendous, I just woke up and nothing looks right)
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 06:55 am

That should have said 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger (3rd ingredient) -Lemongrass chicken wonton soup recipe.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 05:28 pm
A pleasure, chai.

And I'm hoping to pick up the odd new recipe or 5, too!Very Happy

Yes, I agree, the simpler the recipe & the smaller the number of ingredients, the better!
0 Replies
Mr Stillwater
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2009 04:21 am
al Tonno???

Reads a lot like Pasta Puttanesca!! You can skip the virgin olive oil on this one folks!!
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2009 03:11 pm
@Mr Stillwater,
Yep, al tonno. That's what it's called in the cookbook I used. And who am I to argue with how Italians say tuna?

Does Pasta Puttanesca have tuna in it? Not sure & too lazy to check. Don't think so, but may be wrong. This one looks like a pretty basic pasta sauce, with tinned tuna instead of minced steak. Considerably cheaper!

Virgin olive oil: Heck, I rarely use what passes as "virgin" in the supermarket. Couldn't afford the real thing, anyway & my basic cooking/salad making would hardly be "enhanced" it! Ha!

Question/s for you, Stilly: do you cook much yourself? If so, what's your most used short order/inexpensive meal? (I'd imagine you cook for your children quite a bit. Be interested to know which of your efforts they like best. Only if you want to share, of course.)
0 Replies
Tai Chi
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2009 03:40 pm
When my sons were young I made a low fat version of Tuna Noodle Casserole fairly often:

4 cups pasta (elbow macaroni, rotini)
1 cup frozen peas
1 can (170g) water-packed tuna
1 cup low fat sour cream
2 tbsp grated parmesan
pinch nutmeg
2 cups grated low fat mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta in lots of boiling water until just al dente. Before draining add frozen peas and let sit for a minute. To drained pasta add tuna, sour cream, parmesan and nutmeg. Grease a large casserole, add pasta mixture and top with grated mozzarella. Bake at 375 degreesF for 25 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of tomato salsa -- or ketchup if you're a Philistine. Very Happy

Makes great leftovers.
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2009 03:53 pm
@Tai Chi,
Thanks, Tai!

It'd be good to have a few more "child-friendly" recipes here, too! I know lots of you have young children & might be interested sharing your healthy, el cheapo recipes with others.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2009 05:05 pm
I would much rather head to local fast food restaurant and pack on Big Macs and Double Whopper. *drools*
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2009 05:16 pm
You might end up on the"gabriel method" program, though, dirtydozen! If you over-do those big Ms. Wink

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Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 01:59 pm
Well, my ex sent me the Paul Bocuse cookbook (which he ended up with since he bought it) because I was asking about the potato au gratin recipe - by far my favorite/all time. And.. it's easy - well, fairly easy.

2 - 1/4 lbs potatoes (I use waxy/reds), 1 kg
2 - 1/2 cups of milk, 60 cl
salt, pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and split lengthwise
1 - 2/3 cups grated swiss cheese, 125 g
3 tablespoons heavy cream, 5 cl
2 tablespoons butter, broken into small pieces, 30 g

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 C)
Peel the potatoes and wash quickly in cold running water, then wipe dry.
Cut them into slices about 1/4 inch thick and reserve, (5 mm) - I use a mandoline.
Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan, add the potatoes, a little nutmeg, and salt and pepper generously. Shake the pan gently to make the potatoes settle into the milk. (They should be barely covered by the milk; if not, add a little warm water.) Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, over very low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender.
Rub a baking dish (preferably porcelain or earthenware) with the garlic.
When the potatoes are done (simmering), lift some out of the milk with a slotted spoon and cover the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese, add another layer of potatoes, sprinkle with cheese, and continue filling the dish, layer by layer, ending with cheese.
Measure the milk remaining from cooking the potatoes; there should be about 2/3 cup (15 cl) left. If there is more than that, boil to reduce to this amount, then pour it over the potatoes. Spoon in the cream, dot the surface with butter, then place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown.

Osso - I use a mandoline for thin potato slices, and flip the potatoes right into warm milk as I'm slicing them. I use more garlic in the casserole, but I'm a garlic nut.
One can probably add some al dente veggies in that layering, but I've never tried that.. or wanted to, it's so good.

0 Replies
Green Witch
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 05:28 pm
OG's rice thread reminded me Korean Pancakes. There are lots of ways to do them and they are hard to mess up. Serve with rice or appropriate soup.

Korean Pancakes (Pa Jun)
Time: 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 3 pancakes. Double or Triple recipe for more servings.

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, optional
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour or rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very finely chopped vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, green beans, scallions) or chopped cooked leftover meat (chicken, beef, pork) or both.

1. For dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar (if using) and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside.

2. For pancakes: Fill a pitcher or glass with ice and 1/2 cup or more cold water; set aside. Place a small (6- to 8-inch) nonstick or well-seasoned skillet over medium-low heat. Coat bottom with vegetable oil and allow to heat.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs just until frothy. Add flour and salt and whisk to combine. Add vegetables or meat and stir to blend. Add 1/2 cup ice water and mix again to blend.

4. Fill a 1/2-cup measuring cup with batter; pour into hot pan. Allow to sit until browned and crispy on bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip pancake and cook another 2 minutes. Place on a serving plate and keep warm (or set aside to serve at room temperature). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with dipping sauce, tearing or cutting off pieces of pancake to dip in sauce with fingers or chopsticks.

0 Replies
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2009 09:48 pm
I made this for dinner last night. Cheap, cheerful, super quick & easy .... & very tasty indeed! (If I do say so myself!Wink ) One of the local butchers makes spectacular pork & fennel (& other) sausages. So it would have been impossible for the sauce to be anything but tasty, even though the tomatoes were of the shop bought (not home grown) variety! Yum!


* 1 - 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic (I used more, as usual! Very Happy Plus just a little dried chilli flakes)
* 2 -3 medium tomatoes (preferably peeled), roughly blended
* About 500g penne
* About 200g pork & fennel sausage (Otherwise use 200g coarse ground pork mince & about 1 teaspoon lighty crushed fennel seed)
* Good grating of ewe's milk cheese (like mild pecorino) or grana padano (which I used)

To make:

* Make the sauce by heating 1 tbs of olive oil in a pan & gently frying the garlic for about a minute.

* Add the tomatoes & simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. (Add a splash of water if there's not enough liquid.)

*Meanwhile, cook the penne (timed to package instructions) in plenty of rapidly boiling, well-salted water.

* While the pasta cooks, cut the sausage into small bits (or squeeze from the casing), then add to the simmering sauce & cook through.

* Over a gentle heat, combine the cooked pasta & sauce. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if it seems too dry. Taste & add some more olive oil if it seems to need it.

* Serve with the grated cheese & freshly milled ground pepper.

0 Replies
Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2009 03:23 pm
From today's paper:

10 ways to save money in the kitchen
February 19, 2009/Jill Dupleix/THE AGE


When the wolf’s at the door…cook it. Times are tough, and going to get tougher. Ingenuity, thrift, frugality, economy - remember them? Damn, I knew I should have listened to my gran.

1/When in doubt, make soup. Soup will save the world. Make a big batch of your favourite veggie soup, then do something different to it each time you serve it - blend in some curry spices, add tomatoes, throw in some lentils, top with bacon, serve with grilled garlicky bread. (They were all different options, but you could do them all at once if you were really hungry).

2/ Self-preservation. There is growing interest in the gentle arts of home preserving, baking, curing, brewing, sausage-making. So make like a squirrel or a grasshopper, and sock away provisions for the dark times ahead. A cupboard under the stairs full of home-made strawberry jams, chutneys and pickles is better than money in the bank. (In many countries, SO MUCH BETTER than money in the bank).

3/ Listen to your grandmother: turn off taps when you’re done, save string, re-use bags and bottles, put lids on your saucepans (saves 20% energy, and speeds everything up), and cut out waste. Think twice before you toss anything out, it may be the best part. Greeks cook beetroot greens and toss in olive oil, Turks stew broad beans pods and serve with yoghurt and dill, Chinese dry mandarin peel and add to stews for fragrance and flavour.

4/ G-Y-O. Funny how we’re turning back to growing our own fruit and veg. The friend trying to get rid of a glut of apples, corn, tomatoes or even silver beet is now in demand, not to be avoided. Even if it’s just a pot or two of herbs you can keep on the windowsill of a flat, you will suddenly feel completely self-sufficient.

5/ Eat with the seasons. It just makes sense. Because it’s in season, it’s more abundant, because it’s more abundant it should be cheaper. Even if it isn’t, it’s better value because it’s fresher and tastier. It also means the producers haven’t had to find new ways of preserving shelf life and storage.

6/ Send the food processors broke. Not the ones you plug in and whiz, but the middlemen who buy fresh unprocessed foods and do things to them, offering them to you with extra flavours you don’t want or need. Instead, buy the fresh, unprocessed food yourself and keep your own ‘processing’ to a minimum, eg buy whole fish and whole chicken rather than fillets and pieces - you’ll get better quality, and learn how to fillet and joint like a telly chef. Whole lettuces last longer than bags of mixed leaves, and unwashed is cheaper than washed. Don’t buy ready-made vinaigrette, breadcrumbs, pre-chopped vegetables or pre-grated cheese. It’s money down the drain, when you can do it yourself and save.

7/ Love your leftovers. I’ve started cooking more food rather than less, so I have more sizeable leftovers for the next day. Throwing food out is throwing money out because you then have to start again with something new. Who knew that leftover paella rice would be so good the next night as chorizo-studded rice balls? (And don't let the post-dinner snackers into the kitchen - that chicken leg is your office lunch).

8/ Steak. Get over it. A plateful of veggies and pulses with a little bit of meat is a lot cheaper than a plate of meat with a little veg and a lentil. Striking a better balance is better for your pocket and for your overall health. Make fish, chicken and meat go further by adding beans, lentils, chickpeas and rice. Turn your meal-planning around so that the most expensive ingredient is the ‘flavouring’ rather than the main event.
Use eggs and cheese for protein, nuts and seeds for fibre and crunch, and yoghurt and avo for richness. And return something as beautiful as a great steak-and-red-wine dinner to the special status it deserves…crave it, look forward to it, and enjoy the hell out of it. Just not every second day.

9/Cook your own ‘take-away’. Love pizzas? Learn to make your own, or use pita breads as the bases, and get some help from the kids with doing the toppings so everyone has their own. More of a burger person? Try cooking salmon burgers, chicken burgers, or normal burgers with a bit less meat and a lot more beetroot, haloumi, avocado, tomato, whatever. Craving Greek/Lebanese? Cover the table with little dishes of dips, breads, raw vegetables, herbed rice, and skewers of home-made lamb or tuna souvlaki.

10/ Freeze. Fresh isn’t always best, because it isn’t always fresh and it isn’t always to hand. It’s a fabulous feeling knowing you have tubs of chicken stock, pumpkin soup, chicken curry, Bolognese sauce, good bread, etc in the freezer. Frozen bananas make a great instant ice-cream - just soften and whiz (but remember to peel them before freezing).

11/ Buy ten, get one free! Beware of supermarket bonus offers, which often tempt you into buying two for one of something you didn’t really want in the first place. But in the spirit of getting something for nothing, here’s an eleventh suggestion: never ignore your own cupboards. I’ve dubbed Sunday night Cupboard Night, setting myself the challenge of creating tea from what’s in my fridge and cupboards already. (How can any one household have so many different bags of rice? And I’m not looking forward to the tin of mackerel in tomato sauce from Malaysia, but hey. At least I can have rice with it).

Okay, I feel like my own gran now, so it’s your turn to get preachy. Any good tips on how to munch your way through the credit crunch? (And please, no recipes for any meatloaf containing cornflakes, times aren’t that tough).

Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 07:09 pm
Did another big soup today -- should cover the maintenance meals for the next couple of days. Pretty tasty, too.

1 lb chicken gizzards, 5 chicken drumsticks with skin

Warm ~2c. chicken stock with chicken parts in deep pot. Add generous amt water (enough to make a bunch of soup). Add handful of salt. Add couple of bay leaves. Add couple tablespoons rice vinegar.

Simmer lowly for a couple of hours -- that simmer where the water moves around, but doesn't bubble. The french have a word for this, of course. I don't know what it is.

Chop half of celery bunch, including leaves (I think the leaves are important to the flavor), and add to pot.

Chop several carrots (4 or 6 or so), and add to pot.

Chop large yellow onion (fine) and add to pot.

Season with: thyme, dried parsley, small amt marjoram, more salt (sample broth, estimate salt), paprika, ground black pepper. Liberally add red wine vinegar.

Simmer aggressively for ~20 minutes, then as above for a couple of hours.

At about 40-60 minutes before serving, add some wild rice. How much? Dunno -- mebbe it was 1 1/2 cups. Just poured what felt like enough in.

Prior to serving, strip meat from bones, discard bones. Add salt and pepper to taste. Hot sauce (simple, cheap sauce like Crystal or Frank's) recommended, but optional.

That's the soup. I meant to add barley at about 20 minutes out, but the rice had taken up all the grain space. So, maybe less rice in the future.

Was eyeballing chicken livers at the store -- also very cheap -- but hadn't played with gizzards in soup before and didn't want to wonder which was adding what flavors. There is just a hint of a livery/organy flavor brought by the gizzards, I think a couple of livers could have made it really pop.
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2009 07:31 pm
My cheap and cheerful recipes always seem to involve either a can opener or a microwave.

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