A BUDGET chef has revealed how to slash your weekly food shop to £1 per meal – by making some simple swaps.
Dad-of-one Miguel Barclay, 35, who's known for his popular One Pound Meals cook books, believes no-one should be spending more than £1 per head on dinner.
The chef, who's dad to son Charlie, two, shared his tips with Fabulous, in partnership with The UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers.
1. Scratch that
When it comes to saving money, you need to make sure you're not cutting corners in other areas – as the price soon racks up.
Miguel says: "The number one tip for me is to cook everything from scratch.
"If you want mashed potatoes, buy some potatoes, boil them and mash them, don’t buy pre-made frozen mash. That’s how you’re going to save money.
"If you can eat without any human being having processed the food, then you’re winning."
The same goes for chopped carrots and similar veg, it's much cheaper to go back to basics.
2. Saucey move
Miguel applies the same principle to sauces and dinner bases.
He says: "If you want to make a sauce for pasta, get some chopped tomatoes and make a sauce that way.
"Don’t get the expensive jars of pasta that have got E numbers and preservatives in them, because you’re paying for that.
"All you’ve got to do is chop up some garlic and onion, fry it up and you’ve got a really nice sauce.
"If you want to add to it, you can put olives in it, or mushrooms and make a vegetarian bolognese."
3. Veg out
If you feel like your supermarket bill is getting out of control, you may have to change the way you think about dinner.
Miguel says: "Cooking with less meat is important too, meat is expensive so reduce the amount you’re using."
Miguel is currently working on a campaign showcasing mushroom recipes, using a variety enriched with vitamin D.
He says: "For me, winter is about upping the stodge content because you want to feel warm and full.
"Making something like a mushroom risotto, I like food that warms you up from the inside, or a stew, veggie bolognese or chilli con carne.
"With coronavirus, immunity’s at the forefront of people’s thoughts. Vitamin D's really important, but in the UK people don't get enough of it.
"One handful of these mushrooms will give you everything you need for the day, it's a great alternative to supplements. "
4. Not kidding
With his first kid now "eating proper adult food", Miguel knows all about the pressures on parents.
And this tip helps save not only money, but also time for busy mums and dads.
He says: "For me it’s all about batch cooking. When I cook some pasta for Charlie, I’ll cook four or five portions, stick some in the fridge and some in the freezer.
"It saves time, effort and money – you use up everything so there’s no leftovers.
"They’re eating such small portions that there’s no way you could use up a whole bag of carrots or whatever. So batch cooking and your freezer are really good."
5. Chips are down
If you're looking to cut costs, we're afraid chips are out.
Miguel says: "For saving money, my main one is swapping potatoes or chops for rice, it’s much much cheaper.
"To add flavour, use spices like curry powder, which is really cheap and easy to use, you can’t really mess it up.
"Imagine you’ve got chickpeas, in all honestly they’re a little bit bland, but if you make them into a stew and add curry powder, with carrots, chopped tomatoes and frozen peas, they’re lovely.
"That’s just four ingredients but the curry powder sets it off and brings it to a whole new level."
6. Go large
It may be tempting to pop into your local supermarket, but these should be avoided at all costs – literally.
Miguel says: "Compare prices between supermarkets.
"The small local supermarkets on the high street are a lot more expensive than the out of town ones.
"It’s exactly the same food but the prices are more expensive."
7. Man with a plan
If you want to cut costs on the weekly shop, planning ahead is key.
Miguel says: "Plan ahead to eliminate waste. If you know what you’re cooking tomorrow and the next day, you can overlap ingredients, which is another top tip for saving money."
8. Swap shop
If you're spending more than you'd like, there are some more simple swaps you can make.
Miguel says: "Substitute some own brand staples instead of the brand name ones, for stuff like ketchup.
"And if you buy the ingredients supermarkets are fighting over to be the cheapest, you can take advantage of that.
"For example cheddar cheese, all the supermarkets want to have the cheapest cheddar, they’re making less margin on that.
"But if you want manchego cheese, no-one cares who’s got the cheapest so you’re going to pay way over the odds for it.
"Even more expensive stuff like feta, they’re still fighting over that, but it’s just when you go that one more step towards a more exotic cheese – that’s when you’re going to be overpaying."
9. Take away
As any takeaway fan knows, meals in can soon hike up if you're not careful.
Miguel says: "The main one is no takeaways or microwave meals.
"I’ve got quite a cool KFC inspired recipe. KFC’s obviously deep fried in oil, but I make it in the oven, so I call that oven fried chicken.
"Or you can make a simple chicken tikka masala which tastes really nice, with chopped tomatoes, a bit of curry powder and by enriching the sauce with a bit of cream.
"That last step’s how you make it into a luxurious creamy chicken tikka masala flavour that mimics the takeaway."
MIGUEL'S £1 RECIPES
Miguel also shared some of his favourite recipes with Fabulous.
To make 1 portion
- Handful of Vitamin D Enriched sliced mushrooms
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 flatbread (or pita bread)
- Salad (lettuce, cabbage, tomato & onion)
- 1 tbsp yogurt
- 1 pinch oregano
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Lightly coat a handful of sliced mushrooms in olive oil, cumin, paprika and salt, then cook in the oven at 180c for about 15 mins.
Wrap the mushrooms in a warm flatbread or tortilla along with salad and a dollop of yogurt mixed with oregano.
Tip: wraps are great for using up any leftover salad or veg you’ve got to hand.
Goan cauliflower curry
Recipe from FAST & FRESH ONE POUND MEALS, by Miguel Barclay. Published by Headline Home 2017.
You wouldn’t expect it, but this dish actually has no cream in it. By using just flour and milk, you can create an amazingly rich and creamy sauce with a fraction of the calories, without compromising on eating the food you love.
To make 1 portion:
- ¼ cauliflower
- ¼ white onion, sliced
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp plain flour
- 200ml milk
- Handful of spinach
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Cut the cauliflower into individual florets and gently pan-fry them with the onion in a splash of olive oil over a medium heat.
After about 5 minutes, add the curry powder, turmeric and flour, season well with salt and pepper, then fry for a further minute until the onion is soft.
Slowly add the milk, stirring to create a sauce, then simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
One minute before serving, add the spinach and stir it into the sauce, allowing it to wilt slightly.
Serve in a shallow bowl and enjoy.
Puff pastry florentina
I think I might be a bit obsessed with pizza shortcuts and this one is probably my most daring yet. It might look like a regular pizza, but look a little closer and you’ll see this one is actually made with puff pastry. Yes, puff pastry!
To make 1 portion:
- 20 x 20 cm square of puff pastry
- 2 tbsp passata
- Pinch of dried oregano
- ¼ mozzarella ball, torn into chunks
- A few spinach leaves
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Using a plate as a template, cut out a big circular piece from the puff pastry square.
Place it on the lined baking tray and lightly score a 1cm border around the edge with a knife, making sure not to cut all the way through.
Prick the inner circle a few times with a fork (this will stop it rising in the oven).
Spread the passata onto the pastry, within the border, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the oregano then add the mozzarella and spinach.
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, then crack the egg in the middle and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until the egg white is cooked but the yolk is still runny.
The UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers working together with Miguel Barclay to deliver immune-boosting recipes, like the mushroom gyros, for a quid.
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