Seven cheap, tasty meals to make it to payday
With recipes from 75 cent per portion, there’s no reason you can’t eat well this week – even if your bank account is empty
Donal Skehan’s turmeric sunshine coconut stew – nutritious and filling, for just €1.50 a portion
As the hours grind slowly by on the interminable wait for payday – no really, are we there yet? – the giddy days of Christmas excess (and our last pay cheque) are a distant memory. And while our days of penury are numbered, we still have a week’s worth of meals to sort out before our bank accounts are brought back from the brink.
Forget beans on toast, we’ve got some tasty, budget-friendly recipes to keep the wolf from the door.
Eggs are a cheap, filling way to start your day. Poached, scrambled or fried, you’re looking at approximately 30 cent for a large free-range egg. To bulk up the meal, try omelettes or frittata, which you can make in advance and also work really well cold for lunch or supper. This sweet potato, spinach and feta frittata gives six servings for just under €1.50 each.
Lilly Higgins’s savoury potato rosti with apple and black pudding is a cheap, tasty supper or lunch for four people. You can make it even more wallet-friendly by swapping the Raclette cheese for cheaper Gruyère, and it will cost under €2.50 per person.
A good family meal for under a tenner (with leftovers) is Lilly’s root vegetables with chicken and thyme. Carrots and parsnips, peeled into strips, are cheap and healthy and cost less than a euro, while a roast chicken - €6 for a free range 1.5kg bird in Tesco - will give enough leftovers for the next day’s lunch, plus you can make stock from the carcass (see Donal Skehan’s recipe for chicken soup, below)
Soups are a great way of stretching ingredients - and money - a little further. You’ll get a few lunches and dinners out of a pot, and you can always freeze it if you tire of eating the same meal. We like this chicken dumpling soup from Donal Skehan. We’ve made this and frozen batches, and the dumplings defrost and reheat perfectly. Chicken thighs are cheaper than breast meat, and your butcher can mince the meat for you to make life a little easier.
For real comfort food, Domini Kemp’s cheesy baked potato skins are loaded with bacon, celery and blue cheese, and cost less than €1.50 per (very large) serving. You’ll have leftover potato too, which can be mashed with butter or used to make fish cakes.
Going vegetarian is an easy way to cut your food bill. This warming turmeric and coconut stew from Donal Skehan is bulked up with sweet potato and chickpeas instead of meat. You can also use other seasonal veggies such as butternut squash, potatoes or pumpkin, depending what’s on sale. A portion will cost around €1.50 and this is another dish that’s great for cooking in batches and freezing.
And for the month that’s in it, if you simply must have some baked beans on toast, try this recipe for making them from scratch. It will cost a little more than tinned beans on toast - the ingredients come to just over €1.50 per serving (or 75 cent, if you leave out the maple-cured rashers) – but it’s much healthier than the tinned variety and tastes much better.