Four recipes for quality food on a tight budget

Four recipes for quality food on a tight budget

There is a common misconception that eating well has to cost a lot of money but this doesn’t have to be the case. Shopping on a budget doesn’t mean having to compromise on quality.

We are generally eating more at home during this pandemic but you can still stick to a budget and enjoy good quality food.

Concentrate on healthy basics and stock up on produce like fruit and vegetables, eggs, beans, nuts, and wholegrains.

Focus on meals that can be made in bulk and put in the freezer for another day, such as curries and casseroles.

Ask your butcher for cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thighs or lamb shoulder are perfect for marinating and slow cooking. Mince is another great affordable option. Spaghetti bolognaise or a lasagna can go a long, long way.

And don’t be afraid of going meat free. Derval O’Rourke’s mixed bean curry (below) costs about 50c per portion to make.

Tinned fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are cheap, tasty, and nutritious.

Being a savvy shopper is what it’s all about. Obviously there is less time to browse at the supermarket but you can still fly by the ‘reduced to sell’ section.

All of the recipes by renowned chefs and food experts Darina Allen, Michelle Darmody, Derval O’Rourke, and the Currabinny Cooks (James Kavanagh and William Murray), have been published previously in the Irish Examiner ‘Weekend’ supplement.

Mixed bean curry (Derval O’Rourke)

Four recipes for quality food on a tight budget

This curry is a basic recipe and you can make a big batch of the curry sauce and freeze it in portions. Then all you need to do is heat through the sauce, stir in a few tins of mixed beans (or some leftover cooked chicken or turkey) — and dinner is sorted.

Serves: 4; prep time: 10 minutes; cook time: 35 minutes

    Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 4–5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 10 dried apricots, halved
  • 3 apples, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 700ml chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tins mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • Brown or basmati rice, to serve

Method

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices and fry for three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the apricots, apples, peppers, tomato purée, and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 40 minutes (up to 60 minutes, if you have time).

If you want to pre-cook this curry, now is the time to take it off the heat. Let it cool fully, divide it into portions in airtight containers and freeze.

Use a hand blender to purée the curry sauce to the desired consistency, then check the seasoning. Stir in the mixed beans. Ladle it into warmed serving bowls. Serve with rice.

A very simple chicken casserole (Darina Allen)

Serves 6-8.

Four recipes for quality food on a tight budget

This casserole takes 10 minutes to prepare. So simple and so nourishing. Chicken thighs are also very affordable and very tasty in a casserole.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 whole organic chicken or 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks and 2 breasts
  • 700ml (1¼ pints) homemade chicken stock or water
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into thick chunks
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Roux (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Joint the chicken into eight pieces or use chicken pieces, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour the chicken stock or water into a large casserole dish and heat on the hob.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and begin to fry the pieces of chicken until golden brown. As they brown pop them into the casserole dish, at this stage you can also add in the chopped carrots and quartered onions. Add another pinch of salt and twist of freshly ground black pepper.

When the liquid comes to the boil, put the lid on, transfer to the preheated oven for 1- 1½ hours.

Chicken will come easily off the bone when cooked and the carrots will be tender.

Pour off the liquid and let the fat rise to the top — spoon this off. (If the chicken is organic, save to sauté cooked potatoes.) Either thicken the liquid with a little roux if desired or leave the juice as is.

Note: Lots of other ingredients may be added to enhance the flavour — a sprig of thyme, lots of chopped parsley, haricot beans, or spices, but this basic version works brilliantly to be shared with little ones.

Turkey or chicken melt (Michelle Darmody)

Four recipes for quality food on a tight budget

    Ingredients
  • 8 thin slices of leftover turkey or chicken
  • 8 slices of bread
  • 3 tbs of mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • 180g of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 pinches of smoked paprika

Method

Toast the bread lightly on both sides.

Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together.

Spread the bread with the mayonnaise and top with a slice of turkey. Sprinkle the cheddar on top and place back under the grill until the cheese has completely melted. Sprinkle with the paprika or some tabasco sauce.

Bangers and mash (Currabinny cooks)

Four recipes for quality food on a tight budget

    Ingredients
  • 4 good quality butchers pork sausages
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 200ml of good rich stock
  • 1 tsp of grain mustard
  • 1 or 2 pickled walnuts sliced thinly
  • 500g of creamy floury potatoes like Kerrs pink, scrubbed well
  • 125ml of milk
  • 80g of butter
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Place potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water, season with salt, and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to low, pour off half the water, pop the lid on, and let the potatoes steam for roughly 20 to 30 minutes.

Drain potatoes and pick the skins off. Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until simmering gently and the butter has melted. Add enough of the milk/butter liquid to the potatoes and mash until you have a smooth but fluffy mash. Season with salt, pepper and another knob of butter. Heat a little oil on a heavy frying pan over a medium high heat. Add sausages and brown all over. Push the sausages to one side of the pan and add the onion, season and move around the pan until it they turn golden brown and caramelise. Add the flour and stir into the browned onion before adding the mustard and stock. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. In a warm casserole dish lay the hot mashed potatoes and add the sausages and onion gravy. Add a few slices of pickled walnuts to the top if desired.

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