Derval O'Rourke: Tips to save time, money, and energy in the kitchen

Plus a tasty recipe for baked sweet potato 
Derval O'Rourke: Tips to save time, money, and energy in the kitchen

We are all looking for ways to save money this winter.

It has always been a pet peeve of mine to see anything go to waste — be it food, time, or energy. With the current climate, it’s more important than ever to watch the spending so I’m going to share with you some of my money-saving tips to hopefully help you get more out of what you’re buying.

The weather has not exactly been kind so I have a lovely winter-themed recipe for you this week.

When I’m in the kitchen, I find that I’m usually caught there for long periods of time either prepping meals or playing the role of full-time chef to every snack-whim of the kids!

Here are some tips to help save you some time, money, and energy in the kitchen:

  • Batch cooking several meals is a great way to get the most out of your food whilst being economical with the electricity. When I have the oven on anyway, it makes sense to have three dishes cooked. It also means I can have meals prepared for the week in advance, freeing up my evenings for other things.
  • Soups are a “souper” way to use up leftover vegetables and get some extra vegetables into your diet. I have a container that I use to pop any leftover vegetables into, then whip up a soup in minutes!
  • Rice is an easy accompaniment to cook, chill, and freeze. You can cook up a batch of rice, separate it into portions and freeze it for later meals. It’s a great versatile food that you can add things to quickly for those evenings when you’re pressed for time. Warm it up with some eggs, peppers, and onions and you have a delicious fluffy egg-fried rice!
  • Go back to basics. Meals don’t have to be expensive and complex to be tasty and nourish your family. Some of the cheapest items are the most popular in our house such as eggs, pasta, bread, and fruit.
  • Be a bargain hunter. Keep an eye out when you’re shopping for the offers. You will make some real savings by scouting around for the best deals and let this help you decide what’s on the menu for the week.

If you’re looking to make some more savings, here’s a few quick, instant ways to increase what’s in your wallet at the end of the day.

  • Bring a packed lunch: I bring a packed lunch every day (except when I expertly leave it on the kitchen counter!). It’s a great way to save money and you know exactly what you like so it’s a win-win!
  • No coffee stops! Only drink coffee at home/in the office. No heading out three times a day to buy barista-made coffees. Instead, save it as a treat for the weekend and arrange to meet a friend for a walk and a coffee. You will be amazed how much you save!
  • Allowance: Only bring with you what you can afford to spend, but then challenge yourself not to spend it! Make it into a game to see how frugal you can be.
  • Stop, think, ask: Before you spend, stop and think about the item in your hand. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to buy this?” or, “Can I get it cheaper elsewhere or a cheaper brand?” Then decide.

We spend so much every week on items without even thinking. A little thought will go a long way.

  • No spending: Pick one day a week where you aim not to spend any money at all. This means if you find the perfect pair of jeans or see the cutest top, on the rack it stays!

Only essential items like petrol for your car or must-have essentials for meals are allowed!

  • You can set your own budgeting rules that will suit your budget and needs. The important thing is to have a little fun with it. Set challenges and have little rewards for reaching them.

Baked sweet potato with toppings

recipe by:Derval O'Rourke

Serve warm and enjoy.

Baked sweet potato with toppings



Preparation Time

25 mins

Cooking Time

60 mins

Total Time

1 hours 25 mins




  • 1 large Spanish onion

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 30g goat's cheese

  • 6-8 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes

  • bunch fresh basil

  • salt and pepper


  1. Start by pricking the sweet potato and popping it into a preheated oven at 170 degrees for 1hr (dependent on the size)

  2. Thinly slice the onion and gently sweat off over a low to medium heat for upwards of 20 minutes. This helps to release all the natural sweetness of the onion.

  3. Add salt and pepper whilst this is cooking.

  4. Once the sweet potato is cooked, slice it in half lengthways.

  5. Top it with the caramelised onion.

  6. Half the cherry tomatoes and pop these on top alongside the goat's cheese and fresh basil.

  7. Serve warm and enjoy. A huge thank you to @orla_mcandrew_catering_events for the recipe.

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