Recipes – Budget-friendly Dinners
Even during the best of times January is a frugal month, when we rein ourselves in after December’s holiday excesses. This year, though, we’ll all be pinching pennies even more now that the tough new government budget has kicked in. It’s always handy to have a few budget-friendly dinners in your repertoire, and these three options will please the entire family. They might be low cost, but they’re big on flavour.
Beans on toast has a reputation for being a college student staple not only because it’s cheap, but because even the most challenged cook can throw it together. This version, real baked beans with ciabatta from Donal Skehan’s book, Good Mood Food, is a little more upmarket but is still the kind of dish that can be easily made with store cupboard staples. What’s more, the combination of beans and bread forms a complete protein, similar to beans and rice, making this dish even better value.
Pasta with chickpeas (pasta e ceci) is another simple, nutritious dish and is one of my favourite dinners to pull together from kitchen cupboard staples when supplies are running low before the weekly shop. Pasta with chickpeas might sound like an odd combination, but it absolutely works in this cheap and cheerful supper. Jamie Oliver calls this a cousin of pasta e fagioli, the traditional Italian peasant dish of beans and pasta, so if you like that, you’ll like this too. A bit of a cross between a soup and a pasta dish, it’s a hit with children.
While tinned food is a time-saving convenience, dried legumes are even more economical – a 500 gram bag of dried Puy lentils costs only €0.60 at my local Tesco. Sausages from your butcher are not only inexpensive, but are good quality as well. Nigella Lawson says that Italians traditionally serve sausages and lentils on New Year’s Day because the coin-shaped lentils symbolise prosperity for the coming year – here’s hoping anyway!
From our kitchens to yours,
Kelly & Kristin
You can find these recipes and more family favourites on our blog, www.dinnerdujour.org.