Five family suppers to beat inflation – and they’re all under £7
When faced with rising food prices, most of us reach for cupboard staples to provide dinner. Pasta and bread are the source of so many easy, filling meals – but they are also two essentials whose prices have jumped the highest over the past year.
Don’t despair though, there are versatile kitchen heroes waiting in the wings. The price of beef mince has dropped, as has rice; low-cost swede and lentils are crying out to be cooked. Rethink your midweek repertoire and these ingredients can pack a punch.
Spicy tinned tuna with rice
Angela Hartnett’s dish is so simple that it might surprise you how good it tastes. It has quite a kick when warm, and is just nicely spicy when cold. Serves four to six.
Cost for four: £2.53
Cost per person: 63p
1. Cook 300g long-grain or basmati rice according to the instructions, then drain and keep warm.
2. In a large bowl, mix together two tablespoons of sriracha chilli sauce (or your favourite chilli sauce), a pinch of dried chilli flakes and five drained and chopped anchovies.
3. Flake in 200g tinned tuna and add about 15 chopped olives. Add the cooked rice, mix to combine and check the seasoning. Add a good pinch of dried herbs and stir again.
4. Serve hot or let cool (spread out the mixture on a tray or in a large bowl and use a fork to fluff up the grains) before serving.
Moroccan-spiced bean and lentil soup
Xanthe Clay’s recipe, based on the Moroccan soup, harira, is a good one to scale up for future meals. Serves two hungry people or four with poached eggs.
Cost for four: £2.33
Cost per person: 58p
1. Take 300g frozen mixed chopped celery, onion and carrot (such as Waitrose’s Cooks’ Ingredients Soffritto or Asda’s Vegetable Base Mix), or chop 100g each of fresh celery, onion and carrot. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and fry the veg. Add three chopped garlic cloves and cook for another minute.
2. Add half a teaspoon each of ground turmeric, cumin and cinnamon, along with a teaspoon of ground ginger, and cook for a few seconds before adding 750ml water, a tin of chopped tomatoes, 100g dried green lentils and a drained tin of chickpeas, plus half a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are done.
3. Stir in 200g frozen broad beans and heat through to defrost them. Slip a few bright green beans out of their grey skins, if you feel like it. Check the seasoning, adding a grinding of black pepper.
4. Serve as it is, or with poached eggs for a more substantial meal, with fresh coriander if you like.
Red cabbage and potato sabzi
Romy Gill’s spiced Indian vegetable dish can be made with almost any veg but cabbage is one of the most popular versions. Serves six.
Cost for six: 91p
Cost per person: 15p
1. Peel 400g potatoes and dice them into 2cm chunks. Cook in a pan of water until soft but not mushy, then drain and set aside.
2. Heat 5 tsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add ½tsp of nigella seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add four grated cloves of garlic and 15g grated ginger. Cook for a minute. Add 400g shredded red cabbage and a couple of chopped small green chillies or a teaspoon of chilli powder, and a pinch of salt.
3. Cover the pan and cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the potatoes, ½tsp of ground turmeric and 2 tsp of ground coriander.
4. Stir through gently (you want the potato chunks to stay intact), then cover the pan again and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring now and then.
5. Remove from the heat and leave it to rest for 5 minutes before serving with warm roti or any flatbread.
Fondant swede with pickled turnip and crisp cabbage
Stephen Harris shares this recipe for a restaurant-standard dish starring unloved veg. Serves four.
Cost for four: £5.20
Cost per person: £1.30
1. Peel four swede and slice each one horizontally into 5cm-thick discs to resemble hockey pucks. Cut 60g butter into slices and place them in a large non-stick frying pan. Place the swede discs on top in a single layer, sprinkle a pinch of salt over each slice and add enough water to the pan to cover the tops of the swede. Cover with a loose lid of tin foil and cook gently for about one and a half hours.
2. Meanwhile, slice a medium turnip into matchsticks and place in a bowl with a good pinch of salt. Mix together a teaspoon of caster sugar, two tablespoons of cider vinegar and a tablespoon of water and pour this over the turnip. Leave for 45 minutes to pickle.
3. Keep the water topped up on the swede during the cooking time, but as the swede softens, remove the foil lid and allow the water to evaporate until there is just butter browning in the pan. The underside of the swede should be golden brown. Pour off the cooked butter and replace it with 20g fresh butter. Set it to one side and leave, covered, for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the turnip with a slotted spoon and toss with four shredded wild garlic leaves if you can get your hands on them. Set aside.
5. Fill a deep saucepan no more than half-full with oil and heat to 180C. Finely shred a head of cavolo nero and add it to the pan to fry until crisp. Remove the cavolo nero with a slotted spoon and set on kitchen paper to drain. Season generously.
6. Serve the swede discs in the middle of each plate and drizzle with the buttery juices. Top the swede shapes with the pickled turnip, add a spoonful of crème fraîche if you like, and sprinkle over the crisp cavolo nero.
Easy beef and pork meatballs
Xanthe Clay’s meatballs have been kept super simple on purpose, but you can add lemon zest, crushed garlic and spices if you prefer. Serves four to six.
Cost for four: £6.61
Cost per person: £1.65
1. Mix 20g dry breadcrumbs with 70ml milk then combine with an egg, half a teaspoon of salt and 500g each of beef mince and pork mince.
2. Add three tablespoons of finely chopped parsley (frozen is fine) and two tablespoons of finely chopped onion if you like.
3. Shape the mixture into 30 walnut shell-sized balls and freeze on a baking tray, then pack into bags/boxes to store in the freezer.
4. You can roast the meatballs with vegetables: spread on a tray and bake in a 210C/190C fan/Gas 6 oven for 10 to 15 minutes (add five minutes if cooking from frozen), until well browned and cooked through. Or bake them with tomato sauce: spread the meatballs in a large ovenproof dish and bake as above. Pour over 600g passata plus, if you like, half a teaspoon of fennel seeds, and mix well. Grate over some parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes until browned and bubbling.