Feed the Family – Spag Bol

As I say in my book Survival Guide for the Skint, children are expensive! This puts extra pressure on finances during school holidays so I’ve been doing a series of great value, fully costed meals on my Survival Guide for the Skint blog.  All of them cost less than £2 per person.  Here’s one for you now – a firm favourite across the country – Spaghetti Bolognaise.

I’ll publish the rest here soon or follow the links:

Pea and Chorizo Risotto with Sea Bass

One-Pot Chicken

Pasta with Salmon Sauce

This is my Italian grandmother’s recipe so you’re very privileged to see it. Well almost – she never bought mince but I doubt you’d want to spend time cutting best steak into tiny cubes. Kidney beans are an unconventional ingredient but she put them in and for me the sauce would be lacking without them.

Melt a big knob of butter 20p

and a good slug of olive oil in a very big pan 20p

Chop 2 x large onions and cook gently until transparent 40p

Add 3 crushed cloves of garlic 6p

Add 3lb mince and cook until no pink bits remain £11.50

Can add a few rashers of chopped bacon as well 25p

Add 3 x tins chopped tinned tomatoes £1.05

¾ tube tomato puree 35p

300g chopped mushrooms 85p

You may need a bit of water.

Season with salt and pepper

Desert spoon of dried oregano 10p

Desert spoon of dried parsley 10p

Simmer, stirring occasionally until it’s 3h since you started which allows the flavours to develop.

At the end, stir in 2 x drained and rinsed tins of kidney beans £1.10

Total £16.16 or 95p per portion (makes 17 portions.)

For 2 people, cook some pasta 25p

Top with grated parmesan cheese 25p

(For the best taste, buy a whole piece and grate it fresh. If any is left, freeze it to use straight from the freezer next time.)

Serve with salad and home-made dressing 52p

Total for the meal £1.46 per person.

You could also add some porcini, soaked in a bowl of boiled water before adding. That’s another £1 or 6p per serving. You can miss them out but they do add depth to the flavour – £1.52 per person with porcini.



Recipe Anyone?

Have you seen the TV competition looking for one top recipe to be turned into a ready meal? I have created some great recipes. Others were my mother’s or my Italian grandmother’s. Have I sent one in? No. Will I compete for the prestigious prize of seeing my dish on sale? No.

Here’s the thing. S/W Ver: 85.83.E7PFor all my recipes, the first (unwritten) instruction under method is ‘buy the ingredients and cook it yourself.’ If you want to eat my best dishes, ask me for the recipes and I’ll happily share with you.

Perish the thought that a ready meal should ever be passed off as resembling what the freshly cooked dish looks, smells or tastes like. My grandmother would turn in her grave if she thought that anything microwaved in a plastic tray might be attributed to her.

The trailer for the programme says, ‘it’s hard to beat good, honest, home cooked food.’ That’s true. But ready meals are not home cooked food; they’re not even close. As well as the disappointing change in taste and texture, it’s necessary to stabilise a meal that has been prepared in advance, so other substances are added which I really don’t want to eat. Also, the older and more processed food is, the lower the nutrients. I can’t over emphasise the health benefits of eating fresh, natural food.

So sit back and enjoy watching the show. Be inspired by the character of the cooks. But if you like the look of something (salmon cheesecake? fascinating), visit their website, get the recipe and make it yourself!

 Top tips: Collect great recipes; cook your own great food.