10 Penny Pinching Recipes Your Kids Will Adore

Before we give the list of ten recipes, keep in mind that you want to buy groceries in bulk and to cook in bulk — you can drastically cut down your food costs by doing so.     

Batch cooking is not just a money saver – it’s a time saver, too. Many dishes, especially soups and stews, can be made in bigger batches and, when cooled, divided into freezer bags, ready for another meal.

Similarly, with sauces for pasta.  Three pints of home-made pasta sauce is around 6 jars of bought pasta sauce, which you can use for lasagne, pizza topping and a soup base.

1. Quick homemade pizza

Can you make a pizza from scratch in the same time it takes to bung a frozen one in the oven? Yes you can! You can use whatever variations of toppings that take your fancy, or experiment with whatever you have in the refrigerator.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the base

  • 18oz self-raising flour
  • 10floz milk
  • 2.5oz butter

For the topping

  • Tomato purée or thick pasta sauce
  • Mushrooms
  • Mozzarella (or cheddar)
  • Fresh basil (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7

For the base

  1. Mix the flour, milk and butter in a bowl  to make a dough
  2. Flour your work surface and put the dough on it, knead it lightly to bring all the bits together and ensure the butter the milk and blended well.
  3. Roll the dough out to a 10 inch pizza size and place it on a floured baking tray

For the topping

  1. Spread the tomato purée or thick pasta sauce onto the pizza and spread it thinly, up to 2cm from the edge of the base.
  2. Sprinkle the cheese evenly then add the ham and mushrooms to taste
  3. Finally, sprinkle the herbs and add a drizzle of olive oil
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has fully melted and the pizza has crisped up

Variation

  • Add different toppings; pineapple, ham, chillies, peppers… whatever takes your fancy.
  • Experiment with different cheeses too.

2. Wholesome Lentil Supper

A great value, quick supper that will fill up hungry tummies in no time at all.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 12.5oz dried red lentils
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 30floz vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp dried herbs
  • black pepper (or you could use a bit of chilli powder to spice it up)
  • 3oz cheddar cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Put the onion, lentils and stock in a pan – bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes
  2. Add the herbs, pepper and cheese and cook gently until the cheese has melted
  3. Serve with tortilla chips to dip (economy brands are great for dipping) or plain boiled rice and vegetables of your choice

3. Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is delicious and filling and perfect to warm you up on a cold night.  Great to make in a large batch and freeze some.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 carrots
  • 1.5oz lean chopped bacon (optional – you can replace with butter beans to get the protein in)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 53floz stock
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 6oz cabbage
  • 1.5oz pasta (or brown rice if you don’t have pasta)
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (oregano or whatever you have)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • parmesan cheese (for serving)

Method

  1. Chop finely or grate the vegetables
  2. If using bacon then fry to get a bit crispy, then add a drop of olive oil, onion, leek, celery and carrots and lastly the garlic
  3. Stir well, and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or until vegetable are soft but not browned
  4. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then add the tomatoes, cabbage, (butter beans if using), herbs and pasta (or rice)
  5. Bring back to the boil, cover again and simmer for about 30-40 minutes
  6. Stir in the tomato puree and season with black pepper
  7. Add some grated parmesan cheese on top and serve with chunks fresh bread

4. Sausage Casserole

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • One packet of sausages
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 20floz beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C/Gas mark 4
  2. Use a casserole dish that can be put on a hob (with a lid for later)
  3. Fry a chopped onion in some oil and then fry your sausages, so the outside is brown
  4. Add garlic if you want  and a heaped tablespoon of plain flour – mix it round
  5. Now add 300ml of the stock
  6. Add any combination of chopped carrot, potato, sweet potato, swede or parsnip – give it a little stir and bring to the boil
  7. Add  a tablespoon of tomato puree and one teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
  8. Put enough hot stock to make sure everything’s just covered and put it in the oven
  9. After 15 minutes, put the lid on the casserole
  10. Cook for around 90 minutes or 60 minutes for the sausage casserole – or until the vegetables have cooked through
  11. Add more stock if needed during the cooking time
  12. If you use big chunks of vegetables, allow extra cooking time

5. Left-over Rice Kebabs

Great way of using up left-over rice if you have a habit of cooking too much of it.  Serve as a starter, a side or a main with vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 7oz rice (cooked)
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp chopped or ground ginger
  • 1 green chilli (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 onions (medium), finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • ½ lime (for its juice)
  • salt (to taste)
  • oil (to deep fry)

Method

  1. Grind together the bengal gram or chickpeas, rice, ginger, green chillies, cumin powder, red chilli powder, salt and lime juice to a coarse mixture
  2. Transfer the mixture into a bowl
  3. Add the onions and corn flour and mix well
  4. Heat sufficient oil in a heavy bottom pan
  5. Divide the mixture into twelve equal portions and shape them into small cakes
  6. Gently slide them into the hot oil, a few at a time and deep-fry till golden and crisp
  7. Drain on absorbent paper and sprinkle with some lime juice
  8. Serve with chutney or chili dipping sauce

6. Chicken and Mushroom Bake

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 10floz chicken stock
  • 1lb chicken, diced
  • 3.5oz mushrooms (any kind will do)
  • 1 tbsp corn flower
  • 5floz milk
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • mixed herbs
  • 2lb mashed potato
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3.5oz cheese, grated

Method

  1. Pour stock into a large pan and bring to the boil
  2. Add chicken and mushrooms, cover and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to an oven-proof dish
  4. Add carrots, herbs and season to taste
  5. Mix corn flour with a little milk to form a paste, then stir in rest of milk
  6. Add to reserved stock and pour over chicken and veg
  7. Mix mash with the onion and half of the grated cheese
  8. Spoon over the chicken mix and top with the remaining cheese
  9. Bake at 200’C/Gas mark 6 for 30 minutes
  10. Serve with vegetables

7. Macaroni Cheese

We thought we’d add in this favorite, This tasty and popular meal is quick and cheap to make and there are plenty of variations to suit different tastes.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 9oz macaroni
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 16floz milk
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

Method

  1. Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions and drain when cooked
  2. Heat the butter (or margarine) and when melted, add a generous tablespoon of plain flour and mix it in
  3. Add some black pepper and a little nutmeg or mustard powder – cook on a low heat, stirring all the time, for about 30-60 seconds
  4. Add the milk a little at a time and mix well with a whisk – you should end up using about 450ml of milk
  5. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, to thicken the sauce, then add a big handful of grated cheddar cheese to make it a cheese sauce
  6. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir well
  7. Serve straight away or put into an oven proof dish, grate some more cheese over and bake at 180’C/Gas mark 5 for 10 minutes

Why not try…

  • Add a dash or Worcestershire sauce for an extra kick.
  • Adding some vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sweetcorn, carrots etc) to the pan of pasta, a few minutes before it is cooked

8. Tuna Pasta Bake

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 10oz dried pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 5.5oz tin of tuna
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 3.5oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Cook pasta for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the packet and drain
  2. Preheat oven to 180’C/Gas mark 4
  3. Use olive oil or oil from your tuna if you have some – pour into a pan and fry some onion and garlic
  4. Pour away the rest of the oil, add the tuna to the pan, and heat through and mix up for a minute
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and some black pepper – cook for 5-10 minutes
  6. Add to the cooked pasta
  7. Pile into an oven dish and top with grated cheese
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes

Why not try…

  • Adding a tablespoon of half-fat crème fraiche to make a creamier tuna pasta bake
  • For extra taste add sweetcorn and/or mushrooms, or a stock cube to the pasta water
  • If you don’t like tuna, the same recipe works really well with chopped up bacon
  • Crush some bacon crisps over the top once the cheese is browned, for extra crispiness

9. Vegetable Hash Bake

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3.5oz mushroom, sliced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Peel and slice the potatoes and boil for about 8 minutes – drain well (or use up leftover, cooked potatoes)
  2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, add potatoes and fry for another 8 minutes until brown
  3. Add chopped garlic and pepper, stirring for 3 minutes
  4. Stir in sliced mushrooms and chopped tomatoes (drained, tinned tomatoes are fine if you don’t have fresh) and cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top if you like, and then pop it in the oven for 15 minutes to crisp up.
  6. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and black pepper and serve as a side dish or wish some fresh bread.

10. Bread Pudding

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 8oz bread
  • 10floz water
  • 2.5oz brown sugar, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1.5oz currants
  • 1.5oz raisins
  • 5floz milk
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180’C/Gas mark 4
  2. Put the bread (day old bread/stale works best) in a bowl and add the cold water
  3. Allow to soak for 1 hour
  4. Drain the bread and squeeze out any excess water using your hands
  5. Mix the bread with the rest of the ingredients
  6. Pour into a greased 8″ square baking tin
  7. Cook for 1 and 1/4 hour or until firm to the touch and brown on top
  8. Allow to cool for 30 minutes or so in the tin, before cutting into squares
  9. Serve warm or cold