Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sausage Pasta Bake from 40p per person

(serves 2)

100g Pasta (6p from a 500g bag @30p)

3 Sausages (25p from a pack of 8 for 66p)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (31p)

1/2 red onion (10p)

1 garlic clove (5p)

1/2 mozzarella ball (22p for half – optional)

mixed herbs

salt & pepper



Chop the onion an garlic and gently fry until softened in either a frying pan or casserole dish that can be used on the hob (saves washing up)

Chop the sausages up into small pieces and add to the pan and cook until browned.

Add the tin of tomatoes and pasta, a tablespoon of herbs, and the salt & pepper, cover and bring to a simmer until the pasta is almost cooked stirring occasionally.  There should be enough liquid to cook the pasta but if not add a little extra water – keeping it covered will help cook the pasta in its steam.

When almost done, crumble over the mozzarella cheese (optional or whatever cheese you have) and place in a hot oven (about 200) or under a grill for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and begins to colour.  (Remember to transfer to an ovenproof dish if using a frying pan that is not oven proof)




Oil Sprays (Dieter’s Friend)

A popular tip for dieters is to use a spray oil when cooking rather than bottled oil, giving a controlled fine coating of a pan or food rather than a thick layering, saving a considerable number of calories each time you cook.  These come in a convenient spray can with a selection of different oil “flavors” to choose from.

However as they are about £2.20 per 190ml can I had a look around to see what else is available (I could see 1 litre bottles of oil from only £1.50)

One of the things I noticed on checking the ingredients of the spray oils is that they work out at 520 calories per 100ml and 52grams of fat in comparison to standard oils which are around 900 calories per 100ml and are 100% fat.  I checked to see why the sprays were only 52g and noticed in the ingredients list that they are only 53% oil and the rest was made up of water, alcohol, flavoring and other additives which accounted for the reduced calories.  This means that you are paying about £2.20 per 100ml of oil when standard oils are from as little as 15p per 100ml

I remember seeing some oil spray pumps somewhere and decided to invest in one which you fill with your own preferred oil and use in the same way as the canned spray.

A quick look on the internet just now found that these are available from as little as £2.50 in a variety of shapes and colors and you can therefore continue to use your preferred oil (and not having it sit in the cupboard unused or thrown out because you are on a diet).  I currently have olive oil in mine but remember that extra virgin olive oil is not recommended for cooking so go for a standard one or any other type of oil.

Remember that the oil in your pump spray has double the calories of the can spray but my experience is that you tend to need two sprays from the can anyway so for a little more than the price of one of the spray cans, you can continue to use your favorite oil with a clear conscience and save a few more pennies along the way.  In addition to this you are not using any of the extra additives that are in the spray can just the pure ingredients


Ham & Pineapple Rice

After making pizza the other evening (  I had half a tin of ham and half a tin of pineapple left (I was good and only made enough pizza for 2 portions)

Here’s what to do with the leftovers:

You will need: (serves 2)

100g rice

100g ham (or bacon)

100g drained tinned pineapple (keep the juice)

1 onion (we prefer red)

1 garlic clove

Chinese 5 spice (or mixed herbs if you prefer a Mediterranean flavor)

Frozen Peas & Sweetcorn ( optional – about a handful of each)


Chop and gently fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft.

Chop the ham or bacon and add to the onions (heat until cooked if using raw bacon)

Add the rice and about 100ml water and simmer until the rice has absorbed the water (for speed you can cook the rice separately while cooking the other ingredients.

Add the pineapple juice, peas and sweetcorn (about a handful) and continue to simmer until absorbed by the rice adding more water if required until the rice is cooked and fluffy.

Add 2tsps Chinese 5 spice (or herbs if preferred) and mix well

Serve and hopefully enjoy

Save ££££’s as you lose pounds (or why I don’t buy “Diet” food)

Over the last 18 months I have succeeded in losing 4 stone in weight (56lb) and have spent a lot of time in the supermarket checking the nutritional values/calories and fat content of various items as well as the prices.

One of the surprising things I noticed was that the “Diet” versions were not necessarily the best choice from a calorie or fat content.

I noticed when checking the stores economy versions that many of these items were not only considerably cheaper, but comparable or lower in calories and fat than the “Diet” versions.  As fat content was an important part of our “Diet” for some medical reasons as well as the desire to lose weight this of course was very useful when trying to keep a hungry hubby feeling full while having to eat a healthier diet on a limited budget.

Now many people will say that these economy versions are inferior and in some instances I would agree and would prefer to pay that little extra occasionally for something that we prefer.  However the vast majority are perfectly adequate, edible and sometimes even taste better.

I went into one supermarket today and checked a couple of items that we have discovered to show a comparison.

An occasional treat is a pot of Houmous – in this supermarket the standard version was 99p for a 200g tub.  It had 325 calories per 100g and 27.1g fat.  The diet version in this instance was the same price and was 255 calories per 100g and 18.3g fat.  The economy version was 55p for a 150g pot (which equates to 72p for 200g) and was 243 calories per 100g and 18.9g fat, which is comparable to the “Diet”  version (and in our opinion tastier).

The diet version of coleslaw was 65p for a 300g tub containing 126 calories per 100g and 10g fat, while the economy version was 25p for a 250g tub(30p for 300g)  and was only 86 calories per 100g and 6g fat.

Obviously this is not always the case (the economy mozzarella I used in the pizza was higher in fat than the “Diet” version but was only slightly higher in calories but nearly half the price) and there are many “extra light” versions of different products available (but they are usually more expensive)

So the “message” is: do not automatically assume that the “diet” version is the best when trying to control your calorie intake – it’s worth checking the economy versions and save yourself a little money at the same time

Easy Pizza from under 25p per portion


Pizza has been very infrequent in our house as hubby is yeast intolerant and attempts at making a pizza base using a yeast free soda bread recipe have not always been totally successful.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a blog from “A girl called Jack” who’s recipe for “easy-peasy garlic soda bread”  I decided to try – and it really was quick and easy. (

So – having some mozzarella in the fridge which needed using – I wondered if the recipe would work for a pizza base – the answer was yes and it disappeared before I could take a photo.

So here it is:

Pizza Base:

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200ml semi skimmed milk
Juice of half a lemon (which I forgot)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped or grated)
Handful of parsley (which I also forgot)

You should add the lemon to the milk first to allow it to go sour about 5 mins in advance before mixing all the ingredients together (check the link above for more detailed info) but as I forgot this bit  I just mixed together the flour, Bicarb and milk until all the flour had been absorbed and combined into a nice ball of dough.

Lightly spray/oil a baking tray and spread the dough with your hands until you have a nice thin base (you can of course use a rolling pin if you wish or make the pizza smaller “deep pan”).

Now the rest is up to you to design your own pizza – the ingredients so far work out at about 25p.

I spread 4 tbsp tomato puree onto the base (from 35p per tube)

Chop or break up one Mozzarella ball (55p or any other cheese you have available) and arrange over the base and sprinkle 2tbsp mixed herbs (25p per tub)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200degrees for 15-20 minutes.

This basic pizza costs just under £1 and gives 4 portions (although if you are hungry 2 portions per person)

I had a £200g tin of ham (99p) in the cupboard so I chopped that up and added it along with about half a 425g drained tin of pineapple (20p)

Total cost:  just under £2.20 for 4 portions

All the ingredients came from supermarket economy ranges

I hope you like this – I have now been instructed to make this on a regular basis

To peel or not to peel



One day recently I was running late cooking dinner and being faced with a pile of small carrots and potatoes, decided that I didn’t have time and couldn’t be bothered to peel them; so I just scrubbed them, chopped them up and threw them in the oven with my roast along with a little oil spray and seasoning.

I always used to pull faces when my mum served new potatoes which still had their skins on but now I quite often put small potatoes in the oven and have mini baked potatoes.

I remembered watching one of the TV chefs just washing carrots and cooking them and it began to register a bit more with me how much of the flavor and nutrients we are throwing away with the peelings.

Not only this: but trying to avoid wasting any food and get the best value from my shopping I began to realize that I was effectively throwing away money into the compost bin.

As I often end up with small potatoes and carrots, by the time I’ve peeled them there is not much left and end up throwing away half of the vegetables.

So now my vegetable peeler is becoming redundant and my trusty vegetable scrubber is being well used.

Carrots can be scrubbed, topped & tailed and roasted whole or chopped to size and you actually don’t notice the skin as it is much thinner than potatoes, plus you get a lot more flavor.

Potatoes (especially small ones) can simply be scrubbed and cooked whole or chopped to size.  I even make “mash” but instead of trying to get a nice smooth creamy consistency; try just breaking it up roughly (crushed) and putting in the oven for a while.  The bits of skin go crispy and it has an better flavor and texture.  With potatoes though this will work better with some varieties than others.

As yet I have not tried this on other vegetables as some I think would not be so tasty but parsnips will work too.

If you are one who “must” peel; then do not fear: there are many uses for vegetable peelings before they go on the compost bin.

A brief internet search produced many ideas including making healthy crisps (spray with a little oil, season, spread on a tray and bake); making vegetable stock, to various cleaning and beauty uses.

So: love your peelings (or not) and save a little more money and get some more nutrients along the way




Oh Su’s simple porridge from 3p per portion


Do you think you don’t have time to make porridge in the morning and buy ready prepared sachets?

Well here’s how to have the same at a greatly reduced cost.

You will need :

porridge oats (75p for a 1kg bag)

a jar of golden syrup (£1.18 per 680g jar – optional)

a 125ml measuring cup (= a 1/2 cup measure)

To Make:

Scoop one measure of porridge (approx 40g) into a microwaveable bowl and 2 measures of water.

Place in the microwave and cook for 2 and a half minutes

Add a small teaspoon of golden syrup, stir well and enjoy!!

This works out at 3p per portion for the porridge and about 2 to 3p per portion for the golden syrup.

The pre-packed well known brand (£2.99 for 15) costs 20p per portion.

By this method you get 25 portions for less than £2 (or 75p if you don’t have the golden syrup)

You can of course substitute honey or any other sweetening if desired.

Blackberries are currently in abundance (and free).  I add a handful and cook with the porridge.  I takes about a minute or two longer but gives natural sweetening (I like to use raspberries or blueberries if available)

You can also use Milk of course instead of water for a more creamy porridge ( approx 15p per serving)  This has the added benefit of giving you some protein in your breakfast which along with the slow energy release from the oats helps you stay feeling full for longer

UPDATE: 03/10/2013

so: after making my pizza ( one day and my ham & pineapple rice ( the next: I still had some pineapple left so I added this the next morning to my porridge using the juice instead of water.  I add a little more milk at the end to make the porridge a little more creamy and it was delicious.  Not sure that it is suitable for a diabetic option though as there is a lot of sugar in pineapple and I think the economy tin was in light syrup rather than natural juice