Although the supper club is about extravagant, experimental, top quality food that has taken time and effort to prepare, generally my cooking falls into the ‘making do’ bracket. This week having found myself totally skint and having to feed a variety of extra mouths, I had to resort to budget cooking.
Fortunes in this house have, like most families I guess, peaked and troughed over the years. Since going freelance i’ve hit a bit of an all time low. In accordance with this ebb and flow I have become a mistress of ‘making do’. I’ve almost turned it into an art form. So armed with a budget of £50 and 7 days worth of meals to plan for anything between 5 and 7 people I embarked on my mission.
I’ve been thinking that perhaps I should teach others to do this…basically, I receive an veg box once a week (£10)…I guess thats cheating because that’s paid for up front, so my £50 was on top of that. My quick, half term, healthy budget menu consisted of
Lamb meat balls in tomato sauce, with spaghetti and green salad
This is a seriously easy dish to make. Take one thick slice of bread and cut the crusts off. Pull it to pieces and place in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of milk. After about 10 mins mix in 500g lamb mince with your hands. Add a crushed clove of garlic, some Italian herbs (Marjoram, Oregano) and a bit of finely chopped parsley. Mix together more and then add a beaten egg. Shape into small balls. Fry in a drop of olive oil until browned then add a time of chopped tomatoes, another crushed clove of garlic, a sprinkle of oregano, a tablespoon of tomato puree and about 150ml of chicken stock. Simmer for about 20mins or so, until the sauce has thickened. Serve with spaghetti or tagliatelle sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (or in our case Pecorino, which I like to call poor mans Parmesan). It’s lovely!!!!
Vichyssoise (but eaten hot, the kids won’t entertain the idea of cold soup)…home-made bread
Macaroni and cheese of course!! But tarted up with some seriously strong cheddar (Snowdonia Black Bomber) and some salad and chutney on the side
Broccoli and cheddar cheese tart with baked potato and grated carrot salad and a big dollop of mayo
Minestrone soup and bread
Minestrone is great as you can pretty much put what you want in it. I usually fry an onion gently, then add chopped carrots, leek, celery and sweat until soft but not browned. Then I add either curly Kale, or green cabbage (about 150g or so), a few skinned chopped tomatoes, a bouquet garni, maybe some tinned Cannellini beans (i’ve even used a tin of baked beans in emergency), tablespoon or two of tomato puree, and about three pints of water or vege stock if you want it slightly richer, 50g or so of soup pasta (or whatever pasta you want) and a handful of finely chopped parsley. Simmer til the veg and pasta is cooked, check the seasoning and again serve with Parmesan.
Sausage and bacon toad (made with grain mustard in the batter mix) with mash and veg
Cauliflower cheese and salad (for the kids) while we had Risotto with sage, squash and pancetta
For sweet treats we had Apple crumble that lasted two days with a bit of whipped cream, a chocolate loaf cake and home-made Welsh cakes.
All of these things made great dinners, but would also make great quick, cheap, healthy and hearty lunches, feed kids without arguments (well mine anyway) and most take less than an hour to prepare and cook from scratch.
I reckon they should still be teaching these things in schools. That’s the place where I developed the skills that made me able to ‘make do’ . Independent living skills, budgeting skills, basic cooking skills, nutrition and so on. These are now abilities that are being lost to whole generations of kids.