5 money saving ingredients for delicious Autumn recipes.
5 money saving ingredients for delicous Autumn recipes.
By Limahl Asmall
The top 5 ingredients you should stock up on this Autumn to make gorgeous comfort food without breaking the bank.
As the weather cools and the darker nights draw in, it can only mean one thing – we’re all in need of an extra layer or two and a warming bowlful of comforting goodness to ease us into the change of season. The good news is that Autumnal food doesn’t have to cost the earth. My 5 top budget ingredients open up a world of warming risottos, rich beef stews and French inspired bacon & lentil hot-pots that take minimal preparation and deliver bags of flavour. Try the creamy Orzo, Pork and Peas recipe which is taken from my Tiny Budget Cookbook which is currently on discount at Amazon.
If you’ve never tried Orzo you’re in for a treat. It might look like risotto but it’s really a short grain type of pasta. It cooks faster than risotto and soaks up massive flavour too, but the best thing about Orzo is that it is far more versatile than risotto rice. Throw it into stews, soups or cook it like a risotto with onions, garlic and stock. Use it to bulk out chicken & leek pies or make a one-pot paella style dish. It costs around £0.65 per 500g and is available in most supermarkets. Try this budget friendly versatile ingredient in the Orzo, Pork and Peas recipe.
Nothing eases you into Autumn better than a beef stew. Yes, it takes a while to cook but it only takes minutes to prepare before you can let it do its thing on the hob. Brisket is one the workhorse (or work-cattle if you will) cuts of beef that is perfect for stews due to it’s higher collagen and fat content which keeps the meat nice and tender. It’s also one of the cheaper cuts you can find making it a win-win for budget cooking. Here, cheap definitely doesn’t mean loss of flavour or quality. The key point to remember is that when choosing beef for stews, steer clear of the lean cuts as they will dry out quickly.
There is one squash in particular that repeatedly makes the shopping list at my house, and that is butternut squash. It’s flesh is firm and packed with flavour making it a perfect candidate for roasting, boiling, and even mashing. The skin can be peeled, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted for a snack, and the seeds can be washed, dried and roasted too. They go light and crispy and are completely moreish. The main event, however, is the flesh. Best cut into chunks and roasted in the oven with big flavours like sundried tomatoes, cooking bacon (see below) or a sprinkling of herbs. Once cooked it can be added to salads, blended into a soup or mixed through to make my favorite butternut squash and bacon risotto.
If you’re going to make the butternut squash and bacon risotto, a handy money saving tip is to buy cooking bacon. ‘What is that?’ I hear you say. Well it’s simply the bits of bacon that aren’t the right size to be packaged as ‘bacon’. I.e it’s been cut the wrong size. In terms of price it costs approx. £1.14 per kilo vs £6.18 per kilo of standard bacon rashers. Usually sold in big 500g+ packs, a good tip is to cut it into usable pieces and freeeze portions. This way you’ll have bacon on hand to add to recipes at all times. Which sounds pretty ideal to me.
The humble lentil doesn’t get much love these days but what it lacks in popularity it makes up for in nutrition, cost and most importantly, taste. There are many types of lentil and they usual fit into two categories. Those that break apart when cooked to create beautiful Dhals and thick luxurious soups, and those that hold their shape making them perfect for winter salads and lentil hotpots. It boils down to preference, but for this list we’ll settle on the puy, green, or speckled lentils which hold their shape and have a delectable bite! Head here for my delicious lentil & bacon hotpot recipe.