With the cost of living soaring, we’re all feeling the pinch and looking for ways to save money. One of the easiest places to start cutting back is the kitchen, says celebrity chef and actor Lisa Faulkner.
Thanks to her busy schedule and family life – she co-presents John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen on ITV with her husband, MasterChef’s John Torode, among other things – she’s got plenty of money-saving hacks and budget-friendly recipes up her sleeve.
Following these principles, the chef has created five meals for four for under £25, in partnership with Ocado. Scroll down to get her top tips and recipes.
Money-saving kitchen hacks
“Get ahead for the next day by picking versatile ingredients that will work in multiple of your family meals that week,” says Faulkner. “For example, cook your veg for a traybake meal and a soup meal together.”
Know the heroes
“Rice, onions, carrots, peas, pasta and tinned tomatoes are reliable heroes. In my recipes below, you use carrots in a hearty soup and also work them into a katsu curry,t oo. Rice takes centre stage in a paella-style one-pan dish for one meal, then later appears as a simple side.”
“Know your budget and stick to it,” Faulkner says. “The ingredients used for these five recipes for four people came to under £25.”
“Be efficient with the oven cooking veg for the week all together and switch off electric devices in the kitchen when not in use.”
Budget-friendly family recipes
Give a classic Italian dish of pasta, pepper, parmesan and butter a boost of green veg. Satisfying and on the table in half an hour, this is a great family friendly choice for meat-free Mondays.
Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 15 mins
320g frozen garden peas
½ 200g bag of sliced kale
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground black pepper
125g vegetarian hard cheese, finely grated, plus 1 handful, shavings, to serve
1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water as per pack instructions. Add the peas for the last 2 mins and the kale for the last 30 secs.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the ground black pepper and toast for about 2 mins.
3. Drain the spaghetti and veg, reserving 2 ladles of the pasta water. Working quickly, tip the spaghetti and veg into the black pepper pan along with the grated cheese and toss over a low heat, adding half a ladleful of reserved pasta water at a time, until the strands are coated in a thin cheesy sauce.
4. Serve immediately, topping with more ground black pepper and the cheese shavings.
Inspired by paella, this Spanish aubergine and chorizo rice is a quick and colourful midweek winner. Partly pre-cooking the rice speeds up the total cooking time but still allows it plenty of time in the sauce to soak up all the lovely flavours. Featuring a silky combo of peppers and aubergines, it’s a delicious seasonal choice for summer and early autumn.
Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 30 mins
250g easy-cook long-grain rice
1 tbsp olive oil
100g chorizo slices
1 onion, finely chopped
2 romano red peppers, cut into 2cm chunks
2 aubergines, cut into 2cm chunks
½ lemon, juiced, plus 1, zested and extra ½, cut into wedges, to serve
2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
350ml chicken or vegetable stock
¼ 15g pack flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus 1 handful, leaves, to serve
1. Put the rice in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins and drain.
2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large frying pan or shallow casserole with a lid, set over a low heat. Working in batches, fry the chorizo, turning occasionally, until brown and crisp at the edges. Remove to a plate.
3. Add the chopped onion, peppers and aubergines to the pan with the lemon juice. Fry for 10 mins, stirring, to soften the veg. Stir in the garlic for 30 secs, followed by the drained rice, tomatoes and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 10 mins until the rice is just tender.
4. Stir the lemon zest, chopped parsley and some seasoning through the rice, fluffing up as you go. Top with the crispy chorizo slices and the parsley leaves and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.
Let the oven do most of the work in this warming, family-friendly traybake – serve with a dollop of brown sauce or mustard for an extra boost of tangy flavour. While the oven’s on, why not get ahead for the next day’s meal (and save on energy) by roasting the veg for the roasted carrot and sage soup with garlic pitas at the same time.
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 45 mins
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm wedges
3 onions, peeled and cut into 2cm wedges
8 Lincolnshire sausages (or gluten-free sausages of your choice, if required)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
1 200g bag of sliced kale, woody stems discarded
½ 25g pack of sage, leaves picked
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Arrange the butternut squash wedges in a large roasting tin along with the onion wedges, sausages and garlic cloves. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, then season well and mix everything together with clean hands until evenly coated. Roast in the oven for 35 mins.
2. Meanwhile, put the kale into another large roasting tin and drizzle with 1 tsp oil. Scrunch the leaves with your hands until lightly coated all over in the oil, then season with a little pinch of salt and pepper.
3. When the sausages have had 35 mins, remove the roasting tin from the oven and stir through the sage. Return to the oven on a low shelf and put the kale on the shelf above it. Roast for another 10 mins, stirring the kale halfway through to help the leaves crisp up.
4. Remove both roasting tins from the oven, tip the kale into the sausage tray and toss everything together to combine. Bring to the table and serve.
For busy families, this simple soup is a must. It’s great for when everyone wants to eat at different times – just leave the soup pan on the hob and a stack of pitas by the toaster, and let everyone feed themselves. To get ahead, roast the veg the night before while making the sausage, squash and sage traybake above. Swap the carrots for other root veg if you like – try parsnips, sweet potato, squash, celeriac or swede.
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 50 mins
650g carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tbsp olive oil (or swap half for soft butter for the breads)
2 onions, unpeeled and halved through their equator
8 large sage leaves
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
2 tsp flat-leaf parsley
6 white or wholemeal pitta breads
50ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7; line a roasting tin with a large sheet of baking paper. Add the carrots, garlic and 1 tbsp oil; season and toss. Add the onions, cut-side down; roast for 30 mins.
2. Remove the garlic cloves and set aside to cool. Scatter over the sage leaves and roast for 10 mins more.
3. Peel the garlic cloves and put 4 of them into a large pan with the roasted carrots and sage, stock cube and 1L water. Scoop the softened onion flesh out of their skins and add them too. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat a little, cover and cook for 10 mins.
4. Using a fork, mash the remaining garlic cloves with the remaining oil (or butter, if using) and the chopped parsley; season. Toast the pittas, brush one side with the garlicky oil/butter and slice.
5. Use a hand blender to whizz the soup with half of the cream until smooth. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with the rest of the cream and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with the garlic pittas.
For a fun Friday meal that the kids will love, try this fish finger katsu with rice. Its slightly sweet curry sauce features blitzed-up carrots – a great way of sneaking extra veg into a meal – and a simple salad keeps the dish fresh and light. Quick to make, it’s sure to become a favourite with the whole family, so try swapping the fish fingers for crispy chicken or breaded vegan fillets to mix things up.
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins
10 frozen cod fish fingers
300g easy-cook long grain rice
150g frozen garden peas
1 onion, finely sliced
200g carrots, peeled and sliced, plus 150g, peeled into ribbons
1 tbsp olive oil
1 35g sachet korma recipe mix
1 cucumber, peeled into ribbons
½ lemon, juiced, plus ½ cut into 4 slices
75ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven and cook the fish fingers as per pack instructions. Cook the rice and peas as per pack instructions, then leave the peas to cool in a bowl of cold water.
2. Meanwhile, in a large, lidded pan, cook the onion and sliced carrots in the oil over a medium-low heat; stir occasionally. After 5 mins, when the onion is softening, stir in the korma sachet for 30 secs, stirring constantly. Add 300ml water, cover again, and simmer for 10 mins until the carrot is soft.
3. Meanwhile, drain the peas. Arrange the ribboned cucumber and grated carrot in a salad bowl, add the peas and squeeze over the lemon juice. Toss until all the veg is nicely dressed in the lemon juice.
4. When the curried carrots are soft, remove the pan from the heat and use a stick blender to blitz until smooth, adding the cream until you have a thick, pourable sauce. Keep warm over a low heat until everything else is ready.
5. Divide the rice and salad between the serving plates, adding a lemon slice. Slice the fish fingers and heap on top of the rice, then pour over a little katsu sauce. Serve the remaining sauce in a jug for everyone to help themselves.