RECIPE: Saag Aloo

saag aloo

I am a big fan of spice and Indian dishes are my favorite type of cuisine. Occasionally, I also enjoy eating vegetarian food. Therefore, it makes sense that saag aloo is one of my top Indian vegetarian dishes to make. This spinach and potato based dish is meat-free, budget-friendly, packed full of flavour and easy to make. My family either enjoy it as a main dish served with rice or as an accompaniment to a curry. Here is a quick and simple recipe for how to make saag aloo.

Ingredients for Saag Aloo

  • 3tbsps ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed.
  • 1 red and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 level teaspoon turmeric
  • 500g potatoes cut into chunks
  • 250g bag washed spinach leaves
  • Salt
  • black pepper

How to Make Saag Aloo

  1. Put the chopped potatoes into a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onions, chillies, ginger, and garlic.
  3. Drain the potatoes as soon as the water begins to boil.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onions, chillies, garlic, and ginger to the frying pan. 
  6. When the onions have turned golden and softened, add the turmeric and cumin.
  7. Next, add the par-boiled potatoes.
  8. Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pan.
  9. As the spinach begins to wilt, stir in the mixture.
  10. Cook for a further five minutes on a medium heat to allow the flavor of the spices to infuse the potatoes and the spinach. 
  11. Serve with rice or naan bread.

Tips

  • Meat lovers– you can easily adapt this to a meat dish by adding chicken, beef or lamb.
  • Different textures– you can leave the spinach leaves, whole, roughly chop them or finely chop them.
  • Spice levels– you can experiment with different levels of spice to suit your taste by adding more or less of ingredients including garlic, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and cumin. 
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RECIPE: Corned Beef Fritters

fritters

The other day I posted about using up your leftovers and said I was planning on adding some of my leftover recipes to the blog. I also posted a recipe for corned beef hash. Therefore, it made sense to me that the first recipe for using up leftovers was corned beef fritters. If you have used my corned beef hash recipe and have leftovers, then making fritters is a great idea. It takes just seconds to transform the dish into something that tastes completely different. Here is how to make corned beef fritters.

Corned Beef Fritters

  • Divide your leftover corned beef hash into balls about the size of your fist. 
  • Roll each piece into a ball and then press down to create a thick disc.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat some oil in a frying pan until it is sizzling. 
  • Add the fritters and cook for a few minutes until the underneath has turned golden brown and crispy.
  • Flip over the fritters onto the other side using a flat fish lift.
  • Cook the second side for a few minutes until the fritters are hot in the centre and both sides are golden and crispy.
  • Serve immediately to retain the crunch.

TIPS

  • Add vegetables- You can change the flavor each time you make these by adding different cooked vegetables to the leftover corned beef hash. Garden peas, sweetcorn, or cooked carrots work particularly well. 

If you missed the corned beef hash recipe, you can read it here.

 

Waste Not, Want Not

ingredients

Many people are dubious about cooking with leftovers. However, there are many delicious things you can make and it makes economic sense for those on a budget to make the most out of the food they have paid for with their hard earned money. This is certainly the case in my house as I have to sit in front of the computer writing for many hours to earn the cash to put food on my children’s plates. Therefore, I quite often transform the leftovers into new and delicious meals for the children. The saying in my house is ‘waste not, want not’!

Something that I cook every week is a joint of meat and I usually serve this as a roast dinner. There are three reasons why I cook a joint of meat:

  • The whole family loves roast dinners
  • There is always enough meat left for a meal the next day
  • It saves both time and money

On the second day, there is a wide range of meals I make with the leftovers, depending on the type of meat I have cooked. Typical meals include stews, curries, and stir-frys. Even a novice in the kitchen can make a delicious sandwich or salad with the leftover meat. 

As my ethos is not to waste food, you will see several recipes and cooking suggestions for ways to use leftovers on this blog over the next few months. Hopefully, I can help to give others some ideas that will stop them wasting food while also saving them time and money. 

 

RECIPE: Corned Beef Hash

hash

Corned beef hash is not one of the most glamorous meals and it certainly isn’t something that you could classify as a fine dining experience. However, it is absolutely delicious, quick and easy to make, a budget-friendly option, and the kids love it. Here is how to make corned beef hash. 

Ingredients for Corned Beef Hash

  • 1 x tin of corned beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 kg white potatoes
  • 2 tbsp gravy granules
  • Salt and pepper to season

How to Make Corned Beef Hash

  1. Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes.
  2. Add the potatoes to a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop a large onion and dice the contents of a tine of corned beef.
  4. Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil before adding the onions.
  5. Cook the onions until they are softened and brown and then add the corned beef to the pan. 
  6. When the potatoes have softened (check with a fork) drain most of the water from the pan. You will need a little if you want a small amount of gravy in your corned beef hash.
  7. Transfer the potatoes and the remaining water to the frying pan and mix into the corned beef and onions.
  8. Sprinkle over the gravy granules and season the dish with pepper.
  9. Cook the ingredients together for a further five minutes before serving. 

Tips

Leftovers- If you have any leftover corned beef hash, do not throw it away. Instead, refrigerate it overnight and use it the next day to make delicious homemade corned beef fritters.

Serving– I usually serve this with peas and some pickled red cabbage. My partner and kids also like sliced bread and butter with corned beef hash. 

Cooking Tips for Students on a Budget

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When people leave home to become a student, it is the start of a new chapter of their lives. Along with the freedom and independence come additional responsibilities which require the development of new life skills. Two such skills are cooking and budgeting. The majority of students will have limited funds and will need to cover bills in their new accommodation as well as making sure they eat a healthy and nutritious diet. To achieve this on such limited funds can be tricky, but it is manageable with a little thought and planning into shopping and the preparation of food. Here are some ideas of some staple foods that every student should buy and some ideas for student meals on a budget.

Pulses

These are a much cheaper source of protein than meat. They can be used to make vegetarian alternatives to meals or to bulk up a meal if only a small amount of meat can be afforded. Chilli con Carne is one such meal where meat can be entirely replaced, or kidney beans and haricot (or baked) beans can be used to bulk up the meal using only a small amount of minced meat.  Beans on toast are also a really quick snack or meal to eat that is cheap and packed with nutrients. Opt for tins with low salt and sugar content.

Rice

Rice is usually really cheap to buy and you can buy it in large bags to store for long periods of time, thus avoiding wasting money and food. You can use rice as a side dish to accompany another item, such as a curry, or to create a dish on its own. Adding spices, small amounts of meat or fish and as many vegetables as you like are quick, easy, cheap and tasty ways to use rice. Rice is also an ingredient that you can experiment with a little as it will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients with which it is served.

Pasta

Similarly, pasta is inexpensive and you can but it in large quantities that store for long periods of time. There are countless ways of serving pasta.  One really easy and cheap option is to simply add a tomato sauce to the pasta.  You can do this either by using a jar of pasta sauce or making a homemade sauce using fresh tomatoes and some herbs. A simple ratatouille added to the pasta is another option for a cheap, tasty and nutritious dish. There are many variations of this but frying courgette, tomatoes and peppers together is really easy even for an amateur cook. Other options with pasta include tuna pasta bake, pasta carbonara (adding cheese, ham and mushrooms) or spaghetti bolognese. 

Experiment

Finally, the best advice that can be given to a student is to experiment with the food you create. Buy lots of things that store well and try out different combinations of ingredients together. Keep a stock of dried herbs and spices in the cupboard so you can get experimental with flavours in your cooking.

How to Eat Healthily On a Budget

fruit and veg

One excuse that people often make for being overweight or unhealthy is that they cannot afford to eat well. They believe that eating convenience foods is cheaper than eating fresh foods. This doesn’t have to be the case. As a mum of four, I know how the groceries bill can soon add up but I still like to give my children a varied and balanced diet. Here are some ideas on how to eat healthily even when you are on a budget. 

Stock Up Your Cupboards

Buying lots of items that can be kept in the store cupboard is a good idea as these items will keep well. This will avoid the costs created when food is bought and then not used before its sell-by date. Items like pasta and rice are really cheap and are an excellent source of carbohydrates which are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They also provide a lot of different options with regards to meal choice as you can serve them as part of many meals. Similarly, pulses are a really cheap option and are high in protein.  This includes tins of baked beans, although look at the salt content on the labels as this can sometimes be quite high. Tinned fruit and vegetables are also good to keep in your cupboards as they are inexpensive, store for longer and are usually prepared so you will save time as well as money.

Shop Frequently, Buy Less

One of the main reasons why people believe that buying fresh and healthy food is more expensive is because they have a big shop and then throw lots of food away as it has gone off or is past its use by date.  However, if you made the simple change of shopping more frequently and only buying items of food that you are going to use over using for the next few days, then this can be easily avoided.

Grow Your Own Vegetables

This is the ultimate way to save money and eat fresh, healthy foods. To grow a few simple items will not require you to have a large garden or to be particularly green-fingered. If you have a windowsill or a balcony, then you can grow a few vegetables- not enough to feed your family for the next year, but it’s a start.  Packets of seeds cost pence to buy.  Some of the simplest fruit and vegetables to grow yourself are tomatoes and courgettes.  Of course, if you are green-fingered and you have a large garden then you can plant fruit trees, potatoes and any vegetables that your family enjoy. 

Cheaper Cuts of Meat

People often dismiss the cheaper cuts of meat, but these are often the tastiest cuts. They are usually particularly well-suited to longer cooking methods, such as stewing or braising. Therefore, they are ideal for throwing into a slow-cooker with some water and vegetables before you leave for work and you will have a delicious and healthy casserole to come home to at the end of the day. Remember, to remove the fat before cooking!

Offers and Vouchers

Look out for any foods that are on offer or that you have collected vouchers for.  Many supermarkets have offers on healthier items such as fruit and vegetables as they are trying to promote healthier living.