Fab meals for four

By at home

Scrumptious meals for under £10

Ricotta, tomato and chorizo puff pastry pizza
Ready-made puff pastry is a good alternative to normal bread-based pizza or ready-made pizza bases that tend to be thick and stodgy
2 x 23cm discs puff pastry, rolled 1cm thick
325g ricotta cheese or cream cheese
90ml double cream
1tbsp pesto (optional)
2 free-range eggs, beaten
55g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
125g ball mozzarella, drained and diced
1tbsp snipped chives
Salt and ground black pepper
175g uncooked chorizo, cut into 5mm slices
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 5mm slices
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten

1 Preheat the oven to 2200C/4250F/Gas mark 7. Place the puff pastry discs on lightly floured baking sheets.
2 Combine the ricotta or cream cheese with the cream, pesto, eggs, Parmesan and mozzarella. Beat the mixture well to combine, then fold in the snipped chives and seasoning. Spoon this mixture on to the pastry, leaving a 1cm border all around the edge.
3 Starting in the centre, alternating between the chorizo and tomatoes, arrange a pin-wheel design of the two ingredients on top of the filling on both pizzas.
4 Brush the edge of the pizzas with the egg yolk, then place the baking trays in the preheated oven. Cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 1900C/3750F/Gas mark 5 and cook for a further 20 minutes, until they are bubbling and golden.
5Serve immediately with a fresh, green salad or these pizzas are also great served when cooled.

Tip: A bag of button mushrooms costs less than £2 for 200g and can be used as the base for loads of tasty dishes

Scrumptious meals for under £5
Cheat’s Mushroom fetuccine
This recipe is simple to throw together, tasty and cheap

55g unsalted butter
175g button mushrooms, quartered
1 tin of your favourite condensed mushroom soup
325g dried fettuccine or linguine
55g grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Fill a large saucepan with cold water, heavily salt it and bring to the boil.
2 Heat the butter in another large saucepan, add the quatered button mushrooms, toss to coat, add 2tbsp of water, cover with a lid and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the mushroom soup and heat through.
3 Cook the fettucine or linguine for a couple of minutes less than the manufacturer suggests, to keep it ‘al dente’ (slightly firm). Then, using a pasta ladle or tongs, lift the pasta with any water attached and deposit it into the mushroom sauce, toss thoroughly to combine, and check the seasoning – adding salt and pepper as required.
4 Spoon the pasta into a large warm bowl and sprinkle liberally with grated Parmesan, serve immediately with a leaf salad.

Bubble and squeak
This is the perfect way to use up your leftovers

55g unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
225g cooked potato, mashed
225g cooked Savoy or green cabbage, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper
1tbsp beef dripping

1 Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until softened but not brown, about 8 minutes.
2 Fold the mash, cabbage, and buttery onions together. Season with salt and plenty of ground black pepper. Combine everything thoroughly.
3 In the same pan that you cooked the onions in, melt the dripping and tip in the potato mix. Push the mix down to make a circular cake. Cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat without disturbing. Turn the cake over, either by tossing or sliding it on to a plate and then returning it to the pan. It should cook for a further 10 minutes.
4 Serve with grills, or as a dish in its own right with poached eggs and crispy bacon.

Tip: Onions are a cost-effective way to add flavour to all kinds of meals

Waste not, want not

Before throwing out uneaten food, stop and think – here’s just a few fantastic ideas to do with leftovers
1 Mashed Potato
Potato cakes: Mix your mash with any other leftover vegetables, shape into patties, fry in a little olive oil and serve with apple sauce for a delicious supper.
Potato scones: Add enough flour to your leftover mashed potatoes to make a soft dough, roll out in thin rounds and cook both sides, in a dry frying pan, until they start to brown. These can be eaten plain with a bit of butter or jam or used as wraps to house your leftover veggies or even a stew. These potato scones will also freeze well, so you can make extra and save them.

2 Bread
Breadcrumbs: Any leftover bread which is on its way out can be blitzed up in a blender with salt, pepper and herbs and frozen down as breadcrumbs to make into stuffing or to top casseroles.
Bread and butter pudding: You can also use bread, croissants etc to make bread and butter pud – jazz it up with dried or fresh fruit, spices or jams.
Croutons: Toss cubed bread with olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, spread onto a baking sheet and cook in a 1750C/3500F/Gas mark 4 oven until they begin to colour.

3 Vegetables

Pot luck soup: Keep a bucket with a lid in your freezer for leftover veggies – once a week make into soup – the children will love seeing what comes out of the bucket!

Cook’s tip: Leftover onions and peppers can be chopped, sealed in bags and kept in the freezer. It’s economical and time-saving – next time you need chopped onions, just pull out a bag.

4 Rice
Stir-fry: Fry up chopped veggies – onions, mushrooms and peppers work well. Maybe add some meat or cooked prawns. Add the rice and heat through.
Rice pudding: Add some vanilla yoghurt and chopped apple, a handful of raisins and 1tsp cinnamon to a cup of rice. Stir well, heat through and serve immediately.

Cook’s tip: Cooked white rice can be frozen after it’s cooled, so if you can’t use it right away, simply put it in an airtight container and pop it in the freezer.

5 Roast
Cold cuts: Leftover meat like roast beef, turkey or chicken can be used in sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. Leftover ham makes great ham salad or you can use it to make ham and pea soup.
Chicken soup: Put your whole leftover roast chicken – bones and all – into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 90 minutes. Then add bay leaves, carrots, onions and green beans, cover with water and simmer until veggies are soft.
6 Fruit
Jams: Use the glut of fruit in your home to make jams – if you don’t grow your own go blackberrying or look out for fruits which are reduced in price to turn into jams and compotes.
Soft fruits: Don’t throw out fruit just because it’s starting to go soft. Over-ripe fruit often makes the tastiest smoothies, muffins, pies, crumbles and tarts.
Potpourri: Don’t waste money on potpourri. Put leftover lemon peel on fire to give a zesty aroma. Freeze leftover peel for future recipes that call for zest.

Money sense..Tortillas are a great way to use leftover meat: just thinly slice it, add salsa, cheese, wrap. Asda’s tortillas cost from £1 for a pack.

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