Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni - Healthy Family Meals

I was challenged by the Collective Bias Social Fabric Community to put together a healthy family meal for under £10. As part of this shopping study, I was asked to go shopping for ingredients to put together a nutritious recipe on a budget. I was compensated for my time, but recipes and opinions are my own.

Spoiler: it ends with this mushroom and kale cannelloni:

Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni #shop #cbias

It's hard to argue that homemade is cheaper than ready meals these days, when you can buy a one-serving meal for less than a quid, but at least if you make your own then you know exactly what you're eating. And as a vegetarian, the budget options are often comparatively unappealing. (Good luck finding kale in the cheap freezer meals section.)

I like to think that I'm quite good at saving money in the supermarket, so I enjoyed the challenge of sticking to a budget. We always shop around, have all the loyalty cards, and stock up on larger quantities of non-perishable stuff whenever there's a good deal on.

I also collect vouchers for products we'd be buying anyway - but we won't buy something (or switch to a more expensive brand) just because there's a coupon. Speaking of which, I generally find that own-brand products are just as good as the big names, and can be quite a lot cheaper. We've noticed that Tesco's Everyday Value range is consistently decent quality, so that was the store that sprung to mind when I was thinking about where to shop and what to buy.

I also find really useful when planning a meal. It's easy to use, and allows you to check the price of ingredients across several supermarkets to see which is the cheapest. You can even save your shopping list and synchronise it with the mobile version.

Healthy Budget Meals #shop #cbias
My initial shopping list on

I headed to Tesco with a plan in the back of my mind, which revolved around making mushroom cannelloni out of 32p lasagne sheets. But as always, I was happy to be inspired by offers in store.

On this occasion, what particularly caught my eye was half-price kale, reduced to 50p for a sizeable packet. That sounded like something which would be perfect with the mushrooms, especially if I threw in a few cloves of garlic. I also found pre-formed cannelloni for 95p, which seemed a worthwhile upgrade to save the mess of rolling my own.

My bill for the cannelloni ingredients was £9.56, so just within budget. However, if you account for leftover flour, butter, cheese, etc. then the actual cost for the four servings is a much more sensible £5.45.

To round off the meal, I made a jam sponge pudding (not healthy, but yum!), which with current prices, works out at about 90p to serve four, plus 15p for a packet of instant custard. In total, then, that's £1.63 per person for a hearty two-course dinner.

Healthy Budget Meals #shop #cbias
The fruit & veg section at our local Tesco; sadly today's headline offers were all fruit-based.

Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni #shop #cbias
The fruits of a successful shopping trip.

Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni #shop #cbias
Cooking in progress.

Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni #shop #cbias
Cannelloni stuffed with yummy mushroom mixture.

Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni #shop #cbias
And the final dish, ready to eat.

Kale & Mushroom Cannelloni Recipe
Serves 4

For the mushroom and kale mix:
15g (½oz) butter
1 large onion
5 large cloves garlic
600g (1lb 5oz) mushrooms
100g (4oz) curly kale

For the tomato sauce:
2tsp olive oil
1 large onion
½ green bell pepper
1 tin of tomatoes
½tsp paprika
black pepper

For the white sauce:
30g (1oz) butter
30g (1oz) flour
200ml (7 fl.oz) milk

16 dried cannelloni tubes
30g (1oz) cheddar cheese
  1. Melt the butter for the mushrooms in a large saucepan.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic, and sauté in the butter until soft.
  3. Dice the mushrooms and add to the pan. I find it works fine to add the mushrooms a few at a time, as I'm chopping them, which just results in some pieces being slightly softer than others at the end.
  4. Shred the kale into the mushrooms and simmer over a low heat.
  5. In a separate frying pan, heat the olive oil.
  6. Finely chop the onion and green pepper, and fry until soft.
  7. Add the tinned tomatoes to the onion and pepper, and season with paprika and black pepper.
  8. Once the kale is tender, drain the liquid from the mushroom mixture into the tomato sauce. (Turn up the heat on the frying pan to reduce the liquid.)
  9. Set aside the mushrooms and kale.
  10. To make the white sauce, melt the remaining butter together with the flour in a saucepan.
  11. Add a little milk to the flour and butter mixture, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, to form a thick roux.
  12. Add the remaining milk, little by little, continuing to stir.
  13. Season the sauce with black pepper.
  14. Stir the white sauce into the mushroom mixture.
  15. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F).
  16. Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the mushroom mixture, and arrange the tubes in an ovenproof dish.
  17. If you have a little filling left over, just stuff it around the outside of the tubes.
  18. Smother the cannelloni with the tomato sauce.
  19. Grate the cheese onto the top of the dish.
  20. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is crispy.

I'm submitting this recipe to two recipe round-ups with a healthy theme this month: Four Seasons Food and One Ingredient. Apparently everyone is enjoying a new year's health kick this month!

Four Seasons Food is hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg. One Ingredient is hosted by Franglais Kitchen and How To Cook Good Food.


Mike Harvey said...

I'm surprised that you rate Tesco's budget range as good. I bought a bag of their budget oats some time ago and quite frankly it would have been more honest of them to have labelled it as oat flour.

On the custard, how much would it have cost to make 'proper' custard?

Elizabeth Braun said...

Thanks for that supermarket comparison link, Rachel. I need to do some cost cutting as Research Councils don't pay enough to cope with inflation and car repairs!!=)

We too buy a lot of the 'Value', 'Savers' and 'Basics' ranges. They're all good at all the big supermarkets that do them. The key is to just buy simple/single ingredients, so yes, tinned toms, kidney beans, fresh produce, cheese etc. Those things are good and the frozen veg are great as they are cut into convenient add-to-your-dish sized pieces. The composite stuff like pasta sauce etc isn't so good we've found, although we rarely buy anything like that anyway.=)

Rachel said...

I've got the mushrooms - now all I need to find is the curly kale! This could probably be done as a lasagne, as well...

Sarah Ebner said...

This looks delicious - and such good value. Thanks for the ideas!

Emma said...

So, it's interesting about supermarket own brands being 'as good' - quite often I think they're made by the same factory as big names (and rival supermarkets!). I think I saw a TV programme about this a while ago, how it could be three quite differently priced tins on the shelf but have almost identical contents, processed in the same factory.

Rebecca Subbiah said...

looks delicious and nice challenge

Anonymous said...

I love this challenge! I need to just do this once a week and see the fruits of my labor because my family deserves it. The canneloi looks and sounds fab! I think here in the US the brand name vs. store names are hit or miss.

Honeybee GB said...

I agree. Homemade meal is not only cheaper but healthier too. When you prepare and cook meals at home, you have better control over the nutritional content. That looks good anyway. I would love to try!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Looks and sounds delicious.

Kara said...

This looks really yummy. I'll have to convert to $$ and see how much it would be for me. Unfortunately I have some picky eaters in my house!! I'd have to fix this meal for me and my youngest daughter. Thanks for the recipe!

K. Elizabeth @ YUMMommy said...

Minus the mushrooms, I wouldn't mind trying this recipe out. It looks delicious and I love pasta!

Erinn Sluka said...

I have never cooked with Kale. I suppose I should for the health benefits. This recipe looks great!

Midnight Cowgirl said...

That looks delicious!

Blond Duck said...

That's so cool!

Louisa, Eat Your Veg said...

I'm going to give MySupermarket a go one day soon, seems like a fairly easy way to compare your weekly shop which I really must do. This does look like a fabulous dinner for well under a tenner. And the Mushroom & Kale Canneloni is right up my street, looks so tasty, comforting and inviting. Delish. Thanks so much for linking up to this month's 'virtuous' Four Seasons Food challenge.

Katerina said...

This is one beautiful dish! I love it!

Karen S Booth said...

FABULOUS recipe Rachel and as a lover of lasagne and kale, I have bookmarked this! Karen

Slamdunk said...

I'd say you hit a home run with that dinner Rachel. Making a great meal with an unlimited budget can still be a challenge--thanks for showing how it can be done with limitations.

Enjoy your weekend.

Charlotte Klein said...

Your pictures are making me very hungry, Rachel. Also mushrooms and kale are my favorite veggies to eat together, though I usually just suate them in garlic and olive oil. Would love to try this and turn Bryan on to kale once and for all!

I do the same re: bargain shopping, because who doesn't like to save a few at the supermarket? I have found that even some of the expensive markets (for us it's Whole Foods) do have items that are marked down AND they offer their own manufacturer's coupons--so prices for produce/organic pastas and things can be comparative to what you'd find in other supermarkets.


Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

That looks very appetizing! I know I would love them!

Nicole @ said...

I have never tried kale. Looking for a recipe to try though - I hear such raves about it! Thanks for sharing this.

Michelle Nahom said...

This looks really good Rachel. I wish my family liked mushrooms...only my youngest and I do. Maybe I will make this for just us! What a treat! That was a great challenge too...I need to think more about the price when planning meals. Our grocery bill could stand some cutting.

Lavender and Lime ( said...

It is scary that you can get a precooked meal for cheaper than home made. But home made is always better :)

Deena Kakaya said...

what a lovely way to use kale, I can imagine it would retain its crisp and deep qualities in canneloni rather than becoming overcooked x

christine said...

Mmm, kale:) It's so easy to grow, and therefore cheap, and it will stand through the frost and ice - I'm amazed it's not one of the cheapest veggies out there! And it's so tasty, too. Lovely sounding recipe:)

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