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:
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 mysupermarket.co.uk 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.
My initial shopping list on mysupermarket.co.uk
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.
The fruit & veg section at our local Tesco; sadly today's headline offers were all fruit-based.
The fruits of a successful shopping trip.
Cooking in progress.
Cannelloni stuffed with yummy mushroom mixture.
Kale & Mushroom Cannelloni Recipe
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
For the white sauce:
30g (1oz) butter
30g (1oz) flour
200ml (7 fl.oz) milk
16 dried cannelloni tubes
30g (1oz) cheddar cheese
- Melt the butter for the mushrooms in a large saucepan.
- Finely chop the onion and garlic, and sauté in the butter until soft.
- 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.
- Shred the kale into the mushrooms and simmer over a low heat.
- In a separate frying pan, heat the olive oil.
- Finely chop the onion and green pepper, and fry until soft.
- Add the tinned tomatoes to the onion and pepper, and season with paprika and black pepper.
- 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.)
- Set aside the mushrooms and kale.
- To make the white sauce, melt the remaining butter together with the flour in a saucepan.
- Add a little milk to the flour and butter mixture, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, to form a thick roux.
- Add the remaining milk, little by little, continuing to stir.
- Season the sauce with black pepper.
- Stir the white sauce into the mushroom mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F).
- Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the mushroom mixture, and arrange the tubes in an ovenproof dish.
- If you have a little filling left over, just stuff it around the outside of the tubes.
- Smother the cannelloni with the tomato sauce.
- Grate the cheese onto the top of the dish.
- 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.