Warming Dhal

It’s the start of a new academic year, and as usual my loan has yet to come in. I have just £2.84 available in my bank, so am reluctantly reliant on borrowed money. So…. I’m trying my best to cook well but very cheaply for the next few weeks til my damn loan comes through!

A lot of folks are probably in a similar situ. First thing to do is raid your parents cupboards for staples, pasta, rice, dried foods etc. Then think about what you can make that’s cheap that works with them.

Here is a recipe I’ve pinched from a housemate last year. Its delicious, protein rich, and very cheap.

Makes 6 servings, great for freezing

2013-10-21 14.13.13


Red Lentils, half a bag (50p)

Whole bag of spinach (£1.50)

Tomato Puree (48p for a tube, only using perhaps 2-3pence worth)

Small onion and carrot (From a “root veg” bag which is £1.00 which works out to 10p per item)

3 Garlic cloves (pinched from Mum’s cupboard)

Half bunch or fresh coriander (43p)

1/3 butternut squash (33p)

Stock cube, veg or chicken (again, pinched from Mum)

Medium Curry powder, 4tbps (80p)

Oil, tsp (pinched from Mum)

Total cost from local Asda £3.69, working out to 62p a portion. Serve on it’s own or with some boiled white rice.

Nutritional Value: 177 calories per portion (with rice ~370)

How to:

1) Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic, gently fry off with curry powder in a large saucepan. Meanwhile chop into chunks the carrot and squash. Add pan and heat through.

2) Whilst veg is heating, rinse lentils well. Add to the pan and stir well. Crumble in the stock cube and the tomato puree. Cover with boiled water, stir again, bring to the boil, and leave to simmer until the lentils are cooked through. Should be around 20 minutes, read packet instructions on lentils.

3) Whilst simmering, wash the spinach and coriander. Put the spinach to one side and chop up the coriander. When the lentils are fully cooked it should be a thick but fairly liquidy consistency, like a thick broth or stew. At this point at the spinach, if pan isn’t large enough add a handful at a time. Stir in and continue  to add until it’s all in there. Once the spinach has just starting to wilt add in the coriander. Leaving a small amount for garnish.

4) Ladle over boiled white rice, or serve on it’s own.

There you go, warming belly food. You can of course add some fresh chopped chilli if you have some around, I usually do because I’ve always got a packet of fresh chilli in the freezer and I do like a good whack of heat. Put in in with the lentils.

If you have a slow cooker, you can whack all of your ingredients in there (remembering to rinse the lentils), put on low for about 6 hours.


October 21, 2013. Tags: , , . Butternut Squash, Carrot, Curry, Dhal, Lentils, Rice, Slow cooker. Leave a comment.

Black Peas

I admit, this looks a little bit like some sort of bodily projectile – in fact I’m not going to put my pic on because you won’t make it, but it is so delicious and lovely and warm and cosy. And cheap! Stupidly cheap.

45p for the black peas (otherwise called pigeon peas or maple peas), 81p for a pack of cooking bacon, a couple of pence on a beef stock cube and a teaspoon or so of yeast extract. And I also put in a cheeky splash of left over red wine, a onion peeled and cut in half, and a peeled clove of garlic. All of these are optional, but make it very very rich and tasty. You make enough for two full meals, or to feed four for a bit of a taster/starter. Oh and make sure you have vinegar to serve them with.

If you like in Lancashire you have probably eaten these at a bonfire or fair ground somewhere out of a crappy polystyrene cup. These are so much different to that, because it feels like a proper bit of grub.

I used a slow cooker, but if you don’t have one, whack a big pan on the back burner on it’s lowest heat all day, stirring occasionally.

After soaking the peas over night, I drained them and put them in my slow cooker, covered them with beef stock and enough water to cover them, threw in the whole pack of cooking bacon and all the other bits, not forgetting the yeast extract, and left it. From 10am until 8am. With the first hour or so on high, turning it down to low for the rest. Make sure you check it regularly to make sure it’s not drying out. When the peas are tender and all the liquid has gone they are ready. It should have a thick consistency, and all the bacon should have dissolved into lovely little chunks. If it is still very liquidy an hour or two before you want to serve, whack it up on high and stir well once.

Hopefully you’ll give this a shot. It’s so cheap there is no reason not to.

February 23, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Chinese style Chicken Curry

My last Roast Chicken dinner.

And it was dead simple!!

I always get curry from the Chinese take-away. It’s really tasty and was dead simple.

DSCN0055I used this type of curry paste from the Chinese supermarket. You can get different brands of this paste from all sorts of places, markets, butchers, Asian supermarkets. Just get what you can. After you open it, it does keep for a good few months in the fridge. It’s also really nice on chips!

Other ingredients…

  • A handful of frozen onions
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • 1 large mushroom, chopped into large pieces
  • A small handful of frozen peppers
  • 1 portion of cooked chicken breast, cut into pieces.
  • A portion of rice


Here’s what I did…

  • Firstly put on your rice.
  • Soften your onion in a glug of oil, leaving the lid on, whilst you get your garlic ready. Once onions are soft, add the garlic. Leave for a minute or two and then add your mushrooms. Quickly coat in the onion and garlic then leave – do not stir.
  • Boil the kettle, and mix half a pint of boiling water to 1 and a half generous tablespoons of curry paste (it’s 3oz of mix to a pint usually). Stir until the mix is dissolved.
  • Add your your curry mix to the pan. It should thicken up pretty rapidly at this point. If it gets too thick, add more water, if after a minute or so it isn’t thick enough add a touch more paste.
  • Add your peppers and peas, stir through. Then your chicken. Stir through. Turn down the heat and put the lid on your pan.
    • Be careful not to overcook, as the chicken will disintegrate into stringy nothingness. You just need to warm it through.
  • By this point your rice should be done. (If not, your curry is fine for a couple more minutes, just stir occasionally and keep the lid on.) Drain it and plate the whole lot up.

This is such an easy recipe, you can of course use raw chicken. You will just have to cook it through along with your onion at the start. I guess you could also marinade the chicken in a little watered down paste for an hour or so if you wanted more flavour.

You could also add some chilli, or chilli powder to this if it’s not hot enough.

Hope you enjoy it! It costs about £1.70, a fraction of the price the Chinese take away usually charges! And it’s just as tasty.


January 23, 2012. Tags: , , . Chicken, Curry, Rice. Leave a comment.

Gnocchi with Chicken and Pesto

I’m sorry, I have no photo…

I was way too hungry! I had to wait for my housemates to finish cooking, so by the time I got in there to throw together my dinner all I wanted to do was flop down, enjoy it and watch Sherlock (again – Isn’t it a good un!!??).

But I’ll still tell you what I did.


  • A portion of cooked chicken
  • Half an onion, sliced thinly length ways
  • A portion of Gnocci.
    • I used half of a 78p pack, but I really should have used a third of it (I read the portion size on the back after I cooked them – fool), there was WAY to much.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2-3 sun dried tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • A large spoon of pesto
    • I bet you’re thinking… Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, what kind of student can afford those?!? Well they were both cheap from Home Bargains. Otherwise I would not have bought them. Haha!
  • A handful of grated mature cheddar
  • A knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Okay this is dead simple. And stupidly quick.

Boiled water from the kettle, put it in a pan with some salt, and then put in your little lovely gnocci. Bring the water back to the boil for 2-3 mins, until they have risen to the top. Drain them.

Whilst they’re boiling away, soften the onions. Then add the garlic. Fry for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Give it all a good stir. The add your gnocci. Stir it round until every little gnocci is coated in cheesy pesto yumminess.

You’re done.

Plate up on a warmed plate, put your plate in the microwave for a minute whilst everything is cooking. Then when you plate it up in wont go cold as soon as you whack it on the plate.

I wish I had taken a photo before I inhaled the whole lot. If I do it again I’ll put the photo up.

Until next time….


January 22, 2012. Tags: , , . Chicken, Gnocci, Pesto. Leave a comment.

Sweet Chilli Chicken Stir Fry

Roast chicken part II….

Okay, so I was going to create some sort of Italian pasta/pesto inspired thing, but then I walked past the Chinese chippy on my way home from work and all I could think of was take away, so to quench my thirst for delicious Chinese grub I did a stir fry with some of my roasted chicken from yesterday.


It was so quick and easy. Perfect for after a 10 hour shift.

What you will need….

  • A portion of cooked chicken
  • Veg, whatever you like.
    • I used a frozen Chinese veg mix from Asda, if I’m being honest, I don’t rate it. Yes it is cheap and easy but it has a bit of an odd taste, and I have no idea why. If I was to do it again, I would probably use some frozen diced onion and chopped chilli, a clove of garlic, some frozen sweet peppers and some finely chopped carrot.
  • Sweet chilli sauce, or your favourite stir fry sauce.
    • I picked up some for just 10p at Home Bargains!
  • Light soya sauce
  • Egg noodles

Here’s what I did….

If you’re using dried noodles like I do, put them on the boil first. Boiled for 3-4 minutes until just soft.

Get the rest of your ingredients ready.

Soften your onions in a wok with a good glug of oil, then add your garlic. Stir around for a minute or so, add the rest of your veg and chicken, stir around too. Add your sauce.

Your noodles should be done by this point, drain them.

Add noodles to your wok. Give a good stir around.

Add light soya sauce to taste.


I also steamed some dumplings, I put these on first before I started boiling the noodles.


So there you have it. Fulfilled my craving for take away at a fraction of the cost.


January 21, 2012. Tags: , , . Chicken, Noodles, Stir fry, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Roast Chicken Dinner

I know it’s not a Sunday but….

I had a whole chicken in the fridge that needed cooking, and some veggies in and tatties, so roast dinner it was!

Over the next few days you’ll see me create a couple of other dinners with cooked chicken.

But back to this evening.


Here’s what I did….

Firstly, the chicken! I absolutely love chicken, a whole roast chicken especially.

In my cupboard I had a couple of those “Maggi” roasting bag seasoning kit things. I used one of those. They were really cheap from home bargains, and great for a student, because I don’t have a proper roasting dish to use.

So I whacked my roast chicken in the bag, threw in the seasoning and gave it a good shake. Fastened it up. Pricked a few small holes in the top. Put it on a baking tray, in the oven on 180 degrees c, for an hour and a half, you’ll have to check the time for your own chicken. I just followed the timing guidelines on the pack.

That’s it!

After I got it out of the oven, I let it rest on the side for about 10 minutes, before putting the whole thing over a pan, cutting a hole in it to drain all the juice from the bag to make gravy.

Drained the fat off the juice, brought it up to the boil, added a bit of water and a small amount of chicken gravy granules to thicken it up. Jobs a good un.


As you can see, I had mash and steamed veg. The veg is pretty self explanatory. I used my bamboo steamer, put a bit of grease proof paper in it and stabbed it a few times.

The mash… oh the mash!!!!

I love mash.

Potato’s, boiled until soft. 3 small/medium tats per person, peeled and chopped into equal sizes. Drain the water, put back into the pan with liberal helpings of butter, salt and pepper. Mash mash mash whilst it is still hot. When it is smooth and lovely, add a very small dash of milk if you wish, gives it a creamier texture. I then added some chopped spring onions and a small handful or grated mature cheddar cheese. You don’t have to do this, but I needed to eat my spring onions as they were starting to turn.


So there you have it, being a student is absolutely no excuse not to eat proper grub.

The chicken was on offer at Asda (two for £7.00), so it only cost £3.50. And I will very easily get 4 meals out of this! Which is 86p a portion. This makes my dinner tonight come to a whopping…. £1.63.


January 19, 2012. Tags: . Broccoli, Carrot, Chicken, Gravy, Mash, Potato, Roast. Leave a comment.

Stuffed Potato Skins

The rediscovery of the potato.

Until recently I never bought potato’s, presuming that I wouldn’t eat them quick enough and they would go soft. But I bought some, and my god, I’m a born-again potato lover. Move over bread, make way pasta, there is a new carb in town and he is deeee-lish!

Out of a humble potato, within a mere 20 minutes or so you can have cheesy creamy mash, or a jacket potato, or crispy roasted potatoes. With day old cooked potatoes you can create delicious re-baked masterpieces of heaven, covered in crispy bacon and onion, topped with cheese.

Within 15 minutes, I had stuffed potato skins, which were a great pick me up nestled in my long day of revising and reading academic papers.


DSCN0016Pre-heated my oven to 180 degrees c. Then I cut my potato length ways and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes. I then got busy with making my filling, thin slices of onion and mushroom, mashed up with a bit of butter, salt, pepper, dried basil and a sprinkling of mature cheddar. When my tatties were out of the microwave, I held them with a kitchen towel or two to stop my hands burning off, and mushed up the flesh with a fork and scooped it out into my filling mix, being careful not to tear the skin of handsome Mr. Potato. Mixing my filling together first, then squashing it back into my potato, I made heavenly ensembles of yumminess. These then went on a baking tray in the oven for a mere 10 minutes. Once out I topped with some chilli ketchup.

Your filling mix could be anything you want, which what makes these great. And the fact that they take so little time to make.

If I had another potato (which sadly I don’t) I would make them all over again….


January 14, 2012. Tags: , , , . Potato, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Won ton noodle soup

Yummy yummy in my tummy!

I really love won ton noodle soup, and soup noodles in general. My favourite noodle bar in Liverpool (Big Bowl near the Chinese Gates) serves the most delicious Chicken Laksa. So I’m kind of using ideas from that too.

I’ve never made anything like this before, so it was a massive experiment, and I steamed some dumplings too, which I’ve never done. So if you’ve got any good suggestions on how to improve what I’ve done, please share.

This is really customizable (like everything I post really), so add and take away the flavours that you want. But as this recipe stands, it’s coming to about £1.00 for the soup and 45p for four dumplings, depending on were you shop.

(Yes you may notice there are only 3 steamed dumplings – One of them jumped up off the plate and went into my mouth before I had a chance to take the pic)



Okay so here is what I bought to make the soup….

  • Some instant soup noodles, which includes a sachet of flavouring – or just normal noodles you can make soup out of with some chicken stock. B0th work well.
    • You can get some really nice, Asian-ey style instant noodles from Home Bargains for 23p. They are really tasty.
  • 3 or 4 Won tons
    • I got mine from the Chinese supermarket in the frozen section. I think it was £5.00 for a tray of 32, which will easily do me around 8-10 portions.
  • A small dash of curry powder
  • A dash of Light soya sauce
  • Chilli sauce, add this to taste
  • 1 large mushroom, very thinly sliced
  • 1 spring onion

Boil the kettle, and place your frozen won tons in the smallest pan you have, pour over boiling water, I would say a mugs worth, until the won tons are covered. Put the stove on it’s highest heat and leave for a minute or two. Then put in your flavour sachet or stock cube and curry powder and stir carefully until dissolved. Then add the rest of the ingredients, except the spring onion. Leave for another few minutes until your won tons have cooked through (I tested mine by stabbing them with a sharp narrow knife, to about half way through the wonton, and seeing if the tip of the knife was hot – they also turn a slightly different colour). You may need to add a little more water if your noodles soak it all up. Serve in the biggest bowl you have and top with spring onions.

If you want to make your own won tons, there is a great recipe here, which looks surprisingly easy. http://wp.me/p1yhE5-cA

The dumpling steaming was a lot easier than I thought. I bought them again from the frozen section at the Chinese supermarket. Firstly I filled a small pan with hot water, and put it on the boil. I also lined my steamer with a sheet of grease proof paper which I stabbed a couple of holes into, to stop the dumplings sticking. I then placed the steamer over the pan of hot water for around 6-8 minutes, or until cooked, again I wasn’t sure on exact timings (all instructions were in Chinese) so I stabbed into the middle of each one to see if it was hot. I got “Triple Meat” dumplings, they were very yummy, and I had them with a dash of light soya sauce. Seeing as my local Chinese take away charge £2.80 for four of these, and my four cost me a measly 45p, they tasted even better…..



January 13, 2012. Tags: , , . Dumplings, Noodles, Soup, Uncategorized, Won ton. Leave a comment.

Broccoli and Chicken Stir Fry

Hey Folks

This is just a quick one. Not even taken a photo, it was too delicious and I had to eat it because I was very hungry. I think it works out to around £2.00.

But I will tell you what I did…..

Firstly you need to prep all you ingredients – this is a quick one!

  • 1 chicken breast, sliced as finely as you can
  • A few florets of broccoli, sliced as finely as you can
  • 1 small carrot, sliced length ways as fine as you can
  • 1/4 of an onion, sliced again in long pieces as finely as you can
  • 1 clove of garlic… sliced…. you get the picture
  • 2 spring onions, sliced….(optional)
  • A little ( I would say perhaps half a teaspoon) of grated fresh ginger
    • Here is a wee tip… freeze your little stub of garlic, and grate it as you need it. Same goes with fresh chillies, buy a packet (normally about 40p for 4-5) and slice off what you want when you need it. And I do the same with fresh parmesan if I can afford to buy it!!
  • Light soya sauce, you’ll need around a tablespoon
  • Dark soya sauce (if you have it), a small splash
    • Adds a bit more of a richer flavour and gives it that lovely dark colour.
  • Either chilli paste, or sauce (sweet or hot) or a chopped frozen chilli, whichever you have. I used a dash of hot sauce, with a good glug of sweet.
  • A good glug of oil, I use extra virgin olive oil, but only because it was cheap from Home Bargains.
  • A nest of egg noodles, or ready to wok noodles.
    • It’s best to perhaps cook these according to instructions on the packet before you start the stir fry itself, then drain and put a little oil over them and leave them on the side until you need them.

So that’s the hard bit over…

Put some oil in your pan, it has to be a fairly large frying pan, or a wok, put the heat on the highest. Throughout this whole process you need to continuously stir! This will stop things burning and sticking to the bottom of your pan. First add your onions. Once softened add the garlic and ginger. A quick stir round. Then add your chicken – it should be so finely sliced, it turns white from pink within about 30 secs. Don’t worry about it cooking through yet. Add your broccoli and carrots. Stir everything up and add your soya sauce and chilli sauce. Stir fry for about 5 minutes. When this veg is just starting to go a little soft, add your noodles and continue stir frying for another minute or so. Plate up your dinner and top with the spring onion.

…et voila…!

Easy peasy lemon squeazy.

Mine was super yummy sat watching the Simpsons and drinking Ribena.


January 12, 2012. Tags: . Broccoli, Chicken, Noodles, Stir fry. Leave a comment.

Sausage Casserole

This is one of my all time favourites

It’s homely, warm and comforting. I used my slow cooker again, but you can use your oven instead.

You can do many things to accompany this too. I had mine with sweet potato mash. But my Mum tops it with dumplings. You could also serve it with some pasta too, or normal mash or a jacket.

This dish is so easy, basically just whacking your favourite veggies in a big pot, with the herbs you like, with a tin of tomatoes and sausage and bacon. You can’t really go wrong.

It will easily stretch to 4 meals if you add all the other things to it. So this makes this come to about 90p a portion. Again, tub it up, let it go cold and fridge or freezer it.



  • 1 brown onion, diced.
    • Frozen ones will do fine
  • A clove of garlic
  • A packet of sausages
  • A couple of slices of smoked bacon, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 can of tinned chopped tomatoes
  • A good squidge of tomato puree, probably about a tablespoon
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained (optional)
  • Mushrooms, quartered (optional)
  • A handful or two of frozen chopped peppers
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into equal slices. (optional)
  • A teaspoon of dried basil or mixed herbs. Whatever is your taste really.
  • Small pinch of thyme (if you have it)
  • Grated cheese, I use mature cheddar

How to…

  1. Fry off your onions, once softened add the garlic and continue to fry for a couple of minutes. Empty this into either your slow cooker pot or a large casserole pot.
  2. Fry off your bacon chunks in the same frying pan, and then add your sausages (make sure you prick them so they don’t burst). Continue cooking until they are browned – the sausages do not need to be cooked. Drain of fat and put into your pot.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients into your pot. Give it all a good stir. You could maybe add a dash of red or white wine if you feel inclined. Or add whatever herbs you like. You could even add some chilli or chilli flakes. Whatever is your taste really.
  4. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 6 hours. Or put the lid on your casserole dish and place in the oven at 180 degrees C for 30-40 minutes.
  5. If you’re using a slow cooker, an hour before finish top with the cheese. If you were doing dumplings with this, this is when you would add them, ensuring there is enough liquid in the pot. If you are cooking in the oven, after half an hour, take the lid off your pot, top with cheese and put back in the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes – again if you were adding dumplings this would be when.

January 11, 2012. Tags: , , , . Bacon, Casserole, Chickpeas, Pork, Sausage, Slow cooker. Leave a comment.

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