Tag Archives: frugal

Lentil pate

140927-lentil-pate-cover-photo-1000x639Once again I’ve struggled to update lately – I really need to get some kind of routine back in because I’m really missing updating this blog!

Don’t worry though, I’ve still been saving money, keeping grocery costs low and cooking as much as I can from scratch. This month I’ve split my grocery budget into separate amounts for food and toiletries so I can better track what’s going where, but I’ll do a proper round-up at the end of the month and set a target on here for October too.

I’m really looking forward to sharing some new recipes on here. Since I started my new job three months ago, I’ve gotten into a slightly different cooking and meal routine. This is partly because I’ve been exercising a lot more and trying to eat really healthily, and it means I’ve been really experimenting, especially with lunch and breakfast foods. These new recipes aren’t always the cheapest though (I don’t eat soup as much now and given my usual soup recipe was about 12p a portion I can’t get salad anywhere near as cheap!) so my next challenge is to ‘frugalise’ some of these new recipes up a bit more 🙂

Today I’ve got a quick and easy recipe for a vegetarian lentil pate, perfect for an easy lunch with crackers or pitta bread, or even used as a sandwich spread. You could also serve it for a vegetarian starter or (as I did today) as part of a mezze platter for a main course. We had it along with hummous, garlic mayo, pittas, a bulghar wheat salad and roasted veg – SO tasty.

The recipe was kindly shared on the MSE forums by another user a few years ago, though I’ve very slightly adapted it below. It doesn’t look the prettiest but it’s tasty and incredibly cheap – mostly because it has no expensive ingredients in it. However, to get it so cheap I’ve been really embracing buying in bulk lately – the 2kg bag of red lentils for ÂŁ2 is the one I actually have and I bought a similar 4kg bag of onions from Morrisons a few weeks ago. Even if you don’t want to invest in giant bags of these of these it’ll still be fairly cheap though.

Lentil pate (makes 4-6 lunch portions at 7-11p per portion)

  • 150g red lentils 15p (TRS, ÂŁ2 for 2kg)
  • 1 pint water, just boiled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 4p (Asda, ÂŁ2.89 for 1ltr)
  • 2 medium onions, about 250g, finely chopped or grated 11p (ÂŁ1.67 for 4 kilos)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed 6p (90p for 4 bulbs)
  • 2-3 tbsp dried mixed herbs (you can either use a generic mixed herbs or mix in whichever dried herbs you like – I used some mixed herbs then added extra basil, oregano and thyme) 5p (Smartprice, 25p for 18g)

Add the red lentils and water to a large saucepan, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and put the lid on the pan. Leave to cook for around 12-15 minutes, checking on it and stirring occasionally: you’ll need to take it off the heat when it starts catching on the bottom, but you want most of the liquid to have gone. Stir well with a wooden spoon to mash slightly.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions gently for several minutes until starting to colour. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute or two. Remove from the heat and add to the lentils, along with the dried herbs.

At this point, you’ll need to season quite well with salt and pepper – lentils can be really bland unless you salt them well, so I used about half a teaspoon here. Leave to cool and serve with crackers, pittas or toast.

Variations – try swapping the mixed herbs for curry powder or other spices. Or use different lentils or beans, though they’ll be a little more expensive. The original recipe also suggested adding a spoonful of vinegar at the end to season, which I think would be la nice touch but I totally forgot about when I made mine.

Prices checked using Asda online delivery service.


How to make the most of a kitchen mistake

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Tonight’s planned meal was cottage pie – I was going to make enough for four portions, following my own advice about cooking for the freezer.

But I made a very basic kitchen blunder and failed to check I had all the ingredients before I started cooking.

I’d fried off the onions and mince, and added the carrots and beef stock, before going into the fridge to get out the potatoes – except, oops, no potatoes left.

After staring blankly at the fridge for a couple of minutes, I realised why it was such a good thing to be flexible in the kitchen.  My first instinct wasn’t to go and buy some potatoes (especially since we’re getting some delivered tomorrow), which I could have done, but instead to think “what I can I turn this into that doesn’t use potatoes?

Some tinned tomatoes,  cloves of garlic and oregano later, I had four lovely portions of spag bol.

Obviously this isn’t how I usually make spag bol – I normally grate the carrots, add some finely sliced mushroom and fry off the garlic with the onion.  If I had any, I’d add some red wine (I never buy wine for cooking unless we have guests, but there’s often some sitting around leftover from a party).  But it was still delicious, and by being flexible I saved myself a trip to the shops and a couple of quid.

Easy Spaghetti Bolognaise sauce (serves four generously)

  • 4 small onions, chopped 12p
  • 400g beef mince ÂŁ2
  • 4 small carrots, chopped (I’d grate normally) 20p
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes 62p
  • Beef stock, to cover 15p
  • 1 tbsp oregano 6p
  • 2 big cloves garlic, crushed 6p
  • Couple of teaspoons vegetable oil 4p

Around 85p per person including value spaghetti

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Gently fry off the onions with a little bit of vegetable oil and once softened, add the garlic and mince.  Cooked until browned, siphoning off some of the fat if you haven’t got lean mince.  Add the carrots, cover with beef stock and add the chopped tomatoes and oregano.  Simmer away until reduced and everything is nice and well cooked.

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Serve with 75-100g spaghetti per person (up to 16p for 4 people if using value spaghetti), a little parmesan or similar, and some salad or garlic bread if you want.  I added some chopped fresh basil on the top as I have a plant growing on my windowsill.  

Variations: add sliced mushrooms, peppers and/or olives in place as or as well as the carrots; add wine in place of or as well as the stock; to make it suitable for vegetarians and vegans, swap the mince for green-brown lentils (I’d guess you’d need 150-200g and obviously don’t brown them!) and the beef stock for veg stock.