Spicy Bean and Stuffing Stew

bean stew

As many of you who follow me are aware I have just commenced a new project called Kitty’s Basic Kitchen. I have put most of my kitchen utensils, spices and other store-cupboard food away in boxes, with the aim of seeing to what extent it is possible to build a kitchen and cook healthy food on a very limited budget.

This is the second recipe in the series. The first thing which I cooked was homemade stuffing and roast vegetables; which quickly made me realise that I had missed something important out of my basic kitchen – a baking tray! Steve and I ate only half of the stuffing I cooked; I had thought to use the extra for stuffing sandwiches for lunch (yum!) but some Pinterest inspiration led me to make this stew.

This one-pot meal was inspired by this recipe from the blog ‘My Fussy Eater’, with some key differences:

  • Instead of sausages I used up cooked stuffing leftover from the meal yesterday;
  • I had in the fridge half a tin of baked beans which I used instead of butter beans;
  • because of the tomato juice in the beans I only used half a tin of tomatoes;
  • paprika has not yet made it into the store-cupboard I am starting from scratch, so I used chilli instead.
  • I am sadly lacking tomato puree; and
  • I didn’t end up adding any stock because there was enough salt in the baked beans.

This fed two people, we dipped bread in it and it was really yummy. If I had used the whole tin of tomatoes and added a tin of butter beans then it would have also made at least one lunch for the following day.

I didn’t need to change the method to fit in with my emptied kitchen, so I don’t think that I need to re-write the recipe. The only difference was that I didn’t need to first cook the sausages. So, on to costs.

Cost

The cost of the stuffing was already accounted for as part of the meal yesterday.

  • an onion – £0.09
  • two carrots – £0.07
  • 2 cloves of garlic – £0.05
  • tin of tomatoes – £0.35 (I used Asda’s cheapest, they were okay but contained more liquid than a more expensive tin. I only used half, but have included all the cost in this meal and will exclude it from the cost of the meal tomorrow.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs – £0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes – £0.01
  • 1/2 tin of baked beans – £0.25 (I used the cheapest I could find in the Co-op, I thought that they would be all sauce and no bean but they were actually pretty good. I have included the full cost of the tin because the beans on toast we had at the weekend weren’t accounted for elsewhere.)
  • I haven’t yet worked out the cost of a tablespoon of oil, but I assume that it is negligible. I will go with £0.05 for sake of argument.
  • Bread to dip – £0.25

Ingredients Cost = £1.13 !!

But wait, we haven’t done utensils yet and I had forgotten something obvious from my Basic Kitchen a tin opener! Having found it in the bottom of a box I now need to add the cost to my monthly £10 utensil budget. What do I do? Should I go for the cheapest I can find and hope that it won’t fall apart in the first week? I expect that I will have forgotten some other obvious things, so cheapest it is.

Utensil Cost – £2.50

Spicy bean stew

stew2

 

Sage & Onion Stuffing with Roasties

A day into my Basic Kitchen project and I have already made my first ‘purchase’ – a baking tray! I found an equivalent for £1 in Asda. I managed to resist buying back one of my mixing bowls, using my one saucepan to crumb the bread into instead.

I wouldn’t have expected the first of a series on frugal recipes to include meat, but I had defrosted the sausage meat a couple of days ago so it needed using up. Usually I would wrap stuffing balls in bacon, which prevents the stuffing from drying out and has the added bonus that the vegetables cook in bacon fat. However, I went to spend my weekly £10 at the Co-op following days upon days of snow and the shelves were bare. Oh well.

The meal including the baking tray cost £2.82, the cost breakdown is at the bottom of the page.

sage and onion stuffing

Ingredients

  • Pack of sausage meat
  • Remains of a dried loaf
  • A few sage leaves (from my garden; if I had used dried sage this would have added to the cost of the meal)
  • Half an onion
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • A splash of milk
  • Three potatoes
  • Five carrots
  • Teaspoon of mixed herbs
  • Drizzle of oil

Sage and onion stuffing Ingredients

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Chop the vegetables and put onto a baking tray, then sprinkle them with herbs and pepper and drizzle with oil.

Break the bread into crumbs – this was rather more time consuming than usual without my food processor! You will need approximately the same volume of breadcrumbs as you have sausage meat. Any excess breadcrumbs can be put into a box or bag and frozen.

Next, rip the sage leaves into small pieces and add to the bread crumbs along with finely chopped onion, a generous pinch of salt and few grinds of black pepper. Add the sausage meat and mix into the dry ingredients, adding small splashes of milk until it binds together (don’t let it get too wet). I found it easiest to mix with a fork initially and then used my hands. You will have to use your hands to make the stuffing into balls so you will have to get your hands dirty one way or another!

Shape the stuffing into small balls and place these on top of the vegetables. Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 45 minutes.

I would have served this with gravy but I forgot and we were hungry! I will share gravy making with you another time.

sage and onion stuffing

Costs

Note that where I already have ingredients in my store cupboard (such as mixed herbs) I have given the cost of the ingredient used; whereas when I introduce a new ingredient I will give the full cost as if I were buying it from the supermarket.

I am not sure how to cost a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, a drizzle of oil and a splash of milk!

I have included the cost of all the stuffing balls even though we saved some for the next meal, so tomorrow’s meal will not include the cost of the stuffing.

Stuffing

  • Sausage meat – £1.10 (this had been in my freezer since Christmas and I can’t remember the real cost, so I looked up the cost of frozen sausage meat from Sainsbury’s)
  • Breadcrumbs – £0.25
  • Half an Onion – £0.04
  • Sage – using sage from my garden cost nothing. If I had added dried sage to my basic store-cupboard at this stage it would have added up to £1 to my weekly spending, depending on which supermarket I used.

Vegetables

  • Carrots – £0.12
  • Potatoes – £0.30
  • Mixed herbs – £0.02

Equipment

  • Baking Tray – £1

Total Cost = £2.82

The Privilege of Economising

Here begins a project that has been at the back of my mind for a year or more…

When I was living in Stroud, Gloucestershire and involved with my local foodbank I did a project which looked at the barriers which stop people from shopping and cooking frugally. There are many. A key thing I noticed when talking to people at foodbank drop-ins and to friends and neighbours who struggle financially is that many people don’t have the kitchen capacity to cook meals with multiple stages and ingredients; which means that they are restricted to expensive pre-prepared meals. What I mean by kitchen capacity is that they may have only a single saucepan, no mixing bowl, no chopping board… and they can be the lucky ones. I met many a single guy who lived in a single room with only a kettle – sometimes only a kettle shared among many, and when that was stolen or broken sandwiches and crisps were the order of the day.

It made me realise how many ‘implements’ I use in my cooking, and how the healthy, cheap food I cook is made much easier by having a well stocked kitchen. I have also realised that taking advantage of economies of scale are often the privilege of the wealthy; whether this is bulk-buying ingredients, having a slow cooker and large pans to bulk cook, or buying clothes that are expensive but won’t fall apart after a month.

utensils

So, the project that I have had at the back of my mind. I am going to pretend from this moment that I am starting my kitchen pretty much from scratch (I probably should have done this from when we first moved to our rented place, which has a much smaller kitchen than I am accustomed to – the cupboards are overflowing and make me stressed every time I try to find something!). I am going to start with what I consider ‘basic’ (which is still more than many people have) which I have costed up as though I were buying new items from the supermarket. Everything else will go into a box and everytime I realise that there is something else that I need I will have to ‘buy’ it back, factoring in this cost to the price of the meal I am cooking. I will also start with what I consider a basic store cupboard, everytime I feel I need a different spice I will have to ‘buy it back’ from the spice store that I will put to one side – I will find this difficult! Again, the store-cupboard prices come from current supermarket prices. I have assumed at this stage that I could afford to bulk buy things such as rice, I will also use up anything which we already have which is perishable – I cannot abide wasting food!

SONY DSC

So, this is what I will start with :

Utensils (£20.50)

  • One saucepan
  • One multipurpose knife
  • A wooden spoon
  • chopping board
  • Two bowls
  • Two plates
  • (I can get a four piece dinner set from Asda for less than the individual pieces so I will do that)

Storecupboard (£18.30)

  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Mixed Herbs
  • Dried Chilli
  • Beef Stock Cubes
  • Vegetable Stock Cubes
  • A couple of tins of tomatoes
  • A couple of tins of pulses
  • Rice (5kg bag)
  • Pasta (3kg bag)
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Milk

I think that more frequent washing up is going to be a side effect of this way of cooking!

I intend to go back to my strict food budget – which was £5 a week when I was on my own so now will be £10 a week. I will allow myself £10 a month to add to the utensils, if there is any left this can be spent on food or spices.

I shall call this little project ‘Kitty’s Basic Kitchen’.

So, now to start stripping my kitchen of all my privileged items! Wish me luck!