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


  • 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


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


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.


  • 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.


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


  • 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.


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!


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!

Chicken, Bacon and Haggis

Last night Steve and I had a delicious and very simple meal. There isn’t much to be said about it – it was proper old fashioned meat and two veg for a cold snowy night. I couldn’t even be bothered to do mashed potato so I bunged a couple of baking spuds in the oven.

I adore haggis. I had some in the freezer left over from Burns Night – I have a habit of buying far too much haggis (as you do). I defrosted more than would fit in the chicken so we had the extra wrapped just in bacon, a bit like a stuffing ball. If you don’t like or can’t get hold of haggis then stuffing would be a nice substitute.

A word on chicken thigh – it is tastier than chicken breast and quite a lot cheaper. What’s no to like!

I could have done much more interesting vegetables, and probably would have done at a weekend – but it was a tired Thursday evening and my husband and I were more in the mood for a card game than for cooking! A chuck it in the oven and ignore it meal was definitely the order of the day.

chicken bacon and haggis


  • A boned chicken thigh per person
  • Four rashers of bacon per person
  • A handful of haggis each (possibly not a very helpful measure! I had frozen the (uncooked) haggis chopped into chunks so I could grab one or two at a time as needed)
  • Potatoes, vegetables and gravy – if the mood takes you you can be rather more creative with this than I was!


Pre-heat the oven to 180oC; put the potatoes into the top of the oven straight away if you are baking them. The potatoes take longer than the chicken so there is no need to rush the next bit (I was impatient and ended up having to give the potatoes a blast in the microwave for five minutes part way through cooking, which disrupted the card game somewhat!).

Flatten out the chicken; you will find that because the thighs have been boned there is an obvious place to open it up.

Take about a tablespoon of haggis and wrap the chicken around it. Next, wrap a couple of rashers of bacon around the chicken to hold it together as a parcel. Any remaining haggis after you have done chicken for everyone can be made into balls  with bacon wrapped around. Place in an oven dish and bake in the bottom of the oven for half to three-quarters of an hour.

Serve with vegetables and gravy (I ‘cheated’ at gravy; I found instant granules at the back of the cupboard, doctoring it just a little by using the boiling water from the carrots and adding a little of the juice from the cooked meat).


Spicy Tomato Pasta

This was a very quick, cheap and delicious midweek meal – the chilli was a bit wicked though! I’m not sure that the picture does it justice, I find pasta particularly difficult to photograph (any tips welcome!).

This served two people, with extra for a lunch.

spicy tomato pasta


  • a red onion
  • a large clove of garlic
  • a large red chilli
  • a small handful of olives
  • a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • a teaspoon of dried basil
  • a generous grind of black pepper
  • a splash of white wine (not compulsory, I just happened to have some open)
  • half a tin of tomatoes (the other half was used in curry yesterday)
  • three tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • a few handfuls of wholewheat pasta
  • grated parmesan


Finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli and fry in a little olive oil along with the mustard seeds, basil and pepper. Chop the olives and add these to the pan along with a splash of wine.

When the onion has softened add the tomato, rinse out the tin with a little hot water from the kettle and add this too. Put the pasta on to cook. Allow the sauce to simmer slowly while the pasta is cooking, adding more water if it looks like it is drying out.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and stir it into the tomato sauce along with the creme fraiche. Serve with grated parmesan on top.

Pork, Apple and Leek Pie

This delicious pie used leftover roast pork, it would also be nice with leftover cooked chicken or lamb.

Pork, Apple and Leek Pie


  • A couple of handfuls of cooked Pork, diced
  • A few rashers of Bacon
  • One Leek, washed and chopped
  • A cooking apple (I used Bramley)
  • Teaspoon of Mustard seeds
  • A couple of grinds of Black Pepper
  • Half a teaspoon of ground Mace
  • A generous slosh of Cream (you can use creme fraiche if you prefer)
  • A sheet of Puff pastry
  • An egg


Fry the bacon, mustard seeds and leek in a pan with a little butter. While this starts cooking peel and chop the apple and then it add to the pan along with black pepper and mace.

When the leeks have softened turn off the heat and stir in the leftover pork and the cream.

Lay the ready rolled puff pastry onto a baking tray and brush the edges with egg. Place about three handfuls of the filling onto one side of the pastry – it’s important not to overfill it*. Fold the other half over to form a lid, turn the edges and press down with a fork. Next, use the fork to make holes in the top to let steam out, brush with egg and sprinkle with some salt crystals.

Bake in the center of the oven at 180oC for approximately 45 minutes.


* if you have extra filling it is nice with a baked potato, or you could freeze it for a future pie. I had a go at putting it in a quiche but there was too much liquid in it so the consistency wasn’t right- it was yummy though!



Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

As usual, I am starting the year cooking in a very frugal fashion. My aim is to get to the back of my cupboards and to the bottom of my freezer by the end of the month and to have spent very little on food.

Today I was very organised; I cooked my dinner in the slow cooker, using beans that I had soaked overnight, before I left for work. Those of you who have experienced my severe aversion to mornings will be very impressed!

This is very different from the way that I would usually make chilli; because I am in serious fridge-emptying mode I used the remains of a jar of spicy tomato salsa dip and finished off a bottle of peri peri sauce for the base.

The chilli was incredibly cheap to make. However, I did spend money in the co-op on some (very unseasonal) salad, wraps and soured cream (which was in the reduced section). Steve is very good at making Tortillas, I will ask him to share the recipe with you sometime.

There was enough the next day to make enchiladas – yum.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli


  • Slow cooker bean chilliTwo cups Black-eyed Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Kidney Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Puy Lentils
  • 1/2 pot Tomato Salsa
  • approx 3rd bottle Peri Peri Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli & Lime Flakes (you can use chilli flakes without lime – I happened to already have this and am in using-up mode)
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Vegetable Stock powder
  • an Onion, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • Water, enough to cover the beans


Soak the beans the night before. Drain before using.

Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker on it’s lowest setting. Leave to cook for at least eight hours.

Serve with wraps or rice.

For the enchiladas – put a large spoonful of the Bean Chilli into the centre of a wrap, fold two ends inwards and then roll up. Place in an oven proof dish. When you have got as many wraps as you want into the dish put sour cream on top (I didn’t measure it out, I just used the remains of the pot from the previous day) and cover with grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 180oC for approximately half an hour.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli


Mulled Wine Fruit Cake

Happy New Year!!

This recipe was a flash of inspiration the day after a Christmas Party when there was a little left over mulled wine.

I haven’t been given permission to share the family mulled wine recipe, but however you make it it will benefit from the addition of oranges which when soaked in mulled wine make this cake rather special.

2017-12-09 15.30.33.jpg


  • 300ml/ 1/2 Pint Mulled wine
  • 250g/ 8oz Sultanas
  • 250g/ 8oz Dried Apricots
  • 200g/ 7oz Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 250g/ 8oz Self-raising Flour
  • Orange Segments (mine were from 2 small Satsumas)


Soak the dried fruit and sugar in the mulled wine for at least four hours – overnight is best.

When you are ready to put the cake in the oven, preheat it to 180oC and line a round cake tin with baking parchment.

Arrange the orange segments in the base of the tin. Next,  add the egg to the dried fruit mixture and beat it in with a fork. Fold in the flour and then put the mixture on top of the oranges.

Bake for approximately an hour in the centre of the oven; it may take a little longer, you will know it is done when a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.