Woman spends just £1.50 to cook up three courses for eight people

While dinner parties might not be possible right now, we’re looking forward to lots of entertaining once this is all over.

And if you want to cater for people on a budget, this woman has managed to cook up a three-course meal for eight by spending just £1.50.

Polly Hartley is a nutritionist based in Surrey and she spotted a veg box in her local Lidl store

Most Lidl stores offer the boxes, giving people the chance to pick up some veg that is going off for a reduced price.

The boxes are subject to availability so Polly just happened to be there at the right time, but it’s worth keeping a eye out at your local branch.

She decided to use the box to cook up a delicious three course meal that she could serve up to a group of people.

Polly told Metro.co.uk: ‘I decided to challenge myself on the spur of the moment really. I didn’t plan it, I just made the meals up as I went. Being a nutritionist, I’m a keen cook and love to use lots of vegetables, so the Lidl boxes are great for me.’ 

She allowed herself to only use what was in the box and her well-stocked store cupboard.

The extra items included spices, honey, olive oil, stock cubes, rice, coconut milk, butter and some sweetener. She also added some bread and yoghurt from her fresh food shop to serve with the dishes.

If you don’t have these items, you would need to spend a little more but it’s still a pretty cheap meal plan.

For a starter, she made a dip with roasted beetroot, red pepper, onion and honey.

The main was a potato and chickpea curry, with potatoes, chickpeas, onion, beet stalks, tomatoes, coconut milk, curry powder, cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli, nigella seeds, curry leaves, paprika, veg stock cube.

Speaking about how she did it, she explains: ‘I chopped the beetroot, red pepper and some onion, sprayed with olive oil and a drizzle of honey and cumin seeds.  I roasted them for about 30 minutes, popped everything in a food processor and served with toasted bread

‘For the curry, I parboiled the potatoes and fried the onion, beetroot stalks, tomatoes with medium curry powder, cumin, garlic, ginger, chili, nigella seeds, curry leaves and paprika. Then I added the potatoes, coconut milk, water and a stock cube. Simmered for about 45 minutes.  I served with rice and side salad.’

The side salad was created by roasting the cold beetroot, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and cumin.

And dessert was bananas and grapes caramelised in butter, honey and Sucralose sweetener.

As Polly lives alone and isn’t able to welcome guests right now, she froze what she could and gave some to her daughter and grandson to enjoy.

Polly’s top tips for cooking on a budget

  • You don’t need to always buy fresh food
  • If you do buy fresh veg, chopping and putting in freezer bags helps to reduce waste
  • You can freeze fresh fruit too, like grapes (which are delicious eaten frozen, a bit like sorbet) or peel and chop bananas and freeze to use in smoothies or again eat frozen as a snack (a bit like ice cream)
  • Frozen and canned foods are fantastic and often retain more nutrients than fresh
  • In particular, frozen veg and fruits like berries are convenient, versatile, cheaper, produce less waste
  • Roasting frozen vegetables, flavouring with spices and a little olive oil is a great way to be creative in the kitchen
  • Canned legumes, like beans/peans/lentils/chickpeas are great to add to one pot meals or salads. 
  • High in fibre, a source of protein, filling, inexpensive, protective of our heart health
  • Batch cooking is a good way to save money, time, stress and prevent waste
  • Meal planning can help with cost as you can then prepare a shopping list and avoid unnecessary purchases
  • Empty your store cupboard and see what you can create from what you already have

And she actually ended up using only half of what was in the box, so had more to enjoy for other meals.

Polly says that she is keen to show you can turn veg into filling meals, keeping costs down and preventing food waste.

Do you have tips to share?

Get in touch at [email protected]

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