When people are coming round for dinner I tend to go a bit crazy and I’ll spend a fortune on ingredients to help ensure that I cook to impress! However last night I decided to listen to the bank balance rather than my belly and I set myself the challenge of cooking dinner for four adults for less than £15.
Why £15? I’m not sure, I just decided that £10 would be too hard and £20 would be too easy. Choosing what I was going to cook was actually pretty easy. Chicken liver pate was an obvious choice for the starter, a ham hock felt like it was pretty much the only option for the main and after a bit of a think apple crumble came to me as the perfect dessert.
With such a tight budget, I headed down to Castle Market to pick up my ingredients. Luckily I have reasonably well stocked cupboards so I already had a few of the ingredients needed and I managed to do the lot for about £13. Here’s how….
Starter – Chicken Liver Pate
My chicken liver pate is amazing; even if I do say so myself. It is packed full of so much butter that it just can’t help but be amazing! I say my, it isn’t my recipe it’s an Angela Griffin recipe and you’ll find it here. I served it with toast and some Country Market crab apple and slow vodka jelly which I just happened to have lurking in the fridge.
Ok, it doesn’t look all that exciting, but trust me, it was gorgeous!
As for costs…. I bought a pound of livers for 98p, 250g butter for £1.10 and a small loaf of bread for 40p (on offer – it’s normally 80p). I already had an onion, some garlic, whiskey and mustard powder meaning that the course set me back by £2.48.
Main – Ham Hock
This ham hock is a bit of a staple in our house because a) it’s cheap and b) it’s delicious. I often serve it up along with a more expensive cut when I’m doing a big Sunday dinner for friends. You’ll find the recipe here. I decided to serve it cold with some potato chips, sweet potato chips, salad leaves and tomatoes. Making my own chips (baked in the oven) kept costs down and I wanted some sweet potato in there because of its vitamin C content.
Costs…. The hock was £1.89, sweet potato was £1.20, salad leaves were quite expensive at £3 (but it was well worth it as I managed to get some English watercress) and potatoes were 60p for 2kg (and I only used about 750g). The rest of the ingredients; the honey, wholegrain mustard and tomatoes came from my cupboards and the fridge, as did all the ingredients used in simmering the hock (bar the carrot which I didn’t use as I didn’t have one).
Dessert – Apple Crumble
I wanted a dessert with some fruit in there – just to get some more vitamin C into the meal. Thinking cheap, I went for bramley apples and I used this recipe simply because it used unrefined brown sugar which I happened to have in. I did use more apples than the recipe said (about 3lbs of apples before peeling and coring) and I also stuck some dried fruit in the mix. I served it with some Longley Farm single cream and it all went down rather well!
Costs… Apples were about £1.20, plain flour was 60p, butter was £1.25 and the cream was 82p. The unrefined brown sugar and cinnamon came from my cupboards.
So there you have it. Three courses of tasty food for four people for less than £15! Ok, none of it was amazing, and the main could have been more exciting but it was enjoyed and I think I did quite well for £13!. Maybe next time I’ll go for a stew or a curry, maybe the milk braised in pork or some pork cheeks or beef cheeks…. Hmmmm…. there will be more of these challenges ahead.
What are your favourite budget meals?