Recipes for Under a Pound

After the fun and frivolity of Christmas comes the frugality of the New Year – but you don’t have to taste the difference.  Here’s how…

It’s a tale that goes back generations, when even oranges were rare, exotic festive treats and not for everyday consumption.  In recent decades, the importance of ‘a healthier lifestyle’ as a New Year’s resolution led to calorie-denying diets.  But most commonly, our desire to spend a little more in December has most likely led to a need to watch the pennies in January.

Add in a Cost of Living Crisis and the need to ‘tighten our belts’ becomes even more keenly felt.  In recent years, there’s been a significant movement for making quality meals for surprisingly little – often less than a pound per head.  As we head into 2023, with the financial challenges it brings, how can we all eat well, for less?

Perhaps the best-known advocate is Jack Monroe.  Once described as “the poster girl for Austerity Britain”, her recipes fuse classical cuisine with ultra-cheap, widely-available ingredients, batch preparation and energy-efficient cooking.  Every recipe on her website is costed (per head) with the price and source of each ingredient shown.

A great ‘winter warmer’ is her Vegan Moussaka, costed at 31p (in 2018). 

As she explains the ‘hacks’ required to replace traditional ingredients, you always have the option to reverse them and try the non-vegan, non-vegetarian lamb version – which should still come in at under a pound a head.

250g dried green or brown lentils     57p (£1.15/500g, Sainsburys)

2 small onions     12p (90p/1,5kg, Sainsburys Basics)

6 fat cloves of garlic     9p (35p/2 bulbs, Sainsburys Basics)

2 tbsp oil     3p (£3/3l, vegetable or sunflower oil, Sainsburys)

400g chopped tomatoes     35p (35p/400g, Sainsburys Basics)

50ml red wine     23p (£3.50/750ml, Basic table wine)

1 tsp dried thyme or other herbs     <1p (80p/100g thyme, Natco brand)

¼ tsp each salt and pepper     <1p

1 tsp lemon juice or red wine vinegar     1p (£1.15/500ml, Sainsburys RWV)

1 large aubergine     75p (75p each, Sainsburys)

1 slice bread, grated into breadcrumbs*     2p (45p/22 slice loaf, Sainsburys Basics)

For the white sauce:

1 tbsp flour*      <1p (55p/1.5kg plain flour, Sainsburys Basics)

1 tbsp oil     2p (£3/3l vegetable or sunflower oil, Sainsburys)

250ml cashew or soya milk     25p (25p/1l, Sainsburys)

½ tsp mustard     <1p (45p/180g, Sainsburys Basics mustard)

*to make gluten free, simply omit these or use your favourite gluten free bread or breadcrumb mix

Here’s the recipe in full:  Moussaka, 31p [VG/V/DF/GF*]

Jack Monroe’s ‘Cooking On A Bootstrap’ website is full of ideas and advice across a wide range of cuisines and dietary preferences, with a wealth of similar ‘under a pound’ recipe ideas. 

It should also be noted that it’s much easier to bring down the ‘per head’ cost when cooking for larger numbers, spreading the overall cost over more servings.  If you’re cooking for one or even two, in order to keep ‘per-head’ costs down, it’s likely you’ll need to cook for more and batch and freeze the remainder, to eat at a later date.

We all like different things – and we can quickly tire of eating the same thing, even when we like it – so here’s a handy list of helpful websites to give you some inspiration.  It’s also a great way to sample dishes that you might not otherwise have considered. 

Even if you’re a fussy eater, there’s loads to choose from  Alternatively – as you may already have heard – Try it – you might like it!

BBC Food – Great family dinners for under £1 a head

Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s £1 Wonders & more budget-friendly cooking tips

Tesco – Cooking On A Budget | Budget Recipes

Good To Know – Cheap family meals: Budget recipes under £1 per head

More Than A Mummy – 34 cheap family meals costing as little as £1 a head

Cost of Living support to colleagues…

We’re making changes to the way you can book space in the [Redacted], making it more accessible, more flexible and more user-friendly!

As part of our cost-of-living project and our commitment to support your wellbeing, we’re making these changes to provide more colleagues with a warm place to work – as well as helping us move towards a more hybrid way of working.

Previously, the [Redacted] was only booked out as a whole, and could only be booked by a small group of people. Now, anybody can book either a single desk or a bank of desks for their team to work from. Bookings can only be made upto 60 days into the future, except for exceptional circumstances.

 All desk bookings must be made via the Go Bright application which can be found in your MS Teams, on the left-hand menu. 

A detailed guide is available to view online or download, to help you with the booking process.

You can use the new system from Tuesday 13 December, however, please note that desks will be unavailable for booking on Wednesday 14 and Tuesday 20 December.

If you have existing recurrent bookings throughout 2023, these will be cancelled and you’ll need to re-book the required number of desks through the Go Bright system.

Please note, If you no longer require a desk after a booking, please be considerate of other colleagues and cancel the booking as soon as possible, to make the desk available for somebody else to use.

In addition to the [Redacted], please remember there may be the option to use desks at our hubs – although these are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

We’d also like to announce that, as well as providing hot drinks in [Redacted] and at our hubs, we’ll also start to provide basic food provisions such as porridge, soups and snack bars over the next week.

Please bear with us as we implement the new booking system.  We may come across some initial teething problems and we will deal with them as quickly as we can, as and when they arise. As ever, any issues relating to the booking system should be logged with ICT.

Cycle to Work…Even at Home?

Thursday 4 August is ‘Cycle to Work’ Day – and there’s never been a better time to take part!

Would you cycle to work?  Of course, not everyone can – and even fewer will feel like doing so.  There are lots of reasons that make this an difficult prospect: distance, school runs, road safety, the British weather, lack of changing or showering facilities. 

What if all of that was taken care of?  Could you be tempted?  In August, there’s no school run, the weather is better, it’s light for longer and roads tend to be quieter.

The recent rises in fuels costs may be persuading many commuters to think again about cycling to work, particularly in the summer months.  Recently, the Evening Standard reported that cycling around London, from March to June,was 25% up on pre-pandemic levels

So is it worth trying, just for a day, to see if cycling to work is something you can realistically consider for other days in the year?  And what about trading up to an e-bike, to take away the worst of the physical effort? 

As the official website keenly points out:

“Cycling to work helps you stay fit and healthy, burns a lot of calories, and reduces your carbon footprint too. Find out how cycling could benefit your health and environmental impact.”

If you’re working from home on 4 August, you’ll probably be thinking that this has nothing to do with you.  But just hold on a minute – maybe it does

With all the health benefits of cycling, the suitability of the time of year, the fact that you’re already very close to work and you also have changing facilities, why not consider cycling to ‘work’, even when you work from home?  You can choose your own route, as short as you like or as safe as possible.  You can even squeeze a quick shower in, when you get back!  Better still, you can do that any other day, as well.

Okay, you didn’t technically need to ‘cycle to work’ but you do get all of the health benefits and none of the impracticalities.  Suddenly, there just don’t seem the same number of reasons not to!  For more interesting articles, tips and advice about cycling to work, have a look at the scheme’s blog pages.

If you’d like more details about [Redacted]’s Cycle to Work Scheme, to subsidise a bicycle (or an e-bike) for commuting to work, click here and download the guide: