Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Recipes With Expensive Ingredients.

Every year I like to add two new main meal recipes to the list of family favourites. Picking a new recipe to try can be a bit challenging. I need to pick something that I think my family will like, it needs to be reasonably easy to make,  BUT most of all, it needs to fit within my food budget.

The first thing I do when I've picked a new recipe is to see if I have every ( or at least most ) ingredient on hand already. If I don't have all the ingredients I ask myself a few questions. Does this recipe really need all the ingredients ? Can I substitute some ingredients ?

The next question I ask is can I make this recipe cheaper ? By cheaper I mean can I use less meat or a cheaper cut ? Many casserole recipes I've come across require 500 grams to 1 kilo of meat to serve four people. This seems like a lot of meat. The most I would use is 500 grams. Then I bulk it out with extra vegetables so that the 500 grams of meat will serve 6 - 8 people.  Have you noticed that some recipes only have one or two vegetables in it ? Many American recipes I've come across have huge amounts of meat or cheese in it and small amounts of vegetables. I always change the recipe around to make it healthier.

Another question I ask myself is, if I need to buy a new ingredient, will my family like the new flavour ? I also only buy a small amount of a new ingredient. A few years ago I decided to try a peanut satay chicken recipe for the slow cooker. It needed coconut milk ( or cream ) so I bought a few cans thinking my family would like the recipe. They did not. The coconut flavour was too strong and the recipe didn't have a complexity of flavours. Every mouthful was hard to swallow. Never again !!!

I used the other can in a coconut cake recipe - another new recipe. We didn't like the cake either. Once again the coconut flavour was too strong. By then I think I had one can left. I ended giving it to a food drive for Christmas hampers.

I've now learnt my lesson. Only cook what we can afford and only cook what my family likes. If I need to buy anything different I now give it a lot of thought. Will it be money down the drain ? 

Have you bought different ingredients only to find that the family didn't like it ? 

Have you found strange ingredients in the back of your pantry ? How do you make a meal cheaper ?


  1. Hi, I am trying a new recipe out tonight, a Sophie Gray recipe called "Cowboy Casserole". Mince, pasta, onion, baked beans, worstershire and spices made into a bake with grated cheese. Sounds like a teen pleaser and a change from spag bol!
    Picked up a bread stick and will serve it with greens.
    I've adopted a personal goal to try to make 2 dinners from one cooking session which is such a time and money saver, as you know. Eat again later in the week or freeze.
    I've used loads of your recipes because i usually have all the ingredients on hand......on the weekend i made your lemon chicken using drumsticks which we enjoyed for dinner and froze a further 2 nights worth. Have been doing the same with roast meats and they reheat well if you freeze them with gravy, a recent discovery. Keep the recipes coming wendy!

  2. Hi Wendy, I used sausages I had in freezer and carrots I needed to use up. Its called 7 layer casserole. Its just sausages cut up (I buy the aldi 6 pack for $3) and slice potato, carrot, onion, peas frozen or canned, and rice. You just layer it. Mix through one tin of tomatoes I use cheapest from aldi 60c and then top with cheese and bake one hour. All you need if you want a side is greens. I get whatever on sale. Its filling and yum and good for cold nights. Bake 180c.
    I can't say I've had cooking disasters because I only cook simple recipes I know will work and dont try Asian or such as I hate Asian food. If a recipe calls for cream I use carnation lite n creamy but generally dont make these not good for weight or cholesterol. I do eat a lot of fish. Not much red meat and I dont eat lamb for ethical reasons. I try one or two veg meals a week usually a soup or eggs Sunday night when I'm tired. Sometimes making veg nachos is easy too. Beans and avocado with grated cheese. Easy.

    1. To say that you don’t like Asian food is such a sweeping statement. Just take one country, China, and there is a huge range in there. I don’t think you know enough about the different cuisines.

  3. I do as you do. I limit the meat in most meals to about 100g per person and bulk up with vegetables. My mother is constantly anaemic so meats are one of the better sources I that she will consume. I admit to having coconut flour, spelt flour and rye flour that need to be used. I didn't mind the recipes I tried but the others were not fond of the, I need to have less carbs in my diet and have food allergies and restrictions so I do experiment with recipes to try and add variety.

    I look forward to trying your recipes.

  4. I have the best of intentions to add new recipes to my repertoire and do try a few new recipes every now and then, but if I'm honest, very few have been added to our family meals' list. I also use more veggies to bulk out a meal. It was something that my mum did, and I just followed her example.

  5. We now know that our favourite foods have less ingredients, not more. We have gone from complicated trendy cooking to beautiful fresh simple meals. Rarely a cook book required.

  6. I have bought the Maggi meal mixes and made them up. Then if the family has liked the meal I am known to see the ingredients list to see if I can make by scratch the same thing. Most times it is cheaper and far more healthier (no unnamed number ingredients)

  7. I usually find a recipe that sounds interesting, and then tweak it to fit my needs/tastes. One that comes to mind is a stuffed zucchini recipe. It called for jalapeno peppers, and they are just too hot for me. So I substituted in a can of mild chili peppers, and I making this recipe now. Also, sometimes I will substitute cottage cheese for ricotta if I think it won't make any difference - cost. And you are so right, American recipes often call for a lot of meat, when it is unnecessary, and not enough veggies.

  8. I do as you do: I really consider ingredients in a new recipe. If it requires something we don't eat or have never tried before I am cautious. I never stock up on something anymore until I am certain that we will eat it. It's far less expensive and more realistic to stick to the basics, which doesn't mean a lack of flavor but simply basic every day items I'd normally use. If a recipe meets my criteria then I'm likely to decrease the meat and cheese. I like to find vintage recipes because people really did budget carefully back then.


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