How to be a Smart Cookie in the Kitchen with Money

NOTE: For unknown reasons, the embedded tweets are not showing. The content of the tweets can be seen but it doesn’t look as slick as I would have liked.

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to host a Twitter chat for Food Bloggers and I dealt with the topic of ‘Food Pricing’. It was an amazing hour of questioning and answering and a fascinating insight into how other food bloggers think. I chose the topic because I was always going to write this post, and there’s nothing with some extra contributions from like-minded people. I started the conversation with this question:

It was an interesting way to start because I instantly got the feel of the bloggers from their responses. And they responded quickly. Here were some of my favourite responses, alongside some good tips as well.

Then we got into the nitty gritty, and I asked the bloggers this question about their essential food purchases.

Next I started my favourite debate of all, the organic and free-range debate. I am certain that free-range and organic products are better quality, but when you go through as many eggs as we do in my house, it’s just not feasible to spend £1 on a pack of 6 free-range eggs when I can spend £1.35 on 15 eggs. Here’s what the food bloggers thought:

My fourth question of the night put a spin on the topic of ‘food pricing’ as I asked the bloggers what ingredient they would spend the money on and there were some very interesting answers, some of which I would never think of.

My final question proposed the question of cheap secrets to making great food. And we had some amazing answers, and here is a selection of my favourites.

Many people think that cooking food from fresh is expensive. I think we confuse expensive with time-consuming as well. I’ll admit buying ingredients fresh is a lot of money expended each week but I truly believe it is possible to eat well for less. Keeping a few key ingredients in the cupboards and freezers mean that you can cook both cheap and healthy meals. And I’ve got some of my tips for cooking on the cheap as well as some more contributions from our food bloggers.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are better than fresh

So many people are strangely afraid of buying frozen fruit and vegetables. We all buy frozen peas but we never reach out further than a bag of sweetcorn. It’s not as if they are bad quality, in fact tinned and frozen, I believe, are better than fresh. Frozen fruit and vegetables will still keep many of their health benefits because they are frozen soon after they are harvested so they retain all their goodness. They are also much cheaper than buying fresh, so I hope that I’ve persuaded you to buy frozen rather than fresh.

Throw overripe bananas, bread past its best and pork belly into the freezer

It sounds like the world’s weirdest shopping list but these 3 ingredients are my secret to creating quick easy meals.

Instant Banana Ice Cream


Chop and throw 3 frozen bananas into a food processor and blitz together until the bananas are well mixed. Add one tablespoon of milk and a drop of vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Serve.

Sesame Pork on Toast

Defrost 8 slices of bread in the microwave. They should be still frozen and not soft. In a food processor, mix together 300g lean pork mince, an egg, a clove of garlic, a 2cm piece of ginger grated, 1 whole chilli, spring onion, white pepper, 1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice and salt until it turns into a paste. Spread the pork mixture on the bread in a thin layer, coat in sesame seed and deep-fry in moderately hot oil for 2-3 minutes until the pork is cooked through and the bread toasted.

Instant Pork Belly Slices

A frozen slab of pork belly cuts up into thin slices much easier. Using a sharp knife, cut thin slices from your frozen pork belly and pan-fry or stir-fry as a quick dinner.

Keep tins of pulses in the cupboard

Beans and chickpeas are a great healthy, nutritious and cheap way to bulk out ragouts and any soups on the cheap. Here’s a ridiculously simple recipe for a Bean Chilli con Carne:

1 red onion, chopped into small dice

1 red pepper, chopped into small dice

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp chilli powder

500g lean beef

450g (equal mix) of haricot beans, cannellini beans and chickpeas , drained

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

200ml chicken stock; make from ½ chicken stock cube with boiling water

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

Fry the onion and pepper in the oil on a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until they are softened. Turn up the heat and add the chilli powder and cook for a few minutes. Add the mince and cook until the meat has browned. Make sure that there are no large clumps of meat left in the pan.

Add in the beans and chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and tomato puree. Fill the tin of tomatoes halfway full of water and slosh it around to get the rest of the tomatoes and add to the pan. Simmer over a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Then mix in the cornflour slurry and stir through.

Continue to simmer until the sauce has a relatively thick consistency, however you can change this for personal preference.

Cooking fresh, healthy and tasty food does not have to be expensive at all. And I want to set a challenge for you.

Food Blogger Smart Cookie Challenge: Can you cook a 3 course meal for 2 for under £5 (or US $7.50)?

I’d love to see how smart you can be with your shopping so food bloggers and readers alike, please tag me on Twitter with your results (@CakeBoy626). You can have as long as you want to prepare, any ingredient can be used, any food can be made as long as it comes under £5 (or US $7.50). The rules of the challenge

  • There must be 3 courses, starter, main and dessert
  • It must come under the price range of £5 (US $7.50) per person
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings do not count in the price
  • Entries must include #BloggerSmartCookie
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on 27th March 2015

It isn’t a competition however I will be posting the recipes for my favourite 3 course meal on the blog so you can cook along at home! Please share this competition around the food blogger network.


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