I always end up spending more than I would like to on food, and the frustrating thing is this sometimes comes out of my student loan (I’m sure I’m not the only one). Healthy and quite different meals for under £1? You must think I’m bonkers, but for 5 days I tried to cook cheap meals for about this price.
Having followed Miguel Barclay on Instagram for quite a while now, I jumped at the chance when he released a £1 meals cookbook – I particularly love the fact that he has portioned everything for one person, it’s perfect for a student cooking for themselves. If you don’t have the money or don’t want to splurge on a cookbook, however, there are free resources that offer similar money-saving recipes – Miguel’s Instagram and YouTube channels are so good and there are also great blogs with similar themes. I really like the Eatnotspend blog which has sections for a family as well as 1-2 people.
(Yep.. every recipe in this book looks amazing so I have tabbed almost all of it..)
All of the recipes I have tried here are from his new cookbook, I won’t be posting the actual recipes here, but will be posting what I thought of them as well as how much it cost me. Just as a note, my housemates and I share the cooking some of the time, so often when you see pans/baking trays there’s more than one portion there!
The first recipe I tried out of the book was actually one that he had posted on Instagram about 8 months ago, Katsu Curry!
I pretty much stuck to the recipe in the book, except for the addition of spring onions. I also doubled the ingredients for the sauce as well as doubling the amount of chicken per portion, what you can see is the finished result.
Although definitely not anywhere near the Wagamama favourite, it was definitely a tasty curry in its own right, even though I felt it was still a little dry for my tastes. I also prefer chicken breasts to chicken thighs, so should I make this again I would probably swap these out even if it will cost a little more.
For this recipe, I will be breaking down the cost per portion, so you can see where I am getting the prices from.
- Chicken Thighs (5 for £2.49 – Lidl) – £1.25
- Curry Powder (80g for £1 – Tesco) – £0.01
- Honey (454g for £1.45 – Tesco) – £0.03
- Soy Sauce (150ml for £1.19 – Tesco) – £0.03
- Flour (1.5kg for £0.60 – Tesco) – £0.01
- Eggs (15 for £1.19 – Lidl) – £0.15
- Breadcrumbs (Free – there is always stale bread in our house)
- Rice (1kg for £0.99 – Tesco) – £0.12
- Spring Onions (~8 for £0.49) – £0.06
Price per recommended portion: £0.75
My price per portion (doubling 2.5x chicken and 2x sauce): £1.66
Even though I was cooking for 2 people I could make this again for just over £1 for both of us.
Chicken En Croute
The next recipe I attempted was Chicken En Croute – which is essentially chicken in pastry with feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
The first time I attempted this my terrible oven let me down and I ended up burning them (as you can see on the left) – oops! In the book it also only has one of the pastries per portion and doesn’t have anything else with it. We tried the recipe the first time like this and found it tasty, if not a bit dry – so the next time we combined this with vegetables (as you can see on the right).
Price per recommended portion: £1.08
My Price per portion (adding carrots and broccoli): £1.22
Chicken Chow Mein
A Chinese takeaway essential for many I’m sure, and I was intrigued to try the one pound meals version. For this recipe, I again made a couple of changes, simply replacing green for red pepper and chicken breast for chicken thigh (personal preference).
Price per recommended portion: £1.11
My price per portion: £1.67
Chinese Glazed Pork
The next recipe I tried was the Chinese Glazed Pork (I like Asian cuisine.. can you tell?)
I didn’t change much about this recipe at all for once, however, the recipe suggested ‘pork belly slices’. If I were to make this again I would switch to my usual pork chops, as I don’t feel the price is much different, and prefer a less fatty piece of meat. I also didn’t manage to find any pork cheap enough that even the recommended portion wouldn’t take me over £1!
Price per recommended portion: £1.37
My Price per portion (1.5x pork): £1.87
Toad in the Hole
I decided to finish up with a classic!
Once again, a couple of things were changed up with this recipe, mainly the quantity of everything, and the sausages I used were more expensive ones – Tesco Finest Caramelised Onion and Pork Sausages – my housemate is a little fussy about sausages, although thankfully they were on offer at the time.
Price per Recommended Portion: £0.79
My Price per Portion (More expensive sausages, twice as much batter, twice as much broccoli): £1.47
So, at the end of the week (if I’d stuck to the recommended portion sizes) I would have only spent £5.10 for all of the 5 meals!
However, even with the extra changes to ingredients and portion sizes, I still only spent £7.89 for all the meals. Considering I did almost all of my shopping at Tesco, I think this is incredibly good and shows that eating a wide variety of food is achievable, even with a strict student budget. Plus, once you have the stock ingredients available you’ll find that the next weeks’ shop will cost even less!
I would also admit that most of the recipes I tried weren’t even that much effort to make, most of them just requiring different things to be chopped up and then left to cook.
This hopefully shows you that you can eat well and fairly healthily on a budget, would I do it again? Most definitely!