Low cost winter meals

The winter chill has set in so we thought it time to revisit the best of the oily rag tips about low-cost tummy-warming winter meals.

Linda Mitchell from Te Puke says, “We empty a tube of sausage meat and a finely chopped onion into a glass dish, squish together, then microwave until cooked. Add tin of baked beans and spread over, then cover with mashed potato and a sprinkle of grated cheese. Grill until brown.”

M.E. from Auckland has a great way of stretching out chicken. “Buy a fresh or frozen whole chicken on special and cut it up yourself. It is so easy, and you get 2 full chicken breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks and a carcass for chicken stew and dumplings. Cooking for one, a chicken can last me up to two weeks. I also get 3 servings out of each breast by cubing, and using in gravy and steamed rice dishes like butter chicken, Thai curries or teriyaki chicken.”

M.E. also has a favourite recipe for rice, which must be one of the cheapest ingredients to use – which is also, no doubt, why it is one of the world’s most popular foods. “One of my fav’ cheap yummy meals is eggs and rice. Cut onions into thick slices and cook till translucent, and add scramble egg mix, salt to taste. Cook on medium so it doesn’t burn and barely stir so you have nice big fluffy scramble. Take off 30 secs to a min before you think it’s cooked because egg keeps cooking. Serve on fresh steamed rice.”

M.M. has this fantastic recipe. “It’s cheap, quick and delicious and is now a family favourite in my home. This recipe also freezes really well, so you can make it in advance or freeze the leftovers. Ingredients:
o Chicken legs and/or thighs
o Large tin of tomato soup
o Large carrot, sliced
o 10 mushrooms, chopped into chunks
o Large brown onion, thinly sliced
o 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs.

“All you have to do is place the ingredients in a casserole dish, mix, and then place the lid on the dish. Cook in a moderate oven for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour. I usually stir it after 30 minutes to mix it all through. Serve with rice and beans or peas. You can also coat the chicken pieces in flour and brown them before placing in the casserole dish if you wish. This is such a hearty meal, you will love it!”

Cate from Hamilton says, “When we were both studying with a young family we discovered that adding a good heap of rolled oats to the mince mixture was a fantastic healthy ‘stretcher’ to bulk up the patties. Even better is to then add grated carrot or zucchini which puts moisture back into the patty and is unrecognisable to those fussy vegetable averse people!”

Onelady7 from Hamilton has a sausage pie recipe. “Use two of the tubes of sausage meat for a family size pie (or one for a smaller pie), a packet of puff pastry, some herbs of your choice, and some chopped and sautéed onions. Use a dish that can go in the oven. Put pastry on the bottom and sides, then layer the bottom with sausage meat. Cover with a layer of herbs & onions, then the rest of the meat. Put on the pastry top and bake until golden. Delicious! A family favourite of mine when we were growing up.”

JayFKay from Manurewa also works wonders with simple sausages. “Cook cubed potatoes. Fry sausages and sliced onions. Drain off the fat and cut sausages into 3. Make up a packet of Maggi Oxtail soup with 1½ cups of water, add to the pan with sausages, onions, potatoes and mixed frozen veges. Heat the mixture until the frozen veges are cooked through. More ingredients can be added to for more people. I love this recipe!”

Carol from Tauranga writes, “Always look at the price per kilo when buying meat – not the total price on the pack. Take into account whether it has the bone in or out.”

As a general guide the cheapest (to highest) cuts of meat is as follows: sausages, mince, gravy beef, blade steak, corned silverside, rolled roast, rump steak, BBQ steak, wiener schnitzel, sirloin steak, scotch fillet steak, and fillet steak. We think you can’t go past chicken for excellent value. At about $5 a kg for frozen chicken pieces, it’s about half the cost of mince which is generally the cheapest red meat.