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.

Thrifty from Whangarei writes, “I bought an old cast-iron casserole dish with a lid from a garage sale for just a few dollars, and now I make delicious and inexpensive meals by using it on our wood burner. The trick is simplicity and slow cooking. I put frozen stewing steak into the casserole and add chopped onions, mushrooms, capsicum, chunks of carrots and potatoes, and any other vegetable from the fridge or garden. A can of crushed tomatoes, flavoured with garlic, salt and pepper, is then poured over the lot. I leave it to cook all day, but half an hour before serving, add in some frozen peas and chopped parsley. It’s a wonderful hearty meal that could also be made in a slow cooker.”

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 a 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 favourite recipe for rice. “One of my fav’ cheap yummy meals is eggs and rice. Cut onions into thick slices and cook until translucent, then add the eggs beaten with salt to taste. Cook on medium so it doesn’t burn and barely stir so you have a nice big fluffy scramble. Take off 30 seconds to a minute before you think it’s cooked because the eggs keep cooking. Serve with freshly 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. You will need chicken legs and/or thighs, a large tin of tomato soup, a large sliced carrot, 10 chopped mushrooms, a thinly sliced large brown onion, and 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs. Coat the chicken pieces in flour and brown them before placing in the casserole dish. Add the other ingredients, mix, and then place the lid on the dish. Cook in a moderate oven for approximately 1 hour. I usually stir it after 30 minutes to mix it all through. Serve with rice and beans or peas. It is such a hearty meal, you will all love it!”

Cate from Hamilton says, “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!”

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

JayFKay from Manurewa also works wonders with simple sausages. “Cook cubed potatoes. Fry sausages and sliced onions. Drain off fat and cut sausages into 3. Make up a packet of Maggi Oxtail soup with 1 1/2 cups of water, add to the pan with sausages, onions, potatoes and mixed frozen veges. Heat until frozen veges are cooked. Ingredients can be added to for more people. I love this recipe.”

Tessa from Northland swears by rice pudding for cooler nights: “It’s cheap, simple to make, filling, good for you, and delicious – what’s not to like! All you need is 5 tbsp short-grain rice, 3 tbsp sugar, 3 cups milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, 1 tsp butter, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Mix everything together in an oven-proof dish and bake for 2 hours at 150 Celsius. Serve with yoghurt or cream – yum!”