What do celebrity chefs really know about frugal cooking?

Last night we tuned in to Channel 4 to watch Jamie Oliver’s new programme about frugal cooking, Money Saving Meals, on which he said he wanted to help Britons ‘eat like a King’ – whatever their budget. Being the self-named king and queen of frugal food, Dan and myself tuned in… Only to be shocked by how many luxury and fresh ingredients Jamie used. I left the room in the end. Programmes like this really get on my nerves.

As much as I love the Hairy Bikers, the same can be said for their latest programme too. All of these celebrity chefs, by habit I suppose, talk about ‘cost per portion’, which is all well and good, but the proof is in the cost of the basket. Fennel seeds and fresh coriander aren’t on the average shopping list, Jamie – whilst a few leaves of basil or sprig of coriander may cost mere pence on a plate – in real terms they’re anything from 80p – £1.50 a pop. And as for the father and daughter who spend £750 each month on shopping – this is an extreme. In reality I reckon that the average person may be spending 10-30% more than they need to – that’s true for some of the people I’ve spoken to. The way to combat this is meal planning and shopping in the right places (and opting for own brand).

In response to these programmes, here are my five top tips that could really help you cut the cost of you’re shopping basket:
1. Shop at Aldi. Need I say more?
2. Stock up on dried herbs and spices and learn how to use them. They make cooking fresh meals more interesting, last for ages and cost less that £1 each at most major supermarkets.
3. Plan ahead. Have an idea of the things you want to cook. If one of your dishes uses a fresh herb, such as basil – try to plan a few more dishes around it to make sure it doesn’t go to waste, and maybe limit yourself to 1 fresh herb each week (and that’s being generous).
4. Freeze what you don’t need. There’s only two of us, so we buy meat an freeze it until we need it. It’s very rare that we cook more food than we need, but if you do – freeze it if you can, and enjoy it in a few days.
5. Forget ready meals and cook from scratch. Not only is it better for you, and in most cases it’s cheaper or costs just the same.

Do you have any top tips for frugal cooking? Do you agree with my thoughts on celebrity chefs and their attempts to help us save money?

Until tomorrow

Hayley Jayne xx


7 Responses to “What do celebrity chefs really know about frugal cooking?”

  1. Ian P

    I believe that you were wise to pick that picture.

    The chicken is probably closer to the average ‘man in the street’ than Jamie. The chicken is more likeable, because it doesn’t visit a council estate and then pretend to know everything about the working class.

  2. Clare (Feast and Glory)

    My tips are eat offal (chicken livers, lamb hearts and beef cheeks are particularly nice) and cheap cuts of meat (neck of lamb and ham hock).

    Shop at Castle Market (if you can – opening times don’t work so well for out of town full time workers, unless you want to visit on a Saturday) coz fruit and veg is so much cheaper than any of the supermarkets .

    Stock up on spices and learn how to use them as they really do add something to a dish.

    I do use fresh herbs (a bunch of parsley and coriander can be bought from the Continental stall at Castle Market for around 40p each) as I find they really perk up the blandest of dishes.

    Use a lot of lentils – red lentils are great in a veggie spag bol and green lentils make a great base for a warm vegetable salad (but this dish, in my mind, does depend on fresh parsley).

    Oh and follow A Girl Called Jack’s blog (and follow her on Twitter – https://twitter.com/MsJackMonroe) as she’s a bit of a genius when it comes to budget meals. http://agirlcalledjack.com/

  3. Vikki Moore (@vikkimoo)

    I saw the book in WHSmith the other day, it costs £23 (!) and is basically the tips you’ve just given us, which are good common sense if you actually ARE wcthing your food budget! Grrrrr!

  4. jennypugh

    Great post. I did some shopping earlier and most of the basket was from the value range, as to me, there’s no difference when the things are frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn, pickled onions, etc… I know some people have a real thing about the labelling of their products, but I know the difference in cost between ‘value’, ‘normal’ and ‘finest’ is crazy sometimes. 30p for a jar of pickled onions? Yes please!

  5. eating the north

    We’ve got a great market in town. The difference in prices there and supermarkets is massive. When we do go to the supermarket we tend to hunt out bargains, hence last night’s mushroom/camembert/potato (kind of) tartiflette. Under £3 and would have served 4 people easily, but 3 of us got greedy…


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