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Many newer readers may not know that I helped to build a wonderful site called cheap family recipes which was written to feed your family for £100 a month. The original site is now only available on Wayback, but someone has reloaded most of it from there with a slightly different name

I was clearing out some Dropbox files when I came across an old Word doc from those times in a big old directory from then. I’ve changed it, added bits and lists and updated a couple of things, but I thought it might be interesting for all of us who miss the times when it was up and running. Something a bit different and a bit of fun

5 ways to frugalise a recipe

5 ways to frugalise a recipe

  1. Where it says cheese, change for cheddar and start with half the amount in the recipe, adding more if you think it needs it.
  2. Swop a long list of curry spices for garam masala, do the same when it asks for cinnamon or allspice.
  3. Use milk and a knob of butter where it says cream, or even milk alone.
  4. Try using water or stock in place of milk in sauces.
  5. Use oil in place of hard fats in pastry and baking.


5 ways to feed your family cheaply

5 cheap family recipes to try out on your friends

Some of these are from cheap family recipes

  1. Carrot cake, serve this to anyone anytime, it’s ace, its got veg and fruit in it, it freezes well and it’s delicious.
  2. Pizza, everyone loves pizza. There are lots of pizza recipes here, on Thrifty Lesley, some scone based for speed, lots of different flavours
  3. Hummus, with chopped carrots and melba toasts, serve a crowd for pennies.
  4. Pea risotto a very stretchy meal for when you have unexpected company.
  5. Doughnuts who could resist a fresh doughnut?


lunchtime pies

5 pie fillings

All of these fillings for an oil pastry pie could also be steamed as a pudding which would make a lovely change. Men in particular seem to enjoy a steamed pudding

  1. Chicken and onion or mushroom
  2. Lentil, coconut and beansprouts
  3. Corned beef and mushroom
  4. Salmon and prawn
  5. Beef ragu


carrots and broccoli cooking

5 ways to get your 5 a day

In the UK, we struggle to eat 5 a day, although Government recommendations have recently been increased to 7 or 8 a day, and to be frank, the more you can manage, the better. If you struggle with it, some of these might help.

  1. Dried fruit, a smaller portion of 20g count toward your 5 a day, break out those raisins!
  2. Pulses, one portion of 3 heaped tablespoons a day counts
  3. Fruit juice, a 150ml glass one portion per day
  4. Tomato puree, a mere 1 tablespoon and practically a super food in its own right.
  5. Onions, often overlooked as one of your 5 a day.

So, you could, for example sprinkle 20g raisins ( a purple portion, the hardest one to get) on your morning bran flakes, and have a small glass of fruit or vegetable juice. Lunchtime, have tomato puree in your soup or spread in your sandwich. At dinner have a medium carrot and 3 tablespoons peas and there you are – 5 a day. Choose a pizza with an eye on the veg and that would probably have 2 portions as well, with the tomato sauce base and the onion and maybe other veg too on top. It doesn’t have to be all ‘my body is a temple’


5 things to put on a buffet

5 things to put on a budget recipe buffet

  1. Mini calzone
  2. Spicy nuts, pastry nibbles and dips
  3. Hummus, maybe a vegetable one, and carrot sticks/melba toasts
  4. Lentil pate with toasts
  5. Carrot cake

parsnip hummus

5 flavourings for hummus

Hummus is one of my favourite things and I’ve done loads of them!

  1. Roasted onions
  2. Tomato puree
  3. Garam masala, or any other spices
  4. Made from mainly a pureed vegetable with a little tahini
  5. Roasted peppers


minced beef for a budget meal

5 things that make mince go further

  1. A handful of oats no one will notice I promise, just a handful, don’t  want to overdo it
  2. Lentils, as per oats
  3. Mixed frozen vegetables
  4. Use a topping of mashed carrot and potato or swede and potato
  5. Tins of tomatoes

risotto for a budget meal

5 ways to make meat go further

  1. Put it in a pie
  2. Add onions and other veg
  3. Put it on a pizza or in a risotto
  4. Cut it very small and mix it into veg etc, using the meat more as a flavouring than the main event
  5. Shred it, like pulled pork. Shred a whole roasted chicken and it will go much further

school bake sale

5 cfr recipes for the school bake sale

  1. Boodle biscuits
  2. Raisin scones
  3. Carrot cake
  4. Chocolate brownies
  5. Tomatoey Scones

comfort food - large mug of coffee

5 comfort foods for cold days

  1. Baked Oats 
  2. Ginger Cake
  3. Lentil & Vegetable Soup
  4. Pasta Carbonara
  5. Risotto

5 frugal ways to keep clean

5 miserly ways to keep clean

  1. Stop using soap and shower gel. It’s lovely to use, but you don’t need it to keep clean, and you won’t smell, I promise. I haven’t used it for over 40 years. I wash in the shower, just using water and my hands, then shampoo just my hair
  2. Use salt or baking powder to replace toothpaste
  3. Mix glycerine from the chemist 50:50 with water, spritz a squirt or two of your favourite perfume in a small spray bottle and fill with glycerine/water. Use as an all over moisteriser. Costs pennies, lasts ages, works extremely well
  4. Use half the amount of powder/washing liquid in a wash load. You’re unlikely to notice any difference
  5. Use a thimble of washing up liquid for the dishes rather than a big squirt


5 ways to save fuel

5 ways to save fuel

  1. Use a slow cooker as often as you can, they use tiny amounts of fuel
  2. Fill up the oven when you cook, batch cook for the week and have ding cuisine
  3. Rice can be cooked with the minimum of fuel by putting 1 cup of rice in two cups of cold water, bring to the boil in a pan with a very tight lid, turn the heat off and leave it alone
  4. Use a microwave to cook veg, it doesn’t kill off the vitamins and uses small amounts of power
  5. Close the curtains at dusk to help keep in the warmth and keep the doors closed indoors for any rooms not currently being used


5 ways to save when you go shopping - bananas

5 ways to save when shopping

  1. Menu plan for the week/fortnight/month
  2. Look in the cupboards and freezer when menu planning or before you go shopping to see what you already have and use that first
  3. Take a list and plan and don’t buy anything else unless you swap something out from your menu plan if something is worth getting on offer
  4. See if you can last another 1/2/3 days before shopping, get creative with what you have. Do this every time and pretty soon you will have a ‘free’ weeks shopping that you could use to spend on something else.
  5. Have soup and a pudding once a week as a cheap meal


5 things to save money in the garden - runner beans

5 most productive crops

  1. Runner and/or French beans
  2. Square metre of cut and come again lettuce/watercress/rocket
  3. Minarette fruit tree/s. They only need 2 square feet per tree in a reasonably sunny spot. Fiesta apples are multi purpose, plums very productive, cherries yield lots of a fruit that is  expensive to buy, although they must be protected from birds.
  4. Courgette, lots of courgette from each bush plant
  5. Tomatoes when under cover, even if only a polythene sheet. In my little greenhouse, I grow an ordinary small type, which has the most fruit for the space, a stripy medium sized one called Tigerella with outstanding flavour and a heritage variety called Brandywine that is a very large beefsteak type with the most amazing flavour.


5 things to save money in the garden

5 things gardeners can give that cost nothing

  1. Root divisions
  2. Cuttings
  3. Excess seedlings, perhaps deliberately sow a few more
  4. Seed heads
  5. Gluts of seasonal veg – courgette, runner beans, lettuce


5 things to pass on

5 things to pass on

  1. Books you’ve read and don’t want to keep
  2. DVD’s you’ve watched and won’t really watch again
  3. Clothes that have been grown out of / don’t need / don’t like any more
  4. Gadgets / crockery from the kitchen that sit unused
  5. Bric a brac that you’re tired of and won’t display any more


5 things to make someone feel good

5 things to do for others, just because

  1. Compliment the next person you see wearing something you like
  2. Smile at 5 people today
  3. Get involved in something voluntary, you’ll get masses of joy from it
  4. Have a conversation with an older person that you suspect might be isolated
  5. Offer to babysit / dog walk for someone that needs a break


5 things to have fun in the garden

5 free things to do in the garden in the school holidays

On any of these activities, if you don’t have the cash to splash, then please don’t. You absolutely do not have to spend any cash at all to have a great family time. Google is your friend here, lots of ideas

  1. Make a camp in the garden or sitting room. Roast some sausages and jacket potatoes in the kitchen and eat them with your fingers, in the camp, whilst telling creepy stories to each other, perhaps with a torch under your chin. Keep very stiill and see what creatures you can see coming into the garden
  2. If it’s hot, fill empty squeezy bottles, like washing up liquid bottles, and initiate a water fight, or get them to draw something with the water on the ground. If they’re very young, a couple of washing up bowls and some unbreakable containers to pour water in and out of will amuse them for ages.
  3. Make bird feeders and bug houses from bits and bobs around the house. Or big pieces of paper and crayons and make bark rubbings on anything with a surface that isn’t smooth, even the garden path, or a tray with coins on
  4. Build a worm bin to make compost or a compost heap. Children tend to be gruesome, they’ll probably love looking at all the worms
  5. Find a bit of something old out there, a log or such like, turn it over and see what’s underneath


5 things to play at home

5 free things to do at home in the school holidays

  1. Have a picnic. If it’s raining, pack everything as usual, then go on a journey, carrying it all, up the stairs, round the bedrooms, in and out of the bathroom, round the hallway. Lay the picnic blanket down in the sitting room and lay everything out. Or if it’s later in the year, bundle everyone one up in coats etc, pack soup and warm brownies and have a candlelit picnic under the stars. Or if it’s fine, have it in the garden
  2. 5 things word game  Take turns to name 5 things as quickly as you can. Examples might be – can you name  5 things that could make a person sneeze? How about 5 TV dads, 5 video games, or vegetables beginning with “a”. This is great for adapting to the age of the people / children taking part
  3. If they need to burn off some energy, make up a circuit. 5 jumping jacks, 5 push ups, 5 squats holding a cushion, 5 seconds running on the spot as hard as they can, 5 forward bends and 5 backward bends, throw a cushion in the air and catch it 5 times, or throw the cushion to each other round and round as fast as they can
  4. Get  the children to make lunch, tailor it to their age. Beans on toast and a sliced banana in a bowl with some ice cream for small ones, something more ambitious for older children. If they’re older, it might be fine to give them a budget to work to
  5. If there is more than one child, get them to sing a roundel. We sing this is my choir. We all sing each one together. Then we split into three and each group sings one of them, twice. They blend together beautifully


When the Saints
Oh when the saints, go marching in,
Oh when the saints, go marching in,
Oh lord I want, to be in that number, When the saints go marching in.

Swing Low
Swing low, sweet chariot Comin’ for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot Comin’ for to carry me home.

This Train
This train is bound for glory, this train,
This train is bound for glory, this train,
This train is bound for glory
Don’t carry nothing but the righteous and holy, This train is bound for glory, this train


Chairs on desks

5 free things to do going out in the school holidays

  1. Go to story time at your local library, if you still have one.
  2. Go to the local green space and play British bulldog, rounders, hide and seek, tag, Pooh sticks or anything else that is free
  3. Or head to the coast if you can. Throw pebbles in the sea, build sand castles, have races, play frisbee, fly a kite. Again, anything that is free
  4. Go on a treasure hunt to find 5 things. A conker, a twig, a 4 leaved clover, an empty snail shell, spot a duck. Then make a collage of it when you get home with big sheets of paper and glue. Or write a story about what you’ve found
  5. If you can, walk around your local area, go down a street you’ve never been to before and see what you can see. Or find some woods and explore


So there we have it, lots of lists of 5. What would you have added?



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Tomato & Almond Patè
Submit A Recipe Of Your Own To Thrifty Lesley