January can be a bit of a misery can’t it? The excitement of Christmas and the new year celebrations have been and gone, and it can feel like there is little to be looking forward to in the immediate future; no wonder it is the month that most people look to book a holiday! Plus, after the excess of the build-up to the Christmas period, it can be a time when you would rather be spending money than saving money, and that includes the day to day things like the grocery bill.
The average Brit eats out at least three times a month, which is a cost that can really add up. And research from Sunny found that over 90% of people that do eat out find it hard to stick to their budget when they do dine out. So really, if you are looking to cut back costs, perhaps eating out as much as you might do, could be a way to save money this January. With over a fifth of Brits surveyed wanting to save money this year, making your own food at home can be a great way to save and stop you from getting out of your budget.
With that in mind, I am going to be sharing a few recipes over the next few days that all cost under £10 to make, and will serve a family of four (or group of four friends). When does a meal for four ever cost £10 when you’re out at a restaurant? They’re cheap but tasty, and can hopefully help you to save a little more this year, dine out less, but still eat well. It would be great to hear what you think.
Spicy Tomato Penne Pasta
Time: under 30 minutes
Overall Cost: £6.79 (groceries from ASDA)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (to fry)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 red chilli
- 2 x tin of cherry tomatoes (you can use regular chopped tomatoes if you’d prefer)
- 1 small glass of red wine
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp paprika
- a few springs of fresh thyme
- 500g wholewheat penne pasta
- salt and pepper, to season
- fresh basil, to serve, optional
- 150g cubed pancetta, optional (I’m veggie, so served without – additional total cost of £1.30 if included)
What To Do:
- Put a small amount of the olive oil in to pan (1 tbsp) and put on the heat. Peel and chop the garlic cloves finely while the oil heats up. If serving with pancetta then you would add that in when the oil is hot. Next goes in the garlic to the pan and cook for around a minute – you don’t want it to burn.
- Chop the red chilli ready for the next step. If you like quite spicy food, then leave in the seeds. Add this to the pan, along with the two tins of tomatoes, the red wine, the tomatoes puree, the paprika, and then the fresh thyme (add as much as you like, only adding the leaves). Season with some salt and pepper and then leave it all on a medium to low heat, so that it can bubble away for around 15 minutes. There is no need to stir all the time, but every few minutes to make sure that it mixes well and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- As this is bubbling away, boil up some water for the pasta in a pan or kettle, and then cook the penne as per the instructions on the packet (usually under 10 minutes is all that you need).
- When the pasta is cooked, drain away the water, and then add the drained pasta to the tomato pan when that has been bubbling for at least 15 minutes. Add the remaining tbsp of olive oil and mix it all together. Taste, and then season accordingly (you could even add a pinch or caster sugar if the sauce is a little acidic). Mix it all up well and then you’re ready to serve. Top with fresh basil, and you could serve with a side salad or garlic bread.
The sauce in this recipe is made really rich through the red wine, and left to bubble and reduce makes it really thick and super tasty. It is a simple dish, but works well for a family meal, and it is filling, comforting, and quick, easy, and cheap to make.
What are your favourite meals to eat on a budget? It would be great to hear what you think.
*this post is part of a paid collaboration – all opinions are my own.