Frugal Feasting – Part 1 : starters & sides

frugal feasting

Its that time of year in my household, when every penny counts and no I’m still a long way off saving for Christmas. Tis the summer holiday season. Whilst all around seem able to build a new summer wardrobe (for the entire beautiful family), host a heap of fizz fuelled bbqs, enjoy a relaxed ‘no shopping/cleaning’ sun-kissed beach holiday (returning to a meal out with the family, to ‘end it on a high note’), without a care in the world for next year’s school supplies, sports club subscriptions, orthodontic treatments and so on and on and on, that will have to be paid for in September….I’m busy developing a ‘no” tic in response to anything off the strictly ‘essential’ list.

It’s not that we won’t have a holiday. Just that we wouldn’t if frugal wasn’t our favourite friend in the build up. So if you recognise any of what I’m describing, or if you’re simply a fan of delicious fresh food (cash savings can still be a happy coincidence), then I thought I’d share some of my best frugal feast recipes with you. Yummy stuff that won’t break the bank, isn’t difficult to cook up and should see you through the ‘short’ season with full bellies and satisfied taste buds. Enjoy and feel free to comment with your own creations and improvements to mine!

  1. Hummus

You’re going to need:

  • 1 400g can of chick peas, drained
  • about 200-250g (depending on how runny you like your hummus) of plain yoghurt/ fromage blanc/fromage frais/greek yoghurt
  • lashings of olive oil (doesn’t need to be virgin), at least 6 tablespoons worth
  • garlic paste or frozen garlic or fresh stuff to taste. I’d say 3 tablespoons of the paste, 5 fresh cloves or a handful of the frozen diced bits.
  • lemon juice – either a whole lemons worth or 3 tablespoons of the fresh bottled stuff
  • cumin – about 2 tablespoons worth, again to your taste. I like more!
  • ground black pepper – I count to 20 twists worth
  • paprika – to sprinkle over the finished product
  • tahini paste or smooth peanut butter – I’d say 4 tablespoons worth
  • a food processor or big bowl and electric hand mixer

If you’re working with a food processor then you can chuck everything in at the same time, whizz until smooth and adapt to taste after. The electric hand mixer is a slower but equally efficient method. Try not to put too much liquid (yoghurt, oil lemon juice) in too early. You can always add more but you can’t reduce excess quantity. The final taste will change slightly every time you make it. The only certainty is that its devine and can be served as a starter or as a side with absolutely anything. I love it with salads, roast tatties….chicken….pretty much anything. But I’m a self confessed addict. Its not exactly low calorie but its so good for you and so much better than the shop bought variety. This recipe makes enough for a week….I promise.

2. Roast Peppers

You’re going to need:

  • 6 peppers – red, yellow, orange (not green)
  • a big handful of frozen diced garlic or 6 cloves of fresh, diced
  • loads of olive oil – at least 6 tablespoons
  • balsamic vinegar – 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • ground black pepper and salt (of the sea variety if possible)
  • whatever oven proof dish you have available. You’ll need to do some regular stirring if the dish isn’t wide enough to sit the peppers in one layer.


I’m basically always in a hurry, so here’s my lazy version of the classic. Essentially, leave the skins on the peppers. I promise you it takes nothing away from the taste. This is divine served hot but even better cold the next day.

Chop the top of each pepper. Remove pips, stalk and excess white pithy bits, then slice very roughly into quarters.  Chuck the pepper top (minus stalk) and all the other ingredients into the pot and stir. Roast at a high temperature (200° on my oven), stirring every 15 minutes or so and until the peppers have started to blacken. Cooking time will really depend on how deep the peppers sit in the dish. Deeper=stir more and cook longer.

This would serve 6 as a wonderful starter with crusty bread and salad or can accompany anything and is particularly lovely with chicken.

3. Roast Cauliflower (oh yes!)

You’ll need:

  • a whole cauliflower broken into florets
  • a whole head of fresh garlic
  • a few spoons of dried herbs of any kind – I prefer oregano.
  • couple of tablespoons of chilli oil (chinese is best)
  • a few more than a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (not necessarily virgin)
  • ground black pepper and salt
  • chilli flakes (optional)
  • a spoon of lemon juice (optional)
  • an ovenproof dish that can house the broken up cauli without layering

Break the cauliflower into florets and sprinkle with ground black pepper and salt to taste. Break the garlic bulb up into cloves. Peel and chuck the cloves in randomly. Cover the florets with chilli oil (chinese preferably) and olive oil. Sprinkle with chilli flakes and a dash of lemon juice (optional). Add a dash of water, stir and cover with foil. Cook covered at a high temperature for about  20 minutes. Then uncover, stir and return to the oven for at least another hour or until the garlic cloves have turned to mush and the cauliflower looks browned, , stirring every 15 minutes or so.

You may think you have an aversion to cauliflower, but try this please. I promise you’ll become an instant cauli convert…..just don’t eat the lot unless you’re certain you’ll be spending the next 24 hours alone 😂

Part 2: Frugal Feast Mains to follow…….






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