Two thrifty meals to help with the budget

13 August 2013
There will be readers who will gag at these old-fashioned recipes, as well as those who, even though the ingredients are quite cheap, still can't afford to buy them, but there will also be many who are struggling to feed the family each week and if that is you, then I hope these recipes help in some way. I've gone off eating sausages as much as we used to but I do eat them occasionally, mainly because they're tasty and cheap and if I don't think about what I'm eating, I'm fine. I'm sharing this recipe because I remember many times in the past when I was trying to stick to my budget with Hanno and two teenaged boys to feed and another quiche or salad just wasn't going to do it on that particular day. Some men just need to eat meat and I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores of that, I just know it to be a fact.

This will do a small family of two or three for two meals, just increase the number of sausages if there are more of you. We started with ten sausages. Mine were skinny beef sausages, but they could also be fat ones, pork or chicken sausages. The rest of the ingredients are really dependent on what you have on hand - either in your fridge, pantry, stockpile or garden.

Cook all the sausages in a frying pan on the first night - this will save on the time and electricity/gas to cook them on the second night. Look in your pantry, fridge, stockpile and garden and see what vegetables and herbs you have to use. I think the success of this meal will depend on how many vegies you have because they tend to fill up the plate and provide variety and colour. If you have no fresh vegetables but have tins of beans and tomatoes in the cupboard, you could use those instead. another option would be if you have potatoes and fresh eggs - you could serve the sausages with eggs and potato wedges.

On the first night we had sausages with onion gravy, mashed potatoes with finely chopped onion and parsley, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and carrots. It's winter here so we enjoyed the hot food but if it were summer, a salad, potato salad, coleslaw, homemade pickled beetroot or tomato relish would all be delicious served alongside the sausages.

Pour off some of the dripping in the pan if there is too much there. Add one sliced onion and fry until soft. Add a tablespoon of plain flour, salt and pepper, then stir this until it's brown. If you have paprika, adding a level teaspoon will add a rich colour to the gravy. When the flour mix is coloured, add about a litre/quart of water and stir until the gravy thickens. Allow to simmer on the stove while you serve the sausages and vegetables, then top with hot gravy.

Put the leftover sausages and gravy in a bowl, in the fridge for tomorrow night's dinner.

The following night, chop the sausages into bite sizes pieces and leave to one side. Add a small amount of oil to the pan and cook one onion until it's slightly browned, then add the vegetables you have on hand, add a tablespoon of curry powder and another of plain flour and stir in. Then add about a litre/quart of water and allow the sauce to thicken. Add the sausage pieces and simmer for 30 minutes to allow the curry flavours to develop. I added ½ cup washed rice to the meal so I didn't have much washing up to do but you could also boil or steam some rice separately to serve with it.

Please note: if you have small children who won't like curry, leave the curry powder out and add paprika instead. You'll still get a good flavour.

I love having a treat after a meal like this - a meal when I feel I've saved money and stayed within my budget. Right now it's strawberry season here so fresh strawberries and cream is the logical (to me) ending to a meal such as this. Just because we're on a budget, it doesn't mean we can't eat the best fruit we can find or create a favourite dessert. Don't be afraid to treat yourself. You deserve it. : - )

Thanks to everyone who suggested radio stations for me to try. I've already listened to Jack Monroe on BBC4. I'll set up NPR and Radio National when I have a chance later in the week.