Cheap Gift Ideas For Any Occasion
Healthy, cheap and kid-friendly is the holy grail of family cooking. This winter we spoke to blogger (and mother) Bec Granfield, from The Granfields.com, for her advice on how to save money and feed a family for less. She came up with ten awesome menu ideas for under $10 and we couldn’t wait to share them.
Pizza is a kids classic, it’s cheap, healthy (if you make it the right way) and, best of all, kids LOVE to pitch in and make their own. Who needs play-doh when you have pizza dough!
Pizza dough is so easy to make you’ll never buy a pizza base again.
1 ½ cups of flour
1 cup warm water
1 sachet of yeast
½ tsp salt
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Empty the yeast, salt and honey into a cup, stir gently until dissolved and let sit for 20 minutes, or until you can see some decent bubbles on top. Tip the yeast mixture and olive oil into the flour and knead the dough until it’s firm enough for you to make a ball that sticks together. Place in a mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel for 20-30 mins. If it’s cold, place the bowl over a sink full of warm water. The yeast needs to be above 20 degrees or so to activate and start rising in reasonable time. Once the dough has risen to twice it’s size, roll the bases out on a flat bench, dusted in flour. Put them on a pizza paddle and you’re ready to top.
Dice or blend 8 or more fresh tomatoes and add in some oregano and salt to taste. One teaspoon of salt should do it.
It’s a Hawaiian pizza, so that means ham, cheese and pineapple. You can use the tinned variety.
Throw in some anchovies or olives for the adults if you like, otherwise, keep it simple.
Bake in a pre-heated oven as hot as it will go for around five minutes, or until the bottom of the base is crispy.
The next four recipes all use mince, so wait until it’s on special and buy in bulk to save. You’ll cook up a big batch of mince base which can be frozen for months ahead of time. Each serving will be about 150g of mince, so for a family of four, you’ll need 2.4kg of mince in total. It’ll cost you around $17 for the meat for four dishes.
Ingredients for mince base
4 large onions
3 tins diced tomatoes
1 whole clove of garlic
2 tbsp salt
1L of beef, chicken or vegetable stock (buy a pack or make your own)
8 smoked pork bones (if you like)
½ cup olive oil
Method for base
Finely dice the onions in olive oil in a large saucepan until they begin to caramelise (i.e. turn brown) and then add the garlic and pork bones. Cook for another few minutes as hot as you can until it smells awesome but before anything starts to burn. Add the mince, stir for 2 minutes, then turn the heat down and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer on a low heat for 2 hours.
Use ¼ of the mix in a dish, and store the other three quarters in three separate containers in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use in the next dish.
Reheat the mince by simmering on a low heat for 15-20 minutes and then add in fresh or dried oregano, diced pancetta, and another tin of diced tomato (or 3 fresh tomatoes). Cook for a further 10 minutes and serve over spaghetti. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a sprig of fresh basil.
As per the spaghetti Bolognese recipe, but layer the mince in between lasagne sheets and béchamel sauce.
Cost: $7 if you make your own lasagne sheets or $9.90 if you buy pre-made sheets.
Reheat your mince by simmering on a low heat for 15-20 minutes and add in a tablespoon of cumin, a tablespoon of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of coriander seeds, and a tin of refried Mexican beans. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
Serve over corn chips with sour cream, a twist of lime and fresh coriander.
Cost: $9.80 (or more if you add guacamnole)
Line a pie dish with filo pastry, cover with 600g of mince and top with mashed potato and cheese. Bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees or until golden brown. Serve with peas and tomato sauce.
Bangers and Mash
Sausages are cheap, potatoes are cheap. Put them together and you’ve got a budget meal kids will love. Peas and tomato sauce make it a kid favourite. Where this dish sits on the ‘healthy’ scale depends on your sausages, but generally the more they cost, the less fat will be in them. Not that saturated fat is all bad, new studies show the link between cholesterol and saturated fat intake may not be as strong as we’d previously thought.
Cost: $6.50-$9.90 (depending on the quality of your sausages)
Fish and Chips
You can make the fish any way you like, but the oven is the easiest and healthiest way. Wrap a few cheap fillets in foil, along with some lemon juice and a pinch of salt and bake them for 35 minutes at 180 degrees. Make the chips yourself to save money by hand cutting the potatoes into chip-shaped wedges. Bake them along with the fish and finish them in a frying pan with some olive oil for a crispy coating.
Chicken breast fillets have less saturated fat, but thigh fillets are so much cheaper and tastier. BBQ one thigh fillet per burger and serve with your favourite toppings one a wholemeal bun. Coat the fillets in a little salt, herbs and oil for some extra flavour shazam.
As per the chicken burgers, use thigh fillets, cut in half and rolled in Breadcrumbs, a sqeeze of lemon and a lightly beaten egg. Bake these on a tray for 35 mins on medium heat and service with some veges covered in cheese or mashed potato so the kids focus on the nuggets rather than the green stuff. You can bribe them with ice cream later if they still refuse to eat their carrots. Serve with tomato sauce, or aioli, if you’re feeling fancy.
Nothing beats a big hearty bowl of pumpkin soup early in winter, which is also perfect pumpkin season. Roast the pumpkin pieces in the oven with coarsely chopped onion and olive oil and salt for an hour or more until golden brown. Blend the lot and then serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of finely diced chives and some fresh, hot buttered toast on the side.