EVERY week, as we traipse around the supermarket on the food shop, it's hard not to be a little disheartened by constantly rising prices.
But trying to keep costs down doesn't mean you have to skip on the creativity, as savvy cook Mitch Lane has shown.
After getting rave reviews from his three kids, aged 12, 5 and 3, for his budget dinners, he took to TikTok to share the recipes with other parents.
Now the 30-year-old from Wolverhampton has a loyal following of more than 1.2 million foodies.
Mitch, known online as @mealsbymitch, said: “The cost of living is an absolute joke in the UK at the moment… it's getting harder and harder for people to sustain even just a basic lifestyle, let alone have a few luxuries here and there.
“So I thought I'd try to show that you can still enjoy tasty, comforting and wholesome food without having to dig too deep into your pockets.”
Here he shares a few of his savvy meal ideas, with most coming in at less than £5 for a family of four…
Bloomer Loaf Pizzas
"This is a great and simple recipe that I love making with my kids. It’s so versatile and you can adapt it to your own preferences!"
800g large unsliced bloomer loaf
200g tomato purée
2 x 125g mozzarella balls
70g sliced pepperoni
1 green pepper, finely sliced
½ red onion, finely sliced pickled jalapeños
To taste, salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190°C /170°C fan/gas mark 5. Slice the loaf in half horizontally to make two large pizza bases.
- Squeeze the tomato purée into a bowl and gradually mix in a little water until it’s the consistency of mayonnaise or mustard. Spoon the purée onto the bread and spread it out.
- Break up the balls of mozzarella and spread the pieces equally across the pizza bases.
- Now add the pepperoni, pepper, onion slices and jalapeños.
- Put the pizza bases on a baking tray and bake them for 15 minutes or until the mozzarella starts to go golden.
- Take the pizzas out of the oven, slice and serve.
Battered Curry Chips
“This recipe is living proof that you don’t need to spend a ton of money to eat something that’s properly indulgent.
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“You will need a deep-fat fryer or a saucepan and a cooking thermometer, as well as some oil for deep frying.”
What you’ll need…
1 4kg baking potatoes, cut into thick chips or wedges
500g plain flour
3 tbsp curry powder
1 litre vegetable oil for deep frying
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 red chillies, thinly slices
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Handful of coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper
- Fill a pan with water and bring it to a rolling boil, add a pinch of salt and then the chips. Parboil them for 10 minutes or until a fork pierces them easily. Drain them and let them dry for about 10 minutes.
- Divide the flour equally between two bowls. Put a heaped tablespoon of curry powder in each bowl along with some salt and pepper to taste and give them a mix.
- Gradually add water to one of the bowls, mixing continuously to form a batter. You will need about 400ml water. The batter should be the consistency of paint and have no lumps of flour.
- One by one, dredge the chips first in the flour, then the batter and then back in the flour again. Repeat this until they are all coated in batter and flour – be patient; it can be a messy process. I recommend using one hand for the flour and the other for the batter, so your hands don’t get too messy.
- Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180°C, then deep-fry the chips for 5 minutes until the batter is golden brown and crisp. If you don’t have a deep-fat fryer, heat 1-litre oil in a large saucepan to 180°C. Put the chips carefully into the hot oil and deep-fry them for 5 minutes until they are golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan or the chips will stick together. Fry them in batches if necessary.
- When you take the chips out, season them generously with salt. They will be crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.
- To take the chips to another level, heat a frying pan on a high heat until it is screaming hot and add a drop of oil. Add the onion and chillies and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.
Tomato and Basil Gnocchi
"I don’t know if you class gnocchi as pasta, but I’m going to because it’s my kitchen and my rules.
"This is a fantastic example of how to turn some extremely cheap and humble ingredients into something quite elegant – an almost restaurant-quality dish."
Add to your shopping list…
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ red chilli, finely chopped (deseeded for a milder flavour)
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes 10 basil leaves, plus extra to serve 300g plain flour
20g Parmesan salt and pepper
- Put the potatoes in a pan, cover them with salted water and gradually bring them to the boil. Let them simmer until completely soft.
- Put another pan on a medium heat and add the oil and the onion. Let the onion soften for 3–4 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Keep everything moving around the pan to prevent it from burning and sticking.
- Add the tomatoes and then half-fill one tin with water and pour that in too. Add the basil leaves and salt and pepper, give the sauce a stir, lower the heat to low and let it bubble away for 30 minutes. Check on it every 5 minutes and stir to ensure that nothing sticks.
- The potatoes should be nice and soft now, so drain them and mash them as well as you can. Try to ensure that there are no big lumps. Season with salt to taste.
- Tip the mashed potato onto a large board and combine it with the flour. Bring them together and knead the mixture for about a minute. It will start to resemble a dough. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and roll each piece into a long sausage shape. They should be about the circumference of a £1 coin.
Jam and Sponge Pudding
If you're after something a little sweet treat, Mitch also has you covered – and suggests this one is great for those who miss old schoolday traybakes.
"I love the simplicity of it and it truly is a treat.
"If you want to take it up a level you could add some dried coconut shavings, chocolate chips, sprinkles or even dried fruits.
"I serve it with ready-made custard which works beautifully."
Just a few simple ingredients
175g baking spread, plus extra for greasing
175g self-raising flour
175g granulated sugar
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g strawberry jam, plus extra to serve
decorative sprinkles, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm baking tray.
- Put the baking spread, flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat them together until smooth.
- Spread the jam evenly over the bottom of the baking tray. Carefully pour in the cake batter and spread it gently over the jam.
- Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes.
- Take out the cake and let it cool. Spread more jam on top and add decorative sprinkles, if using.
- Warm the custard and serve it with the cake.
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Mitch's new book Feed Your Family for Under a Fiver is currently available to buy on Amazon and in all major bookstores.
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