Autumn is here and, before you know it, the dark nights will be upon us ever earlier. The cold weather and black sky often has us reaching for the takeaway menu, especially after a hard day of lectures, but that can become an expensive habit.
A practical and economical way of approaching mealtimes this autumn is to plan your menu in advance and stick to a budget. There are countless recipes out there that are both yummy and affordable, and there is absolutely no reason to break the bank.
One-pot dishes are particularly handy, because you often have enough leftovers to make another meal the following day – saving time and money – and there is not as much washing up to do as usual.
Here are a few recipes to help you get started:
SMOKEY SAUSAGE CASSEROLE
Photo from bbcgoodfood.com via Pinterest
- Put 1tbsp olive oil in a large, heatproof casserole dish over a medium heat and add 1 finely-chopped onion, cooking for 5 mins until starting to soften. Tip in 1 finely-chopped garlic clove, 1 finely-chopped celery stick and 2 peppers cut into chunks, and give everything a good stir. Cook for 5 mins more.
- Turn the heat to high and add 6 pork sausages. Cook for a few mins until browned all over, then reduce the heat to medium, sprinkle in 1tsp sweet smoked paprika, ½ tsp ground cumin and ½ tsp chilli flakes, and season well. Pour over 400g chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue simmering gently for 40 mins, stirring every now and then.
- Heat the grill to high and uncover the casserole. Add 400g drained cannellini beans and 250g spinach, and stir to warm through. Scatter over 2tbsp fresh breadcrumbs and grill for 2-3 mins until golden and crisp
Download our recipe card here: Sausage Casserole
LIGHTER LANCASHIRE HOTPOT
Photo from delicious. magazine via Pinterest
- Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cut 650g boned lamb shoulder into chunky 5-6cm pieces. Tip 4 tsp plain flour onto a large plate, season with pepper and a little salt, and toss the lamb in the flour to coat evenly and completely. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tsp of rapeseed oil in a large, deep frying or sauté pan. Put 2 onions (halved lengthways and thinly-sliced), 3 carrots (halved lengthways and cut into bite-sized chunks), 225g swede (cut into bite-sized chunks), 3 thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves in the pan and season with pepper. Cook on a medium-high heat for 6-8 mins, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick, until the vegetables start to go brown around the edges – the bottom of the pan should be slightly brown and caramelised too. Pour in 200ml chicken stock made with half a cube; it should sizzle then bubble in the pan. Immediately remove the pan from the heat so the stock does not reduce in volume. Stir in 1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce.
- Overlap a single layer of thinly-sliced 750g potato slices in the bottom of a 2-litre casserole dish (about 20cm diameter x 10cm deep). Lay half the lamb over the potatoes, then spoon half the vegetable mix over the meat. Season with pepper. Sit the rest of the lamb on top, then tip the rest of the vegetables, herbs and all the liquid over the lamb. Press down with the back of a spoon, if necessary, to make room for the remaining potatoes. Start to layer up the potato slices in 3 tightly overlapping layers, seasoning each layer with pepper and brushing with oil as you go – save a bit of oil for the top layer. Cover the dish with a tight-fitting lid and bake for 10 mins.
- Reduce the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Cook for a further 2 hrs until the lamb is really tender and the potatoes are cooked. Take the lid off and pop under the grill for 8-10 mins until the potatoes are golden and crisp around the edges. Remove and let the hotpot settle for 5-10 mins, then serve scattered with extra thyme leaves.
Download our recipe card here: Hotpot
Photo taken from bbcgoodfood.com via Pinterest
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish on a medium-high heat. Season 6 skinless, boneless, chopped chicken thighs, add to the dish and cook for 4 mins until they start to brown, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick. Add 200g chopped cooking chorizo and cook for a further 4 mins until it releases its oils and has started to crisp. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
- Add 2 finely-sliced onions to the chorizo oils, lower the heat and soften for 8 mins. Stir through 4 crushed garlic cloves, 2 sliced red peppers, 2 chopped celery sticks, 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves and 1 tsp dried oregano, and cook for 2 mins more.
- Return the meat to the dish, add ½ tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp mustard powder and a pinch of white pepper, and cook for 2 mins until fragrant. Stir in 300g long-grain rice, then 400g canned cherry tomatoes. Add 300ml chicken stock and give it all a really good stir. Bring to the boil, then cover with a well-fitting lid and put in the oven for 20 mins.
- Take from the oven and fluff up the rice with a big fork. Fold through 12 large, raw tiger prawns (whole in their shells), then put 12 clean, de-bearded mussels and 24 clams on top. Put the lid on, return to the oven for 10 mins, then take the dish out and give everything a good stir. Sprinkle with ½ small pack of chopped parsley and 4 diagonally-sliced spring onions to serve.
Download our recipe card here: Jambalaya
CHICKEN AND COUSCOUS
Photo from bbcgoodfood.com via Pinterest
- Toss 8 skin on, bone in chicken thighs in half the spices (overall amount for meal 2 tsp turmeric, 1 tbsp garam masala) and a pinch of salt until completely coated. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan with a lid. Fry chicken, skin-side down, for 10 mins until golden brown, turn over, then cook for 2 mins before removing from the pan. Pour the rest of the oil into the pan, then fry 2 finely-sliced onions and 3 sliced garlic cloves for 8 mins until golden. Stir in the rest of the spices, then cook for 1 min longer. Pour over 500ml chicken stock and scatter in the olives. Bring everything to the boil, turn down the heat, then sit the chicken, skin side up, in the stock.
- Cover the pan with a lid, then simmer gently for 35-40 mins until the chicken is tender. Put the kettle on, then lift the chicken onto a plate and keep warm. Take the pan off the heat. Stir the lemon juice from 1 lemon, and 250g couscous, into the saucy onions in the pan and top up with enough boiling water just to cover the couscous if you need to. Place the lid back on the pan, then leave to stand for 5 mins until the couscous is cooked through. Fluff through half a small bunch of chopped parsley and the lemon zest from the lemon, then sit the chicken on top. Scatter with the rest of the parsley and zest before serving.
Download our recipe card here: Chicken and Couscous
CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BROWN RICE SKILLET
Photo taken from Naturally Ella via Pinterest
- In a 3 qt (or 5 qt) dutch oven, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in ½ medium red onion (minced) and cook until onion is translucent and fragrant, 4 to 5 mins. Stir in 1 minced garlic clove and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Next, add in the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil followed by ½ cup of short-grain brown rice. Stir until the rice is well coated with oil.
- Stir in the 1.5 cups of ¼-inced cubed butternut squash, ½ cup of drained chickpeas, 1.5 tbsp curry powder, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Then add in ¾ cup crushed tomatoes and 1/5 cups low sodium vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to the lowest simmer, cover, and let cook for 45 mins or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro before serving.
Download our recipe card here: Curried Butternut Squash
Recipe sources: BBC Good Food Guide and Natural Yella