Friday, 28 March 2014

Using Things Up

I haven't done many food related/frugal cooking posts lately, so I thought I'd show you today's dinner.

I'd forgotten to get anything out of the freezer last night, and I had thought of making a sort of macaroni cheese using creme fraiche, but in the end I didn't fancy pasta. Then I remembered Sarina's recent post about a frugal creamy rissotto made with pearl barley and soft cheese, both of which I had in stock. ( 

On looking in the fridge I found a third of a chorizo sausage and some peas and sweetcorn left from earlier this week that needed using up, and the veggie basket contained onions and some smoked garlic that DD3 and BF had left behind. Sarina soaked her pearl barley overnight and then boiled it before adding sauted veg and the cheese. Since my barley hadn't been pre-soaked I decided to cook it in the slow cooker all day to get it nice and soft. I also used twice the amount since I have 2 men with huge appetites to feed.

So, I used:-

1 tablespoon Olive Oil (AF 10p)
400g pearl barley, washed (AF approx 25p)
2 small onions, chopped (Morrisons Savers, 50p for 1.5kg, so approx 10p)
2 cloves smoked garlic (doesn't have to be smoked, and as this was left behind by DD3 it was free)
1/3 Aldi Chorizo Sausage Ring (£1.49 so 50p for 1/3rd)
200g mixed peas and sweetcorn (leftovers but originally £1 for 1kg so approx 20p)
100g (1/2 tub) Aldi Light Soft Cheese (55p so approx 28p)
Black Pepper
Boiling Water

Toss the barley and onion in the oil in the slow cooker, mix in all the other ingredients except the soft cheese. Add approx 2 pints boiled water (I didn't measure it, just poured in enough to cover it to about 1 inch above the barley). Cook on High for 2 hours, reduce to Low for 3-4 hours. Check every now and then and top up the water if it starts getting dry. I had to top mine up twice with about 1/2 pint of water each time. Mine cooked really quickly so I ended up turning it off after 3 hours of cooking and then putting it back on an hour before we were ready to eat but that left the onion a bit crunchy so next time I'll cook it for an extra hour. If you're using pre-cooked peas and sweetcorn you might want to leave adding those until about an hour before serving up so they don't get overcooked. 20 minutes before serving mix in the soft cheese (you can use more than the 100g if you want it creamier) and allow to heat through before dishing up.

Total cost of Rissotto:- £1.43
Per serving (4 servings) :- 36p

Partially cooked in the Slow Cooker

On the plate with the soft cheese added.

We were going to have it with salad but there was tons of it; it filled up my smaller 3.5 litre slow cooker, so we had it on its own. There was enough leftover for DS1's lunch tomorrow even though DH went back for seconds. It was pronounced delicious and one to make again, although next time I'd add a little smoked paprika or cayenne to give it a bit of a kick. Many thanks for the idea, Sarina, another easy, frugal meal to add to my repertoire.

I have to confess that the pearl barley was dated June 2012. It was one thing I didn't throw out when I had the purge of my stockpile a few weeks ago. It was totally fine, but I know some people might cringe at the idea of using something that old, and I would certainly be careful with a lot of food items, but dried beans, grains, pasta etc. last a very, very long time past their sell by/use by dates. 

Today's bargain was an unopened bag of soft toy stuffing bought in the Hospice charity shop for £2. 

I don't often make toys any more but I like to have stuffing in stock in case I do and it's expensive to buy so I was very pleased to find this.

Anyone else got ideas for easy main meals at under 50p a serving?


  1. I love pearl barley and can't be bothered to faff around with traditional risotto so must give this a go.

    1. I'm with you over traditional risotto, I like to make things I can go away and leave to cook, not have to stand there for an hour drizzling in a few drops of liquid at a time. I'd never make my own mayo because I couldn't be patient enough to drizzle in the oil.

  2. Glad you tried my risotto alternative. It`s just as nice as using rice, if not even nicer.
    I like it for the texture that pearl barley gives to my risotto idea. And the biggest bonus is the cheapness of each portion served!

    1. We all love pearl barley but mostly I've only added it to stews before. It certainly made for a nice cheap meal; everyone enjoyed it.