The cost of living crisis still looms large and is forcing us to drasticlly change our shopping and cooking habits. We’re buying more frozen food, buying more in bulk and relying on dry and tinned storecupboard ingredients to flesh out our meals.
“With food and energy costs going through the roof, knowing how to cook has never been more relevant,” says Jamie Oliver, whose budget-friendly show Jamie’s £1 Wonders airs on Channel 4 on Monday at 8pm.
The new series follows the standalone £1 Wonder last year, this time looking at the most energy minimising methods to make kitchen classics and taking into consideration the rising cost of meat and dairy.
Top chefs like Chetna Makan, Miguel Barclay and Gennaro Contaldo will be bringing their top energy and cost saving dishes to the table.
Oliver says he hopes the show will be “even more helpful, with great recipes, tips and solutions that will help your money go further and keep costs down in the kitchen”.
And all for £1 a portion… a bold claim that you can put to the test ahead of the first episode with the two sneakpeak recipes below.
You won’t even have to switch on the energy-guzzling oven for Oliver’s chilli con carne, which relys entirely on the microwave and stretches the veg by using it in two clever ways.
And you’ll only need one pan, one hob and 10 minutes for his no-oven pizza. Each recipe also comes with tips on how to adapt the dishes depending on what’s in the cupboard.
My microwave chilli con carne with fresh salsa and fluffy microwave rice
“Microwaving is one of the most energy-efficient ways to cook, so I wanted to respond to that with something utterly delicious,” says Oliver. “Comforting, full of flavour and lots of lovely veg, this reimagined family classic is a thing of joy. I’m stretching the veg by using it in two clever ways – there’s half in the chilli base and the rest is transformed into a quick crunchy salsa. What’s more, there’s 3 of your 5-a-day in every portion – yes, please!”
Cost per portion: £1
Total time: 45 minutes
250g minced beef
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 beef stock cube
2 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
1-2 mixed chillies
400g butternut squash
Red wine vinegar
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of kidney beans
1 mug of long grain rice (300g)
1. Put the beef, cumin, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a big pinch of black pepper into a microwave-proof dish. Crumble in the stock cube and scrunch together with clean hands. Microwave for 10 minutes on high (800W) or until the meat is browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon halfway.
2. Meanwhile, peel the onion and garlic, then very finely chop with the celery. Deseed and finely chop the chillies. Put a handful of the chopped veg into a small bowl for the salsa, then slice off a thin piece of squash, finely chop and add to the bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt, and leave to pickle.
3. When the time’s up on the beef, stir in the remaining chopped veg. Slice the reserved squash into 4 large pieces (there’s no need to peel it) and lightly score the skin. Place the squash on top, then return to the microwave and cook for another 15 minutes on a high heat (800W).
4. Add the tomato purée and tomatoes to the dish, drain and tip in most of the beans (putting a small handful aside for later). Gently mash with a potato masher, until some of the beans are squashed into the sauce. Return to the microwave and cook for a final 20 minutes on medium-high (600-700W), or until the squash is soft. Carefully lift the dish out of the microwave and place on a heatproof surface. Use your potato masher to mash the squash, if you like, then carefully taste the chilli (it will be hot) and season to perfection. Cover to keep warm while you crack on with the rice.
5. Place the rice in a 2-litre microwave-proof dish or bowl with 2 mugs of water (600ml) and a pinch of sea salt. Cover the bowl with a lid or a side plate, sprinkle the reserved beans on top, then cook in the microwave on a high heat (800W) for 10 to 14 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave), carefully removing the beans halfway.
6. Fluff up the rice and divide between plates, spoon over the chilli, then sprinkle with the popped beans and salsa, and serve.
Love your leftovers: When you next turn your oven on, pop any remaining butternut squash in to roast until lovely and soft, then you can use cooked chunks in soups, curries, pastas, fritters and salads.
Flavour boost: If you’ve got fresh soft herbs in the fridge (think mint, parsley, coriander), roughly chop the leaves and toss through the salsa.
No-oven pizza with melty cheese, red pepper and sweet onions
“Pizza is a dish we all know and love, but this cheat’s version is breaking all the rules! You’ll only need one pan and one hob ring for this, so there’s no need to turn the oven on. Plus, it’s not only quicker than your average takeaway, it’s far cheaper and contains 3 of your 5-a-day in just one portion.”
Total time: 10 MINUTES
Cost per portion: 80p
250g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 red onion
½ a red pepper
½ x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
50g mature Cheddar cheese
½ a butterhead or round lettuce
Red wine vinegar
1. Place the flour in a bowl with a pinch of sea salt, and gradually pour in up to 150ml of cold water, using a fork to stir as you go so it comes together into a ball of dough. Knead for just 1 minute on a clean flour-dusted surface, and put aside.
2. Put a 30cm frying pan on a medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Peel and finely slice the onion and deseed and finely slice the pepper, adding to the pan as you go, then season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Place a lid on top and fry for 2 minutes, or until golden, tossing occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, roll out the dough into a round the size of the pan (just under ½cm thick).
4. When the time’s up on the veg, tip them onto your board, then gently transfer the dough to the dry pan, gently pressing in your fingertips into the dough to create dimples. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes on one side, then carefully flip over. Drain away some of the liquid from the tomatoes, then mash lightly with a fork and spread over the dough, leaving a 1cm gap around the edges.
5. Scatter over the cooked veg and coarsely grate over the cheese (it’s nice to get a little over the edge, because as the cheese melts you’ll get a gorgeous gnarly crust). Turn the heat down to medium, put the lid on and cook for a final 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the base is crispy.
6. Meanwhile, shred the outer leaves of the lettuce, finely slice the stalk, and click apart the inner leaves. Trim and speed-peel the carrot, dress with 1 tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and toss together. Slide the pizza on to a board, then slice and serve with the salad.
Treat this as a principle recipe, mixing up the fillings depending on what you’ve already got. Think tinned sweetcorn or tuna, slices of ham or sausage.
Use whatever cheese you already have in the fridge.
Love your leftovers:
Use the rest of the tinned tomatoes to make a quick pasta sauce.
Slice up the remaining pepper and toss through a salad, or use in a quick stir-fry.
‘Jamie’s £1 Wonders’ airs Monday 6 March on Channel 4 at 8pm for six weeks