FRUGAL FOODIE: Slimming on a budget – there’s a challenge!

rugal foodie
rugal foodie

Ian and I are on a bit of a diet after a very overindulgent few weeks. I have also started another month of £50 budget so I’m going to have to give low-cost slimming a go!

I figured that there are probably a few others wanting to shape up for summer so I thought I’d share my frugal diet!

This is when growing your own veg is a godsend as I have a constant supply of lettuce, so salad is going to be an accompaniment to most of my meals. My tomatoes and cucumbers won’t be ready for a little while so they’ll have to be included in my budget for a while longer.

My radishes won’t be long though and I have pickled beetroot from last year in my cupboards.

Grated carrot is a nice addition to salads too. It also won’t be long until we get our first new potatoes. When you grow your own, I can’t describe how delicious those first potatoes are. Boiled with a little mint, they are to die for. So to start this frugal health kick, I need spray oil.

There’s no need to buy it, you can make your own easily. Just add water and olive oil to a spray bottle.

Use sterile water and sterilise your bottle to keep bacteria at bay.

You’ll need approximately 4 parts water to 1 part olive oil, but you may find that your oil needs slightly more or less water to get the right spray. Start with 3:1 and work up to the right consistency.

Soup is a great way of sticking to a budget and eating healthily (just don’t add cream – I often add a splash of milk before blitzing in the blender which gives a nice creamy colour and flavour without the calories).

I make soup all the time so there’s always a good supply in the freezer.

I rarely make it from new ingredients. It’s usually a way of preserving food that might otherwise have been thrown away. It’s the best way to use up the last bits of veg in the fridge or to use the less tender ends. Whenever I have asparagus, I always keep the woody ends and put them in a bag in the freezer. That way, I have asparagus soup to hand all the time. I also do the same with the tougher, greener ends of the leeks.

Last week, I was making a cottage pie and while I was making the mash I decided to steam the potato peelings over the pan.

I was really doing it to give them to the hens, but it occurred to me that as most of the nutrition is in the skins some of this goodness should have worked its way into the pan below.

I was making leek and potato soup at the same time as I had just dug my last leeks from the garden to make way for new plants. I used the cooking liquor from the potato pan in the soup.

That way, I needed to use fewer potatoes in the soup (fewer calories and more frugal) as I got the potato flavour and the starch from the cooking water (to make the soup thick and creamy) not to mention the nutrients. It worked well and tasted great.

Omelettes are also a staple in this house, particularly when I’m trying to lose a few pounds. They’re filling and I always add lots of tasty veg along with lots of chilli and herbs.

My favourite fillings are green peppers, asparagus (when it’s in season), cooked new potatoes and spring onions, all chopped finely.

You don’t need many of each – approximately quarter of the pepper, 1 asparagus stalk, 1 potato and a couple of spring onions per omelette (serves 1). The kids love these flavours too.

I use omelettes in a similar way to soups in that I also use them to use up the last bits and bobs that are in my fridge.

The other great thing about them is that it is seriously fast food. I make these loads whether I’m slimming or not as they are so quick and tasty.

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Beetroot and Apple Soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

10g butter

Approx. 350g beetroot, roasted and peeled

3 Granny Smith apples

1½ onions

1 stick celery

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 litre chicken stock

1 star anise

Pinch of dried chilli flakes

Salt and pepper


Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the caraway seeds to the melted butter.

Whizz the celery and onion in the food processor. Add it to the pan with a pinch of salt and sweat over a low-medium heat with the lid on for about 5 mins. Don’t let the onion brown.

While the onion is sweating, grate the beetroot (I use the food processor). Add the beetroot to the pan with the chilli flakes and pop the lid back on.

Whizz the apples in the food processor (no need to peel). Add them to the pan straight away.

Add the stock, star anise (PLEASE don’t leave this out – it makes it!) and seasoning and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Remove the star anise and blitz the soup in the blender. Add some water if it’s too thick.

I swirled a teaspoon of fat-free natural yoghurt into it and toasted some mixed seeds in a dry pan and sprinkled them on the top.