Lisa Faulkner’s tips for easy and tasty family meals on a budget

As the cost of living crisis deepens, we caught up with celebrity chef (and family home cooking lover) Lisa Faulkner to talk simple recipes and the tastiest ways to create simple, budget-friendly meals.

This fall, Lisa Faulkner has teamed up with online supermarket Ocado, on a mission to show that cooking profitably for the family is easy, delicious and energy-efficient, to create an entire week of family dinners for just £25. £. .

Does home cooking occupy an important place in your daily diet at home with the family?

I know nothing but cooking at home. I am very lucky because I grew up with my mother and my two grandmothers who cooked. They were all brilliant cooks and always cooked from scratch, so I feel like I grew up cooking that way too. And I still do; I mean, sometimes I use quick tips and pots of sauce and things like that, but I cook every day.

Depending on who works, either my husband John (Torode, celebrity chef and presenter of Masterchef) or I cook. We also cook a lot together; it’s something we both enjoy, so it’s never a chore.

Lisa Faulkner has created five quick and easy recipes for Ocado (Image: Ocado)
Lisa Faulkner has created five quick and easy recipes for Ocado (Image: Ocado)

What was the inspiration behind the dishes you created for Ocado?

Everyone is watching the price of food and the price of living go up. We all think, “Okay. How can we make sure we won’t waste food and save money? For me, it’s all about planning; the more I can plan my recipes, the better. I plan everything – what we can eat for dinner, what we can eat for lunch, what we can freeze and take back on the weekends. It’s a constant thing.

That’s why when planning these meals for Ocado, I wanted to think about ingredients that can be used in more than one recipe. When we cook, many of us make the same mistake: we buy an ingredient, but we only use it for one thing, then it wilts in the fridge until it is no longer needed. I really don’t want to waste food; I’m always looking for ways to use up leftovers, freeze foods, or cook in batches.

The five recipes I’ve created are a great way to maximize ingredients. Instead of having sage in just one recipe, it is used in a few dishes. Likewise, squash is in a few recipes – so is kale. But you mix it up to get meat dishes, vegetable dishes and a fish dish which is so easy because it uses fish sticks. These are really simple recipes that are fun to cook; they don’t take long, and you can cook them knowing you’re feeding your family some of their five a day. They are obviously also good value for money!

Lisa Faulkner's Roasted Carrot and Sage Soup with Garlic Pitas (Image: Ocado)
Lisa Faulkner’s Roasted Carrot and Sage Soup with Garlic Pitas (Image: Ocado)

Try Lisa’s Recipe for Roasted Carrot and Sage Soup with Garlic Pitas

The recipes contain lots of vegetables – but are they suitable for picky eaters?

I think so! The roasted carrot soup is really great – kids tend to like carrots and the soup is really tasty. Plus you have the garlic pitta bread, which is fun to dip. The whole dish is a very good way to put the vegetables in it.

The katsu always goes well too, and it’s great if the kids are picky. They might not like the sauce, or they might just want a little sauce, but it’s possible because it’s basically fish sticks, rice, and broccoli. Anything covered in curry sauce and breadcrumbs is usually a winner!

Lisa Faulkner's fish finger katsu (Image: Ocado)
Lisa Faulkner’s fish finger katsu (Image: Ocado)

Try Lisa’s Fish Finger Katsu Recipe

Are the recipes easy to make?

They all take about 20-30 minutes at most to prepare. These are easy recipes, and it’s really good to involve the kids in their preparation too. Many children love to cook, and the sooner they cook, the sooner they understand food. they understand what’s good for them and what’s not, what they can eat in moderation, and how much things really cost. Also, if children help prepare the food, they still want to eat it because they prepared it.

Lisa Faulkner's spaghetti cacio e pepe, peas and kale (Image: Ocado)
Lisa Faulkner’s spaghetti cacio e pepe, peas and kale (Image: Ocado)

Try Lisa’s spaghetti cacio e pepe, peas and kale recipe

What are your hero store cabinet ingredients for families cooking on a budget?

Definitely pasta, rice, canned tomatoes and onions. Squash is obviously very autumnal, but it’s a very versatile vegetable, so it’s really useful – then there’s kale and cabbage, which are green vegetables that you can put in a lot of things, especially with the children. You can hide the greens in dishes like mac ‘n’ greens or in the cacio e pepe recipe I created for Ocado.

Do you have any practical money-saving food tips that you can share with us?

Whenever I buy herbs, I use them in dishes and then put them in the freezer so I can use them again. Things like sage or thyme, I dry them and put them in jars.

Then I make broths with lots of things – even old vegetables. We have all those old vegetables at the bottom of the fridge drawer! I use them to make soup, or vegetable stock for soup if they’re really over the top. Just think, pour water on it, put it in the oven and you have an amazing broth for making casseroles, soups or stews.

Another way to save money is to try to use your kitchen appliances less. With the five meals I made, you can cook your veggies for tray cooking and then do the veggies for soup the same day because they’re already cooked and you’re just going to blitz them. This way you don’t have to use your oven every day.

Sausage, squash and sage platter by Lisa Faulkner (Image: Ocado)
Sausage, squash and sage platter by Lisa Faulkner (Image: Ocado)

Try Lisa’s sausage, squash and sage

Do you tend to cook meals in batches and freeze them for later?

Absolutely. For example, my daughter Billie loves my godmother’s casserole, which looks a bit like a beef bourguignon. When I do, I always prep everything early and put it in the slow cooker in the morning. When it’s done, there’s always enough to portion out, which I then freeze. We can heat it up and eat it again, or I can do something else with it.

The other day we made it into a tortilla soup using an extra can of tomatoes, a bit of pasta, and tortilla chips on top. I’m a big fan of using leftovers, not just as a starter, but turning them into something new.

Do you have any advice for people who are new to preparing meals from scratch?

I think one of the best things you can do when you’re just starting out in the kitchen is to learn how to cook a dish he likes to eat when he goes to dinner, or a dish he has when he was child.

Recipes can be daunting. Even if it’s something like mac and cheese, you might have thoughts like “oh my god, I have to make a white sauce and a cheese sauce, and I don’t really know how long to cook them. pasta, and I want to put vegetables in it and make it healthy”. It’s all about breaking it down and following the recipe multiple times. I think once you’ve cooked something three times, you know it. And once you know that, you can adapt and change it and make something else out of it.

It’s about not being afraid. Get started easy by trying something like tray baking, where you literally cut things up and put them in the oven. Then you can say, “I did that!” It was really easy! “. And then it gives confidence. No baby!

Spanish rice with eggplant and chorizo ​​by Lisa Faulkner (Image: Ocado)
Spanish rice with eggplant and chorizo ​​by Lisa Faulkner (Image: Ocado)

Try Lisa’s Eggplant and Chorizo ​​Spanish Rice Recipe

One last question – do the Ocado recipes you’ve created get John’s stamp of approval?

Well, he ate them and he loves them, so yes! You know what, he’s my biggest fan. He is always so nice to my food.

Lisa created her collection of Five Meals for Four for £25 using ingredients from the Ocado Own range. To find out more about Lisa’s five meals for four for £25 and explore the recipes, visit Ocado.

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