March 2, 2024


Food never sleeps.

I’m a food blogger – these tricks will slash your supermarket shop budget & let you make delicious dinners for 40p

6 min read


AS food costs continue to rise, many households are finding it harder than ever to eat healthy, nutritious meals.

Today in the second day of our exclusive series, we bring you budget-busting meals from Lesley Negus, known as food blogger “Thrifty Lesley”.

Lesley Negus aka 'Thrifty Lesley' says that you can feed yourself on just over £1 a day


Lesley Negus aka ‘Thrifty Lesley’ says that you can feed yourself on just over £1 a day

Each dish comes in at less than 40p a head – and they contain all the nutrients you need.

Thrifty Lesley says that by buying in bulk, only shopping once a week and habitually costing up recipes, you can feed yourself on just over £1 a day.

Lesley began sharing recipes on her blog in 2013 and now has a huge following.

Here, she serves up more of her favourite big-value dishes for the whole family.

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l  Follow Lesley for more recipes and tips at

Couscous salad – priced at Asda (serves 2)

Total: 58p = 29p each


This couscous salad costs a mere 29p per serving


This couscous salad costs a mere 29p per serving
  • 50g dried couscous £1.25/500g – 13p
  • 50ml cold water
  • 40g black olives, 60p/310g jar – 14p
  • 20g salted cashew nuts, 75p/125g – 12p
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil, £1.60 litre – 2p
  • 100g frozen peas, 80p/kg – 8p
  • 100g carrots, grated 43p/kg – 3p
  • 50g onion, sliced very fine 65p/kg – 3p
  • One clove of garlic – 3p

METHOD: Put the couscous in a bowl and add oil and cold water. Add the carrot.

Cook the peas (one minute in the microwave from frozen) and add to the couscous.

Add olives, halved.

Leave the couscous to stand for ten minutes.

Mix in the cashew nuts.

If you have any mint in the garden, or any other fresh herbs, chop a spoonful very finely and stir in (optional).

Turkey potato cakes – priced at Aldi (serves 4)

Total: £1.43 = 36p each


These turkey potato cakes go great with roast squash


These turkey potato cakes go great with roast squash
  • 650g potatoes 54p/kg – 35p
  • 40g plain flour 55p/1.5kg – 2p
  • For the filling:
  • 115g frozen peas, 80p/kg – 9p
  • 115g carrots 43p/kg – 5p
  • 1 onion 65p/kg – 6p
  • 1 tbsp curry powder 79p/90g – 5p
  • 1 ½ tbsp oil for frying, £1.60 litre – 4p
  • 50g of turkey mince £1.20/250g – 24p
  • ½ tsp salt – 1p
  • Serve with 400g frozen butternut squash 65p for 500g bag – 52p

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

Peel, cube and boil the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Drain, leave to dry for a couple of minutes then tip back into the pan and mash thoroughly.

Leave to cool, then add the flour and mix.

Meanwhile add ½ tbsp oil to a frying pan, sauté the turkey for three minutes then add the onion and carrot, on a medium/high heat for another five minutes.

Add the curry powder.

Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Put the butternut squash into the oven and roast for eight minutes.

Now make your potato cakes by dividing the potato mix into eight balls.

Put your finger into the balls to create a hole and put in some of the turkey mix filling.

Flatten it slightly.

Add the remaining oil to a frying pan and fry the potato cakes for two minutes on each side.

Serve with the roast squash.

Butter bean & veg curry – priced at Aldi (serves 4)

Total: £1.20 = 30p each


This butter bean & veg curry serves 4


This butter bean & veg curry serves 4
  • 1½ tins of butter beans 38p + 19p – 57p
  • 3 tbsp veg oil, £1.60/litre – 7p
  • 1 onion (100g), peeled and chopped, 1kg/65p – 5p
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed, 20p/bulb – 5p
  • 350g potatoes, cut into bite-size cubes (no need to peel), 54p/kg – 19p
  • 2 bay leaves if you have them, if not, leave them out
  • 125g frozen peas, 55p/kg – 7p
  • 20g tomato puree, 31p/200g – 2p
  • 20g curry powder, 79p/90g – 17p
  • 1 tsp salt – 1p

METHOD: Drain the butter beans, reserving the liquid.

Heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic in a frying pan on a medium/high heat until transparent.

Add the curry powder and cook out for a minute or two to release the oils.

Watch it carefully as spices burn easily and will taste bitter.

Add everything else except the peas, adding enough of the bean juice to make a gravy.

Simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly cooked, then add the peas and cook for a couple more minutes.

Sweetcorn fritters & wedges – priced at Aldi (serves 2)

Total: 60p = 30p each


Why not try these delicious and thrifty sweetcorn fritters & wedges


Why not try these delicious and thrifty sweetcorn fritters & wedges
  • 175g sweetcorn from a 47p tin (285g) – 29p
  • 50g flour, self-raising, 55p/1.5kg – 2p
  • 25ml oil, £1.60 litre – 2p
  • For the wedges:
  • 400g white potatoes, 54p/kg – 22p
  • 25ml oil, £1.60 litre – 2p
  • To serve:
  • 160g peas, 55p/kg – 7

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

Scrub the potatoes and cut them into wedges – no need to peel.

Toss them with some oil, salt and pepper.

Put the potatoes in the oven and cook for half an hour.

Place the sweetcorn and flour in a bowl and add enough water to make a thick batter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium/high heat and drop spoonfuls of corny batter into the pan.

Cook until set and golden on one side, flip over and cook the other side.

Serve with the oven wedges and peas.

Peanut butter & ham stir fry – priced at Aldi (serves 4)

Total: £1.50 = 37.5p each


This peanut butter & ham stir fry costs just 37.5p per serving


This peanut butter & ham stir fry costs just 37.5p per serving
  • 90g crunchy or smooth peanut butter, 89p/340g – 24p
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce, 55p 150ml – 6p
  • 1 garlic clove, 20p bulb – 5p
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, 69p pack – 1p
  • 1 slice of chilli, 69p/70g – 2p
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, 35p/250ml – 4p
  • 1 tbsp sugar – 1p
  • 1½ tsp turmeric, 49p/40g – 6p

For the rest of the dish:

  • 1kg bag of long-grain rice, 45p/1kg – 3p
  • 200g carrots, diced, 44p/kg – 9p
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced, 65p/kg – 6p
  • 1 red pepper, sliced, Essentials £1.60/kg – 24p
  • 125g wafer thin honey-roasted ham, £1.89/400g – 59p

METHOD: Cook the rice according to the pack instructions.

Cook the carrots in the microwave, or in a saucepan, for two minutes.

Fry the onion in a wok or frying pan on a high heat until transparent.

Add the drained carrots and other vegetables, fry until cooked to your liking.

Add water if the vegetables are sticking.

Chop and add the ham at the end – it’s cooked, so just needs to be warmed through.

Meanwhile mix the lemon juice, sugar and turmeric in a small bowl.

Once the vegetables are cooked, tip in the dressing and mix with the vegetables.

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Push the vegetables to one side in the wok and tip in the rice. Serve immediately.

TIP: If you don’t have any rice, use value spaghetti.

Here’s how to save:

  • Sometimes (not always – do the sums) it works out cheaper to purchase in bulk. Things such as a sack of potatoes or rice, lentils and spices can work out to be good buys. Team up with friends, neighbours or family to help with the outlay and storage. Everyone benefits from the cheaper prices without having to store potatoes under the bed.
  • Make a habit of costing up your recipes and keep a little notebook with them in. When you come across another cheap recipe that you like, add it in and before too long you will have a whole recipe book of cost-effective meals.
  • Try and do one big shop a week. It has become common for people to do small shops throughout every few days. This usually means a lot more impulse purchases of things that wouldn’t make it on to a weekly list. Supermarkets are super-skilled at getting us to spend more than we intend.
  • Have a use-it-up day before going shopping again and see what can be created with what’s left in the fridge, cupboard and freezer. Be creative with your ingredients.
  • If your potatoes sprout, cut the sprouts off and plant them in a bucket of soil. They’ll grow a potato plant. Or cut off the bottom centimetre of spring onions and put them in a little soil in a pot, or in the garden and they’ll grow a new onion. Cut the top off, eat it, and it will do it again.


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