June 17, 2024


Food never sleeps.

I’m a savvy food blogger

5 min read


WITH the cost of living rising on what feels like a daily basis, it’s no wonder that so many of us are struggling.

But if food is one of the areas you find it hard to stick to a budget on, savvy blogger Thrifty Lesley has shared her five top recipes to cook for your family for a cost of under 20p a portion.

Lesley Negus, aka Thrifty Lesley, has a blog dedicated to frugal recipes


Lesley Negus, aka Thrifty Lesley, has a blog dedicated to frugal recipesCredit: lesley negus

First up, Lesley’s Stuffed Potato Cakes.



Serves 4


  • 650g potatoes
  • 40g plain flour
  • 115g peas, frozen
  • 115g carrots 
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp curry powder/paste
  • 1.5 tbsp oil 


  • Peel and cook the potatoes, mash thoroughly, season and leave to cool. Do not add any butter to your mash.
  • Once the potatoes are not too hot, add the flour and work through.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, make the filling.
  • Sauté the onion in a tbsp oil
  • Add the peeled and diced carrot and the curry powder and let it sizzle for a minute or two
  • Taste and season if necessary. The filling needs to have a strong flavour.
  • Now make your potato cakes. Divide the dough into 8. Take one piece and divide into 2.
  • Flour the work surface pat out one piece into a rough circle.
  • Repeat with the other half.
  • Place one eighth of the filling onto one piece, put the second piece on top. Pinch the edges together and roll into a ball, flattening it slightly.
  • Repeat for the other seven pieces of dough and filling.
  • Place the potato cakes into a frying pan that has been oiled. Fry gently until browned, flip over and brown the other side. Serve while crispy.

Lots of families like sticking to a routine and having certain dishes on certain nights of the week.

So why not try a soup night?

Soup can be incredibly cheap to make but is also hearty and nutritious – perfect for adults and growing children.

Lesley’s favourite is the split pea soup.



Serves 4


  • 200g split peas
  • an onion
  • a stock cube (Lesley suggests turkey stock for an extra delicious twist)
  • 1.5 litres of water


  • Simmer everything in a pan until split peas are soft
  • Whizz it up and season if necessary


You can also throw in any leftover meat that needs using up. Lesley had some turkey that needed using, so used that in the soup and said it was delicious.

Burgers are a favourite among many people, but can be expensive if making at home due to the cost of meat.

So, to keep her costs down, Lesley has come up with a brilliant recipe using beans – baked beans in this instance.

“I really like this recipe for a bean burger,” she said.

“I’ve tried a few burger recipes and this one is the nicest I think.”



Makes 8 burgers


  • 30g red lentils
  • 158ml water
  • 355g baked beans, rinsed
  • 50g onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 40g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 lemon – zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp curry powder


  • Put the lentils in a saucepan with the water
  • Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the lentils are soft and the water mainly gone. Keep an eye on them, we don’t want them to stick.
  • Open the tins of beans and tip into a sieve. Now run under the tap to rinse away all the sauce. If you want to keep the sauce for use in your next soup or casserole, drain them into a bowl first before rinsing under the tap.
  • Tip the rinsed beans into a bowl and mash them with a fork
  • Chop the onion quite finely
  • If you don’t have any breadcrumbs stashed in the freezer, make them now from slices of bread. Grate the slices, or chop, chop, chop them until very fine. Or use a stick blender etc
  • Add everything to the bean bowl and give it all a good mix. If the mixture is a little wet to hold its shape, add a few more breadcrumbs. If it seems to dry, add a tbsp of water
  • Now divide your mix into 8 equal sized amounts and shape into burgers
  • Rest the burgers in a cool place until ready. Or wrap them and freeze. 
  • When you’re ready to eat, put a little oil in a frying pan, place your burgers in and fry gently for a few minutes until golden. Flip over, add a little more oil, just a teaspoon, and cook the other side. Serve immediately


Serve these burgers with 200g homemade chips and a dollop of value ketchup to keep the cost under 20p a serving.

One thing many parents struggle with is getting enough vegetables into their children.

But Lesley has a brilliant recipe for this – her ever-popular vegetable crumble.

“Vegetable crumble is a family favourite in our house,” she said.

“My girls liked it when they were still living at home, and my husband loves it, he’ll always enjoy it whenever it’s on offer.”



Serves 6


  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 100g flour
  • 75g oats 
  • 50g cheddar
  • 50g salted peanuts 
  • 340g potatoes
  • 340g carrots
  • 100g onion
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp parsley (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)


  • Mix all the topping ingredients together and put to one side
  • Saute all the root vegetable in a little oil until soft. You really need to do this, once you add the tomatoes, the potato and carrot don’t seem to soften any more, and boiled onion is not the flavour we are after here.
  • Put the base in an oven proof dish and pile the topping over it.
  • Bake at 190° for about half an hour.


If you have any available, Lesley advises serving this crumble with a crisp green vegetable.

Frozen vegetables are often a good choice when it comes to being frugal, as they cost so little and last for ages.

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Lesley is a big fan of utilising frozen veg in her recipes, and her pea fritters and chips are a fabulous dinner option.

As an added bonus, they is vegan – so perfect for any vegan families out there.



Serves 2


  • 175g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 350g frozen chips
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 15ml veg oil


  • Cook the chips as per the packet instructions.
  • When the chips are nearly done, mix the defrosted peas and flour together. 
  • Add a pinch of salt and some fine chopped mint if using. Dried mint would also work here.
  • Add a little water to make a stiff batter. It looks like it’s too little flour to the amount of peas, but once cooked, that is the ratio that tastes good.
  • Put the oil in a frying pan and heat. Add the pea mixture in 4 dollops and cook gently until firmed up. Flip over and cook the other side until golden.
  • Serve immediately with the chips.


You can swap the peas for frozen sweetcorn if you’d prefer, and it would still cost just 20p per portion.


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