cheap family recipes
feed a family of 4 for (just over) £100 a month
As well as selling meat, there are a few things your local butcher will give away to regular customers – such as chicken carcases (these usually discarded once the breasts and joints have been removed to sell separately).
Ask for these early in the week to give your butcher a chance to collect a few carcases for you (he will keep them in his chilled room) and if lucky he will probably throw in a few winglets as well (winglets alone make excellent chicken stock). After taking the carcases home (freeze if not wishing to use them immediately), break them up to get as much in the pan as possible, add a roughly chopped carrot, a stick of celery (if you have one) and a halved onion plus a couple of bay leaves (again, if you have), and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat as low as possible, and simmer for a couple of hours to make a really well-flavoured stock (the lower the heat, the clearer it stays), although chicken carcases alone (without the veg) will make a reasonable stock.
Strain the stock (the veggies can be blitzed with some stock to make soup), and boil to reduce down to at least half, then – when cool – pour into small containers and freeze until needed. Remember to label as it could be confused with frozen apple sauce, egg whites, lemon juice. Reduce down even further and freeze in ice-cube trays and you will have made your own ‘chicken stock cubes’.
There will be less flesh left on the butcher’s carcase compared to the home-jointed/carved, but even so worth ‘picking over’ the bones once they have been cooked and the liquid strained off, as every little bit of flesh gathered, can be added to soup, put in a pie, or (if enough) used to make burgers, and chicken spread for sarnies.
The CFR team are indebted to Shirley Goode, food writer, sadly, no longer with us, for this guest article, written to help people wanting to cook thriftily. Shirley also helped us with additional creative ideas for our Christmas week planner.
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Take care of your family and your budget
Before putting together our meal planners we surveyed over 600 people to ask when faced with a tighter budget, which things they would struggle to give up.