I challenged myself to cook the tastiest meal for under 30p per portion


Conservative MP Lee Anderson sparked fury when he said clients at a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency “have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course” if they receive parcels.

“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he added. “We can make a meal for about 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

After a backlash on social media, he posted on his Facebook page: “I did not say poor people can not cook or there is no need for food banks.

“I said there is not the need currently being parroted out by the MSM [mainstream media].”

I challenged myself to cook the tastiest meal for under 30p per portion.

I came up with beans on toast for every meal, possibly soup. You could maybe make salad with some kind of strange meat product.

None of these would be healthy and you have the cooking cost on top of the cost of the food.

If you are batch cooking it would still be difficult to make anything under 30p a portion and then you’ve got to have a big freezer.

So I tried cooking the tastiest meal for under £1 per portion. And it turns out this is pretty easy.

A quick Google brought up several recipes including one from BBC Food magazine for easy spaghetti and meatballs which was quick, and indeed easy.

Our local supermarket only had standard Asda own-brand minced beef at £4.25 or two packets for £7. Did I really need 1.3kg of mince? Not really, but it was a bargain… possibly.

Once I’d made this I certainly had plenty of leftover ingredients for the next batch.

I left out the breadcrumbs and chose own-brand tinned tomatoes and one egg.

Basically make the meatballs  – beef, egg, herbs rolled into balls, fry, then pour over tomato sauce. Cook for about eight minutes and while that’s going on cook the spaghetti in salted water, drain and add to the pan.

The recipe was healthy and nutritious and worked out at 85p per person.

Next up was vegetable egg fried rice.

The main ingredient was rice which I cooked with our meal the night before to save time and gas costs. Note: keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating.

Our local supermarket had carrots reduced to clear at 29p and yellow-stickered spring onions at 23p, a head of broccoli I had in the fridge (52p) but you could use frozen, frozen peas (90p), peppers (98p for three), three eggs (Asda own-brand 15 eggs, £1.29) and own-brand soy sauce (64p).

Heat a wok or pan, stir-fry spring onions and pepper, add garlic, add broccoli with a bit of water, bring to the boil and simmer to cook the broccoli.

Add the rice and stir-fry for a couple of minutes, stir in the frozen peas. Beat the eggs with soy sauce and add.

This is another really cheap and easy meal to make and you could bulk it up with added veg.

You could also use the rice for some kind of fancy-sounding risotto, you only really need onion, rice, peas and a stock cube.

As my pictures show, basically it’s hard to replicate takeaway egg fried rice at home and overcooked rice may not be your thing.

It tasted better than it looked but I’d say the soy sauce turned out to be an important ingredient.

The whole thing was enough for three for dinner, plus leftovers. I would say it works out at about 85p per person.

You’ll be amazed to hear I’m not the world’s greatest cook but this was straightforward.

In fact, I’ve actually become a bit obsessed and will be sticking to the £1 challenge now.

Do you have any cheap and cheerful meals that you like to cook? Let us know what your favourite thrifty meal is.