Lauds. What a great word. If you are a regular newspaper reader, you will have noted the many articles that appeared before Christmas stating that food poverty was on the rise in Ireland. Most of these articles featured quotes from lower income families complaining that it's too expensive to eat properly, and stating that it's far cheaper to buy processed muck like frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets and chips. At the risk of sounding like a total knob, it's been my long-held opinion that this is complete and utter bollox. The only thing stopping a lot of families (not just lower income ones) eating decent, fresh food is laziness and ignorance. It's not cheaper to stick chicken nuggets and waffles into the oven, it's easier. That's pretty much all there is to it. Aldi do six fruit and veg and two meat special offers every week. You could plan your menu around these and eat very well for little money, but God forbid people would actually put a bit of effort into their kitchen exploits.
I'm acutely aware that all of this may be coming across as a bit of a pop at lower income families. It's not. I know plenty of people with no money worries who also eat a neverending selection of beige shite.
Anyway, food poverty and socio-economic debates aside, many of us are trying to stretch our salaries further than ever, so any way of being a bit more food-savvy is often welcome. And around September or October of last year, Lidl stepped up to the mark in this regard. They teamed up with Paul Flynn of the (fabulous) Tannery in Waterford and created a feckin' brilliant little booklet called "7 Family Meals for €50". It contained a full shopping list and recipes for seven meals which each served four people. What I absolutely loved about it was that wasn't dumbed-down or patronising - the recipes are varied, balanced and full of flavour - and I suspect that some of the tastes may have been a bit of a revelation for a lot of people who maybe weren't all that adventurous in the kitchen beforehand.
I haven't seen the booklet instore for a while, so I thought I'd share its contents here. If you're trying to broaden your culinary horizons a little, trying to make your food budget go that little bit further, or just plain curious, I really, really recommend giving this a go. Obviously, all the recipes serve four people, so if you're cooking for fewer than that, you can have the leftovers the following night, or bring them to work for lunch, and your fifty quid will go even farther. What's not to love?
So, first things first - the fixins'...
3 pack of garlic Root ginger
Pot of parsley Pot of sage
Large sweet potato 1 red pepper
Bunch spring onions 2 bags white onions
Bag red onions Bag of pears
Bag of funsize apples Bag of baby spinach
2x 12 packs meatballs* Pack of pork loin chops
Pack fresh turkey breast Pack chicken legs (I actually use thighs)
Pack of 2 fresh cod fillets 6 free-range eggs
8 pack sausages 1x black pudding
Gorgonzola cheese Grana padano/Parmesan cheese
Mature cheddar cheese Tin of baked beans
Tin of tomatoes** Pack of basmati rice
Packet of spaghetti Tin of coconut milk
Bag of frozen peas
*If you can get one pack of beef and one pack of pork, do it. The flavour combination really adds to the dish.
**I've said it before, but I much prefer to buy tins of whole tomatoes, and whizz them myself in the mini-chopper. They're cheaper and tend to be better quality than chopped ones.
So, that's your €50 shop. If you're really lucky, some of the fruit & veg will be on special offer the week you do your shopping. Also, the great thing about this list is that stuff like the ginger, rice, pears and apples won't be completely used in the recipes, so you'll have it either in the press or to stick in lunchboxes for the week. Of course, you may already have some of the stuff at home, in which case you won't even need to buy it. Get a bottle of wine with the savings - you deserve it.
Speaking of having stuff in the press, Paul does assume that you have some basic seasonings and condiments already, which I'll list below. Obviously, if you don't have these, you'll need to buy them, which will push up the cost of the shop a little, but the good news is that once you have them, you won't need to buy them again for ages.
Store Cupboard Ingredients
Crunchy peanut butter Cayenne pepper
Paprika Curry powder
Soy sauce Mint sauce
Horseradish sauce Mustard*
Olive oil Chicken stock cubes or bouillon
Milk Real butter
Sugar Salt & pepper
*The recipe that uses the mustard calls for English, but I prefer wholegrain, so that's what I use. It's up to you.
So, that's the foundation laid. Go and do your shopping tonight, and we'll get stuck into the recipes in the next post.
Oh and one last thing - Lidl have an ongoing partnership with Paul Flynn, who is creating one-off recipes for them. Keep your eye out for the cards instore, cause everything I've made from them so far has been lovely.