Fiver Feeds was made for months like January. No money? Check. Overindulged a bit in December? Check. So cheap and reasonably healthy is the order of the day, or rather, month. I don’t hold with silly diet fads that you’ll keep up for a couple of days before giving in and buying that half price box of Matchmakers that been making eyes at you since the first week of January. The mantra here is ‘start as you mean to go on’ so if your New Year’s Resolutions featured anything remotely related to eating less and saving more, then let me give you a helping hand. But this post is all about banishing the January blues with comfort foods, so how does that fit into healthy eating? Quite well actually – here’s a selection of my favourite cheap comfort foods that will keep you warm and cosy in the next few weeks…
‘Hang on a sec! Just wait right there missy. I thought you said this was supposed to be healthy. What’s so healthy about CHEESE, eh?’ – something you might be saying right about now. Well, first off, you need to start changing your definition of the word ‘healthy’. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out ALL fat, carbs, dairy etc. I’m thinking more along the lines of ‘everything in moderation’. Cheese can be a great part of any diet, providing essential calcium, as long as you don’t overdo it, mind. And in the case of the classic Macaroni Cheese, you can cut down by picking out a cheddar with a stronger flavour for your sauce – less cheese content required. My favourite way of eating this dish is with wholemeal breadcrumbs and some parmesan sprinkled on top and browned under the grill, served with a massive portion of peas and a large dollop of tomato ketchup.
Bean and Pasta Soup
Or my version of Minestrone, of you prefer, but I’m slightly wary of calling it something by its proper name if I not actually doing a traditional version of it. My soup has many of the basic ingredients, but is also very much a case of using up whatever is left in my fridge. So, for example, you have the fried chopped onion, carrot and garlic, two tins of tomatoes and the same volume of water. Add to this some tomato puree, a tin of borlotti beans, two vegetable stock cubes and whatever herbs you have lying around. Leave to simmer for a while before breaking up some spaghetti and popping it in. when the pasta is nearly cooked, add some frozen peas and/or corn and if, on the off chance you’ve got any savoy cabbage lying about, shred that up and put it in. On the cheap front, I probably don’t need to point out that one onion, one carrot, one garlic clove, the tomatoes and the beans won’t set you back too much.
I’ve mentioned my cheap curry method on more than one previous occasion, but I think it could do with another mention here. What is more warming than a curry on a cold winter’s day? Nothing. Exactly. I made a very nice goose and parsnip curry over the festive period using leftover bits and bobs – what made it especially good was frying the chopped up parsnip, onion and garlic in a bit of honey before adding the curry powder and leftover meat. Fry this all together for a minute or two then put in one tin of chopped tomatoes and one tin of coconut milk and simmer for half an hour. If you can stretch to buying a few flatbreads to go with it, then all the better. Or failing that, you could make your own. I hear they’re quite easy.
Yes, January may traditionally be a time of dietary discipline, but there’s no reason to deny yourself delicious things. Be a bit more imaginative with those leftovers and store cupboard staples and you might be pleasantly surprised.