Rushed for time, don’t think you can cook or even afford good, tasty home prepared food? Then think again.

The idea that a burger from a fast food restaurant is cheaper than home cooked food is completely wrong. With some places charging around five pounds for a meal deal, I began to wonder how much the excuse that ‘fast food is popular because it is so cheap’, can be used any more.



So to challenge the theory, I prepared eight dishes, none of which cost more than £4 a portion and most of them, much less. OK, the converts to burgers might say there isn’t much difference in the price. Maybe not, but there is in the taste and the goodness of home cooked food. Then there is the health aspect and finally, it is environmentally better.



So put all that together and it’s a no brainer: get cooking.



All of the following recipes are very easy to make, very healthy, and will fill you up in a much more satisfying way.





Roasted Stuffed Red Peppers - £2.50

Cut red pepper (1) in half and take out seeds.

Place skin down on baking tray.

De-skin tomatoes (2), chop and stuff peppers.

Roughly chop anchovies (1/2 pot) and stuff peppers.

Chop basil leaves and stuff into peppers.

Fill up peppers with a drizzle of olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper.

Put into 180 oven for 40 minutes until outsides are cooked.

Serve with juices and fresh bread.



Roasted Vegetable Tart - £4

Roughly chop 1 red onion, 1 courgette, 1 red pepper, 10 cherry tomatoes.

Roast until soft/golden.

Place puff pastry (one packet) onto baking tray and trim edges.

Cover with ¾ jar of red pesto and put vegetables on.

Place slices of mozzarella (1 packet) on.

Score the edges of the pastry so they rise.

Oven bake at 180 for 20 minutes until cheese has melted.

Slice and enjoy with a salad.



Cous cous, feta cheese and chorizo - £3

Make the cous cous (roughly 3 handfuls) with one stock cube and 1 cup of boiled water.

Once made (expanded), stir in the red pesto (1/2 jar) until cous cous is red throughout.

Cut the chorizo (half a sausage) into slices and fry in a pan with no oil for 1 minute on each side or until brown.

Break up the feta cheese (1/2 packet) into rough chunks. Add juice and zest of one lemon.

Mix the chorizo and feta into the cous cous and serve (cold or warm) with salad.



Sausage, cherry tomato and lardons casserole - £3.70

Fry the sausages (2/3) until brown on the outside. Leave aside for a few minutes.

Fry the onions (2) in olive oil till soft.

Add the lardons (1 packet) and fry till brown.

Put the sausages back into the pan and simmer.

Make up a pint of chicken stock and add to the sausages, onions and lardons.

Leave to simmer for around 30 minutes and stir at intervals.

Serve with potatoes or fresh bread.



Chicken and leek pie - £2.50

Roast some chicken (1/2 whole chicken) and leave until cold or alternatively, grill or fry 1 uncooked chicken breast.

Lay the bottom of the baking dish with puff pastry (1 packet).

Fill in with the cooked chicken, and chop the leek (1) and add to the dish.

Make asparagus soup (from a powder soup packet), and pour over the dish.

Use the leftover pastry to cover the dish, and seal at the sides. Make small holes in the top to let the air out.

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the top turns brown.

Serve with freshly cooked vegetables.



Pesto Chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and wrapped in Parma ham - £2.70

Slice an opening in the chicken breast (1) and stuff the chopped sun-dried tomatoes (1/3 of tin) in.

Smother the top of the chicken breast in green pesto.

Wrap the chicken in Parma ham (2 slices depending on size of breast) and place on baking tray.

Season with olive oil and pepper.

Cook in 180 oven for 20 minutes, make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with salad, potatoes or pasta.



Mushroom and Watercress and Potato Soup - £2.80

Finely chop 2 white onions and slowly cook in butter until soft.

Add the finely sliced mushrooms (around 10) and cook till soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chopped watercress (one bunch), 3 finely chopped potato, 2 stock cubes and one pint of boiled water.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for an hour, stirring at intervals.

Add corn flour for thicker soup.

Serve with fresh bread.



Homemade Meatballs with tomato sauce and Pasta - £2.95

Mix into a large bowl the mince (beef – 150g-300g), one cracked egg, one finely chopped onion and chopped herbs.

Mix thoroughly. Make into meatballs and lay aside.

Fry meatballs in olive oil until browned on outside.

Fry one chopped onion in olive oil until soft, and add a tin of chopped tomatoes, some chopped herbs, and squeeze of tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the meatballs to the mixture and simmer for around 10 minutes.

Serve with pasta.

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