Jamie Oliver's latest venture has seen him trying to save the public money through the cost of living crisis by releasing a range of recipes that include meals that can be made for only '£1 a portion'.
The Naked Chef's '£1 Wonders' have been the subject of a new Channel 4 TV show, where Jamie is looking to help families limit their expenses with a menu that is 'maximum flavour, minimum cost'. With ingenious tips like using frozen vegetables and mushroom soup to make a pie, Jamie assured viewers that each recipe has been 'costed up' and comes in at under £1 a portion or less.
We're all feeling the pinch at the moment, so I thought I'd put one of these recipes to the test and see if it could save me a bit of money on my shopping. After finding a plant-based recipe that looked particularly tasty, I went out and bought the few ingredients I needed and began to prepare my meal.
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The £1 Wonder that I settled on was an African dish called Kunde, which is essentially black-eyed beans in a peanut sauce, but it looked delicious in the photos. The ingredients include the beans, peanut butter, onions, tomatoes, rapeseed oil, and spices - all fairly cheap to come by - with a preparation and cooking time of around 30 minutes.
The original recipe was for four people, but I decided to half the ingredients so that I'd be left with one portion for my lunch and another for the next day. After draining the beans and dicing the vegetables, I turned on the hob and got cooking.
First in was the oil and the onion, followed by some ground coriander and turmeric. When they'd softened, I added the diced tomatoes and left it to simmer until most of the moisture had evaporated.
Then came the peanut butter, the black-eyed beans, and some boiling water. I gave the mixture a good stir until the water had reduced and the sauce had thickened, before adding a handful of spinach for colour (and a big sprinkle of salt for good measure).
At this point, the smell wafting through my kitchen was wonderful and I genuinely couldn't wait to sit down and eat. Only, it was around this point that I noticed something a little off about my £1 Wonder meal - there wasn't very much of it.
What I had prepared in the pan was meant to be for two people according to the recipe, but it barely looked enough for just me while it was simmering away. I wondered if Jamie Oliver had perhaps stretched the boundaries of what constitutes a portion size when creating this menu, but I was willing to defer my verdict until I had tasted it.
Luckily for the Naked Chef, the Kunde tasted delicious, with a wonderfully creamy texture and an exceptional nutritional profile that is perfect for keeping you fit on a budget. However, I ended up eating the next day's portion because the volume was simply nowhere near enough - and I can imagine a nurse or a bricklayer would say the same after a long, physically demanding shift.
The combined value of all of my ingredients (per portion) may well have come to under £1, with the largest expenses being half a tin of black-eyed beans that cost 27p (54p per can), and a spoonful and a half of peanut butter that likely comes to a similar amount, however it just wasn't filling enough.
But, this dish could easily still be a £1 Wonder if you cooked a portion of rice to accompany it, as it would keep you just about under budget, while making the meal twice as satisfying. So, although my experiment wasn't a complete success, I know I'll definitely be making it again - just with a little rice-shaped tweak of my own!
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