There’s s lot of talk on Twitter at the moment about feeding a family on a budget. Yes of course I’ve been asked for my tuppence worth. I make no secret of the fact that in 2007 I was feeding my family of six on a budget of €50 per week. Yes, two adults and four children and we ate well ( I refer to this in my book Food from an Irish Garden). For some, being on a tight budget is just the catalyst needed to get sowing and growing their own fruit and vegetables. It was for me.
Now before I go any further let me say this.
I received my Pride of Ireland award for my contribution to promoting Irish artisan producers all over the country. I am so honoured to be a recipient and it is an absolute pleasure for me to interview artisans on my radio show and to help promote these unique Irish businesses in any way I can. Their passion is unequalled.
But having said that…
There is no doubt that without the likes of Lidl and Aldi, my €50 budget would not have gone half as far as it did. You cut your cloth and all that. Fortunately for me Eamonn’s new business was very successful from the word go, and that coupled with growing and rearing my own food, affords us the opportunity nowadays to buy Irish artisan produce. Don’t sweat it you can’t right now – feeding your family, whatever way you can, should always be top priority.
But being on a tight budget doesn’t have to stop you supporting local producers like your butchers. My Pork Hock Recipe has received rave reviews from readers and you won’t get better value than pork hock. If you are in the Carlow area, Farm to Fork on the Tullow Road provide excellent value in locally reared meat.
Of course the other staple is good old mince. Two pounds of good quality locally produced minced meat will cost less than €6 and provide you with two delicious evening meals. Use 3/4lb to make a nourishing shepherds pie, or a comforting bolognese or lasagne.
With the remaining mince, make 5 delicious homemade beef burgers.. They are easy to make and you don’t have to worry about additives or other things (ahem, horsemeat) being added to the meat. These are great on days when you couldn’t be bothered peeling spuds. I replace the potatoes with a fresh crusty roll and serve the burgers with green leaves and a simple but delicious homemade coleslaw. Making your own coleslaw is a lot less expensive that buying ready made coleslaw.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 or three carrots
1/4 head of white cabbage
In a bowl, mix the mince together with the honey, garlic powder and scallions.
Add salt and pepper.
Give the mixture a good old squishing with your hands. Shape the mixture into 5 burgers.
Put them on a plate, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.
Fry in a light oil or grill.
Serve in a crusty roll with green leaves and homemade coleslaw.
Grate the carrots and place in a bowl.
Finely chop a matching amount of white cabbage.
Add mayonnaise until the coleslaw is the consistency that you like. Increase or decrease the amount of carrots or white cabbage you use depending on your taste and the amount of people you are feeding.
I was fortunate enough to have been given a jar of a Balsamic Dressing from Tuscany Bistro in Ballina, Co Limerick – amazing stuff.
I topped the burgers with a magnificent relish from Bee Sensations (honey, fig, rhubarb and chilli) but you could just as easily add your favourite cheese or crispy bacon.
Adding herbs or chopped shallots to the coleslaw will add another layer of favour. Just have fun with it!
And don’t forget, if you’re cooking a steak this weekend, make some Garlic Butter.
“Food from an Irish Garden” is available in bookstores nationwide and at www.orpenpress.com.
To book Fiona for a demonstration/talk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 085 1057314
Both the relish and salad dressing were gifts from the producers. I was under no obligation to write about them, but I have linked Tuscany Bistro in the blogpost above because if you’re in the Limerick area, I would recommend you get your hands on some of their dressings (or eat in one of their restaurants). The relish, and honey based jams and cherries, are available from Bee Sensations through marketdirect.ie or phone 087 3553545 (email email@example.com).