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Savvy mum reveals how she makes delicious meals for just 53p per portion

Beef casserole cooked in a slow cooker

A SAVVY mum has revealed how she makes delicious home-comfort meals for just 53p per portion – including sharing her secret budget recipe.

With cold winter nights fast approaching and inflation shooting through the roof, Ashlie-Lousie Pearson, 34, from Merthyr Tydfil, wanted to find a cheap and easy recipe that could keep her family full and warm.

It turns out her answers lied with an old family recipe – her dad’s, beef stew recipe to be exact.

The mum-of-two says her husband, Sam, 37 and their two sons, Jack, 11, and Henry, six, absolutely love it, with the mum making the dish at least once a fortnight.

“The beef stew is a family recipe that my Dad taught me to make. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve managed to make it taste just like his,” Ashlie-Louise told NeedToKnow.Online.

“I’ve been making it for 20 years, it’s a quick and easy recipe that is full of goodness and veggies, filling and warming for a winter’s day and low cost.

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“Best of all, I can throw it all in my slow cooker and leave it chugging away whilst I’m at work.

“I come home to a house smelling deliciously of one of my favourite dinners, ready to eat right away.”

Like many around the country, Ashlie-Louise has been affected by the cost of living crisis, leading her to choose more wisely when it comes to shopping and cooking.

She has been able to conjure up other budget saving recipes such as a 36p bolognese and a 12 portion Pastitsio costing just 33p.

A breakdown of the recipes can be found below.

To make her dad’s stew, you only need seven ingredients; potatoes, an onion, carrots, one swede, a parsnip, frozen casserole beef and gravy granules.

Ashlie-Louise said: “Defrost beef overnight and then peel and chop the veg.

“Peel and slice onion, peel potatoes and chop into three-inch chunks.

“Throw into a slow cooker or lidded casserole dish with enough water to cover ingredients and then stir in the gravy granules.

“Cook in a slow cooker on low for at least eight hours or in a 170 fan oven for two hours (until the potatoes are fork tender).

“Can add dumplings according to packet instructions or serve with bread to bulk out a little if needed.

“Freeze leftovers for another day – defrost overnight then reheat in the microwave, on the hob or in the slow cooker.”

The mum has also shared some of her top tips, having been forced to rethink her cooking due to the cost of living crisis.

She said: “I’ve had to put a lot more consideration into shopping and cooking to make sure we have a varied and balanced diet.

“Any of my recipes above can be bulked out by hiding veggies in the meat mixture (great for using up veg that is about to spoil, or for sneaking nutrients into fussy kids and grown ups alike).

“My parents always said ‘work smarter not harder’ – if I have the oven on because I’m cooking a stew or a toad in the hole or whatever, I’ll also add a tray of potatoes and let them cook.

“Then I scoop out the middle and make mashed potatoes.

“They freeze really well and taste better than any store bought version, and are cheaper too.

“Best of all – it’s quick and easy.

“No fussing around peeling and chopping and boiling potatoes, and I’m using heat and space in an oven that was already running.

“I batch cook as much as I can, and meal plan – before I do my shopping each week, I look in my cupboards and freezer to see what ‘half bags’ I have of things, so I only need to add one or two bits to make it up to a meal.

“I prepare what I can over the weekend so that during the week I don’t have to spend ages at the stove after a long day at work, and clean-up is minimal too.

“I just defrost something I’ve made in advance ready for reheating the next day.

“I find we have less food waste with bulk cooking too, so I’m getting the most for my money.”


Beef stew:

All Rounder Potatoes (2.5kg £1.09 used half bag so 55p)

1 brown onion (12p)

Carrots (2 from 1kg back @ 45p so 15p ish)

1 swede (80p)

1 Perfectly imperfect parsnip (45p the bag so 20p)

Frozen casserole beef (500g, £4.25)

Own Brand Gravy Granules (80p for 200g, used half so 40p)

£6.47 for all ingredients

12 portions = 53.91p

Best Bolognese:

500g mince beef (2% fat, £1.79)

1 brown onion diced (12p)

2 cloves garlic (79p for 4 pack of garlic bulbs, approx 10p)

2 tins chopped tomatoes (Growers Harvest brand, 28p per tin)

Dried Basil (£1.10 for 80g, used 10g so 11p)

Salt & Pepper (not costed)

50g tomato puree (Harvest Growers brand, 39p for 200g so 10p)

1 stock cube (Tesco brand pack of 10 @ 75p so 7.5p)

Total cost: £2.86

Eight portions = 35.69p

Basic White Sauce:

50g butter (Tesco British salted butter block 250g for £1.99, so 40p)

50g plain flour (Stockwell & co plain flour, 1.5kg @ 58p so 2p)

1 pt milk (£2.19 for 6pt so 37p)

Total cost: 79p

Eight portions = 9.88p


250g hearty food co pasta (500g for 35p so 17p).

Eight portions bolognese mix (£2.86)

Eight portions of basic white sauce (79p)

50g grated cheese (33p)

Makes 12 portions for £3.98 so 33p per portion