February 26, 2024


Welcome to the Food

Savvy mum shares shop and cooking hacks that let her cook family meals for 75p

A savvy mum who cooks delicious family favourites including toad in the hole for 75p per portion has revealed her food hacks.

Mum-of-one Alison Palmer, 48, wants to teach others how it’s possible to make healthy veg-packed meals even on a tight budget.

Alison learned “proper cooking” when she was young by watching her own mum cook homemade, nutritious dishes despite being strapped for cash.

She knows how to cook a wide range of budget-friendly meals for her, husband Barry Preest, 42, and her child – from chilli con carne to Cornish pasties.

Alison says the trick is to look for tinned or frozen veg and shopping own-brand to get the best prices.

Family favourites include delicious chicken casserole with peas and carrots and hearty fish and chips.

alison palmer
Alison with food she made for her YouTube channel ‘cooking on benefits’

One of Alison’s top tips is keeping it simple and knowing that you can still pack a meal with flavour with a few of the right ingredients.

She began filming the process to show it doesn’t have to cost the earth – and now has a Youtube channel where she shares all her hacks.

The mum, who is on universal credit, said she aims to prove to people that, unlike many fancy dishes shown on Instagram tutorials, “proper, old-fashioned tasty cooking doesn’t cost a fortune.”

Alison, from Lydney, Gloucestershire, said: “Nowadays a lot of recipes can be so complicated and use expensive ingredients, but they don’t have to be.

“But when I Googled recipes for people on benefits, not much came up – so I decided to film my cooking to show that you can make lots of great meals cheaply.

“As a child we didn’t have much money but I always saw my mother cooking wonderful meals from scratch and I have carried that forward in my own life.”

Alison says frozen fruit and veg can be just as good as fresh and you don’t need to sacrifice taste for budget.

alison palmer
Alison says a lot of meals these are more elaborate than they need to be

She said: “It’s just about planning your meals and using the right ingredients – you especially shouldn’t be afraid to pick up tinned and frozen food because it can be just as good!”

Buying and freezing yellow-ticketed items and taking advantage of buy-one-get-one free deals are other top tips.

She also swears by own-brand products in supermarkets and does her grocery shopping at ASDA where she mainly buys from the ‘Smart Price’ section.

But her number one tip, she says, is having confidence in your ability to cook tasty, nutritious food – no matter how simple it is.

“There are so many possibilities once you have the knowledge and confidence to try,” she told. “I want to show people that in my videos.

“My YouTube channel has had great feedback – one viewer said ‘it’s so good to see someone cooking proper food’.

“And that’s what I want people to see – that proper, old-fashioned tasty cooking doesn’t cost a fortune.”

Alison’s top five cheap and tasty home-cooked meals

Spag bol

Ingredients: Onion, garlic, own-brand lean mince, pasta, tinned tomatoes.

£1.07 per portion, makes four.

Fish and chips

Ingredients: Four frozen basa fillets, home made batter (flour, milk, baking powder, salt), Maris Piper potatoes for home made oven chips.

£1.16 per portion, makes four.

Chicken casserole

Ingredients: Eight chicken thighs, tinned peas, tinned carrots and tinned potatoes.

£1.23 per portion, makes four.

Toad in the hole

Ingredients: Home made batter (flour, eggs, milk, oil) and eight frozen sausages.

75p per portion, makes four.

Turkey burgers

Ingredients: Turkey thigh mince, one onion, six bread rolls

£1 per portion, makes four.