January is the time for hunkering down at home. Christmas is over, it’s cold, dark and often wet outside, and many of us aim for a cheap month post-Christmas.
This year more than ever, with the current financial climate and soaring energy prices, finding enjoyment in food and cooking is a brilliant pick-me-up, and can be very cheap if you are armed with a few thrifty recipes and approaches to cooking.
Here is our selection of budget-friendly recipes for the remaining winter month, ranging from slow cooker dishes (slow cookers use very little energy to run), to air fryer meals and recipes using low-cost ingredients.
Spiced squash and lentil broth
Just what you need this January. Full of veg, tasty and comforting. This recipe is easy and cheap to make, and a great recipe to scale up and batch cook should you wish. To make it even easier, don’t bother peeling the squash – the skin is tender to eat once cooked, and it means no food waste. This could be made in a slow cooker too: add everything and leave it be for approximately four hours on high, or eight on low. For the full recipe click here.
Slow cooker Seville marmalade
January is the time to make marmalade when special Seville oranges are in season. Typically, recipes require a good two-three hours of bubbling away on a hob, but if you want to reduce your energy usage, consider cooking it in a slow cooker. You will still need to use your hob to bring it up to boiling point at the end, to ensure it sets, but this method drastically reduces the cooking time on the hob. Find the full recipe here.
Air fry purple carrot and ricotta tarts
If you own an air fryer, try these easy vegetarian tarts. Air fryers are typically cheaper to run than an oven, which is estimated to be the most expensive kitchen appliance. However, they can be cooked in an oven too; try roasting some veg for another recipe while it’s on. Click here for the recipe.
Fridge raid noodles
This is a brilliant way to odds and sods kicking around in the fridge at the end of the week, and make a quick, cheap meal out of them. A savoury broth is the base, made with a few spoonfuls of curry paste or miso. You can then finely slice and shred whatever veg feels fitting and cook it directly in the broth before adding a tangle of cooked noodles, which are cooked in the residual heat of water from the kettle, to avoid using the energy of another hob. It only takes a minute or two longer.
Chard and white bean minestrone
There are no strict rules for a minestrone; as a veg-based stew, it can track the seasons. Where the debate comes is whether it should contain pasta, rice or pulses. All are justified, and a cheap way to bulk out this soup and turn it into a complete meal. We’ve chosen mild, creamy cannellini beans for this version, alongside seasonal chard, but play around with whatever you have in the cupboards and fridge. Click here for the full recipe.