4 For $10 Meal 1: Sausages and Mashed Potato

Some people seem to think that good, home-cooked food is more expensive that it actually is, and more expensive that takeaway like McDonald's or Hungry Jack's and the like. It's not though; for one simple example Cole's has a "feed your family for $10" promotion, which is basically just them listing a bunch of recipes that will feed four people and cost less than $10 (at Cole's), which is about one-half to one-third of the cost of four burgers from a takeaway store, and the food is much, much nicer, but some people have criticised it because the recipes assume that you have a fully stocked pantry, mostly for herbs and spices. (They do include the cost of herbs and spices, but only for the portion of the packet you'll use, so you can end up buying $20-$30 worth of herbs and spices just to get 50c worth that you'll use in this meal)

I think that you'll still be able to feed a "family of four" for under $10 a meal and build up a decently stocked pantry in the process if you save extras from one meal to the next. So the prove my point I'm going to start a semi-regular series of food posts. The rules of the exercises are that I can spend $10 per-meal for four people, I can save ingredients from one meal to use in the next, but unless I purchased it as part of this project I can't use it (I will assume a kitchen with an oven, saucepans, cutting boards, etc). I'm going to go to various different supermarkets (though only one per-meal) to show that it's not just a Cole's thing as well. I'll take advantage of specials when I get the opportunity, but in general I'll just get what I want for the meal in question.

I'm doing this partly just to prove a point, but also I hope that maybe it might convince some poor people (or students, but I repeat myself) that they can afford good food, or failing that it will at least convince some of my wealthier peers to stop whining about how poor people can't afford anything buy junk food.

For my first meal I decided to go to ALDI and make some sausages and mashed potato, which is a pretty traditional Australian/British dish (it would be in my top two choices if I was cooking someone a "traditional Australian meal", the other one would be meat pies), but also it's quite cheap and easy.

Here's what I got for under $10:

What I purchased for $10

  • 250g Unsalted Butter -- $1.39
  • 500g Sausages -- $2.69
  • 1kg Chat Potatoes -- $1.99
  • 1kg Carrots -- $0.89 (on special from $1.49)
  • Tube of Mixed, Dried Herbs -- $1.99
  • 400g Tin of Diced Tomatoes -- $0.59
  • Total -- $9.54

Some notes on what I purchased:

  • Originally I planned to get beans instead of carrots, but I couldn't find any beans at ALDI, and the carrots where on special so I grabbed them.
  • Mixed herbs is probably the single most useful herb or spice; most every dish that requires some sort of herbs can have mixed herbs used instead without ruining the dish, though it will often taste better with the "correct" herbs.
  • I grabbed a tin of diced tomatoes even though I'm not going to use them for this meal because I had a little left over and there's a good chance I'll be able to use them for a future meal (and they last pretty much forever).
  • A lot of people would probably want tomato sauce, salt, and pepper with a meal like this, but since I personally don't use these, and most people probably have those three already I haven't bothered to buy any; I probably could have got them instead of the mixed herbs and the tinned tomatoes.

To start off put your grill on around medium to preheat, and put a pot, about half full with water, on a hotplate (the temperature doesn't really matter, just so long as it will be hot enough to boil the water: med-high on most hotplates). Cut up about half a KG of potatoes and put them in the pot of water, and optionally add about one or two tablespoons of the mixed herbs, it's fine without, but the herbs add a bit of extra flavour. The smaller you cut the potatoes the faster they'll cook (I went with cutting the small potatoes I had into about quarters or sixth), and I don't bother peeling them because it's faster and a lot of the nutrients are in or close to the skin, though it probably tastes a little better if you do peel them first.

Boiling Potato

Put the sausages in the grill

Sausages in the Grill

Now while you are waiting for the other ingredients to finish cooking cut up about three carrots (~250g), again I don't bother peeling these for the same reasons as the potatoes, but that's up to you. Some people would wait until the potato was nearly done and then throw these into the the pot with the potato and just fish them out with some tongs before mashing the potato, but I think that adds a bit of a funny taste to the carrots, so instead I recommend you put them in a microwave proof bowl with a bit of water and just before everything else is done putting them in the microwave for a couple of minutes (I put mine on for about 3:40 which was too long unfortunately).

Carrots in a bowl

After you've done all the above you've basically got to wait for about 20 minutes for the potato and sausages to cook. Grab a book and read it while you wait, or listen to a podcast; make sure to turn the sausages three or four times, and stir the potatoes every now and again.

After the sausages look cooked (if you're not sure how to tell cut one in half and if it doesn't bleed on the inside it's probably OK) turn the grill off, but leave the sausages in so they stay warm.

After that check to see how soft the potato is; hopefully it will be nice and soft (you can break pieces up with a fork), if not cook it until it is. Once it's soft drain it (most of the herbs will drain away but that's OK), and add a bit of butter (I went with about 25-40g) and then mash it with your potato masher or a fork (the masher should cost a couple of bucks and will work much better).

About this time you should put your carrots in the microwave for around two minutes.

Finally dish and serve:

Final meal

It's a pretty plain meal, but it's simple and cheap (the ingredients I actually used would have been closer $5 for four people), and we'll start getting into more exciting stuff later.

Also for my future meals I have left-over:

  • ~500g Potato
  • ~700g Carrot
  • ~220g Butter
  • Most of a tube of mixed herbs
  • A tin of tomatoes
Which by itself would actually be enough to make a fairly simple vegetarian meal. The tomatoes and the herbs will last a long time in the pantry, and the other ingredients should last a month or so in a fridge as well, so we've made some progress on stocking our pantry.

Categories: Recipes
Date: 2013-10-22 23:03:53, 3 years and 249 days ago

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