An Instagram-famous chef who’s built up a 300k following thanks to his healthy meal ideas that cost just £1 to make has shared his top tips on how to save money and still eat well.
Miguel Barclay, from London, said that he began making the meals as a community project on social media, but it’s lead to the release of five books on how to make £1 meals.
He told Femail: ‘It was a game I used to play at home and thought it would be fun if other people could join in. But people seemed to enjoy just making the recipes I was posting, so it sort of evolved into a recipe page. People were intrigued by how someone could make a meal for just £1.
‘It turns out that people are very curious to see what can actually be made for £1.
Here, he tells Femail the best ways to get low cost ingredients and shares his expertise on how to make meals for less.
Miguel Barclay, from London, said that he began making the meals as a community project on social media, but it’s since lead to the release of five cut-price cook books
PLAY INTO PRICE WARS
‘My biggest tip is to buy regular ingredients that the supermarkets are fighting a price war with.
‘For example, no supermarket is fighting to have the cheapest Manchego cheese, but they are fighting to have the cheapest cheddar, so why not take advantage of this and buy cheddar instead.
‘Supermarkets want to be seen to have the cheapest onions, so they purposefully make less margin on this product.
‘Supermarkets want to be seen to have the cheapest onions, so they purposefully make less margin on this product’ Miguel explained
‘But they don’t care about having the cheapest shallots so you’ll be paying a lot more for those.
‘Shop wisely and take advantage of the games they are playing.
DON’T PAY FOR PRE-CHOPPED FOOD
‘Don’t pay extra for pre-chopped or processed food.
‘Chop it yourself and save the extra money that you would have been paying a factory to chop it for you.
‘Chop it yourself and save the extra money that you would have been paying a factory to chop it for you’ Miguel says
MAKE IT YOURSELF
‘Don’t buy jars of pre-made pasta sauces, you can do a great job yourself with a tin of tomatoes and some garlic. It’s so simple and way healthier too.’
ADD A SQUEEZE OF LEMON
‘A squeeze of lemon is perfect to help elevate a dish with a sharp contrasting flavour.
‘Try it in anything from a Bolognese to a fresh salad.
‘A sprinkle of curry powder is a great addition to anything from veg to roasted meat and will certainly excite the taste buds.’
A squeeze of lemon is perfect to help elevate a dish with a sharp contrasting flavour.
Miguel’s favourite meals
- I love a whole roast chicken, it’s so simple and hearty. Even in a Caesar salad that crispy roast chicken skin is the star of the show.
- I enjoy Mexican food so a vegetable fajita is great for using up leftover veg, just fry it up with onions and a sprinkle of cumin and paprika. You can even make your own wraps if you want to keep costs down.
- Pan-fried cherry tomatoes with a bit of garlic is probably my favourite flavour ever. Add loads of olive oil and it’ll all cook down into a lovely sauce for pasta.
‘People often think that it’s expensive and time-consuming to make vegan food at home, but quite the opposite is true.
‘At first you might be a bit stuck for ideas as this is a dramatic change in thinking but as soon as you start getting more comfortable with it you’ll actually save time and money.
‘I’ve written a whole book of £1 vegan meals and another book of £1 meat-free meals that prove exactly this.
‘I like finding new ways to hit that £1 mark, by looking for new products and hacks.
‘Linda McCartney’s are one of the original meat-free pioneers so they’ve got their products down.
‘Their famous Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Sausages are usually around £2 for a pack of six, and you can turn those into so many dishes from hot dogs to casseroles and proper comfort-food meals.
Keeping it simple, with easy, uncomplicated meals will help keep cost down, Miguel explained
KEEP IT SIMPLE
‘Go back to basics. Start cooking from scratch. There are no ingredients labels on fresh ingredients, the ingredients are just the items you put into your basket. This is how you know what you’re eating and how you keep control of what you are putting into your body.
‘If you are used to a meat and three veg kind of diet, then jumping straight into cooking from scratch can be daunting.
‘Try keeping some meat-free alternatives in the freezer.
LOOK OUT FOR YELLOW STICKERS
‘Sometimes it can be fun to take a chance on buying something reduced that you’ve never cooked before. I think it’s important to keep things interesting and challenge yourself.
‘But when you’re in a rush after a long day, there is a comfort in already having decided what you’re cooking, sticking with a tried and tested recipe and making life easy for yourself. Plus if you’re on a budget not straying from the weekly meal plan is essential. So it really depends on lots of factors if you’re going to take a gamble.
Miguel’s recipes only cost £1 to make, but look like they could be served in a premium restaurant, such as these Feta Goujons (pictured)
Miguel’s recipes are quick and easy to make, including his aubergine ragu (pictured)
Miguel’s meals are usually healthy – including this delicious salad with chickpeas and paprika
How Miguel created modern food using war-time rations at a trendy east London pop-up
Earlier this year, Miguel opened a pop-up restaurant where he created meals based on war-time rationing to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the start of rationing in the UK.
The pop-up, at Jim’s Cafe in Hackney, saw him create dishes with limited resources, as many family’s across the UK would need to have done.
Wartime rationing started in January 1940, with cooking staples such as sugar, eggs, butter, milk and meat in limited supply, meaning Brits had to improvise with whatever was available.
The pop-up, at Jim’s Cafe in Hackney, saw him create dishes with limited resources, as many family’s across the UK would need to have done
The ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign had men and women across the UK growing their own vegetables to produce their own source of food. To develop this ‘back to basics’ menu, OpenTable and Jim’s Cafe challenged inventive chef Miguel Barclay to design a ‘rationed’ menu for the 21st century.
Miguel told Femail: ‘I designed a three-course menu out of rationed ingredients based on the weekly allowances Britons would receive.
‘As I work with very few ingredients in all my dishes and meals anyway, it seemed like a natural fit to partner with OpenTable to help create this unique pop-up.
‘My inspiration was a slightly modern take on classic dishes. For example, by using a ring to shape the bubble and squeak into a posh tower then topping it with asparagus spears and hollandaise sauce I was able to take a classic side dish and turn it into a delicious and luxurious starter.
‘Although I normally don’t use a large range of ingredients, it was still quite challenging when designing the dishes for OpenTable’s Home Front Café.
‘The menu consisted of bubble and squeak with hollandaise sauce to start, followed by a bacon and leek quiche with a poached pear to finish – dishes that you can still see on some restaurant menus today.
‘So, although the culinary scene has developed quite drastically since the 1940s, modern trends like dairy free diets and plant-based alternatives were the norm back then.
‘One of the challenges I faced was the limit on eggs, and that’s where the famous powdered egg came to my rescue. I was able to blow my egg allowance on a luxurious quiche but still have a hollandaise sauce with the starter. It was also great to have so much access to veg, something that the UK has a proud history of producing, from gorgeous asparagus and cabbage with the starter to roasted carrots and leeks with the main.