United Kingdom

How to eat for just £18 a week

A chef known for his budget cooking recipes has revealed how you can feed yourself for just £18 a week.  

Limahl Asmall, 32, of Walthamstow, London, is the author of two cookbooks aimed at keeping costs down in the kitchen. He has made both available to view for free online in the hope of helping families feeling the pinch amid the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking to FEMAIL, Limahl shared a week's worth of recipes that can be made without breaking the bank, including a French onion soup, North African-inspired chickpea and chicken skillet and meatball marinara.

For those eager to try the meals for themselves, the chef also shared a complete shopping list for you to use.

The meal plan and shopping list below are designed for a two-person household but this can be adapted to suit more or fewer people as needed. 





BREAKFAST: Mighty Omelette 

Cost: 67p per serving

Prep the fillings by cutting into 1cm pieces. (fry any bacon, mushroom or onion). Crack the eggs into a bowl and add a good pinch salt and pepper. (Add the mustard and finely chopped spring onion if using). Whisk the ingredients together with a fork. Heat a small non-stick frying pan to medium heat and melt the butter. Pour in the egg mix and wait 30 seconds before scattering the filling evenly over one side of the omelette. If using cheese, grate this on the other half of the omelette. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the omelette begins to firm up with just a little wobbly on the surface. Take a spatula and fold the cheese side onto the filling side. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes to finish the inside. Slide onto a plate and enjoy! 

LUNCH: Sweet Potato and Sundried Tomato Soup

Cost: 59p serving

Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Pour 1 tbsp sundried tomato oil into a hot pan and fry together for 3-4 minutes until soft. Chop the sweet potato (skin on) into 3 cm cubes and add to the pot along with the boiling water and stock cube. Simmer on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the sweet potato is soft. Blitz the soup with an electric hand blender, taste test and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve into bowls and top with crumbled feta, crispy bacon or a squeeze of lemon juice. 

DINNER: Meatball Marinara 

Cost: £1.17 per serving

Serves 4. Under 30 minutes. Freeze for up to 4 months.

Heat the oil in a pot over a medium heat and add the finely diced onion and roughly chopped bacon rashers. Cook for 4-5 minutes before adding the minced garlic. Cook for another minute and add the tomatoes, a good pinch salt and a small pinch pepper and sugar. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the meatballs.

Make the Marinara sauce, then prepare the meatballs. As you begin frying the meatballs, start boiling the spaghetti. Timed like this and all elements should be ready at the same time.

If you have a grater, finely grate the onion and garlic and place in a mixing bowl. (If you don’t have a grater, the onion and garlic will need frying for a couple of minutes until soft. Cut into small pieces and fry in a tsp oil for 3-4 mins). Place in a bowl along with the beef, chilli flakes, egg, and a good pinch salt and pepper. Mix with your hands and form into golf ball sized balls. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the meatballs over a medium heat. Turn the balls every 3 minutes, cooking for a total of 12-15 minutes. The meat is cooked when the colour has changed all the way through. Check by cutting one open.

Add the spaghetti and marinara to the frying pan and gently mix. Serve with a generous grating of cheese. 


BREAKFAST: Granola and Milk

Shop bought granola or cereal with milk

LUNCH: Serving of meatball marinara

See above 

DINNER: Sammy T’s Dirty Rice 

Cost: £1.38 per serving

Add rice and a chicken stock cube. Pour in the boiling water and cook as normal.

Once rice is cooked, drain and reserve in a large bowl. Meanwhile, remove any skin from the chorizo, cut lengthways and dice into tiny cubes. Finely slice the onion and mince the garlic. Add a tbsp oil to a non-stick frying pan and fry the chorizo, garlic and onion over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add to the rice and stir together. Finely dice the pepper, sundried tomato, spring onion, cheddar cheese, spinach and tomatoes, and add to the rice. (If using canned tomato, drain off the liquid and add the tomato only). Pour in the soya sauce and mix well. Taste test, season with salt and pepper if needed and finish with some fresh toppings.


BREAKFAST: Granola and milk

See above

LUNCH: Sammy T's Dirty Chicken Rice

See above

DINNER: Chicken and vegetable tagine 

Cost: 71p per serving

Slice the onion into half-moon strips and mince the garlic. Add to a deep and wide pot along with 2 tbsp oil and fry over a medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the mixed herbs, tandoori spice and chicken thighs and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Roughly chop the carrot and courgette into 3-4 cm pieces and add to the pot along with the crumbled stock cube and boiling water. Stir together, bring to the boil and put a lid on. Drop the temp to a low simmer and cook for a total of 1 hour (flipping the chicken after 30 minutes and removing the skin). Check the water levels and stir occasionally to stop any sticking to the bottom of the pan. The tagine should be moist with a little juice. If there is too much water, turn up the heat and cook off some liquid.

Pour one cup of couscous into a large bowl and crumble in 1 chicken stock cube, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of pepper. Mix together and pour in boiling water until it is ¾ cm above the couscous. Stir again, cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 6-8 minutes


BREAKFAST: Perfect Scrambled Eggs 

Cost: 36p per serving

Break the eggs into a cup and whisk together with a pinch salt. Heat a non-stick frying pan to a medium-low heat and melt the butter. Pour in the eggs and wait 15 seconds. Take a spatula and slowly pull the sides into the middle of the pan and begin gently folding and moving the eggs over each other. Wait for soft, silky curds to form then remove from the heat as soon as no more liquid egg is visible. Season with salt and pepper and serve over hot buttered toast. 

LUNCH: Chicken and vegetable tagine

See above 

DINNER: Sweet Potato with Roast Veg and Feta 

Cost: £1.12 per serving

Serves 4. Under 15 min prep.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the vegetables to various sizes depending on their hardness, (see note) and place in an oven proof dish. Finely chop the garlic and cut the sundried tomatoes into small pieces. Add to the vegetables along with the olive oil (or sundried tomato oil) and a good pinch salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss and mix the veg in the oil so they have a light coating. Sprinkle 3 tbsp water into the roasting pan and roast in the middle of a preheated oven at 180 C for 40-45 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Crumble the feta onto the vegetables and gently mix through. If you are feeding hungry mouths you can serve this with some couscous cooked in stock water. 


BREAKFAST: Granola and Milk

LUNCH: Sweet Potato with Roast Vegetables and Feta

See above

DINNER: One Pot Pasta

COST: 66p per serving 

Finely slice the onion, mince the garlic and roughly chop the sundried tomato. Add 1 ½ cups boiling water to a deep pot and crumble in the stock cube, dried herbs and can of tomato. Add the pasta, onion, garlic and sundried tomato, then stir together. Place a lid on the pot and boil over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to boil for 7 more minutes, (stirring occasionally). Chop the feta into ½ cm pieces and stir through the hot pasta. Taste test, season with salt and pepper if needed.


BREAKFAST: Granola and Milk

LUNCH: One Pot Pasta

DINNER: Roast Chicken and Veg Tray Bake 

Cost: £1.20 per serving

Serves 4. 15 minute prep.

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius

Chop the peppers into quarters, slice the red onion into 8 segments and add to a large oven tray. Chop the potato into 1 cm thick pieces and add to the tray along with the whole tomatoes. Finely mince 3 cloves garlic and add to the tray along with 2 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss together to coat in the olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with a splash of olive oil and 1 tbsp tandoori spice mix. Make sure there is an even layer of seasoning, then add to the tray skin side up. Place in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked all the way through. 


BREAKFAST: Garlic Butter Mushrooms on Toast 

Cost: 63p per serving

Slice the mushrooms about ½ cm thick and melt one tbsp butter into a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Fry the mushrooms for 2 minutes before adding the chopped garlic, thyme (if using) and a good pinch salt and pepper. Cook for a further 2-4 minutes until the mushrooms are soft with a small bite. Serve over hot buttered toast.

LUNCH: French Onion Soup with Cheddar Crouton 

Cost: 42p per serving

Serves 2. Under 45 minutes

Finely chop the garlic and slice the onions into thin half-moon strips. Take a pan and melt the butter over a medium heat before adding the onions, garlic, sugar, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Cook on a medium-low heat and stir occasionally for 20 minutes to caramelise the onions. Add in 750 ml - 1 litre beef stock, (1 litre will need approx. 2 beef stock cubes) and stir well. Bring to the boil before dropping the temperature and simmering for 20 minutes. Prepare the melted croutons. Take some crusty bread and toast each side. Layer with cheddar cheese and grill until melted, golden and bubbling. Add a pinch of pepper and enjoy. 

DINNER: North African Chicken and Chickpeas 

Cost: £1.24 per serving 

Serves 2. 15 minutes.

Add a tsp oil and fry the chicken for 4- 5 minutes, then remove and rest on a plate. Add the oil to a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the chickpeas and the cooked chicken and heat through for 2 minutes.

Add the tandoori spice mix and heat through for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock cube and the chopped tomatoes. Stir well to dissolve the stock cube and cook until the thickened and the chicken has cooked through, approx. 8-10 minutes. Add the spinach and stir together until wilted. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve over hot buttered toast. 

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