United Kingdom

MasterChef champion Simon Wood reveals eight quick and easy recipes to help feed families for £30

A former MasterChef winner has revealed a selection of quick and easy recipes to help feed families for £30.

Simon Wood, who was crowned champion of the popular BBC cooking show in 2015, is releasing simple meal ideas in a bid to help vulnerable parents receiving the government's free school meal vouchers or packages.

Simon, chef-patron of Wood in Manchester, has utilised reasonably-priced tinned foods, as well as rice and pasta, to create healthy dinners for families-of-four or six - including chickpea and coconut curry and spam biryani.

The chef wants to 'try and help people of all skill levels in the kitchen to work with what they have got or the food boxes that they are sent,' and is sharing his ideas online.

Simon Wood (pictured), who was crowned champion of the popular BBC cooking show in 2015, is releasing simple meal ideas in a bid to help vulnerable parents receiving the government's free school meal vouchers or packages

He added: 'This is an issue that we must all get behind to ensure that vulnerable children do not go without. I’ve created these recipes to be really quick and easy, using just basic ingredients, something which parents can easily whip up at home.' 

Here, FEMAIL can reveal eight of Simon's delicious recipes, which he's released for his #FeedingFamiliesFor30 initiative, in partnership with Manchester-based specialist communications agency, Down At The Social.

The campaign is also asking people to buy the ingredients needed for the recipes before posting a snap of them on social media and donating the goods to a local food bank.

MasterChef champion Simon Wood's quick and easy recipes to feed a family for under £30 a week 

Ingredients for the week:

Total basket cost based on Tesco prices: £28.45

Chickpea & Coconut Curry

To start making the Chickpea & Coconut Curry (pictured), heat the oil in a large pan and add the Onion, fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, then stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 more minute before adding the Chickpeas

Serves four

Costs: £1.59

Ingredients: 

Method: 

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, then stir in the curry powder and cook for one more minute before adding the chickpeas.

2. Open the coconut milk and add into the chickpeas before refilling the can with boiling water and adding to the pan.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are tender and the mixture has thickened.

4. Season the curry with plenty of salt and pepper to taste and serve piping hot. With rice if you have some.

Potato and Onion Tortilla

To make this Potato and Onion Tortilla (pictured), thinly slice the potatoes, and boil until just softened

Serves four to six

Costs: £2.09

Ingredients:

Method: 

1. Thinly slice the potatoes, and boil until just softened. Heat 5 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and cook the potatoes and onions turning frequently, for 5 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl with a little seasoning. Tip the potatoes and onions into the eggs and mix gently. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

3. Wipe out the pan with kitchen paper and heat the remaining oil in it. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and spread it out evenly.

4.Cover and cook over a very gentle heat for 20 minutes, until the eggs are just set. Serve cut into wedges and enjoy hot or cold.

Spam Biryani

This easy and quick Spam Biryani (pictured) serves up to six people. You can finish the dish by adding raisins or chilli flakes

Serves Six

Costs: £4.60

Ingredients:

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the spam. With the onion if you are using one, fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, then stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute.

2. Add in the rice and peas and stir for another minute. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and add the water, cover and bake at 180c for 60 minutes, check after 45 minutes to make sure there is still a little liquid.

3. Serve with a small omelette if you have a spare egg.

Simple Tuna Pasta Bake

This Simple Tuna Pasta Bake (pictured) uses 300g dried pasta (any shape) and two tins of chopped tomatoes

Serves Four

Costs: £3.86

Ingredients:

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes, before draining.

2. Now tip the cooked pasta back into the pan and stir through the tomatoes and the tuna, along with the water from the tuna, and then half fill one of the tomato tins with water and mix that in. (If you are using chillies or mixed herbs add them here.)

3. Place in an oven proof bowl and bake for 30 minutes. Add the grated cheese if you have it and bake for another 5 minutes.

Simple Beef Chilli

In a large saucepan empty all the ingredients and add the chilli paste, simmer gently for 10 minutes until piping hot, to start creating this chilli (pictured)

Serves Six with Rice, Pasta or Potato Wedges

Costs: £4.11

Ingredients:

Method:

1. In a large saucepan empty all the ingredients and add the chilli paste, simmer gently for 10 minutes until piping hot. This can be served with rice, pasta, potato or sweet potato wedges.

Tinned Mushroom Risotto

This tinned Mushroom Risotto looks delicious and is just one of the recipes offered by the MasterChef champion

Serves Four

Costs: £3.25

Ingredients:

Method:

1. Open the mushrooms and drain, save the liquid in a saucepan and start to heat slowly.

2. Crush your garlic (if using) and gently fry for 1 minute in a saucepan using the oil. Add your mushrooms and stir well. Add in your rice continue to stir.

3. Slowly add in a little bit of your warm liquid out of the tin, keep stirring until all the liquid has gone, keep doing this a little at a time until all of the liquid is combined with the rice and it is of a thick consistency.

Quick Carbonara

For this quick Carbonara, place a pan of salted water on to boil, once boiling add your spaghetti and cook for 11 minutes

Serves Four

Costs: £2.66

Ingredients:

Method:

1. Place pan of salted water on to boil, once boiling add your spaghetti and cook for 11 minutes. Cut your ham into 1cm squares.

2. In another saucepan on a low heat gently warm your soft cheese, add 4 tablespoons of the pasta water and if you have it some black pepper.

3. Carefully drain the pasta and add it into the soft cheese with the ham before serving.

Mexican Bean Wedges

To make the Mexican Bean Wedges, cut your sweet potatoes into wedges and if you have some, coat in a little oil, season with salt and add into the oven to roast at 180ºC

Serves Four 

Costs: £2.39

Ingredients:

Method:

1. Cut your sweet potatoes into wedges and if you have some, coat in a little oil, season with salt and add into the oven to roast at 180ºC.

2. In a saucepan, add in the beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes and chilli powder, then cook until the sauce is reduced.

3. Remove the wedges from the oven once softened, this will take around 25-30 minutes. Put them in a dish and spoon the mixed bean chilli over the top.

How many children get them? What should they include? Who compiled the parcels? Free school meals explained 

Have children been receiving school meals during the pandemic?

Yes. The Government said schools in England should provide meal options for all eligible pupils, including vulnerable children and the children of key workers, regardless of whether they are being educated in the classroom or at home.

Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and those who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria.

It said schools may consider working with their school catering team or an external food provider to provide good quality lunch parcels to eligible pupils who are at home.

Around 1.3million children in England are eligible for free school meals.

What has Marcus Rashford got to do with it?

The England star became known for food poverty campaigning during the pandemic, forcing a Government U-turn on offering free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays.

The 23-year-old has drawn widespread praise for highlighting the issue, with his campaigning also resulting in the Government back-tracking to announce free meals would be provided to disadvantaged children over the Christmas holidays too.

He described the food offerings shown in pictures that emerged this week as 'just not good enough' and called for the system to be fixed 'quickly'.

What did the pictures of food on social media show?

An image posted on Twitter by a mother called Sarah showed the food she had received all laid out, and she wrote: '2 days jacket potato with beans, 8 single cheese sandwiches, 2 days carrots, 3 days apples, 2 days soreen, 3 days frubes. Spare pasta & tomato. Will need mayo for pasta salad.

'Issued instead of £30 vouchers. I could do more with £30 to be honest.' 

Who put the parcel together and have they explained their efforts?

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it has been made clear to Chartwells, the company that provided the pictured parcel, as well as the entire education food sector, that such behaviour 'will not be tolerated'.

Chartwells said the picture shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was £10.50 and not the £30 suggested by Sarah.

The company said they are very sorry that the quantity has 'fallen short in this instance', later adding that they will be adding breakfast into their parcels from January 25, which will be free to schools for all children eligible for meals.

Rashford, who said he had reached out to Chartwells, tweeted that they had clarified that they were not the exclusive supplier of free school meals across the UK.

What is a food parcel expected to contain?

The Government website provides a link to a webpage which sets out some general principles for putting together a food parcel.

It includes a list of food items billed as an example parcel for one child for five days.

The list includes: one loaf of bread or pack of rolls/10-inch wraps, two baking potatoes, one cucumber, three large tomatoes or one pack of cherry tomatoes, one standard tin of sweetcorn in water, five portions of fresh fruit (eg apples, satsumas, bananas) or three portions of fresh fruit and one tin fruit in juice (eg pears, peaches, fruit cocktail), two items from the following: one pack of sliced cooked meat (eg chicken, ham or vegetarian alternative) or one tin of meat or one tin of tuna in water or six eggs, 200g block of cheese or three cheese portions, one tin baked beans, one 500g pot plain low-fat yoghurt or three individual serving yoghurt pots, one litre / two pints semi-skimmed milk.

Can families receive vouchers instead?

Yes. Mr Williamson previously said the national voucher scheme for free school meals will relaunch this week, after education leaders, campaigners and MPs called on the Government to roll out the programme urgently.

People will have received an email from supplier Edenred by January 14, advising on how to either reset their password or activate their account for the first time.

They will then receive an email confirming when they can order vouchers during the week commencing January 18.

Once families have received their voucher, they will be able to redeem them in store by either presenting a paper copy or showing it on a smartphone.

What about pupils in other parts of the UK?

The governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make their own provisions for school lunch funding.

In Scotland, local authorities and schools use different approaches depending on their individual circumstances and in response to local needs, including cash payments to families of eligible children; supermarket vouchers; home deliveries or through attendance at school.

In Wales, councils are able to make a payment to cover the provision of school meals where needed.

In Northern Ireland, a payment was made on Friday January 15 to the parents and guardians of all children, including vulnerable children and children of key workers, who are entitled to free schools meals for the period of January 4 to January 22.

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