How to cook for 10 people for less than £8

They say healthy food is expensive but this isn’t my experience. Unhealthy, processed food is expensive but healthy, fresh food is cheap, albeit time-consuming to prepare.

Today I made a lentil shepherd’s pie for ten people and as I was cooking I couldn’t help thinking how cheap the ingredients were so I decided to add them all up. The total is approximately £7.86 which is fantastic value. That’s less than 80 pence per person. It’s very healthy too. The only downside is it took a long time to prepare. It would be faster with tinned lentils but even then it’s not something you can easily cook after a long day at work unless you don’t mind eating late in the evening. Here are the ingredients.

350 grams green lentils – £1.50
500 grams mushrooms – £1.75
3 carrots – 0.34p
500 grams frozen peas – £1.34
2 cups water with vegetable broth – 0.23p
2 tablespoons white miso paste – 0.28p
fresh thyme – free from the garden
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast – 0.29p
1kg of potatoes – 0.80p
2 cloves of garlic – 0.06p
Juice from one lemon – 0.30p
2 red onions – 0.45p
2 tsp rice vinegar – 0.42p
2 tsp sugar/honey/maple syrup – 10p

The recipe is based on the Lentil Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Dr Greger’s How Not To Die cookbook although he uses an umami sauce for which there is a recipe in the book and I doubled the quantities. If I have time I make the umami sauce too and if not I add in the lemon, vinegar, and sugar as a replacement.

In his recipe the mushrooms are cooked with the miso, thyme, nutritional yeast, lemon, vinegar, sugar – and then blended together with 1/2 cup of the cooked lentils to make a gravy. This gravy is then combined with the remaining ingredients, except the mashed potatoes which are spread over the top. The gravy makes it more palatable for fussy eaters who don’t like large chunks of vegetables like mushrooms.

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5 Replies to “How to cook for 10 people for less than £8”

  1. This is great! Thanks for sharing – I’m not veggie but I really do want to cook with lentils more. I keep a couple of tins in the cupboard just in case, but I’ve only added them to curries or soups atm. I don’t use miso paste and I can’t remember what it is like, can you help?

    1. Miso paste gives it some salt without having to use salt. If you don’t have any miso you could add a teaspoon or two of salt instead.

  2. My other half is veggie – by far the most expensive ingredient in our kitchen is cheese (she’s not vegan). I suppose after that, the most expensive thing we typically have in the freezer or fridge is either soya mince, or tofu. You are right though – basic stock ingredients, and raw vegatables are typically FAR cheaper than anything processed or prepared.

  3. Pulses are very good for being cheap and nutritious. Once my meat eating daughter goes to Uni next September this is something I would like to do more of.

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