Ideas for everyday living

How I saved money making meals for a fiver

TikTok chef Mitch Lane shares how he’s helping millions feeling the pinch.

When Mitch Lane downloaded TikTok in 2020 and started posting £5 meals on his account MealsByMitch, he never could have guessed that he’d have over a million followers just two years later. “I noticed everything shooting up in price. You've got people choosing whether to stick a tenner's worth of electric on the meter or a tenner of petrol in the car. I thought, you know what, let’s try and save some money on the food side of things.” 

Here, the popular foodie and dad of three shares five ways he makes his food shop go further – plus one of his favourite budget recipes.

Stock up on the staples

Get your hands on as many seasonings as you can. I went through a phase where I bought one jar of seasoning a week as they only cost a quid. Before you know it, you have a cupboard filled with them and they last ages.

Pick meals that overlap

Think of meals where you’ve got loads of crossover staple ingredients, like with a chicken curry and a chilli con carne – both use onions, garlic and similar seasonings. Or a veggie lasagne and a meat-free shepherd’s pie – you can pick up lentils, courgettes and peppers to use in both. For vegans, tofu and nuts are a great combo – a packet of each will see you through stir-fries, salads and more.

Ditch perfect produce

Buy wonky vegetables, too – they’re way cheaper than the normal stuff. Just because it doesn’t look like a normal carrot, doesn’t mean it’s not going to taste like a carrot. Once it’s chopped up and in your dinner, you won't even notice.

Be smart with how you cook

Slow cookers, microwaves and air fryers are more power-efficient than ovens and hobs. You could stick a large pork shoulder in the slow cooker and end up with enough pulled pork for 20 people, so you’re onto a winner.

Have faith in the budget

People are amazed by just how far a fiver can stretch – with a bit of planning. You can make some seriously tasty and comforting stuff on a minimal budget when you put your mind to it.

Mitch’s Chorizo “Paella” recipe

Preparation and cooking time: Less than 40 minutes 
Serves: At least 4

Your shopping list

You’ll have enough rice, stock and peas left over to make another batch!

  • 300g rice
  • 1 pack of frozen peas
  • 1 pack of chorizo slices
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 30g packet of paella seasoning mix
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 lemon (optional)

Average cost: £5–£7

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Step 1 
Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear.

Step 2 
Chop up the chorizo slices, add to a medium pan on a medium heat and stir for two minutes.

Step 3 
Add the chopped red onion and pepper and fry for two more minutes.

Step 4 
Add six diced cloves of garlic, the rice and the packet of paella seasoning mix and stir for one minute.

Step 5 
Make up 630ml of chicken stock, add to the pan and pop on the lid to simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes.

Step 6 
Add a couple of large handfuls of the frozen peas. Turn the heat off, cover the pan with tin foil and put the lid on top to let the paella steam for 15 minutes.

Step 7 
Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste and serve up!

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Kirstie Pickering

Kirstie is a freelance journalist who specialises in business, tech and lifestyle.

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