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Feel-good food at feel-food prices for when you’re skint

Top nosh, less dosh: enjoying delicious food doesn’t mean breaking the bank  (Martin Poole)
Top nosh, less dosh: enjoying delicious food doesn’t mean breaking the bank (Martin Poole)

Ian Bursnall, AKA The Skint Roofer, cooks with a simple rule: top nosh, less dosh.

Originally from Leicester and learning to cook from his mum at 16, Bursnall was the first runner up in Jamie Oliver’s Great Cookbook Challenge in 2022, winning the judges and the audience over with his inventive twists on crowd-pleasing, budget-friendly recipes for all the family, such as “pimped up pigs in blankets” and “roasties with stilton”.

His new book, under his new moniker, The Skint Cook is all about feel-good food at feel-good prices, which we could all do with a bit of at the moment.

The Skint Cook’s top tips for keeping food costs low

Always look out for yellow stickers when doing your weekly shop

These products are often nearing their sell-by date but are perfectly fine to eat immediately or freeze for later use.

Repurpose leftovers

Get creative with leftovers and turn them into entirely new dishes. For example, yesterday’s roast dinner can become today’s bubble and squeak.

Use every bit

Don’t let anything go to waste! Save vegetable scraps for homemade broth, stale bread for croutons or breadcrumbs, and leftovers for creative new dishes.

Bubble and squeak topped with poached eggs

What a combo and a great way to use up leftover veg. Crispy bubble and squeak topped off with a poached egg. Delightful.

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

A great way to use up leftover veg (Martin Poole)
A great way to use up leftover veg (Martin Poole)

400g potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1 tsp salt

200g white cabbage

200g Brussels sprouts

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if needed

½ tbsp unsalted butter

2-3 eggs

Salt and pepper

Method:

Rinse the potato chunks under cold running water. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, add the measured salt and bring to the boil. Cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 15–20 minutes. Drain and let them steam dry. Put to one side.

Meanwhile, chop up the cabbage and cut the Brussels in half, then put both into a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil, then cook until just tender with still a bit of a bite, about 8-10 minutes. Drain. Save the water, if you like – you could use it in a stock. Let the veg steam dry.

Mix the potatoes with the cabbage and Brussels. Try to keep it chunky. Season to taste with salt, pepper and the nutmeg.

Melt the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Put the bubble and squeak mixture in. Don’t be tempted to keep moving it around as you want to build up crispy bits. Once the bottom starts to colour, you can now stir. Repeat several times until the mixture is really crispy. You may need to add a little more oil along the way. Check again for seasoning.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs to your preferred taste.

Spoon the bubble and squeak into the middle of the serving plates. Serve with a poached egg on top seasoned with salt and pepper.

Garlicky spinach and mushrooms on toast

Frozen spinach is a must to have at hand. Just pop it out of the freezer any time of year. Fuss and stress-free.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Frozen spinach is a fuss and stress-free ingredient to have to hand (Martin Poole)
Frozen spinach is a fuss and stress-free ingredient to have to hand (Martin Poole)

80g frozen spinach

1 tbsp vegetable oil

180g closed cup mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

100g cream cheese

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Good pinch of ground nutmeg

2 slices of crusty bread

Butter or olive oil, for the toast (optional)

Salt and pepper

Method:

Put the spinach into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Stir until the spinach has come apart, then take off the heat, drain and put to one side.

Now put the vegetable oil into a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is smoking, add the mushrooms and stir. Press the mushrooms down for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat two or three times until they have a great colour to them.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add 50ml of water and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, stirring until melted. Now squeeze out the excess water from the spinach, put it in the pan and stir. Add the Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg and a good pinch each of salt and pepper. Keep stirring until the mix is reduced to the consistency of your liking.

Pear and stilton is always a great flavour combo (Martin Poole)
Pear and stilton is always a great flavour combo (Martin Poole)

Toast your bread, place on plates and spread it with butter or drizzle with olive oil, if you like. Spread the mushroom mixture all over and serve.

Griddled pear and stilton salad

Pear and stilton is always a great flavour combo. Adding the oaty biscuits not only elevates it to the next level, it adds different textures to your palate. This makes a great starter.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp

1 tbsp cider vinegar

½ tbsp honey

½ tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 ripe pear

2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

2 spring onions, sliced

50g stilton cheese

2 sweet and crunchy oat biscuits (I like Hobnobs), crumbled

Salt and pepper

Method:

‘The Skint Cook’ is all about feel-good food at feel-good prices (HQ/HarperCollins)
‘The Skint Cook’ is all about feel-good food at feel-good prices (HQ/HarperCollins)

Make the dressing first. In a bowl, mix together the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the vinegar, honey and mustard. Add a good pinch each of salt and pepper, mixing well to emulsify. Put to one side.

Now cut the pear in half. Take out the core with a melon baller, then cut each half into three lengthways. Place in a bowl and coat the pears with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil.

Now heat a griddle pan or frying pan over a medium-high heat until hot. Place the pear slices in the pan and cook for around 5-8 minutes, turning occasionally. They are done when you start to get charring on both sides.

To serve, place a handful of salad leaves on each plate. Arrange the griddled/fried pears on top and sprinkle with the spring onions. Crumble the stilton over. Spoon the dressing all over and around. Finish by sprinkling over the crumbled biscuits.

‘The Skint Cook: Over 80 easy, tasty recipes that won’t break the bank’ by Ian Bursnall (HQ, HarperCollins).