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Food tsar Henry Dimbleby said today unhealthy food is significantly cheaper than healthy food – but these recipes prove nutritious meals packed with veggies don’t need to cost a fortune. 

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Dimbleby, author of the controversial National Food Strategy, said ‘highly calorie dense food is three times cheaper per calorie than healthy food’, noting millions of families on the breadline resorted to microwave meals and processed foods to keep their children fed.   

Mr Dimbleby has argued a levy on sugary and salty foods is needed to tackle unhealthy eating habits but opponents have branded it another example of ‘rich people’ trying to tell the rest of society what to do. 

They estimate the so-called ‘snack tax’ could add £3.4billion a year to families’ shopping bills, with a 60p Mars bar costing 9p more. 

But the reality is it is possible to make healthy food for as little as £1 a head, as these recipes from Miguel Barclay prove. 

UK-based Miguel, known for his One Pound Meals recipe series, has revealed how families can whip up six nutrient-rich dishes packed with veggies and healthy carbohydrates for as little as £1 a head. 

Here, FEMAIL shares the shopping list you need – along with estimated costs – as well as the items you’ll need in your store cupboard. 

Miguel writes his recipes for single servings but we have calculated the costs based on a family of four so you can serve everyone in your household – or make enough to pop in the freezer or enjoy as leftovers.      

Your shopping list for £1 a head 

With these ingredients you’ll be able to whip up the six dishes below for four people. 

There are a few items you need from the store cupboard like olive oil, salt and pepper, but substitutions can be made if you don’t have all the ingredients to hand. 

Once you make these meals, you’ll even have some ingredients left over for your dinners the following week.

To buy

Aubergine (single), 69p

Red onion (3pk), 70p

Garlic cloves (3pk), 69p

Tomatoes (750g), £1.25

Spinach (500g), 85p

Rice noodles (225g), £1

Green beans (240g), 85p

Carrots (500g), 29p

Jar of capers, £1.60

Bag of couscous (1kg), £1

Sweet potato (1kg), 92p

Spring onions (two bundles), 80p

Red cabbage (1kg), £1.10 

Onion (3pk), 58p

Red pepper (2pk), 96p

Cooked beetroot (300g), 50p

Broad beans (500g), £1.20

Courgettes (330g), 75p

Rocket (60g), 55p

Basmat rice (1kg), £4

Prawns (frozen, 200g), £2.75

Salted cashew nuts (270g), £2.40

Bulgar wheat (500g), £1.10

Total: £25.54 

From the store cupboard

Plain flour

Cumin

Dried oregano

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Sesame oil

Chilli flakes

Sesame seeds

Curry powder

Soy sauce

Balsamic glaze

Tinned sweetcorn

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SINGAPORE NOODLES WITH CASHEWS

Packed with flavour: In this quick stir-fried noodle dish I slice my beans lengthways so they don’t need to be boiled separately, and use cashews because I think they look a bit like prawns in a Singapore chow mein

Packed with flavour: In this quick stir-fried noodle dish I slice my beans lengthways so they don’t need to be boiled separately, and use cashews because I think they look a bit like prawns in a Singapore chow mein

Packed with flavour: In this quick stir-fried noodle dish I slice my beans lengthways so they don’t need to be boiled separately, and use cashews because I think they look a bit like prawns in a Singapore chow mein

Ingredients (1 portion)

  • 1 sheet of rice noodles
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • Pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • A few green beans, halved lengthways

  • ¼ carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • Small handful of salted cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Method 

Pre-cook or soak the rice noodles according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, pan-fry the onion in a splash of sesame oil over a high heat for about 30 seconds, then add the garlic and chilli flakes. Just before the garlic starts to brown, add the beans, carrot matchsticks and cashew nuts and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. 

Add the curry powder and a splash of soy sauce, then mix in the drained noodles, season with salt and pepper and serve.

POKE BOWL

Poke bowls are quickly gaining popularity and might just become the next big food fad, but they are so expensive to buy readymade I thought I’d have a go and see what I could do for £1. Firstly, I substituted tuna for beetroot, but the biggest breakthrough was using a load of shelled frozen broad beans instead of mega-expensive edamame beans – you honestly can’t tell the difference

Poke bowls are quickly gaining popularity and might just become the next big food fad, but they are so expensive to buy readymade I thought I’d have a go and see what I could do for £1. Firstly, I substituted tuna for beetroot, but the biggest breakthrough was using a load of shelled frozen broad beans instead of mega-expensive edamame beans – you honestly can’t tell the difference

Poke bowls are quickly gaining popularity and might just become the next big food fad, but they are so expensive to buy readymade I thought I’d have a go and see what I could do for £1. Firstly, I substituted tuna for beetroot, but the biggest breakthrough was using a load of shelled frozen broad beans instead of mega-expensive edamame beans – you honestly can’t tell the difference

Ingredients (1 portion) 

½ mug of basmati rice

1 mug of water

1 tbsp balsamic glaze

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

Small handful of cooked and peeled prawns

½ carrot, ribboned with a potato peeler

1 cooked beetroot, cut into 1cm cube

Small handful of broad beans, defrosted and shelled

Pinch of sesame seeds

Method 

Put the rice and water in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat with the lid on for about 7 minutes. When all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked, remove the lid and allow it to cool before spooning it into a bowl. Mix the balsamic glaze, sesame oil and soy sauce together and coat the prawns in the mixture, then spoon them onto the rice. Place the carrot ribbons, beetroot cubes and shelled broad beans neatly into the bowl. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the prawns and drizzle over any remaining balsamic, sesame oil and soy glaze.

CAPONATA

This is a fresh and vibrant Italian dish made with capers and a splash of the caper brine to create a zingy plate of food that packs a punch

This is a fresh and vibrant Italian dish made with capers and a splash of the caper brine to create a zingy plate of food that packs a punch

This is a fresh and vibrant Italian dish made with capers and a splash of the caper brine to create a zingy plate of food that packs a punch

Ingredients (1 portion) 

  • ¼ aubergine, roughly diced
  • ½ red onion, roughly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • Small handful of capers

  • Big splash of liquid from the caper jar
  • ½ mug of couscous
  • ½ mug of boiling water
  • Handful of spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method 

Start by pan-frying the aubergine in a dry pan over a medium heat for a few minutes until it starts to colour. Then add a splash of olive oil, the onion, garlic and a pinch of oregano. Fry for a few minutes until the garlic starts to colour, then add the tomato.

Continue frying for a few more minutes before adding the capers and a big splash of the caper brine. Simmer for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat, then add a handful of spinach, allowing it to wilt in the heat of the pan, and season to taste.

In a bowl, mix together the couscous, a pinch of salt and pepper and the boiling water. Leave to stand for a few minutes then fluff with a fork and serve with the caponata.

SWEET POTATO FALAFEL WRAP

You don’t have to be a vegan or even a vegetarian to love falafel, but making it at home can seem a little daunting. Here’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever find. They’re perfect for salads, wraps and even sandwiches!

You don’t have to be a vegan or even a vegetarian to love falafel, but making it at home can seem a little daunting. Here’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever find. They’re perfect for salads, wraps and even sandwiches!

You don’t have to be a vegan or even a vegetarian to love falafel, but making it at home can seem a little daunting. Here’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever find. They’re perfect for salads, wraps and even sandwiches!

Ingredients (1 portion) 

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 40g plain flour
  • 25ml cold water

  • Handful of sliced red cabbage
  • A few tomatoes, chopped
  • Handful of sliced white onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 

Method

Preheat your oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.

Pierce the sweet potato several times with a fork and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes, or cook it in the microwave for 10 minutes, until soft. Once it’s cool enough to handle, cut it in half, scoop the flesh into a bowl, season it with salt and pepper and mix in the cumin and half the spring onion.

Wet your hands to stop the mixture sticking to them, then roll it into balls about the same size as a ping-pong ball. Roll the balls in the sesame seeds, place them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the flatbread wrap. Mix the flour and water in a bowl with a pinch of salt to form a dough. Knead on the worktop for a few minutes until smooth, then roll it out into a 20cm diameter circle. Cook in a dry preheated pan over a high heat for about 2 minutes on each side until nicely toasted.

Assemble the wrap by topping the flatbread with the falafel and adding the red cabbage, chopped tomatoes, sliced onion and remaining spring onion.  

HOT TABBOULEH

Bulgur wheat is economical and delicious but in the UK it is really underused, so I’ve created a simple dish that you can make easily and which will hopefully give you the inspiration and confidence to use it more. Even better, you’ll fall in love with this amazing ingredient

Bulgur wheat is economical and delicious but in the UK it is really underused, so I’ve created a simple dish that you can make easily and which will hopefully give you the inspiration and confidence to use it more. Even better, you’ll fall in love with this amazing ingredient

Bulgur wheat is economical and delicious but in the UK it is really underused, so I’ve created a simple dish that you can make easily and which will hopefully give you the inspiration and confidence to use it more. Even better, you’ll fall in love with this amazing ingredient

Ingredients (1 portion) 

  • Handful of bulgur wheat
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method 

Start by cooking the bulgur wheat in salted boiling water for about 12 minutes until soft, then drain.

Meanwhile, pan-fry the spring onions and pepper in a generous glug of olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Then add the bulgur wheat and mix everything together. Season to taste, then serve. 

SWEETCORN AND COURGETTE FRITTERS

Brunch is served! If you’re ever stuck for vegan brunch inspiration, just give these Sweetcorn & Courgette Fritters a go

Brunch is served! If you’re ever stuck for vegan brunch inspiration, just give these Sweetcorn & Courgette Fritters a go

Brunch is served! If you’re ever stuck for vegan brunch inspiration, just give these Sweetcorn & Courgette Fritters a go

Ingredients (1 portion) 

  • ½ courgette
  • Handful of tinned sweetcorn
  • 2 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • Handful of rocket
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method 

Grab a bowl and grate the courgette into it, then throw in the sweetcorn and gram flour and season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together until the mixture has a thick batter consistency.

Pan-fry dollops of the mixture in a splash of olive oil over a medium heat, for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown (the mixture should make about 4 fritters), then serve with some rocket leaves.

Miguel Barclay’s One Pound Meals collection is available now, published by Headline Home. His new book, Green One Pound Meals, is out 31st December 2021. 

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