If you want a thicker, more traditional steak, rump is on the more affordable end and has great flavour. Joseph Denison Carey explains how you can get the most out of it, and why it’s worth the effort: “It’s best served medium or medium-rare so that the fat has enough time over the heat to melt. It’s one of the best-tasting steaks, thanks to its rich and meaty flavour.”
Homemade pasta might seem fancy but it’s actually pretty frugal, using just two ingredients: flour and eggs. And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a pasta machine to roll out those silky sheets – a rolling pin and modest supply of upper body strength will do the job. True, the very best flour to use is specialist ’00’ flour, but plain flour works perfectly well in a pinch. A fancy fresh pasta kit will cost you £10–15 for a single meal, but you probably already have the ingredients in your cupboard.
Mushroom stroganoff makes a creamy vegetarian topping that suits rustic hand-cut pasta, too. Or a simple dollop of crème fraiche and the zest of a lemon can form a great pasta sauce that’s perfect with inexpensive greens.
Even a packet of spaghetti can make a special meal for two. A classic carbonara feels luxurious and requires little more than bacon or lardons, eggs and cheese (remember, pecorino and grana Padano are both cheaper alternatives to Parmesan), while cacio e pepe only has three ingredients – spaghetti, pecorino and pepper. Just don’t throw out the pasta water, it’s the free ingredient that makes the dish.
Despite its budget price this brassica has become a restaurant favourite and cauliflower steak is a popular vegan option. After cutting a thick slab from the head of cauliflower, coat it in harissa paste – which you can make from scratch or buy ready-made for less than £2.50 – before baking in the oven or air fryer.