...have a Lidl nearby

...which is a bit of an understatement considering my local is a whole hemisphere away. I do miss it an awful lot, especially for feeding lots of people cheaply in one go. Last week I managed, however, to cook for 7 for under $35 (about £16 British pounds).
Here's how I did it:
1. Shop at Countdown. Not New World. For those unfamiliar with NZ supermarkets, there's not much in it - nowhere near as much hierarchy as the Waitrose-Sainsbury's-Tesco-Asda-Lidl spectrum. There are just two quite expensive Tesco-ishequivalents. New World has nicer own-brand packaging, but Countdown has lots of special offers.
2. I think for a cheap 6+ dinner there are two avenues to go down. Firstly there's the 'big pot of something' approach, like bolognese, lasagna, a pie, a pasta bake, a curry which are cheap and feed hungry people, but always make you feel like you should be doing more which leads to buying bread or making salads on top of an already expensive meal. (If you don't have lasagna pasta sheets in already, don't even go there or it ends up being deceptively expensive). The second approach is a good old roast dinner which looks like a lot but can be done cheaply.

I went for the second approach, and bought:
  • 1 size 16 Chicken (or medium chicken to English people)
  • 3 lemons
  • Rosemary (fresh is better, and definitely worth the extra money on this occasion)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Garlic
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans
  • Lettuce
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 red onion
I already had these in the cupboard:
  • Honey
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cucumber
I roasted the chicken after leaving it in the fridge for two hours with olive oil with grated lemon rind, salt, pepper and chopped up garlic rubbed on top. I cooked it with lemon slices under the skin to keep it juicy, salted the skin to make it crunchy, and popped another bit of lemon inside it. I then turned it upside-down to cook (a tip my boyfriend gave me to give it extra tenderness). I took it out after about an hour and let it rest for about 20 minutes covered in foil before carving.

While the chicken was in the oven I soaked chopped red onion in olive oil, a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a few sprigs of rosemary to take off the raw-onion taste so I could put it in the green salad later. I macerated the tomatoes in salt, fresh basil and oil and covered as a simple tomato salad.

I chopped all the carrots in half and then length ways, part-boiled them, drizzled honey and salt over them and popped them in the oven for about 40 minutes until they were nice and crispy. I made a simple green salad with the lettuce, cucumber and onions, and drizzled lemon juice on top.

With ten minutes to go I chucked the beans into a frying pan with oil, garlic and tonnes of rosemary and cooked them at medium heat, pressing them with a fork towards the end of the ten minutes - when they give and smash into a nice creamy texture, they're ready and you can take them off the heat, mash them up and serve. A nice, creamy but healthy alternative to mashed potato, and so tasty. My friend Lucie who lives in Tuscany told me about this side dish and it's fantastic. It works really well with fish and chips too. (It doesn't look like the most appealing thing - see photo - but it's delicious).

For pudding I asked a friend to bring ice cream. But cheap puds can be anything from a quick and simple jam sponge and custard or a lemon mousse. I'll post some recipes soon along with a delicious way to make a lemon 'cheesecake' without the cheese.

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