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Budget recipe binder – Bev’s spring risotto

calendar23 April 2015

Laura Thomas's avatar Laura Thomas

Budget recipe binder – Bev’s spring risotto

Why not give Bev's spring risotto a go this week? Packed with veg, yet really filling – you can't go wrong with this tasty meal!

Bev says, 'This is a favourite option of ours – perfect for that first warm evening out in the garden!'

Preparation time: 15 minutes, cooking time: 30-40 minutes, serves: 4-5
Total cost : approx. £3.92*

1 tbsp cooking oil
8 spring onions, chopped
1 pack button mushrooms, cut into halves
2  red peppers, deseeded and chopped into strips
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g risotto rice
1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
1tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepper to season
Grated cheese to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pane
Gently fry the mushrooms & pepper for ten minutes or until softened
Stir in rice until it is coated with the oil and looks slightly translucent, then fry for two minutes
Add the chopped tomatoes and chilli powder and stir together
Add the stock a little at a time and stir constantly
As the stock is absorbed, add a little more. Keep doing this until all the stock has been added.
If the rice is not fully cooked, you may need to add more water, a little at a time and keep stirring.
Taste the risotto and season to taste.
Serve with the optional grated cheese or on its own.

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing.

Alan and Jeani’s story

calendar02 April 2015

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

Watch and share Alan and Jeani's story this Easter.

Spring Savings

calendar20 March 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Spring Savings

George Osborne unveiling his 2015 budget is a good reminder for us to revise ours. One of the big changes announced by the Chancellor will benefit UK savers. This is great news - if you are in a position to save. This month, grab a calculator and see how you can make your money go further.

Adjust your budget - If your idea of savings is whatever fell our your pocket into the sofa, then consider the three C’s: cut back, cut costs and cut out.

Cut back – We all have a few luxuries in the budget, but are there some that you could reduce to save money? For example, a takeaway for two each week could cost you around £18. If you only went for a takeaway every other week, it would save you around £468 per year. Similarly reducing a £3.50 lunch out every day to just one day a week, you could save up to £728.

Cut costs – Some expenses you might find you can continue but at a cheaper cost. For example, switching to a cheaper energy provider, using restaurant discount vouchers when eating out or buying cheaper supermarket own-branded products.

Cut out - Often people have gym memberships or subscriptions that they are not using, or not getting enough value for money on. With the weather improving could you try running or cycling outside instead of forking out on a costly gym membership? Many people find that a few simple changes can make a real difference to the amount they have left over at the end of the month.

Savings - Savings are not just for a rainy day, but are very important for future needs. Setting some saving goals will help you to keep motivated, so make a list of future expenses both short- and long-term, such as car insurance, house improvements or University fees. Calculate how long you want to save for and how much you’d need each month, then set up a monthly standing order into a savings account.

Small things add up - From this April, personal allowance tax changes from the previous budget will come into effect meaning that most of us will see around an extra £10 in their pay cheque each month. Ok it’s a small addition, but why not make it go further by putting it into a savings account rather than letting it vanish into the black hole of your spending. If you did that now you could find yourself with an extra £90 for Christmas.

For more tips on budgeting try a free CAP Money Course, click here to find one in your area.

The secret to happiness?

calendar22 February 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

The secret to happiness?

Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a similar way to when you are having sex or eating chocolate?...It’s true! According to scientific research activity in the brain shows a link between giving money to charity and experiencing pleasure.

Further studies have also discovered that people who spend more of their income on gifts to others and donations to charity are happier than those who spend more on themselves.

However, most of us just know instinctively that “giving is better than receiving,” and are already being generous in giving our money away to those in need. With this in mind, we have compiled some tips about how to make the most out of your giving:

Gift Aid it: If you pay tax then you can make your donations go even further through the government’s tax relief scheme.Gift aid allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give and it won’t cost you any extra. For example a £100 donation will be worth £125, so it’s definitely worth completing a gift aid declaration when you give.

Little and often: Giving a few pounds a month by Direct Debit is simple and can be less disruptive to your budget. Also for charities, having a steady stream of income is vital as it allows them to plan for the future.

Reduce your inheritance tax bill: Legacies are a fantastic way to ensure your money does something worthwhile after you’ve gone, instead of just going to the taxman! Giving to charity can actually reduce an inheritance tax bill that could otherwise claim a massive 40 per cent your estate above the threshold, see [url=][/url] for more info.

Valuable volunteering: Time can be just as precious as money, so if you don’t have a lot of money, you could always consider volunteering at a charity near you. It’s also a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and can enhance your CV!

Maximise your event: Achieving a personal challenge is always rewarding, and even better when you can generate some cash for a good cause. If you are doing an event, why not ask local businesses to sponsor you? Websites like are really easy ways to collect sponsorship - post them on social media websites for greater publicity.

Find out more about how you can change lives through supporting the work of Christians Against Poverty.

Budget recipe binder – Tamsin’s quick cottage pie

calendar18 February 2015

Laura Thomas's avatar Laura Thomas

Budget recipe binder – Tamsin’s quick cottage pie

Try Tamsin's quick cottage pie recipe out this weekend – a hearty and tasty dish that the whole family will love!

Tamsin says: 'This is one of my mum’s old staples. Frozen mince is a great way to be able to cook bolognese, chilli and cottage pie on a budget. Using vegetable soup may seem a bit of a cheat, but it makes this recipe really quick and tasty – perfect for busy family life!

Preparation time: 15 minutes, cooking time: 60 minutes, serves: 4-5
Total cost : approx. £3.05*

1tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot or any other veg you need to use up, chopped (optional)
500g frozen beef mince
1 tin vegetable soup
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
800g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
50ml milk
25g butter/margarine
50g grated cheese
Salt and pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes until soft and then add the carrots or other veg (if using). After a further 2 minutes, add the mince and fry until brown. Add the soup and Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Use the soup tin to add a splash more water to the pan (this way you can swish it around and get all the soupy goodness out the tin!).
Leave to bubble away slowly while you prepare the mash.
Drain the potatoes and add the milk, butter, and some salt and pepper. Mash until fairly smooth.
Pour the pie filling into an overproof dish and carefully spoon the potato on top to cover the pie (I smooth it with a fork to give a pretty rough finish in order to get lots of nice crunchy bits!) If you're using cheese, sprinkle this over the top.
Bake at 200ºC for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Serve with some crunchy greens and enjoy!

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

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