Recipe: A frugal - but tasty - dish for four, for less than €8

Di Curtin has raided her recipe bank for a dish from the archives which fits the bill for frugal food this time of year. 
Recipe: A frugal - but tasty - dish for four, for less than €8

Pasta Aglio E Olio. Picture: Di Curtin

JANUARY is a frugal month for most people. We’ve all spent too much money in the Christmas period, so the first month of the New Year is always about watching the pennies to take care of the pounds. This year even more so, as the cost of living crisis worsens and fuel and food prices go through the roof. It’s time to tighten those purse strings!

This weekend, I’ve raided my recipe bank for a dish from the archives which fits the bill for frugal food this time of year. 

The saying cheap as chips could apply here, except we are not talking about chips! We are however, talking about what is probably the Italian equivalent of chips for a cheap meal. Pasta goes a long way if you are dining on a budget. My recipe this week is one of the simplest in the Italian repertoire. There is very little here in the way of ingredients. Garlic and chilli flavour spaghetti strands doused in olive oil, and finished with grated Parmesan cheese - or its cheaper cousin, Grana Padano. This storecupboard favourite really fills a gap, and adds a blast of inner heat from the chilli spice as well. Great for a quick afterwork dinner, this is ready in no time. It’s one of those dishes you can make when you’ve nothing in the fridge, and it still manages to look like you’ve tried. And at less than €8.00 for a dinner for four, you’re onto a winner!

I’m getting retro for dessert with a budget friendly cake to serve 6-8 - depending on how big a slice you want! 

Canned pineapple rings are the stars of the show for this 70’s style Pineapple Upside Down Cake - lovely served just warm with cream or custard, and can be eaten cold as well. A two in one idea to give bang for your buck! Dessert is an optional extra when you’re down on the coffers, but this one is cost conscious at around €1.42 per portion for six servings.



 400g linguine or spaghetti 

90mls extra virgin olive oil 

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 

Good pinch dried red chilli flakes (or to taste) 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 tbsp chopped flat parsley 

Fresh Parmesan for grating 


  • Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water till just al dente.
  • When it;’s almost ready, make the dressing.
  • Heat oil in a pan over low heat.
  • Add garlic, and saute gently for a minute, stirring. Don’t let it burn.
  • Add chilli and cook for a further minute, stirring.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Drain the pasta, leaving a little water still clinging to the strands.
  • Stir pasta into frying pan to coat with oily mix. Season and add parsley Divide between warmed bowls and finish with grated Parmesan.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Cherries
Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Cherries


Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

25g brown sugar 

25g butter 

6-8 pineapple rings in natural juice, drained and juice reserved 

6-8 glace cherries (optional) For the sponge:

175g butter 

175g sugar 

175g flour sifted with 

1 tsp baking powder 

3 fresh free range eggs 


  • First make the topping. Melt butter with brown sugar in a pan. Spread the mix into the base of a non-stick 20cm cake tin lined with baking parchment.
  • Arrange pineapple rings in the base of the tin, then pop the glace cherries in the centre of the rings.
  • For the sponge, beat butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.
  • Gradually beat in the eggs one by one, with alternate spoons of flour mix When all the egg is incorporated, fold in remaining flour.
  • Make a soft dropping consistency using about 2 tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice.
  • Spoon the mix over the pineapple rings. Smooth surface and tap tin to remove air bubbles.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven, Gas 4 350F 180C (160C for fan assisted) for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.
  • Remove from oven, leave to cool for a few moments in tin. Loosen around the edges with the point of a sharp knife.
  • Place a serving plate on top of the tin.
  • Holding plate and tin with a teatowel, lift and invert so the plate is on the bottom. Give the tin a good shake.
  • The cake should come out in one piece, but if slices get left behind, simply pop them back in place. Peel off parchment, if still attached to the top.
  • Spoon a little more pineapple syrup over the cake before serving with cream or custard. When cold, this will store for a couple of days in an airtight tin in a cool cupboard or pantry.


Perhaps you’re off the booze this month if you are observing the dry January tradition. Or else you could be cutting down on the vino to save a few bob. 

So instead of choosing a wine this weekend I'm suggesting an alternative that will add a little pzazz at a budget price, and wont break your non-drinking resolutions. 

Prosecco is a favourite fizz for many. This weekend, I’m going for an alcohol free Prosecco which tastes as pleasant as its boozy sister and costs way less! Aldi’s Zerosecco is a decadent fizz with light fruit notes and spritzy bubbles. Makes a meal feel that bit more special when you pop the cork and pour into flutes. This one is light and floral and when its chilled makes a great go with for the spicy pasta.

Oil and Garlic.
Oil and Garlic.


Italian Linguine 500g €2.00

Garlic net 79c 

Dried Chilli flakes 28g 60c 

Parsley pack €1.19 

Grana Padano 200g €3.19 

Total: €7.77 


Canned pineapple slices 220g €1.35 

Eggs x half dozen €2.20 

Butter 227g €1.99 

Sugar 1kg €1.39 

Flour 2kg €1.59 

Total: €8.52 


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