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Best great budget recipes for 50% or less: Che’s suggestion for great char grilled sirloin steaks recipe

Photo: Char grilled sirloin steak

Photo: Char grilled sirloin steak

This is the end of the first month of our 2009 challenge – Best great budget recipes for 50% or less.

Danny has become an addict of the condemned food counter at Tesco. He drops by most evenings when he does the final post run in Newmarket. The clientele that are attracted to this mini mecca have gradually changed over the past few months.

“There were a very smart couple picking through the shelves this evening. There wasn’t much left. The man turned to me and announced, ‘The wolves have already been.’ He clearly didn’t  notice my pelt.”

Danny was encouraged to hone his wolf skills. Our 2009 challenge is to publish a series of recipes with ideas for transforming these budget priced ‘deluxe’ buys into something even better. We are thinking on our feet and learning too. Tonight Danny bought a large tub of previously frozen cooked mussels for 11p. He guzzled them with mayo as a starter as he cooked the steaks. If we had worked out a way to use cooked mussels he would have bought four tubs. And we’d have had a meal, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins for 44p plus additions.

Hopefully by the end of the year we will have enough tips and recipe ideas to match most of the ingredients that you might find on offer or dramatically reduced in price. And it’s not just our posts that will help. The comments posted by our visitors are often valuable as they add different perspectives, often share useful experience and increase the knowledge base on the site for everyone. I welcome any comment that will improve our recipes and ideas. Of course when people like our recipes, their comments are treasured. But we are all battling with hard times now. Any comment that will enhance a recipe or idea will be welcomed with open arms.

Yesterday DWolf found two sirloin steaks (finest premium Scottish) reduced from £7.20 to £1.44. Brilliant, as we have given up buying steak as it’s generally just too expensive.

This morning Che contributed a comment on our post How to cook the best tastiest pan-fried steaks recipe (for two) . He questioned our method and got us thinking. He also included a link to Delicious magazine’s How to cook the perfect steak. I was intrigued.

A few years we were given a deluxe Le Creuset cast iron griddle pan for Christmas. We were delighted with it but have never really put it through its paces as we didn’t really know how to use it. Finally we had been given a method that needed a griddle pan and we had steaks crying out to be eaten.
”Let’s try Che’s method tonight. We can use the Le Creuset griddle pan. These are really good steaks, have a deep colour and just the right sort of marbling.”

Apparently when you use the red hot griddle method you need to rub the oil and seasoning into the steaks rather than put it into the smoking griddle pan where it will burn. (this happened to us). Danny allowed 1.5 minutes each side and let the steaks rest for ten minutes in the plate warmer whilst he prepared his jus. The steaks were superb, the outside had a good char grilled flavour the inside was a perfect succulent medium rare steak. Danny’s jus was the perfect accompaniment. Thanks Che for the nudge and link. This improved our steak repcipe with one enormous leap. We will use our griddle pam from now on.

Best great budget recipes for 50% or less: Che’s suggestion for great char grilled sirloin steaks recipe

For tips, the method and the vital timings (blue/medium rare/well done) use Che’s link to Delicious Magazine’s How to cook the perfect steak.

Here are Danny’s twists:

Ingredients for the seasoning for two medium sized sirloin steaks:

  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • half tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • quarter tsp of salt
  • quarter tsp of garlic granules (fresh garlic would burn and taste bitter)

Ingredients for Danny’s jus:

  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 15g of butter
  • 250ml of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp of red/white wine (optional). We have found that white wine is perfect with red meat.

When you have cooked and removed the steaks to rest in a warm place,  put all the ingredients into the steak pan and reduce the jus over a medium heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour over the steaks just before serving
Meal cost:
2 sirloin steaks    £1.44
2 portions of chips   £0.40
2 portions of petit pois
(half price offer)   £0.25
Other ingredients   £0.20
We also had a green salad:
A quarter Iceberg lettuce (20p CFC Tesco) £0.05
1 continental onion   £0.25
Lemon vinegar and olive oil  £0.10

Total cost per head   £1.34

  Leave a reply


  1. Ohh mussels are also delicious smoked, you could try them in your inglenook.

  2. Hi Danny de Wolfe – glad you enjoyed your mussels! I have been interested in the comments re the timing of stocking the condemned counters. Also I so agree with what Kethry said at the end of her comment – we who are really having to count every penny are definitely being squeezed out now. x

  3. like other people i’ve noticed the pickings at the condemned food counter growing thin. And when there is stuff there, its still out of my price range – either that, or just really gross looking (i.e. meat that is almost green, although its within the useby). Having said that i live in an area that isn’t very well off, so the whoopsies area has always been popular. When someone’s adding things to the whoopsies refridgerator, there’s always a crowd milling around.

    gonna get up on my soap box a bit now: the credit crunch has meant that people who used to shop willy-nilly (i.e. throwing things in the trolley without a care as to how much they cost) are now being careful, which is fine.. but the proliferation of programmes on the box now telling you how to cut your food bill means that more people are adopting the kind of tricks that people like me (who live on very little) have been using all along.. and what’s happening is that people like me are being squeezed out. We have nowhere to go. Our diet is getting poorer and poorer, compared to how it was a few years ago.. i just hope we’ve hit rock bottom, although i don’t suppose we have.

  4. Danny Carey

    We are lucky because my daily duties include a trip into town to make the last postal collection at 18:30 so I can easily drop into Tesco at about 18:45. It is very hit & miss, obviously. These steaks were my best win to date. I saw the assistant removing some items from the CF counter for further mark-down, including my steaks, so I hovered around until she brought them back, marked down to £1.44.

    Our Waitrose is like all the others, I guess. Their reductions are just not attractive and even the reduced price seems expensive.

    We only have Tesco, Waitrose and Netto in Newmarket. We must try the other majors in nearby towns too, just for comparison. I do know that Tesco stores vary a lot both in what they reduce (some do not reduce fresh meat) and the timing of the reductions.

    Danny de Wolfe 🙂

  5. Our local supermarket (Waitrose) seem to have cottoned on to the fact people want to buy reduced stuff and only reduce things by a tiny amount. Even things which are use by for that day are often only reduced by 20% or so. That’s what you get for living in Surrey!

    £1.44 for 2 steaks is a real result.

  6. kate (uk)

    Thursday evening around 6:30 is when our local Waitrose does the reducing ready to clear space for the weekend rush. Just follow the people with the price tag guns around the shop…my favourite find was two beef wellingtons on the butcher counter for 99p each…mmmmmm…only happened once, mind!

  7. I, too, am finding slim pickings on the condemned food counter at the moment. Perhaps I am not timing it right. My butcher on the market sometimes does packs of stir fry rump or fillet steak. They are usually around £2 a pack for about 8 oz, so are excellent value. They are the trimmings off the fresh steaks so are not condemned. If you crave the lump of flesh on your plate they won’t cut the mustard but for a reduced meat eater they are perfect. I particularly enjoy the rump trimmings, coated in cornflour, stir fried quickly in a hot wok and then I chuck in some sweet chili sauce from a bottle to coat the meat and add flavour at the end. The pieces of meat are slightly crunchy and you may need to blow your nose twice during the meal. I wouldn’t chop up a whole steak to make this although it would be a good way of making a condemned purchase of only one steak go further.

    By the way, if you live in an area with a large Chinese population and a good Chinese restaurant, ask if they have a Chinese menu rather than the standard “English” one. We discovered this at our favourite restaurant in Liverpool when I ordered “what she is having” one day. The portions are much bigger and cheaper. There is no English translation available but the waiters are very helpful and will find a dish to meet your requirements using a verbal flow chart approach. We have never yet been disappointed and can eat out for around £5 a head this way. We have noticed more and more people eating “off-menu” as we call it, you can tell by the style of serving dishes. My mum has a slip of paper with the name of her favourite dish in Chinese which she shows to the waiter. It is a hot and spicy fish stew.

  8. yay! FABULOUS, I must bow down to your budgeting greatness. What time does Danny go to the condemned section? I am always interested in this as they seem to always fill them at the same time everyday. (I know this as I used to be a code checker, fancy name for the person who reduces the items).

    So Danny has seen different people at the condemned counter??? Would you say it is just because they were there that night or if it is because more people are feeling the pinch?

    Your steak dinner sounds divine and looks delicious! yum

  9. Veronica

    Fiona, there are lots of ways to use cooked mussels. Two I can think of off the top of my head are risotto and soup (a creamy, saffron-y soup base, or alternatively a spicy tomato one). You can even egg-and-breadcrumb, deep-fry, and nibble as a snack with drinks (er, I’m talking shells off, of course!). So when Danny sees them again he shouldn’t hesitate 🙂

    PS 1.34 each for a steak dinner — I’m speechless!

  10. First of all, love your blog.
    Second, I had to post when I saw your comment about using cooked mussels. I think they would be great as a last minute addition to a stew! Thinking a bouillabaise or cioppino base, add mussels right at the end so they just heat through. (or a chowder), Just a thought if they come up on special again.

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