WITH the coronavirus impacting on many aspects of life, including earning capacity, and the availability of some ingredients, it’s important to cook simple, healthy food on a smaller budget.

Soups  are satisfying, tasty and sustaining, and are a great way of using up leftovers. A true ‘kitchen’ soup can consist of practically anything you have in the house, from mushrooms and kale, to potatoes, tomatoes and lentils. If you have roasted a chicken, use the bones to make a nourishing stock – add celery, carrot, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, or a combination thereof to add to the richness.

If you have some stray nettles in the garden, you can always nip the tender tops off them, and make a nettle risotto. Nettles are full of vitamins – and they don’t sting once they are cooked! 

Risotto is another simple, but filling and tasty dish to serve up. Again, you can put almost anything you like into it, from leftover chicken to smoked fish, or mushrooms or asparagus.

Keeping the kids entertained can be quite a task when they are home all day.  However, one of the plus points of lockdown is that families have enjoyed cooking together. 

Rustling up some savoury scones is a fun way to create some treats for those hungry points in the day.

The recipe below can be made with nettles, if you are up for experimenting – or equally well with spinach. Add some ham or chicken if you fancy adding to the mix of flavours.

Nettle (or spinach) risotto


50g butter

50g nettles (or spinach, if you prefer)

25g chopped onions

100g short grain rice

185ml chicken stock

25g grated parmesan cheese


Wash nettle leaves (or spinach )thoroughly, blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then refresh in iced water, drain well and chop finely.

Melt your butter in a saucepan and add your chopped onions, cook gently for around 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the onions to soften without gaining colour.

Add your rice and continue to cook for around 2 to 3 minutes.

Add your chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover your saucepan with a lid, and allow the rice to simmer.

Stir frequently and if necessary add more stock until the rice is cooked, when the rice is cooked it should have absorbed all the stock.

Finally stir in your nettles (or spinach) and parmesan cheese.  Serve with a freshly poached egg and a nice fresh salad.