Cooking on a budget? Try food blogger Jane Ashley's butternut tagine which comes in at only £3 for four people

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

Busy working mum Jane Ashley documented her attempts to cook healthy, hearty family meals on a budget on her blog, Eat Not Spend when she was inspired by the 'Live Below the Line' charity which raises awareness of people living in poverty. With a target of feeding her family on just £1 per person per day, she set out to cut costs while cooking nutritious food - and following the success of the blog, Jane now has a cookbook filled with tips and recipes - Home Economics: How to eat like a king on a budget  (Short Books, £14.99). Here's a delicious dinner idea that costs just £3 to feed four people...

"You don't have to use a tagine to cook this – the recipe works just as well with a large saucepan," says Jane. "This is another dish that tastes better the next day so you could make it in advance and reheat it. You can also save some of the couscous for lunches; I like adding hummus or sweet chilli to mine."

Serves 4



2 tbsp oil

1-2 red onions, chopped into thin wedges

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 bunch of coriander, stalks chopped (save the leaves for garnishing)

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 medium-sized carrots, diced

850ml vegetable stock

400g tin chickpeas

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

3 tbsp sultanas (optional)


200g couscous

300ml boiling water

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1/2 bunch of coriander, chopped


You can add apricots instead of sultanas and flaked, toasted almonds before serving


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or tagine and fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Then add the spices and half the chopped coriander stalks and cook for a minute or so until it begins to smell aromatic.

2. Add the tinned tomatoes, butternut squash, carrots and vegetable stock and give it all a good stir, making sure the liquid covers the vegetables. Bring it to the boil, then put the lid on and turn it down to a very gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Next, add the chickpeas, chilli flakes and sultanas. Let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until the butternut squash and carrots are soft but not mushy, and the sauce has thickened.

4. When the cooking time is nearly up, tip the couscous into a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Put a plate on top to retain the steam to cook the couscous. After 8-10 minutes the couscous should be ready and all the water absorbed.

5. Give the couscous a good stir with a fork to break it up then mix in the lime zest and juice and chopped coriander.

6. Serve the tagine with the couscous and scatter over the saved coriander leaves to garnish.

Recipe extracted from  Home Economics: How to eat like a king on a budget  by Jane Ashley.