A HOME cook decided to try out a popular budget meal plan to see if it tasted as good as its price tag – but there were majorly mixed results for each dish. 

Looking to save some money in the kitchen, Charlotte Heal-Cohen turned to BBC Food’s recipe bank, specifically their vegetarian family £1 recipes meal plan. 

Charlotte was keen to see if the plan – which covers a week’s worth of meat free dinners for four adults but uses mostly leftovers and supermarket deals – would be a hit with her family or not.

And she was equally intrigued to see if the recipes would create tasty dishes when they only cost £28 for seven days, which works out as £7 per person for the entire week. 

Once she’d made and sampled the dishes with her family, Charlotte took to her social media page to share the results – and how she’d improve them in the future. 

In the first of three videos posted to her TikTok account @charlottecohencooks, Charlotte set to work on making a creamy mushroom pie with vegetables and it was a strong start.

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As she filmed herself going through the simple step-by-step process, she explained: “I was actually pleasantly surprised with this recipe.

“It didn’t seem like there were enough ingredients to make it delicious. However, it was very tasty.

“But a couple of things to note – it says garlic is optional. Garlic is never optional, put the garlic in, ok? Garlic is cheap.

“Another thing, 3-4 minutes to cook an onion. In my book, that’s not a lot of time. 

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“I’d be cooking that onion for at least 10 minutes.”

Continuing to speak about cooking times, Charlotte said: “They recommend 40 minutes but I cut mine smaller than they said and it takes longer than 40 minutes.

Charlotte added that the recipe didn’t make a huge amount of filling for inside the pie, so recommended others using a shallow dish, and that the oven time should also be increased.

She concluded: “I’d also throw in some kind of protein – I’d put a tin of butter beans in there personally.

“But overall, with a few tweaks, this is a great budget dinner recipe and I’d make this again. 

The next dish on the menu was a veggie bolognese with a mushroom, courgette, carrot and onion sauce. 

With a few tweaks, this is a great budget dinner recipe

She started by explaining that there was once again no garlic included in the recipe, which was an oversight. 

Charlotte also encouraged others to cook the carrots and onions for the sauce first, rather than cooking all veg at the same time as the recipe states. 

But the keen cook went on to say that her major “gripe” is that she thought it could be further “pimped up” using basic store cupboard ingredients. 

She explained: “For example, a bit of soy sauce, some balsamic vinegar, maybe a teaspoon of Marmite, some extra herbs – we’re just lacking a bit of oomph, to be honest.”

However, she said with these tweaks, it could be a 10 out of 10. 

Last, but not least, Charlotte moved onto her third dish – a creamy pasta with broccoli and sweetcorn. And Charlotte admitted it was the meal that divided her family most. 

The social media user also revealed to her 2000 plus followers : “This one is probably the simplest, cheapest and quickest recipe of the whole lot.

We’re just lacking a bit of oomph, to be honest

“It took about 15 minutes – basically the time it took for the pasta to cook – and then just assembled at the end.

“It divided opinion a little bit in our house, just because of the lemon zest, which makes it nice and fresh.

“I really liked it but Matt wasn’t a huge fan. Also he doesn’t really like sweetcorn so there’s not really anywhere to hide with this one.”

Giving another top tip, Charlotte said: “I’d definitely use extra mature cheddar just for an extra bit of flavour.

“But I’d make this one again, but probably throw in some protein, as, again, there’s not really that much protein in this. I’d probably put a tin of cannellini beans or something like that in it.”

However, Charlotte said it also got a thumbs up if the tweaks were made.

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She concluded: “Minimal prep, minimal washing up, decent portion size, exceptionally cheap.

“I think I will be making this one again – with the addition of a bit of protein.”

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