Enjoying lamb on a budget

AHDB’s Denise Spencer-Walker talks about LLW and enjoying this favourite on a budget

The cost-of-living crisis has hit consumers hard, with everything from soaring energy bills, petrol price hikes and even increases in food costs, leaving many re-evaluating their household budgets. Cash concerns will undoubtedly have an impact on the weekly grocery shop, with food being one of the few expenses within our control and one of the first to be slashed. But budgeting doesn’t need to come at the cost of meat, as there are many things a savvy shopper can do to keep the price right. As we celebrate the eighth year of Love Lamb Week, AHDB and industry partners are encouraging consumers up and down the country to enjoy the exceptional taste and quality of lamb from the UK. Traditionally, the more expensive red meat, lamb is renowned for being a ‘treat meat’ – but if you want to enjoy this flavoursome protein without breaking the bank, there are ways to achieve this.

The first thing you should do is make a new friend! The high street butcher is the fount of knowledge when it comes to meat and will happily advise on the best value cuts, how to cook them and ultimately, save you money. By selling all cuts of meat, many of which aren’t available in supermarkets, they will have an unrivalled selection of lamb that can be used in an array of mouth-watering dishes, so make the most of this untapped mecca of information.

Next, opt for cheaper, flavoursome slow cooked lamb cuts such as boned and diced shoulder, whole shoulder, boneless breast and neck fillets. And if you want extremely good value for money, take a second look at lamb offal such as liver and kidney, which is considerably cheaper and widely available in supermarkets. Lamb’s liver is milder tasting than other animals and can used in pies, sauces and stews, as well as being a great pate, while kidneys are a brilliant brunch idea.

Don’t forget your slow cooker. They are great for the tougher, more wallet-friendly cuts over the more premium cuts like lamb chops or a whole leg of lamb. And if you’re looking to bring down costs even further, the slow cooker is a great economical appliance too – and can be left throughout the day resulting in a delicious evening meal with minimum fuss. If you are making lamb casseroles or light stews, don’t forget to add canned beans or pulses – they will add bulk and make your dish go further and serve more people.

Love your leftovers too! If you decide to treat yourself with a lamb roast, make use of what’s leftover. Cooked roast lamb freezes well, but is also great in a Shepherd’s pie, shredded and used in fajitas, a hash with leftover roasted vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and greens too, or in a classic roast lamb sandwich. Where possible, try and cook from scratch, that way you can freeze any extra portions for later.

And before you visit your supermarket or butcher, try and devise a meal plan and check your store cupboards to ensure you keep costs low and have plenty of ideas for the week. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for special offers and if you can, cook in bulk, freeze and defrost thoroughly for a meal later in the week. Remember to shop seasonal – produce in abundance tend to be better value for money, when in season.

Finally, bring your eating-out experience back home! Try a home-cooked ‘fakeaway’ like lamb curry (using slow-cook cuts that you can pop into a slow cooker), kebabs/shawarmas, stir-fries. Or everyday favourites with a twist like lamb ragu, tacos, hotpots, or crispy lamb on flatbreads! And if you need help or inspiration with your meal plan, remember there is an array of resources on AHDB’s Simply Beef and Lamb website with recipes the whole family will enjoy. So, this Love Lamb Week, don’t feel left out – enjoy some reliably inexpensive options that are delicious and nutritious.