Seeing as the nation is hurting and nearing the grip of a recession, I thought I’d do my bit by putting up some handy ways to save money at the checkout counter.

#1. Avoid the checkout counter.

#2. If you can help it, there is no #2.

The thing about supermarkets is that they can afford to put a premium on foods. This might change as the recession starts to bite and people spend less (meaning that supermarket margins will be squeezed and they’ll have to reduce some prices), but you can’t bank on it.

Too many years of studenting taught me that hauling your backside round a number of different places and finding where you can source the best deals on the main components of your meal really helps. It’s a cost in time, but worth it if you’re having trouble making ends meet.

So, in this case we’re talking about lamb. That great New Zealand dish. This blog will tell you, dear reader, exactly how to make the extremely delicious dish harissa lamb for less than $7.50 per head. And, you won’t have to skim on ingredients. And that, for the mathematically challenged of you, means feeding two adults for $15 or less.

So here’s what you need.

What you’re looking at on the right here is a whopping 640g of lamb cutlets. Or maybe chops… doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it cost me the exorbitant price of $9.50.

I get this lamb from a bloke who drives down from Fielding and attends the Waitangi Park markets. It is probably the best lamb you could imagine. The fat is very very white and “fluffy”, and the meat itself extremely moist. And, mostly importantly, it is not at crazy price. No middleman premiums you see.

In fact, all the vegetables you can see in this shot are from the markets. The olive oil (in the wine bottle, we buy it in bulk) is from from the Mediterranean Warehouse in Newtown. I’ll only use a little oil, maybe 150ml, which costs about $1.

The small jar is harissa paste. It’s a north African spice and you can buy a jar from Moore Wilsons for $5.50. It should last for at least ten meals, so $0.55c

So, potatoes I buy in 2kg bags for $2.50, and this is approximately 600g of spuds, giving a cost of $0.80c

The beans are $2 for a 200g bag. We use about half, meaning $1 worth of beans.

Broccoli? You can buy them for as little as $1 a head. So using about a third in this meal means $0.30c.

Grand total? Approximately $13 to feed two adults!!

So lets get started!

The first thing to do is lather the lamb with harissa paste. If you haven’t got a fancy food brush… then maybe rub it in with your (clean) hands or the back of a spoon. Normally you’d paint each piece of lamb on both sides, place all the lamb in a container, cover with Happy Wrap, and refridgerate for 24 hours. This isn’t compulsory though.

Vegetables are really your own preference. For this meal there was a special request from Second Chef for wedges, so wedges we had. Otherwise, just boil them and make mashed potatoes.

To make these wedges I sliced these spuds in half, then par-boiled then in heavily salted water. This involves cooking them until they’re only just beginning to get soft. Once they’re around-about what you think is softish (but not really soft, or they’ll break up in the pan), remove the pot from the heat, and immediately run cold water into it.

Once the cold water has stopped the boiling, tip off the water and run cold over the halved spuds. This will let you handle them in order to cut each half into quarters. The par-boiling process speeds up the frying, so you use less oil.

Next I chopped some flowerettes of broccoli, and trimmed the tops off some beans. I cleaned these and added them to a pot together, and added no more than about 10mm deep of water. I’ll steam them lightly when then the rest of the meal has come together.

So why so little water? Firstly because heavily boiled vegetables are disgusting, contain very few vitamins, and are a food crime. And second to save energy. We’re trying to save power, right?

Next you’ll need two pans. On the left is a lighter pan for the wedges. A lighter pan means you have more control over the heat. The heavier pan on the holds a high heat, and will be used for the lamb. Switch both on to a medium heat. Add enough oil to the lighter pan to cover the bottom to about 3-4mm deep. The idea is to shallow fry the wedges. When the oil starts to make tiny swirls in the pan, indicating that it’s getting hot, add a couple of wedges. If they sizzle, you’re in business.

Next, get your spuds into the oil.

One of the mistakes that most people make is to try to cook too many things in their hot oil. What this does is cool the oil, and make the potatoes soak it up. This gives you soggy, greasy chips. And the heart foundation says that’s a bad thing.

Instead, only add a few and cook them over a moderate heat until they begin to brown. Once they’re browned on both sides, transfer them to a plate with some paper towels on it, and put them in a warm (but not hot) oven.

Then repeat until all the wedges/chips are done!

While this is happening your pan for the lamb should have warmed, and you can add the lamb.

I should be truthful and say that this lamb is probably enough for three people, but… I got a little greedy. But it’s soooo delicious. Cook the lamb over a moderate heat until it’s browned on both sides. Don’t cook it to well-done though. If it looses all its moisture it’ll be as tough as old boots, and therefore crap.

When the wedges are all done, transfer to the oven, and put the greens on to cook. You want to crank the heat up, and warm them through so they’re still crunchy.

And there you go. Meat and three vege.