/ Food & Drink

Can you bake a Great British Bake Off showstopper on a budget?


We’re coming up to autumn – the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, of hearty stews and warming pies. And the return of The Great British Bake Off.

Guest Penny Campbell from Feed Your Family For About £20 A Week shares her tips for baking  on a budget.

There’s no denying it: Bake Off has rekindled the nation’s love of baking.

So what if we can’t produce showstoppers like Candice or Nadiya? Making homemade treats for your children is invaluable, and nothing beats getting them to pitch in and passing on those top-secret family recipes you were taught by your mother or grandmother.

Preprepared vs homemade

Feed Your Family For About £20 A Week started off as group on Facebook with the aim of helping reeducate people who rely on preprepared goods, packets and jars to feed their families. We post recipes, tips and advice, and in just over a year, we’ve built up a following of over 500,000 members.

We know it can be tempting to buy preprepared packets and jars when you don’t have all the ingredients in your cupboards – especially when you only need to add water to cupcake mixtures or pancake batter to make sweet treats for your family.

And while you may look at the cost of individual items and think it’s cheaper to buy preprepared, once you’ve divided the cost of that bag of flour or sugar by how many recipes you can make, it really isn’t.

Shopping around for the essentials and gradually building up a staple of herbs, spices, dried fruits, etc, makes a huge difference. Often these ingredients last well past their listed use-by date and are worth snapping up when they’re reduced. (Herbs are ideal for freezing in an ice cube tray, too.)

Concocting the masterpieces seen on Bake Off to the finest icing detail can be expensive, and it can be hard to source those pretty edible flowers or gold-leaf decorations. But, there are often cheaper alternatives available and plenty of tricks to make your baking go that little bit further, too.

Cost cutting

What if you’ve let your creative juices take over and the cake you’ve made is going dry? Simple: you can easily make it into a delicious trifle, or dip it in beaten egg and fry in butter for a unique French toast.

Alternatively, cut a hole in the leftover cake, top with a scoop of ice cream and spread on some jam, top with a meringue and use a blow torch to brown it. This takes no time, looks elegant and costs pennies to make.

Struggling with leftover yolks from making the meringue? Turn them into a tasty lemon curd.

If you’re pushed for time, a slow cooker or pressure cooker can be your best friend and means you can make your family good, nutritious, home-cooked meals while you’re busy doing something else. You can even make cakes in a slow cooker – try out our delicious chocolate lava cake recipe for size.

Make meals in bulk and use your freezer well; you’ll find a renewed love of cooking and your purse will love the savings.

For more hints and tips, see the Feed Your Family For About £20 A Week website.

This is a guest post by Penny Campbell, administrator for Feed Your Family For About £20 A Week. All views expressed here at Penny’s and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.

Do you have any savvy money-saving baking or cooking tips?


As I’m not really a baker, I tend to buy cakes rather than make them myself. Does anyone else do this?


All the time! My lack of baking skills are legendary. My showstoppers are ban pie (banoffee without the offee) and tarmac tart (jam tart set so hard you could drive a car over it).

On another note, my nan had a friend who would send mince pies at Christmas as gifts. They were clearly shop-bought but had had the edges cut off and a sprinkling of icing sugar dusted over them to make them appear as if she’d baked them herself. You couldn’t make it up.


Don’t really eat cakes. And I’m still wincing at “preprepared”, which isn’t even a word. 🙂


Ha ha. Preprepared is a word – I looked it up, but agree it does look odd. I’ve never liked ‘newest’. Perhaps we should have a convo on words we don’t like. 🙂


It doesn’t exist in the OED, Mel. It can be created by adding a hyphen between the first and second pres, but it doesn’t exist as is.

But ‘prepared’ means to make ready before. So it’s hard to see how an extra ‘pre’ can add anything, really. Bit like unique. I shudder when folk talk about ‘very unique’, and groan when folk talk about disinteresting as boring. Being a pedant is sometimes a lonely life… 🙂


The first “pre” is unnecessary – it is prepared already. If you want to use another pre, for some reason. I’d suggest “pre-prepared”. And shouldn’t it be “re educate”?

I don’t like “got” and I wonder why we use there’s and we’re when “there is” and “we are” take up little more effort? I also do not like the newish fad for adding an overlong pause between the announcement of a decision and the result. Could of, nucular, I could go on…and on…..

You did ask and I am not normally a pedant 🙂


Malcolm I assume it means previously prepared and ready to eat 🙂 Now there’s food for thought (Ooops!)


I’d like to see how you feed a family for £20 a week. Can’t find it on the website. That’s 24p a meal. Just curious.