Budget Gigantes Plaki (Big Beans)

By Jack Monroe •

Continuing our series of posts on how great tasting dishes can be cooked on a tight budget. Jack Monroe shows how you can eat healthily with very little money! Discover how she makes a great Mediterranean dish using kale and butter beans for 56p a portion!



Kale is one of my favourite winter vegetables, and I smuggle it into everything. Here I have adapted a favourite recipe of mine from my Mediterranean heritage, gigantes plaki, which literally means ‘big beans’. I use dried beans for this recipe as it’s cheaper, but canned beans would work just as well for a dinner on the hoof. You can eat them hot, with rice, a leafy green salad, or green vegetables, or allow to cool for the flavours to really develop, and pop them in a pitta or a wrap for lunch with a little natural yoghurt and Greek cheese.



(serves 2)

100g dried butter beans – soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.

1 tbsp oil

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

1 red chilli

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp lemon juice

400g chopped tomatoes

Handful of kale


First, soak the beans in cold water for at least 8 hours. I do mine overnight for the next day’s dinner, which is less convenient than buying a can of beans to cook on the hoof, but far cheaper.

When the beans have soaked and you’re ready to cook dinner, drain them and rinse thoroughly, pop in a saucepan of fresh water, and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes to boil out any toxins, and reduce to a slightly energetic simmer.

Peel and dice the onion and finely chop the chilli, and pop into a sauté pan or medium saucepan, with the oil and lemon juice. Crush the garlic into the pan, and add the cinnamon, and kale, and stir together on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to disturb and prevent the garlic from burning.

Drain the butter beans, and tip into the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes, and stir to combine. Simmer gently for a further 10 minutes or until the beans are tender.

Serve with a fresh green salad for a light meal, or rice and green vegetables for a more substantial dinner. Leftovers are delicious served in a pitta bread or wrap, or tossed through pasta.


Cost: all costs worked out at Sainsbury’s, Basics range where available. Correct at time of going to press.

Oil £4.50/3l (3p/tbsp). 1 loose onion 11p. Garlic 50p/2 bulbs avg 10 cloves each (3p/clove). Bird eye chillies 75p/10 avg (8p each). Cinnamon £1/42g (4p/quarter tsp). 250ml lemon juice 60p (1p/tsp). 500g butter beans £1.09 (22p/100g). 400g chopped tomatoes 35p. 200g kale £1 (25p/50g). Total ingredients used: £1.12 for 2 portions, 56p each.

For more delicious budget recipes visit Jack’s blog posts at Great British Chefs.


Jack Monroe

Jack Monroe is a 25 year old mum from Southend on Sea, author of 'much more than a cooking blog', A Girl Called Jack. She found accidental fame by blogging recipes created from handouts at her local food bank, and a £10 a week food shop. Winner of the Judges Choice award at the Fortnum And Mason Food& Drink Awards, her first cookbook A Girl Called Jack 100 Delicious Budget Recipes was published by Penguin in March 2014.


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