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.


Follow us on Twitter

Great British Chefs


12 mins

Let's get cheffy with our guide on how to make a foam http://t.co/OrQeZxPTSa http://t.co/5BiMjOJWVs

Great British Chefs


27 mins

Minty Pea & Pepper Frittata for brunch @monicashaw Pea & Pepper Frittata http://t.co/ZMEvCLnqFK via @gbchefs http://t.co/AByVJayeRy

Great British Chefs


59 mins

Gorgeous bacon and pea omelette with a cheese glaze for brunch by @Nathanoutlaw http://t.co/shVmg28iWz via @gbchefs http://t.co/SlhAdGgrEn

Great British Chefs


1 hr

About to cook breakfast? Try this impressive Turkish eggs dish @TheModernPantry http://t.co/8scF02tr1W via @gbchefs http://t.co/Db2QkGHdEQ