Fajitas are a pretty well established mid-week or Friday night supper in most households now, I reckon. Minimal preparation, very quick to cook, great food for sharing. Kids love them because you can put all the bits on the table and they get stuck in, helping themselves and assembling their own food.
And then there are those “dinner kits” you can buy. There are couple of big brands that produce them and some supermarkets do their own brand too. They vary from £2 up to nearly £4, depending on the brand and where you shop. So what do you get for your money, apart from a nice big box to go in your recycling bin? Usually a pack of tortilla wraps, some sort of seasoning mix and perhaps a salsa or sauce of some description. So even though it’s labelled a “meal kit”, you still have to buy the meat, the vegetables, the salad, the soured cream, the cheese and any other dips or sides you have with it. It ends up being a fairly pricey meal.
I had a revelation about ten years ago when I was reading the ingredients on the back of one of these seasoning sachets. I realised that all of the spices listed, I already had in my own spice rack. A pack of eight wraps costs around a quid or less. So what the flip was I paying £3 for?!
As if that isn’t enough reason to ditch the meal kits, here is the list of ingredients on an own brand fajita seasoning sachet:
Potato starch, salt, paprika (9.8%), sugar, cornflour, onion powder, garlic powder, chilli powder (3.9%), ground cumin (3.9%), yeast extract, vegetable fat, defatted cocoa powder, dried basil, maltodextrin, dried parsley, lemon powder, natural garlic flavouring.
Firstly, that’s a really long list of ingredients! 17 separate items on there, compared with the seven in my list of spices below. Secondly, ingredients are always listed in descending order with the largest quantities first. So the second largest quantity in this particular packet is salt. Paprika is 9.8%, which means that around 10% or more of this product is salt. The pack is 30g so, by the power of Greyskull, I deduce that there must be at least 3g of salt in it. That’s more than half a teaspoon! That’s before we even get to the unnecessary sugar and the malto-whowhatnow?! Not good.
So seriously, as long as you’ve got a fairly standard spice rack in your kitchen, you can easily make your own fajitas, cut down on the packaging you throw away, save money AND know that your family are eating a healthier meal. Here’s how:
2tsp minced garlic
1tsp minced ginger
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp chilli powder (adjust according to your own taste)
1tbs tomato puree
1tsp dried mixed herbs
Splash of water
1tbs onion chutney (optional)
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
Meat (whichever you prefer – pork, chicken or beef)
6-8 tortilla wraps
Shredded iceberg lettuce
(this is what we always have but you can also add guacamole, salsa, refried beans, corn on the cobs, onion rings, etc)
Slice the onion and the peppers into long strips fry in a little oil. I always leave them a smidge too long so they are almost charred. It adds to the smoky flavour.
While they are cooking, cut your meat into strips. I had leftover pork that was already cooked but I’ve done this before with raw chicken and the recipe works just the same.
Add the meat, herbs and spices and allow the flavours to mingle for a while.
When the meat is properly cooked add the tomato puree and a splash of water. Leave it to reduce for a few minutes while you warm up your tortillas and shred your lettuce.
Chuck it all on the table (don’t forget the napkins; it always gets messy!) and dig in!