#18 A Simplicious Challenge: The Winning Dishes

The Simplicious Challenge: I cooked all 306 recipes from Sarah Wilson’s book Simplicious, to see the impact it has on the way I buy, cook, consume and waste food. Read the first post here, if you missed it.

18 posts for 18 months. This actually IS the final Simplicious Challenge post (I promise!). From all 306 recipes in Simplicious, these are my favourites. I don’t need to dwell on the low-points: we all know that was the fermented mackerel (i.e. untinned sardines). None of the offal-y dishes have made it into my winning dishes either – though this isn’t to say they were unpleasant. I enjoyed most of them more than I thought I would! Anita (who is also doing the challenge, check out her Instagram here) asked what I thought the most challenging dish was. Although I thought several of them would be really tricky – like the beetroot cheesecake, or creating the offal meatloaf – they turned out to be quite straightforward. I keep thinking I must have missed some – because where are all those ‘scary’ recipes I was dreading at the start?*

*With the exception of the fermented mackerel, which we will never mention again.

My biggest learning from the experience, specifically in relation to food and food waste, was that it’s really quite simple (surprise!) to be mindful about getting the most value out of the food we use. It can also be fun and creative. As a family, we found simple steps that worked for us, like our weekly ‘scratch night’, being a little prepared and finding a flow to suit our own lifestyle. As a result, cooking has also become easier. Having a stash of ready-made spice mixes or dukkah, fermented vegetables, and marinated fetta or zucchini butter turns a plate of eggs into a substantial meal packed with flavour.

It would be impossible to just pick my ‘top ten’, so I’m taking a slightly different approach. I’ve had lots of questions over the last few months about the most kid-friendly/family meals, the best desserts, etc. So here goes:

Hands-Down Best Family Meal:

  • Winner: One-Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs (p 144) – this is a solid family favourite, especially because it cooks in a jiffy FROM FROZEN!
  • Runner-up: Sweet Potato Nachos (p 230)

My Favourite Comforting Dinner:

  • Winner: Recalibrating Pork Meal (p 234) – Must be served with a glass of red wine 😉
  • Runner-up: Sweet Persian Tagine (p 224) with Morrocan Cauliflower, Chickpea and Quinoa Bake (p 224)

Best Low-Fuss Breakfast:

  • Winner: Slow-Cooker Zucchini and Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Pudding (p 62) – makes a lovely, warming breakfast or dessert. My Mum added some cacao to hers which was even more delicious.
  • Runner-up: Pizza Muggins (p 60)

Most Delightful Dessert on the Couch:

  • Winner: Choc Ginger and Pear Muggin (p 288) – I loved all the muggins, but I’m a sucker for ginger! We ate many of these over the winter.
  • Runner-up: Peach and Peanut Butter Frozen Yoghurt (p 107)

Lunch in the Office:

  • Winner: Two-Minute Desk Lunch Noodles (p 116) – This is a genius idea, and perfect for odds and ends.
  • Runner-up: Pumpkin Spice Butter, Walnut and Sauerkraut Toastie (p 84)

Saturday Lunch at Home:

  • Winner: Caramelised Leek, Apple and Rosemary Socca (p 106) – A stand-out dish – the socca is amazing, especially with this indulgent topping.
  • Runner-up: Nori Roll in a Bowl (p 132)

What I’d bring to a BBQ:

  • Winner: Totally gaudy Christmas tree cheese ball (p 302): Although my ‘tree’ didn’t work, this still made a gorgeous dip. One which everyone would enjoy (including the non-sugar quitters).
  • Runner-up: Raspberry Ripe Bites (p 273)

Most Celebratory Celebration Dish:

  • Winner: Sugar-free Glazed Christmas Ham (p 308) – Another universally enjoyed dish. How can you go wrong with ham?
  • Runner-up: Cardamom and Sea Salt Ganache Tart (p 318)

Hit-the-Spot Beverage:

  • Winner: Salted Caramel Cardamom Coffee (p 73) – I made decaf, of course!
  • Runner-up: Summer Peach and Basil Colada (p 345)

The Most Moreish Snack:

  • Winner: Super-Greens Couch Fondue (p 118) – my husband and I were fighting over this. The fact that it’s eaten ‘on the couch’ gives it extra points.
  • Runner-up: Cheesecake Stuffed Peaches with Basil (p 294)

Most Critical for the Pantry Stash:

  • Winner: Never-Ending Vanilla Extract (p 45) – This has been the handiest little concoction to keep in the pantry. I use it most days, and now have two going at once so I never run out. Perfect for old caper jars or empty spice shakers.
  • Runner-up: Pumpkin Spice Mix (p 45)
Never-Ending Vanilla Extract from Simplicious

Never-Ending Vanilla Extract from Simplicious

Most Critical for the Fridge Stash:

  • Winner: Zucchini Butter (p 189), My Indian Kimchi (p 338) – It was very difficult to choose, but I love that these two last for ages and can just be chucked onto most dishes. I’m halfway through my second batch of kimchi.
  • Runner-up: Marinated Goat’s Cheese (p 46), Pumpkin Spice Butter (p 80)

Hubby’s Favourite:

  • Winner: Slow-Cooked Green Peas and Ham (p 217) – he’s such a dude!! In fact, he’s making this again tomorrow night.
  • Runner-ups: Cheeseburger Dim Sims (p 102), Cheapest Stew Ever (p 212)

Kids’ Favourite:

  • Honestly, I think they would pick every sweet dish they could from Simplicious…! I’ve included a selection of their favourites below. The Golden Happy Times (p 296) were definitely a hit in Summer!

Well, that’s that then. In truth, with all the variations available in Simplicious, I counted over 360 recipes. But I’ll call it quits at 306. 🙂 And pass the baton to Anita, who is not far behind me and will certainly finish in a shorter time overall!

Thank-you to everyone who has very patiently supported and tolerated my little endeavour over the last year and a half – I have so appreciated it, as well as the tips you have shared with me along the way. It’s been so nice to get to know you all better!

Erin xx

View the previous post: #17 A Simplicious Challenge – A Celebration Meal.


  1. What an awesome achievement Erin! I’m so checking out your winning dishes (I’ve only tried a couple) I always end up flicking the pages of the book and being indecisive… you’ve just halved my battle! I’m in total awe of the challenge you set yourself! Claire xx

  2. Anita says:

    What a great summation Erin! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following your journey and would eagerly await your next creation from Simplicious. Congrats again on completing the challenge. I know where to go to for advice 😉 x

    • Erin says:

      Thank-you Anita, you’re so kind! I’ve really enjoyed doing it alongside you and comparing experiences. You cooked quite a lot before I even got to them! Looking forward to seeing you cook through the rest of yours 🙂

  3. You Totally Got This says:

    Thanks for doing all the hard work for us Erin. I think I’ll start with the kids choices…I like their style!

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