Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 33

Back on the challenge for a few days.

B:  toast, fruit
L:  toast and peanut butter (I know, not great but time . . .)
D:  Singapore rice noodles, sweet and sour chicken, yogurt

Out of the freezer
Singapore rice noodles (saved from a takeaway ages ago)

Into the freezer
four portions of runner beans.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 32 and a ramble

I've now got to the point where I can start shifting things around a little bit to get a little more organised.  At some point next week I shall start a mini-audit, just of stuff at the top that I can incorporate into meals rather than play freezer-lucky-dip each morning.

There's still an awful long way to go but that's OK because it means continues frugal days without needing to spend on expensive protein or using precious time shopping.

Today I am only organising breakfast but I have been out to the freezer and found a mini fougasse that I made too long ago to say (oops) and some home made smoked salmon pate so today's breakfast is going to be pretty luxurious.  I might add some tomatoes on the side too.

Thinking out loud (so please feel free not to read any further), I'm wondering where to go with this blog.  I've done the 30-30 (a pound a day) which was fun but no room for the occasional extra.  Great for losing weight and made the bank manager very happy, mind you.

I then changed it to the 5-2 budget which was five days at £1 and two days at £1.50.  That was also fun but my days at home are somewhat erratic and it became tricky to 'manage'.

The biggest problem with both of those was that pre-frozen stuff just wasn't getting used, either because I didn't know the cost or because it was too expensive to fit into the budget.  So it just sat there, shivering and unused!  :-)
Hence this one, the freezer challenge.  It needs to continue for at least another couple of months as, while I'm making inroads, there's still a long way to go.  I'm delighting in the harvest produce that's going in but still sighing over the bags of this, that and the other scattered around.

Then, after that, once reason has returned to the freezers, what next.  I don't know if you're aware of The Breadline Challenge (Google it for info) a UK based anti-food waste initiative by FoodCycle.  On their site it says:

"Join FoodCycle in the fight against food poverty.
An estimated 8 million people in the UK today are affected by food poverty and in FoodCycle projects up and down the country, people are struggling to make ends meet.
The Breadline Challenge is our flagship campaign to raise awareness of rising UK food poverty and of our work across the country.
Over the past three years, supporters have lived on a food and drink budget of £2.50 a day for one week and have raised over £20,000 to support FoodCycle’s work.
We’ll be back in November to take the fight against food poverty again!"

The main issue I have with all of that is that for £2.50 I can eat (and drink) like a king.  Way too much!  However, just £1 a day, while still doable (and many HAVE to be that frugal in the UK today) is very restrictive, especially for someone who likes to cook!  I am umming and ahing about £1.50 a day or maybe £2, but am undecided.  Fortunately, I have time to think about this one and I know that I am very lucky to have choices.  Many don't.

In the meanwhile, the freezer challenge continues and I'll try to get the recipe entries back on track - the recipe side of things has been sadly neglected recently.

If you've made it to here, well done and apologies for the ramble.  I'd appreciate any words of advice that you may have.  Thanks for reading

The freezer challenge: harvesting

Into the freezer yesterday went:
five packs of green beans
a bag of sliced courgette
five pots of sungold tomato passata

. . . but that's OK because one reason for this challenge was to clear space for the garden and allotment harvest and it will help my meals to be good and frugal later on in the year.
That feels good!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 31

There are now definitely gaps in my freezer, soon to be filled with garden/allotment produce.  That's OK - it is one of the reasons I wanted to do this challenge anyway, to make space for the harvest.

Today's plans
B:  fried tomatoes on pikelets, fruit
L:  corn on the cob with a large salad, fruit
D:  steak, chips, green beans, natural yogurt

From the freezer:

Into the freezer
green beans
tomatoes (either just peeled or made into passata, probably the latter as it takes less room)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 30

Things have gone a bit topsy turvey right now so I'll post when I can.

B:  muesli, toast
L:  tomatoes on toast
D:  mince and courgette not-lasagne

From the freezer:
bread for toast
the not-lasagne

Into the freezer:
runner beans
sweet corn
. . . all from gardens.
Thank goodness there is now space for it all.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 29

I have a load of garden/allotment veg to use plus the usual things like yogurt.

B:  muesli, yogurt, strawberries, peach - sounds healthy, doesn't it?  The muesli is a gift, the yogurt is home made and the strawberries are from the garden.  The peaches are from Aldi.
L:  third of a can of baked beans, toast, apple.  I'd prefer tomatoes on toast but the beans have to be used unless I freeze them!
D:  pork and veg curry (with added veg), runner beans, yogurt

From the freezer
yogurt (I froze some to see if it would still work as a starter for my yogurt*)
pork curry

*As said above, the yogurt was a bit of an experiment.  I wanted to see if I could freeze some and  then use it (thawed again) for making more yogurt and for my soda bread (I use yogurt instead of buttermilk).  It turned out more runny than expected and with quite a fine flavour, not as tangy is usual but delicious all the same.  I guess some of the bacteria was changed in the freezing process.  It'll work for the bread, I am sure, and it will make a good yogurt for smoothies and over cereal.
I found I was throwing some away as I wasn't using it fast enough at times.  This will stop the waste.

I'll try the bread today.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 28

Things changed a bit yesterday.  I didn't have break fast until very late so ended up having two meals instead of three, so today's dinner will be what I should have had yesterday.

B:  scrambled egg on toast, apple
L:  beans on toast, yogurt
D:  vegetable and tomato sauce, runner bean pasta - not pasta at all, of course but I have one of these old fashioned runner bean slicers which will sort of spiralise them;
Image result for runner bean slicer
A  bit like this one but older!
Then maybe fruit or yogurt.

Not much out of the freezer today, just the bread.  Lovely and frugal though with home made bread, savers beans, vegetables from the garden and home made yogurt!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Recipe: pastry

I got this from Pat Parker who runs a collection of frugal groups on Facebook and it works for me.  it produces a pastry that's crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside and I really like it, not the least because it's dead easy.  It does have its limitations but works well for topping pies.

You need
SR flour
pinch salt
half the weight of the flour in oil (so, for example, 50g flour and 25g oil)
some cold water

Mix the salt with the flour and mash in the oil.  Add water and stir until the softish dough develops (not long).  Wrap and chill.
It's very soft and I often pat it out with my fingers rather than roll it out.

I've only used this for the tops of things; must try it for the underneath at some point

The freezer challenge: day 27

Things are more or less back to normal now, thank goodness.

So today's plans are:
B:  tomatoes on toast
L:  pork pie and salad
D:  pasta with tomato and vegetable sauce - although I might have runner beans rather than pasta, seeing as the plants are producing well.

From the freezer
pork pies (minis)
tomato sauce
plus some yoyurt to start a new batch - a bit of an experiment

Into the freezer:
three portions of runner beans

AND - I saw the bottom of the chest freezer today.  Only a bit of it, true, but none the less . . . cheers!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 26

After another day of eating not-a-lot, things are slowly getting back to normal so here are my plans for today

B:  a yogurt (which needs to be eaten), piece of fruit
L:  beans on toast, fruit
D:  turkey casserole

The casserole is turkey in stock that I froze after Christmas plus most of yesterday's dinner of roasted veg which I didn't finish, mixed together.  Doesn't sound inspiring, I know, but it will taste OK.

From the freezer
a pot of turkey in stock

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 25

I was hoping to say 'back to normal' yesterday but, due to a nasty bug, it wasn't.
Nor is today really, as I need to take it carefully but here are provisional plans . . .

B:  nothing
L:  something on toast - maybe tomatoes or scrambled egg
D:  garden veg roasted with chicken, maybe some runner beans, depending on how things go.

Out of the freezer

As the veg is mostly home grown or wonky, it is pretty frugal.

I got a shock on Monday.  I looked for butter and Morrisons Savers butter had gone up by 15p since last week.  It was £1.08 and now it's £1.23.  Given that it is the Savers range I think that it is outrageous.  I checked Aldi's and that's gone up to £1.18.  It wasn't that long ago that it was hovering between 75 and 85p.  A real blow for people who have to be very frugal.

Given that this is happening all over, how are people going to cope?  No wonder the food banks are running out.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 24

I made some really nice walnut and seed bread yesterday (and posted the recipe) so, to avoid having to freeze the whole load, I must have some today (the rest will be frozen though!).

So . . .
B:  walnut and seed bread, toasted with home grown tomatoes on top (totally delicious)
L:  soup and a bit more of the bread.
D:  eating out (naughty but nice)

From the freezer
just the soup today

Into the freezer
what's left of the bread!

I posted the recipes for three makes - the bread, the rhubarb jam and the bits-and-bobs bake.  Do take a look.

Given that I won't be paying for tonight's meal  (I do offer but . . .), it's going to be a very frugal day, despite the posh bread.  I'm happy with that!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Recipe:walnut and mixed seed bread

I've just used the recipe above to make THE most delicious 'posh' bread.  It's the recipe I always use for my breads but with the added nuts and mixed seeds.

I did half amounts to make a 1 bl loaf and it's just as well really because I'm eating it like it's the last loaf on earth.

The halved amounts are:
250g strong wholemeal flour
half tsp fast acting yeast
half tsp each of salt and sugar
a splash of oil
175 mls warm water

45g chopped walnuts and 30g mixed seeds (it looks quite a lot but it is just right)

The method is as in the link except that I cheated and used Thermione fr the kneading and the knocking back.

It's so scrummy I can't stop going at it . . . which rather defeats the frugality of it all but never mind.

The basic loaf is very frugal anyway and while the additions take it out of extreme frugality, when you think of what you have to pay for a loaf of that type and quality, it's extremely good value.
Next time I will use half and half wholemeal and granary.

Recipe: rhubarb jam

I had sticks and stacks of rhubarb after we sorted out the rhubarb patch at the allotment.  I froze some but I made some gorgeous rhubarb jam which is very frugal despite the jam sugar because the rhubarb itself was free so I'm sharing it with a clear conscience.

Trim, wipe and chop the rhubarb. Weigh it (important so don't forget)

Stew the rhubarb in a little water in a large pan until soft. I'm lucky enough to have a maslin pan but any large pan would do.
Remove from heat and add the same weight of jam sugar as the rhubarb weighed. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice (from a bottle is fine). Stir well and leave for the sugar to dissolve into the fruit.

While that's doing or when you're ready, whichever is later, thoroughly wash your jam jars and lids. Put the jars on an oven tray in a cool oven (about 80 to 100 C fan) and place two saucers in the fridge to check for set.

Put the fruit/sugar on a lot heat , stirring regularly, until it starts bubbling. Turn up the heat and cook it (still stirring) for about five minutes and then take it off the heat and check for set. If it hasn't reached setting point, boil for another five minutes and check again.  Mine set first time, despite the low pectin.

Rhubarb is low in pectin, but the jam sugar and the lemon juice should sort that one out.

This link is the best article on setting point that I have seen - point 4, the wrinkle test, is what I use and it always works.

Once set, ladle into the warm jars, screw on the clean lids and allow to cool before labelling.

Basically, this is how you make all jam although if the fruit is high pectin I use ordinary granulated (a lot cheaper), not jam sugar.

The freezer challenge: day 23

B:  toast and jam
L:  bacon and tomato, apple
D:  huevos con chorizo, runner beans, natural yogurt and fruit

From the freezer:
huevos con chorizo

tiptoe by tiptoe, spaces are still appearing,

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Recipe: bits and bobs bake

I call it this because really you can use whatever you like as long as it's roastable.  I'll detail what I used but you don't have to stick with that.  Amounts are also variable - just think of what you would normally do for the number of people for which you are cooking

new potatoes, well scrubbed and cut into chunks
courgettes, onions, red or yellow pepper, small tomatoes, all prepped and chunked to same size as spuds
(I would also have used a few cloves of garlic if I'd had any)
some herbs from the garden (I used rosemary and thyme) or dried herbs
salt and pepper

some passata (not much) or make a tomatoey sauce from puree with water.
cooked meat - leftovers are perfect - or some pulses if you want to go vegetarian

grated cheese

In a roasting dish, add the vegetables, seasonings and herbs, pour over some oil (you don't need a lot) and mix to  'ensure maximum retention'  (I've been reading Harry Potter!).  I use my hands for this.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven (about 170 C) until all the veg is soft.
Remove the foil, turn up the heat, stir and pop back in so that they can start browning.  It doesn't take long.
Add the cooked meat and the tomato passata/sauce and mix.
Pop back in the oven until the liquid is bubbling and everything is hot.
Sprinkle over grated cheddar and bake for around ten minutes more.
Serve immediately while bubbly hot.

With what I had, I went all Mediterranean-ish but you could use so many other veg, depending on availability.  A good way to finish off those odds and ends.  Also, really filling.

The freezer challenge: day 22

Yesterday turned out better than expected as I had late notice that grandson needed to stay the night.  A few more garden veg and more cooked meat from the freezer and the bake stretched enough for two and a bit left over for my lunch today.
And it was very delicious so I will post the recipe.

Today's plans . . .
B:  toast and jam
L:  leftovers from last night with a tomato and lettuce salad
D:  chicken, new potatoes, green beans and runner beans, gravy and then yogurt

From the freezer:
Just the chicken today but it's the last portion so I can take out the whole container.

I will be buying the yogurt today.

Frugality rating
Pretty good.  Lots of veg from the garden, home made jam and bread, leftovers and the chicken was saved from a time we had roast chicken and I froze what was left.
The veg peelings will go onto the compost heap!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 21

B:  tomatoes on toast, apple
L:  pulled pork rolls with salad, fruit
D:  chicken and veg potato bake, green beans

From the freezer
pork rolls

Into the freezer
We did the last picking of rhubarb yesterday.  Some will be jammed and some will be for Beth but some will go into the freezer for winter.  It's this sort of thing that I need spaces for!

It's also very frugal.  The tomatoes are from the garden, the veg is from the allotment, the pork rolls are YS

I apologise for not doing the detailed costings that I used to do but it's not possible while I'm using up old freezer stuff.  However, the frugal habits remain, which I'm pleased about.  I'm not sure how helpful this current theme is for anyone else but, at some point, when I have mastered the contents of the freezer, I will go back to careful accounting again.

Monday, 31 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 20

Yesterday was a triumph as far as using up freezer stuff was concerned as well as being frugal.  A shame I've needed to freeze some of the veg curry but I've only had to do that because my daughter wasn't going straight back home so I'm storing it for her temporarily.

This morning I played lucky dip in the freezer and this is what the meals will be:
B: bacon sarnie (it was delicious)
L:  chicken salad, apple
D:  mince and rice with extra gravy left over from yesterday (to avoid freezing it) and runner beans, maybe courgettes too.

From the freezer
mince and rice
gravy (from yesterday)

Into freezer
vegetable curry

It's just so slow . . . but the bank account is enjoying the experience.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 19

I'm well pleased with today.  Yesterday I learned that I will be having four guests for lunch today with varying diet requirements so . . .

B:  yogurt and fruit
L:  sausages, new potatoes, green beans, onion gravy, mixed veg curry and then plum custard and ice cream
D:  probably leftovers

From the freezer:
white wine
butter beans
ice cream (but I bought that specially so it doesn't really count in the challenge - in fact it's the only think I had to buy apart from drinks)

Not bad, eh?  Lots of annoying small packs of this and that, things that tend to fell to the bottom and get lost!

There will be leftovers but I am hoping that my guests (family) will take most of the leftovers with them so I probably won't have to put stuff into the freezer!
Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 18

Now that the garden/allotment are both producing, it's getting harden and harden to make dents in the freezer but I'll give it a good go.

B:  muesli and fruit
L:  bacon and tomatoes on toast, apple
D:  vegetable curry, yogurt

From the freezer:
some pulses for the vegetable curry

However - into the freezer:
green beans
portions of vegetable curry
(can't win 'em all, can you?)

It's also frugal today, very frugal.  I'm doing my best to be loyal to the frugality commitment that started this blog off.
So . . .
the muesli was a gift
the fruit will be nectarines that are going off and in the past I'd have thrown them - just the good bits, of course!
the tomatoes are from the garden (yum)
the vegetables for the curry are mostly from the garden/allotment
the pulses were dried, soaked, cooked and then frozen, so much better value than tinned.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 17

Back to it for several days so I should be able to make some inroads into the surplus!

B:  toast and jam, fruit
L:  I'll probably be out with my daughter
D:  I found some fillet tails in the freezer which I remember I got in a 'posh meat' pack ages ago.  Hardly frugal but even less so if I don't use them so some is now out and defrosting.  I've looked up recipes and I gather you cook them just the same as plain fillet (oooh-er) so that's what I will do and have it with new potatoes and green beans from the allotment and tomatoes from the garden as the tomato plants have started producing.

I have cream left over from when I had a guest this week so I'll probably make a naughty little sauce for the steak with it.  Bad as it all sounds, apart from lunch, it's no spend today.  Lunch is also probably going to be no spend as I have a voucher given as a birthday present!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Freezer challenge: day 16

I was off challenge again, this time because I was away!  Back now!

Today's food.
B:  muesli and fruit
L:  toast and jam, probably )I have so much jam to use), yogurt
D:  chicken drumsticks, new potatoes, runner beans, courgettes, natural yogurt and fruit

From the freezer:

The veg is all from garden and allotment and the muesli is gifted so it pretty frugal too, all round.  I'm really trying not to abandon my frugal principles too much, even if what's in the freezer doesn't match.  I just try to make sure everything else is sensibly priced.

There's still loads of stuff in the freezer but gaps are appearing now so it's working.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Freezer challenge: day 15

After a gap of several days, it's back!  I've had a friend over and, what with one thing and another, this took a back seat for a few days.

To my shame, today I will be adding something to the freezer.  It's not really my fault though.  Yesterday a friend gave me a plastic pot filled with rice and a casserole/curry (not sure which yet) and there's enough for two good portions so one portion will get frozen.

So - today . . .
B:  toast and fruit
L:  banana pancakes, bacon and maple syrup.  More a breakfast really but it does mean I use freezer things.
D:  the gifted meal, natural yogurt and fruit

From the freezer:
banana pancakes

And definitely a no spend day!

Monday, 17 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 14

I didn't post the lest few days.  Saturday I was out all day and Sunday I hadn't got my planning hat on in time.  I did use freezer stuff (three veggie burgers, three brioche rolls and a sausage roll - not just for me) but generally it wasn't healthy, it was grab, cook and eat!

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and fruit
L:  not sure - something quick
D:  sausages, new potatoes, courgettes, mange tout, yogurt

From the freezer:
Just the sausages today.  The veg is all from the allotment though.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 13

I've just been out for today's lucky dip and there's definitely spaces in the front opening freezer now.  The plan is to get it as empty as possible, do a proper defrost and then move stuff from the chest freezer so I can see what's in there all the better.  That's the idea, anyway!

Today's plan is . . .
B:  muesli with fruit
L:  quiche with salad and coleslaw
D:  turkey curry with added veg, rice.

From the freezer:
turkey curry

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 12

I had to do a bit of shopping yesterday after realising that the yogurt I was saving for the next batch had gone off.  Annoying!  So I got another carton of milk too.  I'm getting through milk a lot more while I have a decorator to ply with coffee.  Ditto for sugar!

Today's plans
B:  I still have two eggs that are close to floating but not quite so I will have scrambled egg on toast
L:  I have a bit of pepperami to use up plus some gifted veg so I'll get some of last year's home made passata out of the freezer plus a bit of frozen veg and make a sauce to have with 50g pasta
D:  while playing lucky dip yesterday, I dug up some frozen Chinese leftovers - a bit of curry, a bit of sweet and sour and two little veg spring rolls.  I'll have them but not do any rice as I'm having pasta for lunch

From the freezer:
bread for toast
bit of frozen veg
frozen Chinese leftovers

Yesterday I dug out a bag of value mixed berries that have been in my freezer for years.  I simmered them, pushed them through a sieve, added sugar and lemon juice and now I have a nice pot of home made mixed berry jam - it was mostly blackberries, to be honest, but the jam tastes good.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 11


Today's plans look like this:
B:  toast and jam, apple
L:  leftovers from yesterday which are NOT going in the freezer!  Courgette, mince and potato bake (and very delicious it was too!).  Then a mini orange
D:  Has to be freezer based so I think it will be a nice, unhealthy sausage roll with a side salad and some coleslaw.  Or, if it's raining and chilly, maybe baked beans instead of the salad.

No spending today (and the bank balance is looking very healthy a third of the way into the month).

From the freezer:
bread for the toast
sausage roll
also I think I will use some frozen fruit to make some jam for my lovely Mum and Dad who are nearly out of things to out on their morning toast.

The veg for the bake came from the allotment, the salad is mostly either home grown or gifted and, if I have baked beans, they will be frugal ones with a shot of brown sauce to give them spice.
So although I'm not costing things out in great detail right, I am being faithful to the frugal roots of this blog.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 10

The trouble with this challenge is that it's slow: so, so slow.  The good thing is that I'm saving an absolute fortune so no complaints here.

The pulled pork pot pie was scrummy so I have posted what I did as a separate entry.

Today's plans:
B:  muesli, fruit
L:  cheese and onion toastie, salad, apple
D:  mince, courgette and potato bake, peas, yogurt and fruit
S:  carrot batons

From the freezer:
mince (pre-cooked)

The rest is from fridge and cupboard, no spending needed.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Recipe: pulled pork pie

This isn't really a recipe, to be honest, just a way of using the pot of pulled pork I had in the freezer, leftovers from a Sunday dinner last year.  It had some lovely stock in it so I didn't need to add any gravy.  You can use any leftover bits for this.  Just add a bit of gravy if necessary

I make a small amount of pastry using Pat Parker's idea of weighing out your flour (50gs worth), adding a pinch of salt, mashing in 25g of oil and then adding up to 25g of water to make a soft pastry dough.  Wrap it and chill it for a while.

I'm a bit useless with pastry but this works for me for pies, producing a crisp top and a fluffy underneath.  I only ever make pot pies so don't have to worry about soggy bottoms!

So, into a small, ovenproof dish or pot goes the defrosted pork and a few chopped veg - a bit of onion and a mushroom, maybe.  Then I pop over the pastry and bake it for around 25 mins at 180C (fan oven).

That's it!  Dead easy, really frugal, tasty and a good way of using up your scraps of Sunday joint or bits that you froze rather than throw away.

The freezer challenge: day 9

Here I am, back again after a weekend away and raring to go again.
First of all, I have a confession to make.  I did a quick shop for a few essentials  when I got home yesterday and they had YS sliced bread - Hovis wheatgerm so what I would call 'nice' bread - so I got three loaves at 9p each.  I couldn't turn that down, now could I?  So they're in the freezer now!

My meal plans for today:
B:  muesli and fruit
L:  egg salad - I have eggs that do need using up, banana
D:  pulled pork pie, new potatoes, peas.
S:  apple, nectarine

I came back with gifted food but nothing for the freezer!

From the freezer today
pulled pork

Friday, 7 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 8

Not such a good day, freezer wise.
B:  egg on toast, apple
L:  a picnic down the allotment
D:  eating out.

From the freezer: just bread today.
I won't be on challenge over the weekend.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 7

I've been for a lucky dip in the freezer and this is the meals I have come up with for today.

B:  bacon sandwich (probably with brown sauce, yum)
L:  cheese salad wrap
D:  duck breast with new potatoes and veg, probably peas and sweetcorn
plus assorted bits of fruit/veg

From the freezer:
duck breast

I won't need to buy anything today, all the other things are in the fridge or cupboard, although yesterday I got a pint of milk, a block of butter and I treated myself to a bottle of sparkly water as a treat.  It was only 18p so won't break the bank and I did enjoy it yesterday evening in a champagne flute to make it feel posh!

Now I'm off around Google to find out how to cook the duck.  I've never cooked that before so fingers crossed I don't mess it up!

Last of all - suddenly there are a few spaces in the freezer.  Cheers!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 6

The only think I had from the freezer yesterday was two slices of bread as I was out for most of the day.

Today, these are the plans
B:  banana pancakes with natural yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup
L:  soft cheese, ham and salad bagel with coleslaw and potato salad
D:  at a friend's house - I think it is chicken curry!
S/S  Probably nothing, seeing as I'm out for dinner

From the freezer
banana pancakes

. . . and I will need to buy some milk today but that's the first thing since I started the challenge.

Breakfast (found some strawberries in the garden).

Lunch which I had started, forgetting to photo.  The leaves are from the garden.

And dinner because the eating out didn't happen due to illness.

Monday, 3 July 2017

The freezer challenge: day 5

It's going well.  It's coordinating with the start of some summer veg from the allotment which not only makes the overall spend more frugal, it's also extremely delicious!

B:  Scrambled egg with smoked salmon on toast, apple
L:  smoked salmon pate, toast, banana
D:  peppercorn kiev, courgettes or mixed salad, either new potatoes or sweet potato fries (depending on if we life any potatoes today), natural yogurt and jam
S/S:  peach, plum (maybe as a fruit salad with natural yogurt)

From the freezer:
smoked salmon
peppercorn kiev (very old and was YS to start with)

Dinner was delicious.  I ended up with a few mange tout and sugar snaps as well as the courgette and a small red pepper and I stir fried that with yesterday's leftover potato in a little toasted sesame oil.  Oh, it was scrummy!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Smoked salmon five ways

The more you can get out of a pack, the more frugal it becomes - not very frugal, just less costly (per meal).

1.  In a sandwich.  Nice brown bread, butter, smoked salmon, lemon juice and maybe some salad leaves or cucumber

2.  As a pate.  Smoked salmon, soft cheese, bit of cream (if you have some - optional), chives, lemon juice, plenty of pepper but beware salt as smoked salmon is already salty.  Pop in a mini blended and zizz to the consistency you want.  Use as a dip, on crispbread, bagel or toast or in a pile of lettuce leaves.

3.  Make some toast.  Scramble some eggs.  Add some chopped smoked salmon to the scrambled eggs at the last minute.  Enjoy!

4.  Make a fish pie and add smoked salmon bits to the sauce.  Delicious.  Just beware of adding any more salt!

5.  Fry onion and peppers in a pan.  Add soft cheese to make a sauce and pop in some bits of smoked salmon.  Add lemon juice and seasonings and serve with pasta.  Or use instead of bacon in a carbonara.

Recipe: chicken and pasta

I used:
a bit of butter because the bacon was very lean
some bacon pieces (cooking bacon)
some chopped chicken (about half a boneless breast, I think and I didn't buy it chopped, heaven forbid: I bought the chicken, chopped it and froze it in portions)
a little bit of courgette, sliced and each slice halved
the tomato sauce from yesterday (thick passata, omiom, orange pepper, mushroom, seasonings, garlic granules and dried herbs)

What I did:
I fried the bacon and chicken bits in the butter until almost cooked.
I added the courgettes and fried until the were just changing colour by which time the meat was cooked.
Then I tipped in the sauce from yesterday and let it simmer for a few minutes.

I did all that in the morning, let it cool and stored it in the fridge to let the flavours develop.

At dinner time I cooked the pasta.
I reheated the chicken and sauce in the microwave.
I added the sauce to the pasta and mixed it together well before serving it piping hot.

And it was delicious!

Not Great British Menu but scrummy, all the same!

The freezer challenge: day 4

Just for now, the 30-30/5-2 budget challenges have changed -  to free up as much space in my freezers as possible by just eating out of it (plus fridge and cupboard), only buying the basic essentials such as milk, fresh fruit and veg, etc, when needed.
It won't be as frugal but it will mean I don't spend very much money on food in July and, possibly, August.
AND I can then defrost my freezers!

Today's plans:
B:  bacon sandwich, apple
L:  smoked salmon sandwich, side salad (or maybe salad in the sandwich)
D:  Mediterranean vegetable quiche, new potatoes, yellow courgette, yogurt and pineapple

From the freezer:
small back smoked salmon
quiche (YS and rather old, bad me)

From the garden/allotment:
new potatoes

No spending today.  I'm out of butter but I have plenty of 'Beautifully Butterly which is . . . well, OK.

Later . . .
. . . dinner was delicious, even the old frozen YS quiche (which I over cooked - ooops).  In the end I roasted the courgette with some red pepper for about 30 mins.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Recipe: pork, courgette and potato bake

Just look what I came home with from the allotment!

First fruits - well, my first fruits anyway - Beth (daughter) has already had a couple of courgettes and some chard.

Of course, my dinner plans changed and this is what I did.

I used:
a bit of butter
the leftover pork cut into mouth-sized bits
a small onion, sliced 
a small orange pepper, de-seeded and sliced
two mushrooms, sliced
some garlic granules
some tomato sauce (passata that I had reduced down) made with garden tomatoes last year (freezer),
salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs
some of the potatoes, boiled and sliced
yellow courgette, sliced thinly
finely grated cheese (it goes much further if you finely grate it)

What I did:
I boiled the potatoes, set them aside to cool and then sliced them

I fried the onion, pepper and mushrooms in butter, adding garlic granules towards the end.  Then I added the tomato sauce, mixed herbs, salt and pepper and let it bubble briefly.  I spooned half off for another day, then added the pork.

I buttered the base of a small lasagne dish and spread over half of the courgette, then added a tiny bit of salt, some pepper and a bit of grated cheese.  On top of that went the pork and tomato sauce, then more of the courgette slices, more seasoning, the sliced potato and finally the rest of the grated cheese.

I baked it in the oven at about 170C for around half an hour until the top was brown and the sauce all bubbly.
I ate just over half last night and the rest is for lunch today so that little belly pork joint has done four good meals.

The sauce can contain anything - different meat, no meat, different veg, all to your own taste or what's available, so it's a nice, flexible recipe.

The freezer challenge: day 3

The 30-30 challenge and the 5-2 budget challenge have morphed into the freezer challenge.  The aim is to use up the stuff in my freezer that I've not been able to use for the first two challenges because either they are too expensive (like the pack of smoked salmon) or I have no idea what they cost me when I bought them.  There's some awfully old stuff in there which really does need using up.

Today's menu
B:  toast and marmalade, fruit
L:  the rest of the pork, courgette and potato bake (got to call it something) from yesterday dinner
D:  chicken pasta.  I shall get some chopped chicken out of the freezer and also maybe some bacon pieces, fry it, add the tomato sauce from yesterday with some oregano from the garden and serve it on pasta of some kind.  I also want to see if I can treat the allotment chard like kale and have 'crispy chard' to sprinkle over the top.  It's worth a try anyway.

I won't need to buy anything in for today's food.

Freezer food used
the bread
bacon pieces

and the pork, courgette and potato bake won't be going into the freezer as it usually would for 'another time'

(note to self: change the title of the blog)

Friday, 30 June 2017

The freezer challenge: day 2

Just for now, the 30-30/5-2 budget challenges have morphed into something else.  The aim is to free up as much space in my freezers as possible by just eating out of it (plus fridge and cupboard), only buying the basic essentials such as milk, fresh fruit and veg, etc, each week.
It won't be as frugal but it will mean I don't spend too much money on food in July.
AND I can defrost my freezers!

Yesterday I slow roasted a small joint of rolled belly pork and what remains will form the basis of today's meals.

B:  rhubarb, natural yogurt and muesli
L:  shredded pork filled roll, salad, piece of fruit
D:  pork and vegetables with pasta.  Also, I am hoping there will be a courgette or two down the allotment to gently fry in a little garlic butter!
S/S: fruit

I won't need to buy anything for today's food.  Great!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The freezer challenge: day 1

As I said yesterday, the 30-30/5-2 budget challenges are on hold right now or, rather, they have morphed into something else.

I'll still post what I'm having in here because I've become accustomed to the accountability, but I can't guarantee it will be frugal in terms of being inexpensive.  In another way, it will be pretty frugal in that I won't be spending very much each week as I will be using up the many and varied things I have in the freezers.

The aim is to gain space in the freezer, pure and simple, by using up all the pre-frugal stuff that is cluttering the lower depths right now.

So today:
B:  fruit (rhubarb from the lotty and strawberries from the garden, natural yogurt and muesli
L:  leftovers from last night - turkey and rice
D:  roast pork, roast potatoes, roast parsnips - all from the freezer.  The pork is a small rolled belly pork joint that will do tonight, tomorrow lunch in a roll and tomorrow dinner in a tomato sauce with veg and pasta and will be slow roasted this afternoon.
S/S:  fruit

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Time Out

I'm taking these last three days of June off challenge.  The reason is that I am getting so frustrated with the bits and bobs in the freezer that I can't use because I have no idea of their cost.  In fact, it is driving me bonkers.
So, till the end of the week, I will be rootling in the depths of the chilly space, pulling up unpriced stuff and using it!
I might even carry on a bit longer, depending on how I feel.
I've paid for it so it won't be free or frugal, in fact, it might be rather naughty, but I won't need to do all that much shopping and it will be clearing much needed freezer space for the summer harvest.

I bought it once upon a time - I've got to use it up!  Got to!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Day 19

B:  2 slices toast (apf) with home made jam (5p)
L:  beans (8p) on toast (apf)
D:  sausage roll (24p), salad (apf), coleslaw (6p)
S/S:  fruit - peach and apple

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

End of day update

B:  total 5p
L:  total  15p
D:  total 42p 
S/S:   total  18p

Today I spent 80p
Budget so far £20.00
Spent: £18.46

Money in hand:  £1.54

And I am now off challenge until July 1st

Monday, 26 June 2017

Day 18

It's going to be an odd day today as I am having ceilings re-plastered and I have an evening meeting so dinner will have to be very late.

B:  Pineapple (6p), natural yogurt (apf) and muesli (gifted)
L:  tuna pate (half tin tuna - 22p, mayo 2p) with carrot batons (4p), fruit (approx 10p)
D:  chorizo and bean stew (28p), 50g rice (4p), banana (12p)
S:  fruit (max 14p)

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

End of day update

Amazingly, all went according to plan.
B:  Total  8p
L:  Total 35p
D:  Total 44p
S:  Total 9p

Today I spent 96p
Budget so far £19.00
Spent: £17.66
Money in hand:  £1.34

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Recipe: Pasta with sardines, chilli and lemon

Here's the link to the original.  Scroll down to find it.

This is how I frugalised it.

I used budget penne.
I used sardines in sunflower oil from Aldi.
I used garlic puree and chilli puree from tubes.
The tomato sauce was left over from yesterday and it was passata, made last year with garden grown tomatoes and frozen.  I had reduced it down to a thick consistency and added garlic puree, pepper and oregano leaves.
The lemon was from a bottle of lemon juice, not a fresh lemon.  It was great in this dish.

I also used half a small onion, finely sliced and softened in oil from the can of sardines - didn't need all of it.  I removed most of the skin and the bones from the sardines - fiddly but better, I think.
It took only as long as the pasta took to cook (12 mins) and was really filling as well as frugal.

And here it is.  I'll do this one again, for sure!

Day 17

. . . and probably a £1.50 day today.

B:  beans (8p) on toast (apf), brown sauce (2p), apple (7p)
L:  cheese toastie (20p), salad (left over from yesterday so apf), fruit (approx 10p)
D:  pasta with sardines, chilli and lemon (approx 40p), yogurt (apf) and pineapple (6p)
S/S:  more fruit  (to be costed as eaten)

Lots of fruit this week!  I went shopping yesterday and there were some good deals.  I got peaches, flat peaches, plums, apples and the usual bananas.  It's just as well I love fruit.
The flat peaches (I think they're called 'doughnut' peaches) were 49p in Tesco and I got two packs of seven.  The numbers varies depending on weight but fruit is eaten in units usually, not weight.

I found the pasta recipe online, in an old Guardian article.  If it works, I'll post about it later.

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

End of day update

It's been a rather delicious day, to be honest and it's definitely a £1.50.  Lunch was tasty, dinner was scrummy and it was nice to have more fruit.

B:  Total 17p

L:  Total 27p
D:  Total 45p
S/S:  Total 45p (peaches and 30g cheese)

Today I spent £1.34
Budget so far £18.00
Spent: £16.70
Money in hand:  £1.30

I will post about the pasta in a separate message.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Recipe: French bread ham and pineapple pizza

I had some YS French bread to use (I chopped it into lengths and froze it) and I remembered that I really liked these pizzas when they first came out.
I also had some home grown/made passata and some ham trimmings.
Sorry about the vagueness of the ingredients but it's just what I had!  You don't need much of anything really

some French bread (about 10 to 12cm long) - or you could use a crusty roll or even a chunky slice of bread!
some passata
oregano, seasonings
bits of ham
bits of pineapple (I reserved some from my breakfast portion which was a quarter of a Savers can)
a tsp oil
bit of onion, sliced
bit of sweet corn (from a bag of frozen corn)
3-g finely grated cheddar
a few olives if you have any (I didn't)

Heat oven to 180C
Reduce the passata down, adding herbs/seasonings to taste.  A bit of garlic puree would be nice.
Soften the onion and corn in a little butter until soft

Cut through the piece of French bread lengthwise.
Spread over the reduced and thickened passata, then add the onion, corn, ham and pineapple.  Season if wanted.  I then added some oregano leaves from the garden.
Sprinkle over the grated cheese and top with olives (optional)

Place on baking sheet and I used a bit of scrunched up foil to keep them level.  Bake for about 15 mins until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Serve with salad.  Or chips.  Or whatever you fancy really.

With my apfs, frugal purchases and bits from the garden, it came to 46p.  It would be more if I had needed to buy everything at full price, of course.

Day 16

A £1 day today although, if I find some nice fruit as I go shopping, it might become as £1.50 day!

B:  pineapple (6p), natural yogurt (gifted), muesli (gifted)
L:  beans (8p) on toast (apf), apple (7p)
D:  ham and pineapple French bread pizza (home made and around 35 to 40p), salad leaves (garden), cucumber (apf), grated carrot (around 3p), sweet potato fries (apf)
S/S:  carrot batons (3p), maybe a banana (12p)

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

End of day update

More or less according to plans but there are some apfs to add.  The meals came to just over £1 so I am calling it a £1 day

B:  Total 7p
L:  Total 17p
D:  Pizza was 46p and I didn't need the fries.  Total 52p
S/S:  banana, two 'flat' peaches   Total 26p

Iceberg lettuce: 41p
Some not butter spread - I thought I'd try it as butter is very expensive: 75p
A batch of natural yogurt: 47p

Today I spent £1.02 plus £1.63 on apfs
Budget so far £16.50
Spent: £15.36
Money in hand:  £1.14

Friday, 23 June 2017

Day 15

After yesterday's health-crash, I've been extra organised this morning.  The food is out of the freezer, ready and waiting.  When I open the tin of pineapple, it will be portioned out into pots and I will use it over the weekend.

B:  pineapple (from an old tin, 7p), natural yogurt (apf), muesli (gifted)
L:  the beans (9p) on toast (apf) from yesterday
D:  chicken and veg curry (43p) with rice (7p)
S/S:  apple (7p) and banana (12p), maybe a few strawberries (garden)

Please send lots of motivational vibes.  It will help that it's a lot cooler but that's no excuse!  :-)

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

End of the day update:

A really good day today, more or less going according to plan.
B:  Total 7p
L:  Total 9p
D:  I had the banana as a dessert.  Total  62p
No S or S

Today I spent 78p
Budget so far £15.50
Spent: £12.71
Money in hand:  £2.79

And I have planned the next week's meals so am much more likely to stay on track.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Day 14

I was really lucky yesterday.  After the governors' meeting, I popped into Morrisons, just to see, and came out with two large sliced Warburton's wholemeal loaves and a pack of crumpets, each costing just 9p.  I shall take the cost of the loaves off at source so they will be apfs as it will be too tricky to cost each slice and two crumpets will be 3p.
Very pleased with that
I could have got more but there's no more room in the freezer, sadly.

On to today's plans.  It is day 14 and a £1 day
B:  fruit (last of the gifted grapes), yogurt (apf) and muesli (gifted).
L:  probably beans (9p) on toast (apf) as it's so easy.
D:  it's got to be easy as the evening is busy so I will get out another pot of cooked chicken (28p) and make a salad and some coleslaw to go with it (to be costed)
S/S: apple (7p - YS and not perfect but I cut off any bad bits and the rest is absolutely fine), maybe a banana (12p)

Plus the two loaves of bread (18p)

Is anyone else finding they don't want to eat much on these hot days?

Evening update:
A few changes, not terribly healthy ones.  It was a bit crash and burn as far as the calories were concerned.
B:  as planned  Total 2p
L:  two crumpets, toasted, with butter  Total 3p  (the butter was apf and the crumpets were YS)
D:  Oh, dear.  I had the other four YS crumpets and they were, frankly, absolutely delicious.  Total 6p
S/S:  apple    Total 7p

I have GOT to get myself organised again.  OK, yesterday was so, so hot, but I was just lazy and had what was hanging around instead of making the effort to eat properly and healthily - very bad.  Enough is enough.

Not bad for the old budget, mind you!
Today I spent 18p (not great, is it but those YS crumpets were only 9p, you see)
Budget so far £14.50
Spent: £11.93
Money in hand:  £2.57

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Day 13

. . . and another £1.00 day

B:  bread roll (2p - home made), butter (apf)
L:  probably fruit (garden and gifted), yogurt (apf) and muesli (gifted).  It's really a breakfast but it is nice and cooling.
D:  Dinner is problematic as I have no time between tuition and evening meeting so I have got out a couple of pots of cooked chicken (56p) and another bread roll (2p) and will make a nice filled roll with lettuce and cucumber (apfs) and maybe a dollop of mayo (around 6p), followed by an apple or a banana (7p or 12p)
No snacks or supper today

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

End of day update
All went well and I pretty much stuck to the plans
B:  Total 2p
L:  Total 2p (for some stevia)
D:Total 64p (I didn't have the fruit)
Also, seeing as I have plenty in hand, I am paying for a whole pack of butter rather than a bit at a time.  So that's another 99p (bought ages ago and popped in the freezer - isn't it shocking how much butter has gone up recently?)

Today I spent £1.67 (including the butter)
Budget so far £13.50
Spent: £11.75
Money in hand:  £1.75

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Day 12

Goodness, isn't it hot!  Lots of water is the name of the game, I think.

Today is a £1.00 day.
B:  fruit (grapes and any strawberries I can find), natural yogurt (gifted) and muesli (gifted)
L:  bread roll (2p) soft cheese (10p), lettuce (apf), cucumber (apf), apple (7p)
D:  chorizo and bean stew (28p) with rice (7p), banana (12p)
S/S:  carrot batons (4p),

I've also bought another carton of milk so that's 45p

(apf means 'already paid for' which means when I bought the item I took the whole cost from the budget rather than doing it per portion. It works for things like lettuce, cabbage, milk, yogurt, oil, etc, where working out one portion would make life a lot more complicated!
YS means Yellow Sticker - reduced)

Here's a link to the recipe for the chorizo and bean stew.  It's very tasty!

End of day update.
All more or less went according to plan.
B:  Total 1p as I had a bit of stevia on the fruit
L:  Total 20p
D:  Total 35p as I didn't have the banana
S:  bread roll and butter   Total 2p (bread roll home made, butter apf)

Plus milk:  45p

Today I spent £1.03 (including the milk)
Budget so far £12.50
Spent: £10.08p
Money in hand:  £2.42