Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Rather infantile but it says the right thing!

While rootling in the freezer, I found a bag of sausage rolls.  I bought them when I was doing pound a day and they were yellow sticker savers sausage rolls so very cheap.  I didn;t need them then so I froze them.

I tried one and you know what - it was so nasty.  The pastry was OK but the filling - urgh.  So I am afraid the rest have seen the inside of the food recycling bin, much as I dislike wasting food.  Man cannot live by pastry alone, can we?
Sometimes saving the pennies is not thrifty!

But at least that's another space created in the freezer!

The freezer challenge, day 47

This a one off in the middle of several non-freezer days for very good reasons!

Today I am planning to have:
B:  pikelet and poached egg
L:  soup
D:  Spanish fish stew

From the freezer
fish stew
However, the soup is the only item that is a longer term frozen thing.  The other two were added less than a week ago!  Never mind, better used than not and the gaps are increasing, overall.

What are you using from your freezer today?

Hoping everyone is OK after the bad weather on Monday.  We had very little of it here, just some weird skies and a stunning sunset.  Take care!

Friday, 13 October 2017



When you wander into your local supermarket late and they have hot cross buns at 5p for six, pikelets at 5p for eight, a french stick at 9p and beef in black bean sauce at 33p, all on yellow sticker, of course, what's a girl to do?

Also, the fish stew made far too much so I saved quite a lot of the vegetables and sauce for another meal and that's also been frozen.

So I have to admit that yesterday more went into the freezer than came out of it which isn't the idea at all but how could I pass on by?

Frugality rools!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 46

You'd think that by day 46, I'd be well on the way to an empty freezer and so I would, had not summer intervened.  A fair amount of space is taken up with bags of runner beans, tomatoes, green beans, courgettes, baby corn, apple, rhubarb, strawberries, etc, from the summer harvest of garden and allotment.  If I took all of that out, it would look much gappier and I am am very grateful that I am able to store so much for the winter months.

What I am noticing is how much less I have to spend on food.  Of course, it is obvious that I would, but it is nice to see the money staying in my account and then being moved over to savings.  I've been able to invest some in stuff for the allotment that will, in turn, produce more next year.

The beef crumble was delicious and I have posted the topping recipe in here.

Today's plans:
B:  banana pancakes, stewed apple and yogurt
L:  the last of the frittata, lettuce and cucumber
D:  a version of the Spanish fish stew that was shown on Eat Well for Less yesterday evening, but using what I have in rather than what they used.

From the freezer:
banana pancakes
bit of courgette, peas, corn, maybe a few green beans too
haricot beans (there's too many in the pot but I shall use the rest for a curry, I think)

I'm getting short on pulses now so I think I will have to break my rule and soak/cook some more for freezing.  Really can't run out of pulses, can I, they are far too useful?

Recipe: savoury crumble topping

In this dish, the bottom can be whatever you fancy in the savoury line, as long as it has a sauce.  SO chicken and mushroom, vegetable, mince, beef, whatever.

I'm afraid I make the topping by eye.  No measuring involved.
So I looked it up and basically this is it.  I make less but it does freeze very well so to make a batch and use it as and when would work well and when I have finished my challenge, that's what I will do.

Savoury crumble topping
200g plain flour
100g (or a bit less) softened butter (or similar)
50g finely grated cheddar
handful of porridge oats
black pepper
a good pinch of mustard powder
(no need for salt because of the butter and the cheese)

Rub the butter into the flour until; it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Check that the cheese hasn't stuck together.

Then all you do is put the base in whatever dish you are using (oven proof), sprinkle over the topping (to about 1cm thickness or a little less), put it on a baking tray to avoid any leakage and bake for around half an hour at about 180C.  It's not exact.  It is done when the topping has browned and the base is bubbling.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Recipe: bits and bobs frittata

There is chard down the allotment.  It's for some guinea pigs as buying fresh leaves makes feeding them shockingly expensive compared to one packet of seeds and time to grow.  Chard is like living lettuce: you pick off leaves and more grow.  It's rainbow chard which is a very pretty plant indeed with its varied coloured stems and leaves and it is incredibly easy to grow too.  We have it in two patches because in the summer we had to use any little spaces there were.

The gap is where the wigwam of runner beans stood.

Anyway . . .

I had some guinea pig chard and I wanted to use it too.  I was told you can use it like spinach so I made a bits and bobs frittata and it was delicious.

This is what I did . . .
Apologies for the poor lighting

Ingredients to make four portions (or two if you're being piggy!)
oil and/or butter
half an onion, peeled and thinly sliced
a selection of appropriate veg.  I used some sliced mixed peppers, some peas and some mushrooms, all from the freezer, just a handful of each.  You can use whatever you fancy really.
cooked potatoes (which I pulled from one of my potato bags in the garden - not cooked, obviously!)
some young chard leaves, roughly shredded.  I cut out the stems because I was told they take longer to cook
three eggs
a splash of milk
some finely grated cheese (I used cheddar)
seasonings (I used bit of salt, black pepper, dried mixed herbs and some mustard powder)

In an appropriate pan, melt the butter, add the oil and gently fry the onions until soft.  Add the peppers, mushroom, peas and sliced potato, gently mix and leave to simmer and release flavours.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, crack three eggs, add some milk and the seasonings and whisk it well.  Then add half of the cheese and whisk again.

Back to the pan.  Add the shredded chard and let it wilt (about 20 seconds), then take off the heat.  Tip it all into the egg mixture, mixing gently, then tip the lot back into the pan and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over it.

This next bit takes time.  Put the pan on a low heat and just leave it to cook through.  Don't stir, but after about five minutes, gently insert a spatula around the sides to loosen it, repeating this a bit later
When it is practically cooked through (you can see this), pop the pan under a hot grill to finish off the top until the cheese is golden and bubbly.  My pan has a removable handle so I didn't have to watch out for it burning or melting.

Tip onto a warmed plate - it doesn't have to be upside down, just slide it out.  And that's it.  Enjoy with a salad or more veg. 

(wish I took better food photos)

I can't cost it out but the most expensive items were the eggs (reduced) and the cheese (supermarket own) and it made four portions so it has got to be reasonably frugal, hasn't it?

The freezer challenge, day 45

Yesterday's effort to incorporate some allotment grown chard into my food worked a real treat.  I will post the frittata recipe separately but, suffice it to say, it's a great way of using bits and bobs.

Today's plans
B :  toast and marmalade
L:  frittata with sweet corn, fruit
D:  beef casserole with savoury crumble topping, green beans

From the freezer
bread for the toast
sweet corn
beef casserole
green beans

The frittata and the crumble topping are leftovers.  I may have to freeze one quarter of frittata

AND - there's a few more spaces in the freezer - in both freezers, actually, despite all that summer produce!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 44

Yesterday's chilli made with leftovers from Sunday was lovely.  To the tomato mixture I added a bit of leftover ham and lentil soup, some chilli puree and some water, then I cooked the rice in the pan with the mixture so the rice starch thickened everything.  It was lovely!  Not authentically chilli, more like a savoury rice, but I don't care, it made good use of leftovers and tasted good: that's the bottom line.

Today's plans:
B:  left over chilli rice from yesterday, a bit of toast and jam, apple
L:  soup from the freezer, orange
D:  frittata, salad and coleslaw.

From the freezer:
bread for toast
mixed peppers
bit of corn

Down the allotment there is chard.  It was planted initially to feed some guinea pigs because that's got to be cheaper than buying fresh veg for them, hasn't it?
It's grown wonderfully well and looks so pretty and tempting that is seems a terrible waste not to at least try it so I shall use some instead of spinach in a frittata and see.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Recipe: potted ham

I used my mini chopper for this as it's such a small amount.

last bits of a piece of boiled gammon, trimmed of all fat and other 'bits' and cubed
some butter
some mayo
bit of mustard powder
Amounts are vague but the butter and mayo together (about half and half) came to just under the volume of the ham - ish!

Bung it all in the mini chopper (don't add salt!) and blend until required texture.  I like it very smooth.  Push the mixture back down from time to time.  If it is too stiff, add a bit more mayo.
Tip it into a ramekin, cover and chill until needed.
Lovely in sandwiches or rolls, or on toast like pate.

This is one of those adaptable things - you could add any herbs and spices you fancy, I guess, although remember it's not going to be cooked.  I kept it simple but jazzing it up works too.  Google for potted ham recipes for ideas.

The freezer challenge, day 43

Today's plans
B:  potted ham on toast, apple
L:  soup, orange
D:  ham and veg chilli, rice

Nothing directly from the freezer today BUT it's all home made, every bit apart from the rice, of course, using bits and bobs that otherwise I would freeze to avoid waste, so that's good.  I am finishing off the last bits of ham today and will be posting the potted ham 'recipe' separately.  The chilli is leftovers from yesterday's savoury crumble base with some chilli puree and some shreds of ham added.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 42

Today's plans
B:   ham (I still have some leftovers) and egg, fruit
L:   vegetable crumble, runner beans
D:   creamy mushroom soup, bread

From the freezer:
vegetables for the crumble (peppers, peas and corn)
runner beans
pulses for the crumble
tomatoes for the crumble
crumble topping

Doing better today

Recipe: wrap based rustic pizza

The wrap pizza was delicious.  Rustic, very rustic, not in the least bit authentic, but delicious.  It's the sort of thing you could use leftover bits and bobs for to avoid wasting them.   Basically it was the quesadilla recipe without a top!

This is what I did but the possibilities are endless.  Use what you have got: you don't need a lot of anything really.

Ingredients to make enough for two (or one if you're very, very greedy because it is more filling than it looks!)
one small wrap (better still, make your own)
some tomato sauce - I used passata, garlic puree, tomato puree and herbs, plus a bit of seasoning. 
bit of butter
bit of onion, thinly sliced
bit of pepper, thinly sliced
one mushroom, thinly sliced
shreds or thin strips of ham
grated cheddar

Preheat oven to about 200C
Saute the onion, pepper and mushroom in a bit of butter until soft.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
Pop in the sauce ingredients and simmer, stirring now and again, until; reduced and thick.

Place the wrap on a baking tray or sheet, either non-stick or on parchment - best to have sides in case of leakage.
Spread over the tomato sauce.  Then spread over the ham and the vegetables.  Then sprinkle over the grated cheese.  I used cheddar because that's what I had but any melt-able cheese is OK.

Pop into the oven and bake for around 15 mins, until the cheese has melted and everything ios piping hot.
Slice into quarters and eat with a salad.

Wish I'd taken a photo.  I'm very lax at remembering to take photos, sorry!

How to use up ham.

I bought a nice looking gammon joint for £5.75 in Morrisons.  Not incredibly cheap but not bad, especially when I remember what I paid for three slices of boiled ham while on holiday!!!

I looked around for ideas as to what to make/do and here's some of them.

1.  If it's the right shape, cut off some slightly thicker slices to use as gammon chops (or bacon steaks!)

2.  Boil it up until cooked through, reserving the stock.  If it's a smoked joint, the stock might be too salty unless you have soaked it beforehand, changing the water once.

3.  Cut off some nice slices for:
          with pineapple, chips and egg
          cheese and ham toastie (slices or shreds)
          baguette with brie and cranberry sauce

4.  Ham and lentil soup.  Use the stock for the soup and shreds of ham to garnish.  Or ham and pea soup - lovely with split peas.

5.  Potted ham.   Pop ham, same weight butter, bit of mayo and some mustard in a blended and zizz till smooth.  Chill in a pot.  Have with toast, crackers or crusty bread.  Thjere's lopts of variations to this one.

6,  Ham pizza - use a wrap for the base to make it quick and simple

7.  Quiche - of course!

8.  Ham, cheese and tomato quesadillas.

9.  In a cheesy sauce with veg and pasta

10.  As a bake with potatoes and mushrooms and a cheese sauce

11. Macaroni cheese'n'ham

12.  Omelette or other of the same type - tortilla, frittata . . . onion, pepper, potato, cheese and ham.

And there's loads more ideas here.

Or just Google leftover ham recipes.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Recipe: very simple creamy mushroom soup

The original recipe requires cream which isn't something I keep in my fridge.  This is simple, dead easy and tasty, especially as I use chestnut mushrooms for more flavour.  It's not extremely frugal as chestnut mushrooms aren't the cheapest option but it's not too bad and if you use savers mushrooms, it becomes extremely frugal indeed (and they often have more flavour than the neat and tidy button mushrooms too)

If you have the knowledge and confidence to go mushroom foraging, it would be very cheap.  I don't!

Ingredients to make enough for one.
100g mushrooms, chopped
170g water
60g milk (whole is nicest)
12g flour
pinch of salt
1/4 veg stock cube or 1/4 tsp stock powder such as marigold
30g soft cheese
pepper if wanted

In a saucepan, add everything but the soft cheese, whisk it all together so that the flour is incorporated, bring to a boil, stirring regularly and simmer for about ten mins until the mushroom is cooked and the 'floury' taster has been cooked out, stirring now and again.
Add the soft cheese and stir it in.
Zizz to smooth using a stick blender.
Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.  I add some pepper at this stage.
Serve piping hot.

For those of us with a Thermomix, the recipe can be found in the Basic Cookbook.

Recipe: 'quesadilla'

Not authentic, not in the least, but it was very tasty so here's what I did

two small wraps (mine were home made)
some grated cheese (I used cheddar)
some onion, red pepper and mushroom, softened in a little oil
some ham, cut into bits
tomato sauce.  I used passata made with garden tomatoes with a bit of garlic, a bit of chilli puree and some tomato puree, bubbled away until thicker

To make up:
place a sheet of foil in the grill pan.  on it layer a wrap, some grated cheese, the vegetables and ham, spoon over the tomato sauce, the rest of the the cheese, a bit of salt, pepper and a sprinkle of mixed herbs and finally the other wrap.  Push it down gently.

Cover with another piece of foil and pop under a medium grill until the fillings are hot and the cheese is melting.  Take off the foil and let the top crisp up a bit.

Serve with salad.

It had too much filling and needed to be eaten with a knife and fork but it was so delicious, I didn't care.  I wish I had taken a photo.

The freezer challenge, day 41

Yesterday's 'quesadilla' (not in the least bit authentic) was rather delicious although quite messy to eat.  I'll post the recipe, for what it is worth.

Today's plans
B:  poached egg on toast
L:  mushroom soup, fruit
D:  wrap based pizza, salad

From the freezer

Friday, 6 October 2017

Recipe: frugal wraps

An old recipe that I first posted in my Teacher's Recipes blog and am reproducing in here because I'm using home made wraps today for the quesadillas.  
Wraps are one of those things that are ridiculously expensive for what they actually are which, basically, is a simple mix of flour, fat and water.  They're so, so simple to make too.

I got the recipe from here originally, a site linked from Jack Monroe's site in the early days:
It's an old link but it still works - I've checked it.  in fact, I must explore the site again at some point.

I tweaked it slightly and this is what I did at that time, copied from Teacher's Recipes.

Ingredients to make 8 medium sized wraps, around 2p each
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling (I used value/basic flour and it was fine)
1/2 tbsp butter (again, I used basic)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
150ml hot water

Usual Method:
Follow the link above
Method for the Thermomix
Place the first 4 ingredients in the bowl and mix on 5 for about 5 seconds.
Add the water, mix briefly, then knead for five minutes.

Divide into 8 small balls (each will be around 60g)

When you roll each ball out into a very thin sort of circular shape; they don't HAVE to be circular and some of mine were a very odd shape indeed!.  Use flour for dusting (needed).

Heat up a frying pan until very hot.  Dry fry each wrap in turn, giving each side no more than 2 minutes.  I found it was a lot less, in fact, and I did need to flatten them down because they puffed up a lot.  You certainly can't go off and do anything else, however short a time it takes.  As you remove each one from the pan, stack it under a clean tea towel to prevent it going hard.

I have no idea how long these stay fresh.  It’s probably best to interleave each one and pop them in the freezer somewhere they won’t get knocked, to use individually if you're not going to eat them immediately.

Nowadays I might use oil instead of butter, I might use yogurt instead of water, I might not add baking powder, depending on what I have available and I knead it much more briefly.

I've not bought a wrap or a flatbread since!

The freezer challenge, day 40

Well, I may be planning meals but it doesn't mean they reflect reality.  Yesterday, I remembered that one of my little students has a birthday so I got in some bits and bobs to celebrate and I didn't want my dinner at all so that will have to carry over until tomorrow or Sunday.

In better news, I have posted a few recipes which might be of use to someone.  See the previous few posts.

Today's frugal planning:
B:  sourdough pancakes with maple syrup and natural yogurt
L:  lentil and ham soup, home made roll
D:  ham, cheese and tomato quesadillas, salad, fruit

From the freezer
pancakes - they sound posh but I made them with sourdough discard so they're very frugal
flat breads - also home made, basically just flour and water really

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Recipe: making my own wedges

These are a doddle.  In fact, they are so easy, so tasty and so frugal, I don't know why I ever bother buying frozen ones.  Well, I do, it's idleness, but I really shouldn't.

You need a floury potato, I think.  Anything that makes a good roastie will be fine for wedges.  One medium sized spud is fine, a large one will make far too many for me.

I just scrub the skin, if necessary, I don't peel, as I like the skin.  However, you can peel it, if you like.  Some like to par-boil the wedges.  Again, I don't, but you can.

So, the simplest way is to wash the potato, cut into wedges (long, triangular shapes - my chips are just the same but are rectangular shaped instead and they are also very tasty).  I then soak them in cold water for a little while.

When ready to cook them, I drain them and dry them thoroughly on a tea towel or a muslin.  Then I pop them in a poly bag and add some veg oil, squidging them around to completely coat them.  This is quite good because you can control how much oil you add: a little does go a long way when you use this method.  Sometimes I add herbs and/or spices too (see below).

Then I tip them onto a non-stick baking tray with parchment inserted (the parchment stops any sticking whatsoever and the tray has sides, in case the oil runs off), spread them out and pop them into a preheated oven at 180C fan or 200C if not fan.

Then just bake them, turning once or twice, until they are cooked through and lovely and brown all over.  It takes around half an hour so not much longer than cooking from frozen.
I don't have one of those air fryers, but I bet they'd be fine done that way too.  Or in a halogen oven, come to that.

Serve straight away with a sprinkle of salt if you haven't already added some.  Delicious!

Some nice spice ideas are . . .
tandoori curry powder
jerk seasoning
garlic and onion powders/granules with dried herbs
garlic granules and smoked paprika
salt and black pepper

. . . in fact, any mixture of herbs and/or spices that you fancy!

Recipe: ham and lentil soup

Another soup, made with the water I boiled an unsmoked ham in.  I think a smoked ham would make a stock that would be too salty for this soup.

Ingredients for one filling portion
half a smallish onion, peeled and chopped
half a medium carrot, washed and chopped
some celery, chopped - I cut across the top and used two thin 'slices'
250mls ham stock - make sure it is not too salty and don't add any more salt.
20g red lentils
(I don't add any other flavourings to this but you could - herbs or spices)

some milk
any seasoning needed - I added a bit of pepper when serving
some shreds of ham

Place the vegetables, stock and lentils in a pan, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until everything is soft.
Zizz either in a blender or using a stick blender until it is how you want it.

Before serving, add some milk and reheat to just under boiling.  The milk works well with the earthy flavour of the lentils and gives it a 'creamy' feel.  Add some shreds of ham, if you have any.  Taste and season as needed.

Or you could cut up your veg really small and not zizz it as the lentils will cook to mush.  Adding some finely chopped potato would be good.  In fact, I might do that tomorrow as I have stock left.

Given the lentils, the veg and the ham, this really is the equivalent of a meal in soup form.  Definitely some of your five a day in this and frugal as well.  Win-win.

The freezer challenge, day 39

I bought eggs yesterday, nice organic eggs, very reduced.  So eggs are featuring majorly in my plans.  Just as well they go with ham, isn't it!

Today's plans
B:  poached egg on toast, pear
L:  home made ham and lentil soup, apple
D:  ham, egg and home made wedges, stewed pear and strawberries with yogurt

From the freezer
bread for the toast
(must try harder!)

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The freezer challenge: day 38

Good morning.
I did OK financially yesterday.  In the morning I went in to help with a Greek Food Morning at school with the result that when I got home I was so full up, I didn't need anything else until the evening so the soup will do today.
The gammon steak sarnie was totally scrummy.

Today's plans are freezerless - but frugal!

B:  poached egg on toast
L:  tomato and lentil soup, pear or apple
D:  ham salad, banana

Nothing out of the freezer but no spending!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 37

Despite all the garden produce, there are gaps appearing in the freezer again which is encouraging, giving me hope that by Christmas, I might be able to defrost the chest freezer! 

When I went shopping, Morrisons had some nice bits of ham not too expensive and I got one but it is for this week, not the freezer.  I shall cut off some slices for dinners and boil up the rest for ham, using the boiling water for ham and lentil soup or ham and pea soup or even ham and potato soup.  It should prove to be a frugal purchase.

Today's plans
B:  toast and jam, fruit
L:  tomato and lentil soup
D:  bacon (cut off the ham) and tomato sarnie, pear or banana

The toast and the jam are home made, the soup is from yesterday.  Nothing from the freezer but nothing out of the freezer either, unfortunately.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Recipe: tomato and lentil soup

This was jolly nice, jolly filling and made enough for three.

half a medium onion
half a smallish carrot
a squeeze of garlic puree
a can of chopped tomatoes (or plum tomatoes)
some dried herbs
a stock cube
20g red/orange lentils
some sun dried tomato in oil (optional but recommended, especially if using value chopped tomatoes)

soft cheese (optional but nice)

Chop up the onion and carrot and add to a saucepan with the garlic, chopped tomatoes and a can full of water, dried herbs, stock cube (I used a vegetable cube), lentils and a few bits of sundried tomato.  I didn't add salt and pepper because of the stock.

Bring to a boil, cover and let it summer until the carrot ios soft and the lentils cooked (15 to 20 mins).

Blend to a smooth consistency using a blender or a stick blender.  Return it to the pan, add some milk and some soft cheese, stir it in and reheat to just under boiling.  Taste, season if necessary and serve.

The freezer challenge: Day 36

As it says above, I am trying to use up the shockingly large amount of stuff I have in my freezer as well as being a frugal spender/cook.  I've been away for ten days so it's definitely time to get back to the nitty gritty!

Here we are, ready to go again.

B:  toast and a piece of fruit (free!)
L:  tomato and lentil soup, apple.  The can of tomatoes for the soup costs 24p, the lentils about 10p and the rest around 10p and it should make enough for two days.  It won't go in the freezer, I will have it for tomorrow's lunch as well.
D:  chick pea and veg curry and I have no idea of the price but it won't be too much

From the freezer:

I have to shop as the fridge will be empty but I'm restricting it to fruit and veg, milk, yogurt, etc, nothing in the packet or canned line as I have plenty at home.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The freezer challenge is back again tomorrow.

Things are settling and stabilising.  Life is getting back into a normal routine again after nearly two months of disruption and instability.  Am I glad?  What do you think.

So - from tomorrow I will be dipping into my freezer again as much as possible, taking out rather than putting in, using up all the old stuff and  making space.  Ideally I would like to get back to just the one freezer again: I really ought not to need two but I think that might be a step too far.

What I will also do is cost out everything I can cost out.  No targets for a while, but I need to remain aware of the price of what I am eating as much as possible.  It's too easy to forget.

It feels good to be getting back into a routine again.  Phew.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The freezer challenge: day 35

Three days in a row - that's a record at the moment!

B:  poached egg on toast, apple
L:  bit of pork pie, tomatoes, lettuce, whatever else I can use from the fridge.
D:  the other half of yesterday's pork curry with rice, natural yogurt

From the freezer:
bread for toast
pork pie
pork for curry

And no need to buy any food!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The freezer challenge: day 34

Just a few things from the freezer today

B:  toast and marmite, apple
L:  carrot and lentil soup
D:  curry made with unlabelled cooked meat (ooops - I think it is pork) and bits and bobs of veg, runner beans, natural yogurt

From the freezer
bread for toast
meat for curry

The rest is from cupboard and fridge.  So need to buy anything else.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The freezer challenge: day 33

It's been a while since I last posted in here because there's been quite a huge upheaval in my life but I think I have three days when I can get back to it, albeit temporarily.

Of course, with the garden produce, my freezers are more full than they were before I started, but it's all new and fresh stuff, not scrappy little bags of old stuff.  One of the reasons (one of many) was so that there would be room for the garden stuff so in that respect the challenge has been a big success.

Today's plans:
B:  toast and marmalade, fruit
L:  home made carrot and lentil soup, bread and butter
D:  chicken curry, naan bread, yogurt

From the freezer: bread, chicken curry

And I will do my best to make a small portion of soup so there's none left over 'for the freezer'!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The freezer challenge: day 32

Good morning.  While rootling in the freezer, I found a bag of lamb chops right down at the bottom so must start using them up.  It might change if I find something else, you never know.

So today's plans are:
B:  toast, fruit
L:  kidney bean and veg curry (no rice) fruit
D:  lamb chop, new potatoes, beans, baby corn, yogurt and rhubarb

From the freezer:
lamb chop
a bag of granary flour

Into the freezer:
four portions runner beans
two small loaves (made yesterday because I was right out)

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