Tuesday 28 February 2017

Recipe: sourdough pancakes

Today is Shrove Tuesday - pancake day.  I had sourdough discard that just cried out for pancakes.

Yes, it does, I can hear it!  :-)
(apf means already paid for)

Ingredients to make enough for two people at current prices (that's three pancakes each)
half an egg (I shall make my shoestring carbonara tomorrow to use up the rest of the egg) - 7p
20 to 30g sourdough starter - goodness only knows - a guesstimate of 2p
60mls milk - apf (but would be just under 5p as most)
35g plain flour - 1p
pinch salt - neg
butter or oil for frying - apf for me and it depends how much you use - just don't forget to cost it if you're pricing out your meals

Start the day before or at least four hours before you want to cook the pancakes.
Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and pop in the fridge overnight or for at least four hours.

Wen you're ready to cook, give the mixture a stir.  It should spell a bit yeasty and have bubbles.
Make the pancakes as you would any pancake.
Butter or oil the pan (I used spray oil) and when it is hot ladle in some batter, swirl it around in the pan to spread it.  It should be ready to flip in about 30 seconds - check the underneath if you are not sure.  Flip over and cook for another 30 seconds or maybe a little less.

Stack them in a warm place or eat them straight away while you are cooking the next one.  I added an orange (juice and segments), a bit of sugar and some natural yogurt and they were SO good!

The other three pancakes are now wrapped and in the freezer.  I could go sweet or savoury with them.

Shrove Tuesday (also known in Commonwealth countries as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake day) is the day in February or March immediately preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. In others, especially those where it is called Mardi Gras or some translation thereof, this is a carnival day, and also the last day of "fat eating" or "gorging" before the fasting period of Lent.
This moveable feast is determined by Easter. The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning "absolve". Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians, including AnglicansLutheransMethodists and Roman Catholics, who "make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God's help in dealing with."
(Taken from Wikipedia)

End of day 29

How did today go?  Quite well, actually . . .

B:  porridge, natural yogurt and pineapple  Total 8p
L:  carrot and lentil soup (because I couldn't find the peelings soup in the freezer - grrrrr) so that was 14p, toast   Total 16p
D:  cottage pie, corn on the cob, cabbage, apple  Total 35p
S&S:  sourdough pancakes (half the mixture = 5p), orange (8p), sugar (2p) and natural yogurt; peanuts (4p), little spoonful peanut butter (2p)  Total 24p

Also more apfs:  
pint of milk 45p
butter 25p

So I had £3.83
I spent £1.50
Remaining: £2.33 with one day left!  

Absolutely delicious sourdough pancakes with orange and yogurt

Recipe: sourdough crumpets

You have a sourdough starter and you have done the feed and discard thing - except that you don't want to discard the discard because it's a waste.

Worry not.  You can make the most delicious crumpets which may not look as neat and tidy as the ones you buy in the shop but which taste in a totally different league and which are so, so frugal, you wouldn't believe it!
(By the way, they're crumpets if you have crumpet rings so can make them taller and pikelets if you make them without rings, like thick pancakes, OK?)

So, let's assume you have fed your starter and you have discard . . .

For every cup ( that's 240mls) of discard, add 1 tsp sugar and half tsp salt and mix well.

Using oil, grease the base of a solid pan and also round the inside of the ring (or rings, if you're using more than one).  Put the rings into the pan and heat it up to a medium heat.

When the pan and rings are hot, into the batter add half a tsp of bicarb.  The batter will fizz up, perhaps quite alarmingly.  Fear not.
Here it is, fizzing up.  It takes seconds and it's fascinating to watch.  Each time you gently stir, you get more bubbles.  Lovely, magical chemical reaction!

Using a ladle, pour batter into each ring to around half full, depending on the height of the ring.

Let it cook slowly and be patient.  Don't be tempted to turn up the heat; all that will happen is that the base will burn before the top has set. You will see bubbles rising to the top and they start to look like real crumpets!  You can see the edges of the crumpet just starting to set in the photo above.

When the top has set, carefully run a knife around the inside of the rings to loosen the crumpets - be careful, they are very hot.  Mine sometimes stick.  Then turn the crumpet over to brown the bubble side briefly.
This is the sort of baseyou are looking for.

Then allow them to cool on a wire rack.  If you make more than one batch, clean the rings in between, re-oil and reheat.  Once cool, they freeze well.

They don't come out looking uniform but they do smell and taste so good!

This is a long explanation of what is actually an extremely simple process, if somewhat long winded.  Just be patient and, to repeat, don't turn the heat up more as all you will have is a burnt base and rawness in the middle.

As for cost, well, tricky one.
The original starter costs about 5p for the yeast, about 1p for the sugar and salt and about 4p for the flour (maybe more, if you use expensive flour; less if you have a nice friend who gets bags cheaply for you, like me).
After that, you are adding just flour and water so the yeast, salt and sugar are one offs and become less significant every time you feed your sourdough.
For your one cup of discard plus additions, you get four crumpets or eight pikelets.
It is well nigh impossible to price precisely but I estimate about 2p per crumpet.  It's not more, probably less.  If you make pikelets, you get more so definitely 1p each.

Really, really frugal as well as utterly satisfying.

As for the sourdough, once you have used the discard and fed what remains, you can keep it covered in the fridge and feed it just once a week or so.  It's a lively, living thing and re-activates quickly.

You can, of course, make sourdough bread with it, but that's a different matter altogether!  I don't keep sourdough to make bread very much!  I want crumpets!

Recipe: sour dough

How do you make a sourdough.  OK, so this is a cheat and purists will shudder, but sourdough is as individual as the person who is making it and, whatever the 'experts' say, there is no one, definitive method.
This is what I do.

Start with half a tbsp dried yeast.  It doesn't matter which kind.  This is the cheat because real sourdough waits to 'catch' natural yeasts from the air.  This one has a big helping hand!  The disadvantage is that, at first, the flavour won't be sourdough-y enough, the big advantage is that it is a shorter process and more sure of success in the initial stages.

Anyway - the yeast - put it in a bowl.  To it add one cup of bread flour - any kind, half a tbsp sugar and one and a quarter cups of warm water.  The amounts aren't exact, to be honest - rough and ready works just as well.

Mix them all together until it's fairly smooth.  A few lumps don't matter; they will disappear.

Then just leave it on the side, covered with a clean towel or similar.
Firstly it will bubble. . .

 . . . then it will settle to a sort of 'sludge' with liquid on top.

Every time you mix it up, it will bubble, then settle but you don't have to mix it too much.  If you forget, it isn't a disaster!

If it goes pink (they tell me), then throw it out and start again.  The longer you leave it, the sourer it will be.

Now, what you have to do with sourdough is keep feeding it now and again.  That means take one cup of it and put it into a clean bowl, then add a cup of flour and a cup of water, mix it well and leave it as before.  What's left is called the 'discard' and one is supposed to throw it out, hence the name.

But I don't, partly because my frugal soul rebels at the thought and because you can make wonderful crumpets and pancakes with the discard.  I'll post about them separately.

And as for the dourdough - keep it on the side if you intend to feed it every now and again (such as every couple of days) and use it, but you can keep it, covered, in the fridge where it goes sort of dormant and doesn't need feeding that often.  Another feed activates it again!

 After feeding . . .

(By the way, I used wholewheat bread flour to start it off and a mix of plain flour and strong wholewheat to feed it.  It's not that fussy.  The flavours will be a bit different but my palate isn't that sophisticated!)

Day 29

I have £3.83 and two days to go.  Fingers crossed for me!

This is what I plan to have today.
B:  porridge (4p), natural yogurt (apf) and pineapple (4p)
L:  peelings soup (8p), toast (2p), carrot batons (4p)
D:  cottage pie (22p + 7p); corn on the cob (free), cabbage (apf); apple (6p)
S&S:  orange (8p); sourdough pancakes (to be worked out);

I have sourdough on the bubble so it will be simple to use some for the pancakes.  I like the thought of using what is called 'discard' (except that I don't discard it!) to make something so delicious.  I'll post the recipe later in case anyone's interested.

Monday 27 February 2017

End of day 28

This is how things have gone today.

B:  granola, natural yogurt and pineapple (and it was so delicious)  Total 10p
L:  tomato and lentil soup (13p), apple (free)  Total 13p
D:  YS peppercorn kiev (30p); mash (7p); runner beans (free)  Total 37p
S&S:  toast and peanut butter (6p); yogurt and pineapple (4p); peanuts (4p)  Total 14p

So . . .
I had £4.57
I spent 74p
Remaining:  £3.83

BUT - I had a close call.
I was in school this morning doing a few hours of supply teaching (which explains the free apple as Infants get a playtime fruit snack provided).  Warned by what happened last week, I was prepared and took my soup in with me.  I then helped out at a lunchtime club and in a FS classroom in the afternoon, which I always do.
When I came out just before three, I was tired, aching (I have a bit of a cold) and hungry and, unfortunately, Morrisons is just over the road.  I went in, in a sort of 'oh, blow it' frame of mind but half way round, thankfully, I came to my senses and left without buying anything - I hadn't been able to see anything I craved and suddenly I realised that I could have some toast at home, and THAT was what I really wanted!
A lesson learned again, I think, because I so enjoyed the toast and the bread was a gift so free.  I didn't blow either the budget or the calories!

Day 28

I have £4.57 left and three days to go!

B:  Jack's granola (6p); natural yogurt (apf); pineapple (4p)
L:  tomato and lentil soup (13p), bread (2p); fruit (8p)
D:  YS peppercorn chicken kiev (30p); mash (5p); peas (7p) or runner beans (free); yogurt and pineapple (4p)
S&S:  fruit (8p); peanuts (4p)

Total should be about 90p

End of day 27

B:  Beans on toast but I remembered I had some 'free' (ie gifted) bread to use up so I did.  Total 9p
L:  Tomato and lentil soup - 13p because it made three portions; bread 5p  Total 18p
D:  Wholemeal roll 2p, chicken 'steak' 20p, coleslaw 5p, chutney and mayo 5p, fried onions 2p  Total 34p
S & S:  peanuts, apple total 10p

So . . .
I had £5.28
I spent 71 p
Remaining £4.57  with three days to go

Sunday 26 February 2017

Recipe: simple coleslaw

Dead simple but a good way of getting some raw veg in the middle of winter!

Ingredients to make enough for one, total 5p
50 g white cabbage, shredded apf*
50g carrot, peeled if necessary and grated, chopped small or spiralised  2p
20g savers mayonnaise  3p

Put the cabbage and carrot in a bowl and mix well (hands work well here!).  Add the mayo and mix again (spoon!) until everything is combined.

It's nice just as it is or you can add all sorts of things - dried fruit, fresh fruit such as apple, orange or pineapple, grated cheese, seeds . . . just remember to add on the cost.

Or you can fancy up the mayo by mixing it with sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper before adding it to the vegetables but it will cost more.  This also makes a nice general salad dressing.

*apf means that I have already take the cost of the cabbage from my £30 - already paid for.  All these recipes are in the context of my 30-30 challenge.

Day 27

I have £5.28 and four days to go so that's really about right, isn't it?  I have oil, butter, yogurt, marmalade, cabbage and herbs/spices as apfs which will carry over, as necessary
(apf = already paid for)

Today's plans are:
B:  baked beans (9p); toast (2p)
L:  tomato and lentil soup (around 15p) and bread (2p)
D:  Breaded chicken steak - YS (20p), bread roll (2p)  mayo/onion chutney (5p)  and coleslaw (cabbage apf, carrot 4p, mayo about 3p, total 7p).  I was wondering about some home made wedges but I don't think they will be needed, not with a sort of chicken burger and coleslaw.
S:  apple (6p), peanuts (4p)

This should come to around 80p

Saturday 25 February 2017

End of day 26

It all went according to plan, thankfully
So . . .
B:  porridge, yogurt and marmalade  Total 2p
L:  Out and not paying  Total 0p
D:  savoury rice and then dessert  Total 40p
S:  carrot batons and hummus  Total 15p
and some apfs
batch of yogurt  47p
cabbage  77p

I had £7.09
I spent £1.81
Remaining £5.28

To balance that, I came back with some home made bread as a gift so that's now sliced and in the freezer labelled 'free'.  :-)

Helpful tip

. . . I find it helpful anyway.

After shopping, when I get home, before putting the shopping away, I get out my sharpie pen and the receipt and write the price on each item.  If it is something like rice, I also get out my calculator and work out how much per 10g or how much per portion size.  If it's not possible to write on the container, I write it on a label and stick it on!

Then I keep the receipt, in case I need to refer to it again.
(another aim is to get the number of receipts down!)

Day 26

I have £7.09 left and five days to go.
(apf means 'already paid for)

Today's menu:
B:  Porridge (2p), yogurt and marmalade (both apfs)
L:  Out and not paying!
D:  Savoury rice (40p - leftovers from yesterday and something of a guesstimate but I'm not wasting it.), followed by leftover dessert that I didn't buy so free!
S:  carrot batons and hummus  (15p)

another batch of yogurt  47p
a cabbage  77p
(I intend to use it for coleslaw as well as cooked and weighing each helping accurately would be a pain so it can become an apf, and if it carries over into the next 30-30, all the better!)

The dessert is real, unhealthy, calorific, free dessert brought by a friend who didn't want to take what was left home again.  I need to look on the packaging but I * think * I can freeze some.  Happy!

Friday 24 February 2017

Not day 26

I'm off challenge today which is bad timing after yesterday's little ooops-a-daisy but I shall still stick with frugality for breakfast and lunch and enjoy dinner with my friends.

B:  Jack's granola (6p) with yogurt and 1/5 can savers pineapple (7p)
L:  the broccoli soup I should have had yesterday with some garlic bread, apple

Back to what passes for normal tomorrow.  :-)

Thursday 23 February 2017

End of day 25

Bit of a crash and burn day today, compounded by the fact that I have muddled my days and my months
First of all - I have five days to go because it's a 30-30 not a February-30.  Glad I got that one sorted!

But - things went wonky today.
I had everything planned, ready, organised and then I had an email asking me to go into school and do some short notice supply.  That threw me completely as I wasn't ready for lunch before I needed to leave for school.  What I should have done was have lunch early but I didn't.  I won't make that mistake again.  When I got home, instead of having the lovely, healthy soup, I dived straight into a bar of chocolate left over from fudge making before Christmas.  Fortunately, it was a Savers bar!  Unfortunately, I felt a bit yurk afterwards as I'm not used to all that sugar now.

So this is what today looks like
B:  baked beans on toast  Total 10p
Late L:  too much chocolate and then bread and butter total 32p
D:  sardine fishcakes, broad beans, ketchup and natural yogurt  total 24p
S:  peanuts, apple, orange  total 18p

It hasn't totally smashed the challenge, not even dented it really, but the calories are quite a different matter!

I had £7.93
I spent 84p
Remaining £7.09
And I have FIVE days to go!

Day 25

I have £7.93 left and four days to go.
This is what I expect to have today

B:  1/3 can baked beans (8p) on toast (2p); apple (6p)
L:  broccoli soup (12p), bread (2p); orange (8p)
D:  sardine fishcakes x 3 (21p), broad beans (from dad's garden, free); home made spicy ketchup or onion chutney (3p); natural yogurt (apf)
Snack and supper:  peanuts (4p), toast (2p)

So it should come to around 68p

I put 'peanuts 4p' quite a lot, don't I?  Let me explain.  I get a smallish bag of them from Aldi for 48p and decant them into titchy little pots.  I get 12 pots of them which makes them 4p per portion.  Not many but I nibble them one at a time and they give me a good savoury, salty hit as well as adding a little to the protein intake.

(apf means already paid for)

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Recipe: chicken and mushroom pasta

I bought a pack of frozen chicken 'fillets' from Aldi, counted how many bits and worked out an average price per bit which was just under 28p.  I have a bit of conscience about it as I doubt the chickens had a very good life.
(apf means already paid for)

Ingredients to make one portion, costing 55p
spray oil apf
piece of chicken  28p
three small mushrooms, cleaned and sliced  10p
one small onion (Morrisons wonkies) peeled, halved and sliced 2p
garlic granules, dried parsley, black pepper apf
1/6 back soft cheese (Morrisons Savers)  9p
a splash of milk apf

50g pasta (raw weight) 6p

Put the pasta on to boil.

While the pasta is cooking, spray a pan with oil and gently cook the onion.  Then add the chicken, cut into bits.  Finally ass the mushroom.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes (it doesn't take very long).  Add a pinch of garlic granules, some black pepper and a pinch of dried parsley (or fresh, if you have it)  apf

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water.
Into the pan, oput the soft cheese, a splash of milk and a bit of the cooking water.  Stir gently as the cheese heats and melts.  When it is all piping hot, add the drained pasta and mix well.  Serve immediately.

It could do with a bit of colour, couldn't it?  a bit of chopped chilli, maybe?  Ever so nice though and pretty filling too.

Recipe: marmalade pancakes

So easy, so frugal and so absolutely delicious that I feel I have had a feast this evening.

The pancakes cost 4p and the marmalade and the yogurts are apfs
(apf means already paid for - I have already costed it - e.g. I have taken the cost of the whole jar of marmalade off my total already)

I made pancakes for breakfast this morning.  The recipe made five and I ate three so this is how I used the other two.  It couldn't be simpler.

Put a couple of tsps of marmalade (mine is lemon) in a pot and heat in the microwave (be careful - it gets very hot and runny very quickly).
Take the marmalade out and put in the pancakes and heat for about 10 seconds, until warm.

Put one pancake on a plate, then some marmalade, then the other pancake.  Pour over the remaining marmalade and top with a dollop of natural yogurt.

Eat while still warm.

End of day 24

This is how it all went today
B:  pancakes with yogurt and sugar - Total 6p
L:  beans (8p) on toast (2p)  Total  10p
D:  chicken and mushroom pasta (55p); pancakes (4p) with marmalade and yogurt (both apf) Total 59p
Supper and snacks:  apple (6p), orange (8p), peanuts (4p)  Total 18p
. . . and it was all absolutely delicious.

With four days to go, here's the state of play:
I had £8.86
I spent 93p
Remaining: £7.93

Recipe: American pancakes

I had half an egg left over from the shoestring carbonara.  The idea is Jamie Oliver's, seen on one of his programmes, when his daughters were helping.
(apf means I have already paid for it - e.g. I took the 45p off the money I had left when I bought the milk)

half an egg (beaten) - 7p
half a cup of S R flour (came to about 70g) - 2p
half a cup (or a little more) of milk - apf
a pinch of salt
some spray oil - I used spray oil, you could use that or butter or whatever.  Spray oil uses the least but butter is nicer! - apf

to serve:
some sweetened yogurt (my own natural yogurt with a bit of sugar) - yogurt is apf and the sugar is less than 1p so call it a penny!

Put the flour and the salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Pop in the egg and some of the milk and start whisking.  Add more milk until it is the right consistency - sort of like pouring cream - and smooth.  It doesn't take long and isn't worth getting the mixer out for.

Heat the oil in the pan.  When it is very hot, add one ladleful of batter.  It will spread a bit but not as much as a crepe which is a thinner batter.  After a few minutes you should see bubbles popping up over the surface and underneath will be getting brown.  Flip it over (it's easy) and cook the other side for a short time.  Then remove it from the pan onto a plate kept warm in the oven.

Pray again and repeat the process until all are done.

This made five pancakes, cost to me 9p so let's call it 2p each.

I had three with the sweetened yogurt and the other two can go into the fridge to have for dessert tonight, spread with marmalade (apf) and more yogurt.

Day 24

I have £8.86 and five days left.
(apf means already paid for)

Today's plans are:
B:  pancakes (half an egg 7p; 60g flour 2p; milk apf; no idea how many this will make yet) with yogurt, apple (6p)
L:  Beans (8p) on toast (2p), orange (8p)
D:  chicken and mushroom pasta (approx 55p); natural yogurt
S:  peanuts (4p)

Tuesday 21 February 2017

End of day 23

This is how today went.

B:  toast (2p) and marmalade (apf)  Total 2p
L:  broccoli soup (12p), peanuts (4p), apple (6p)  Total 22p
D:  sort of carbonara (45p), natural yogurt (apf)  Total 45p
S:  toast (1p) with peanut butter (2p)

Here's today final figures.
I had £9.58
I spent 72p 
Remaining:  £8.86
I have five days remaining.

Recipe: shoestring carbonara

Not really proper carbonara but my attempt to shoestring what is really a fairly expensive and calorific dish.

Ingredients to make enough for one: Total 45p
50g spaghetti ( I used Savers spaghetti which is perfectly acceptable stuff) - 2p
about 5g butter
50g cooking bacon, chopped (I got a pack from Morrisons and divided it into single portion pots of around 50g) - 5p
a few mushrooms, chopped (10p)
a sprinkle of garlic granules (apf)
a splash of milk - apf
1/2 a medium egg (I know, I know - I intend to make some pancakes with the rest, OK?) - 7p
18g Italian hard cheese (Sainsburies cheapo Italian hard cheese), grated - 21p
pepper (apf)
I also used a pinch of parsley (apf)

Cook the spaghetti.
While it is cooking, melt the butter in a pan and cook the chopped bacon and mushrooms.  When done, sprinkle over a few garlic granules - you don't need much.
Whisk the milk and egg together.  Add a small grinding of pepper.
Drain the pasta (reserve some of the water) and pop it into the pan with the bacon and mushroom.  Turn the heat to low.  Add the milk/egg mixture and stir well while it cooks and thickens - if it seems too thick, add a bit of the cooking water
Remove from the heat, add the grated cheese and stir again.  Taste and season.  I didn't add salt as I had cooked the pasta with salted water and the cheese is salty enough.

Tip into a warmed bowl and eat immediately.

And my opinion?  I found it absolutely delicious, far more expensive tasting that it really is.  Next time I will use a little less cheese; there was almost too much cheese flavour.  12 to 15 g will be quite enough and will reduce the cost a bit.  To make up for that, next time I will add cooked veg.  Some peppers, peas, maybe corn too.  Just a small amount of each.
And yes, there will be a next time - sooner rather than later.  I have to, if only to take a photo because, in my eagerness to taste, I forgot!  Sorry!

As for those pancakes I intend to make - I want to use Jamie Oliver's recipe - one egg, one cup of milk and one cup of SR flour, but half quantities.  That will be breakfast tomorrow!

Day 23

I have £9.58

Today's menu:
B:  toast (2p) and marmalade (apf), apple (6p)
L:  broccoli soup (around 15p), slice of bread (1p), natural yogurt (apf)
D:  sort of carbonara thing - recipe to follow (estimated at 40p), peas (7p), orange (8p)
S:  peanuts (4p); toast (1p) with peanut butter (2p)
So today should come to about 86p

Fingers crossed for the recipe and I will post it this evening, if it works.

Monday 20 February 2017

End of day 22

I though it would be really hard to get back in the swing of things after a weekend pigging out elsewhere, but it wasn't.  Phew.

I had:
B:  toast and fruit  Free.
L:  apple and orange (a sort of working lunch really)  total 14p
D:  cottage pie (free - leftovers from the weekend), broccoli, natural yogurt and marmalade,  total 8p
Supper:  peanuts 4p

And some apfs  (already paid fors)
milk  45p
natural yogurt  45p
tube of tomato puree  37p
lemon marmalade 11p  (home made, fruit was a gift)

so . . .
I had £11.22
I spent  £1.64
Remaining £9.58

Day 22

I have £11.22

B:  toast and fruit - free because someone else provided it.
L:  on the go lunch- apple and orange  (6p and 8p)
D:  cottage pie (free, leftovers given to me), broccoli (8p), natural yogurt

a pot of Morrisons savers natural yogurt  50p (which will also act as a starter for more home made yogurt later on in the week)

So today's total is expected to be 72p

Sunday 19 February 2017

Helpful gadgets: scales and calculator

Well, scales, obviously.  It's way too easy to guesstimate at portions and guesses get bigger and bigger and bigger, don't they?  Good neither for pocket nor for for weight.  My scales get a better work out than I do (not that that's saying much!).

This how I work out the price of portions.
Price of item (P) divided by weight of item (W) to get the cost per gram multiplied by however many grams you are having (N).  P/W x N.

That's where my calculator comes in handy.  It's one thing to divide when the pack is 1k,100g or some other nice, easy amount, but not so easy when the label says 78g, for example.
I have a calculator in the kitchen and anther one by the PC.  Just very basic, cheap things that do the job beautifully.

For basics, I have the cost per portion on a sticker on the packet, e.g. rice, pasta, porridge, sugar, etc, but always I check a new packet.  It's  shocking how rapidly prices are going up now and what was correct last week might not be this week so when it has been several months since you needed that item, you have to recalculate.

Very helpful gadgets indeed!

Saturday 18 February 2017

Helpful gadgets: oil diffuser

While I'm off challenge, I thought I'd still post but about things/gadgets I am finding helpful.

The first of these is my oil diffuser, called a Misto which I use daily.  You can get them via Lakeland, here. 

It might be a weird think to call helpful but it is because it makes the oil go such a long way - helpful from the frugal point of view but also from the calorific perspective, plus you know exactly what you are using, unlike those one cal commercial oil sprays you can buy at goodness knows how much with goodness knows what added to them.

You fill it half full of oil.  Several pumps of the lid later you're ready to spray.  The bumph on Lakeland (which is where I bought it) gives the capacity as 75mls and it should be half filled so I know that I need to add 35mls and can cost that when it is poured in, hence the apf (already paid for) label.

Surprisingly, the reviews on the Lakeland site are not that positive but my experience of it is quite different and I have said so in a review.  Yes, it takes a little bit of muscle to pump it up in order to pressurise it, but not all that much.  It works well with veg oil (which is basically rapeseed oil) and olive oil is of similar consistency.  I would imagine a thicker type oil might not be as suitable.

As I am saving an absolute fortune on food during this challenge, I think I will buy another one, to use with olive oil.

Off challenge

I'm now off challenge for a few days as I can't go the frugal route.  Back soon!

Friday 17 February 2017

End of day 21

Everything went according to plan today with one addition - some fruit at lunch time.
So . . .
B:  Granola, yogurt, apple  Total 14p
L:  Tomato and lentil soup, bread roll, fruit   Total  25p

And the number crunching:
I had £11.61
I spent 39p
Remaining £11.22

Day 21

I have £11.61

Today's plans are:
B:  Jack's granola (6p) with yogurt (apf), apple (8p)
L:  tomato and lentil soup (15p); wholemeal roll (2p)
D:  I'm being taken out so a great big fat 0p

Yesterday I popped over to Morrisons for sugar and was very pleased to see that a 2k bag of granulated was only 88p.  When I got home I used most of it with a can of Ma Made that someone gave me to make eight lovely pots of lemon marmalade which comes out at 11p per pot.  Can't complain about that, can I?

Thursday 16 February 2017

End of day 20

This is how it all went

B:  toast with marmite AND peanut butter (but not together)  Total 7p
L:  tomato and lentil soup, wholemeal bread roll  Total 17p
D:  pommes dauphinoise sans creme, broccoli, apple   Total 50p
Snack and supper:  little pot of peanuts; apple  Total 12p

So the calculations are . . .
I had £12.47
I spent 86p
Remaining:  £11.61

Recipe: pommes dauphinoise sans creme!

Well, sorry, but when one is being frugal AND trying to lose some weight, one has to make sacrifices and while I am used to this with cream, making it without makes it far more accessible, not to mention frugal!

Ingredients for one portion (I am assuming you have a little oven dish), Total without veg is 34p
one medium or two small potatoes (I didn't peel them but I might next time) thinly sliced to the thickness of a pound coin  I use potatoes to the weight of 200g which came to 10p
half an onion (or one small one), finely sliced (2p)
stock cube - I used chicken  (3p)
milk (apf)
strong cheddar, grated (17p)
salt and pepper
butter for greasing  (2p)
Spray oil (apf)
Total without veg is 34p

Preheat your oven to 200C
Grease your dish with butter (or you can use oil but butter is nicer)
Start with the onion and layer up onion, potatoes, salt and pepper.  Continue until you run out or the dish is full, finishing off with potatoes.  I had three potato layers and two onion layers.
Make up the stock and add a splash of milk.  Pour the stock over the potatoes until it is just below the top layer of potatoes
Spray over a little oil and cover the dish with foil.
Place on a larger dish or oven tray (to catch any drips) and bake in the oven for around an hour or until all the potatoes are soft.
Remove the foil, sprinkle over the cheese and continue to bake until the cheese is coloured.
Serve immediately with veg.

I ate it straight out of the dish with broccoli arranged around the outside and it was very, very nice indeed.  Possibly a tiny bit too salty - I shall be careful next time.

It might be nice with some added flaked canned sardines or some shreds of ham or bits of bacon.

Day 20

I have £12.47

Here are today's food plans.
B:  toast (2p) with either marmite (5p)  or peanut butter (4p), apple (apf)
L:  tomato and lentil soup (about 15p), apple (apf)
D:  pommes dauphinoise sans creme (ooooh, get me!), broccoli (8p), orange (apf)

All that apf fruit!  It's because I priced them all up yesterday and took it away from my total amount but never had them.  Late afternoon I went out to do some tuition and I was given a coffee and some biscotti (very nice too) so dinner was a bit later and I didn't need or want any supper.

Decisions, decisions . . .

Wednesday 15 February 2017

End of day 19

This is how today went.
B:  Jack's granola, yogurt   Total 6p
L:  half a can of beans (some for on toast and some rinsed to put in the con carne for dinner instead of using kidney beans.  My daughter had the other half can), 2 slices bread   Total 15p
D:  chilli con carne with rice  Total 29p
Snacks and supper  orange, 2 apples, carrot batons  Total 28p

I had £13.25
I spent 78p
Remaining £12.47

It's funny how, when you are busy, you don't feel hungry.  My daughter came round and I really didn't want to snack or nibble while we were chatting.

I'm nearly half way through and have to start thinking whether I want to continue with this beyond the 30 days.  I think I do but there is food in the freezer that cannot fit into a pound a day so I shall have to consider how I am going to organise it.  Maybe five days on and two days off?  What do you think?

Day 19

I have £13.25.

Today's plans:
B:  Jack's granola (6p); yogurt (apf), orange (8p)
L:  beans (8p) on toast (2p), apple (8p)
D:  Chilli con carne - cooked mince (22p), kidney beans (5p), passata from the garden (free), rice (7p)
Supper:  apple, carrot batons

No new recipe today!

Tuesday 14 February 2017

End of day 18

I've just finished a very delicious dinner and have written up the recipe and posted it.  I shall make that again, for sure.
Anyway, how did today go?

B:  baked beans, 2 slices toast  Total 2p (because the beans were apf)
L:  leek and potato soup, bread Total 14p
D:  pork meatballs in tomato sauce with spaghetti  Total 47p
Supper:  pear, apple  Total 8p (one fruit was apf)

Today works out like this:
I had £14.13
I spent 63p on meals and 25p on more butter, making a total of 88p
Remaining:  £13.25

Recipe: pork meatballs in tomato sauce

These recipes are what I made, using ingredients I have to hand including free stuff from the garden.  Shops are different, charge different prices, have different offers so please adapt and amend to suit yourself.

Ingredients for one portion  costing 47p (apf means already paid for)
50g spaghetti - 2p

For the meatballs
cooking bacon, very finely chopped - 5p
1 sausage (I used a higher meat version from Lidl) - 16p
20g dry stuffing mix (I used Morrisons Savers stuffing) - 4p
spray oil - apf
a little flour - 1p

For the sauce
spray oil (apf)
quarter of an onion, thinly sliced - 2p
25g peppers (I used frozen ones from Morrisons because I waste less that way)  5p
1 mushroom, thinly sliced 4p
squidge of garlic puree (3p)
passata made from last year's tomatoes (or you could use about third to half a can of chopped tomatoes)  free (for me)
a squeeze of tomato puree (5p)
herbs as liked

The meatballs and sauce can be made in the same pan without needing to wash the pan in between.

Meatballs (start before hand to allow the bacon and stuffing to cool before mixing with the sausagemeat)

In a pan, gently dry fry the chopped cooking bacon until it is cooked - it won't take very long at all.
Reconstitute the stuffing with a sufficient amount of boiling water - don't make it too sloppy.  No need for salt - the meats are already salty enough
Allow the stuffing and the bacon to cool until just warm.

Remove the skin from the sausage and discard.  In a bowl, mix together the bacon, sausage meat and stuffing.  With floured hands, shape the mix into little meatballs.  I made them big marble sized using a 10ml measuring spoon as they cook faster and it looks as if you have more!

(they're on a tea plate - they're not as huge as they look!)

Spray the pan with oil, pop in the meatballs and gently fry until they are colouring, turning them now and again.
Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Before you start the sauce, pop on the spaghetti to cook, then drain and keep warm.

While the spaghetti is cooking, spray oil into the pan, add the onions and fry for a few minutes until they start to soften and change colour.  Then add the peppers, mushroom and squidge of garlic and fry for a bit longer.

Add the passata/chopped tomato and whatever herbs you want to use plus a tiny bit of salt.  Bring up to a simmer, add the meatballs and let it all simmer gently away until the passata has reduced a bit and thickened.  Taste and season if needed.  If you want to add a squidge of tomato puree, do so, but remember to include its cost (if you are watching the pennies).

Taste and adjust seasoning.
Toss in the spaghetti.  Serve.

(if finances permit, a bit of hard Italian cheese (called Not Parmesan in my home) would be nice grated over)

Day 18

I have £14.13

(and apf = already paid for)

Here's today's plans:
B:  baked beans (apf)* on toast (2p); apple (apf)*
L:  soup from the freezer (12p), bread (2p), orange (8p)
D:  Pork meatballs with spaghetti** (46p)
Supper:  natural yogurt, pear

Plus 25p on a quarter pack of butter

* I should have had these for supper yesterday but didn't so I've carried them over to today
**  I'll post the recipe later

Monday 13 February 2017

End of day 17

This was a very yummy lunch.
And this was a very yummy dinner.

Day 17 is nearly over and here are the final figures!  Most of the individual amounts are in this morning's entry.
B:  porridge, jam (it was home made pear and cinnamon and very delicious with porridge) and natural yogurt   Total 7p
L:  wholemeal roll, ham, onion chutney (home made and I am reckoning 3p), carrot batons   Total 22p
D:  sardine fishcakes, runner beans, a dollop of my home made spicy ketchup (3p), stewed plums (couldn't find the rhubarb under all the other stuff but the plums were a gift too) and natural yogurt  Total 27p
Evening snack:  apple and baked beans (subbed for the pear because they need eating up and not at the same time!!!) Total 16p

So, here are the numbers.

I had £14.85.
I spent 72p
Remaining:  £14.13

I've been busy working out a meatball recipe and typing it up - It's on the menu for tomorrow and I think it is going to be a goodie.

Day 17

I have £14.85

Today's plans are:
B:  porridge (4p); jam (3p); yogurt (apf)
L:  wholemeal roll (2p); ham (13p); carrot batons (4p);
D:  sardine fishcakes (21p), runner beans (free); stewed rhubarb and strawberries (fruit free, sugar 3p) with natural yogurt (apf)
Snack: apple and pear (16p)

Sunday 12 February 2017

End of day 16

Here's how it all went.
B:  Jack's granola (6p); a good dollop of natural yogurt (apf)   Total 6p
L:  macaroni cheese with broccoli and peas (58p)   Total 58p
T:  tomato and lentil soup (14p); toast (3p)   Total 17p

Snack:  peanuts (4p); pear instead of apple and costed yesterday    Total 4p

So I had £16.13
I spent 85p on food and 45p minus 10p on milk
Remaining:  £14.93

Recipe: Jack Monroe's peanut granola

I first made this, very tentatively, after Jack first posted it on her incomparably fantastic blog which was then called 'A girl Called Jack'.  I loved it and have made it on and off ever since.

You can find it here:
It's a brilliant site: please do visit and take a stroll around.  Jack's a character and the fecipes are amazing!

I have some in my fridge and I was avoiding using it while on the 30-30 challenge because I didn't know the cost.  Then I told myself not to be stupid, sat down and worked it all out.  It fits well into the Pound a Day ethos so here it is.
I have repriced everything as I use different brands and also I think my portions must be a lot smaller than Jack's as I make it last for more than the 8 portions they make it last for.  I've weighed it up and worked out that it is just under 6p for the 50g portion that I have.  I can live with that!
I love it with a good portion of my home made natural yogurt.  It's the best!

Ingredients to make ten portions at 6p a portion
30ml vegetable oil - 4p
65g peanut butter (Morrison's Savers) - 12p
100g golden syrup (Sainsbury's own) - 18p
300g oats - 23p

Preheat oven to 180C
Heat the first three ingredients, stirring well, until it is all runny and amalgamated.
Add the oats and stir well until completely coated.

Grease a baking tray or line it with parchment.
Tip in the mixture and gently flatten it down.
Bake in the oven for 15 mins.  Allow to cool.

Break and crumble into bits and keep in an airtight container.  Jack says it lasts for 2 months in the fridge.  I've kept it longer and it's fine!

Optional extras.  You could add chopped nuts or seeds (pumpkin and sunflower seeds are gorgeous in this) but I wouldn't add dried fruit before cooking, only when serving.

Day 16

I have £16.13

Today's plans are
B:  Jack's granola (8p), natural yogurt (apf), apple (left over from yesterday so apf)
L:  macaroni cheese with broccoli and peas (58p), runner beans (free from garden)
T:  The last of the tomato and lentil soup and must make some more (14p), toast (2p)
S:  2 pieces of fruit

And I will need to buy more milk today so that's another 44p minus whatever it costs for Beth's share of the cheese sauce (which is 10p!).  Taking care of the pennies really matters.

Saturday 11 February 2017

Recipe: A sort of curry

I say 'sort of' because really I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to curry, despite having stacks of spices in the cupboard.

I made a mixture of spices with very small amounts of the following:
ground coriander
roasted garam masala
mild curry powder
chilli powder
two crushed cardamom pods
some crushed ginger
a squidge of garlic puree
mango powder

a third of an onion, peeled and sliced (3p)
a bit of butter and a few sprays of oil (apf)
the spice mix (apf)
a bit of carrot, peeled and diced (2p)
50g sweet potato, diced (5p)
25g sweetcorn and 25g mixed veg (5p)
half a stock cube (I used chicken but veg would be fine too) (2p)
35g home cooked chickpeas (4p)
10g red lentils (2p)
a sprinkling of porridge oats (to thicken)  - such a small amount it can't be costed
half tsp mango chutney, chopped small if necessary (mine was bottom of the jar so there were no big bits)  (4p)

Heat the butter and the oil in a pan, add the onions and saute them very gently for ages until they go golden.  Don't let them catch.
Turn up the heat, add the spice mix and cook it out, stirring all the time.
Add all the other ingredients apart from the mango chutney plus a bit of boiling water, bring to a gentle simmer and let it slowly bubble away to a thick sauce.  When the veg and the lentils are soft, add the mango chutney.

I like to cook a curry in the morning and let it stand until the evening to develop the flavours.

I served it with 50g (uncooked) of rice, a dollop of natural yogurt (7p) and a home made sort of chapatti and it was very good indeed.

You may have noticed I do a lot of 'sort of' cooking!