Sunday 30 April 2017

Recipe: pea cannelloni

The inspiration for this goes to Miguel Barclay and the recipe in his book, One Pound Meals.
(edited - it's not in the book.  Sorry, I thought it was.  However, you can find it on his Instagram thingy and also here on you tube  -  sorry)

 However, I adapted it quite a lot so I can take a little of the credit for it.
Amounts below are for one.

some frozen peas
2 sheets of lasagne

one mushroom, finely chopped
quarter of a small-ish onion, finely chopped
small splash oil
1/12 of a pack of savers soft cheese

quarter of a pint of cheese sauce (I already had some which was leftover and had been frozen)

15g finely grated cheddar cheese.  Choose your cheddar carefully.  A strong one from a budget shop can be very reasonably priced and the stronger it is, the less you need for the flavour

Turn the oven on to around 180C

Cook the peas and the lasagne sheets in salted water.  They take about the same time to cook.
While they are cooking, saute the onion and the mushroom in a very little oil.
When the peas and lasagne are cooked, drain, lay the lasagne flat on a non stick surface (like some baking parchment) and put the peas in a bowl.  Add the onion, mushroom and soft cheese and mix well.  The soft cheese should melt into the mixture.  Add some pepper if you want.  Salt is not needed.
Place half the mixture at the end of each lasagne sheet and roll them up, like cannelloni.  Carefully place them in an appropriately sized, oiled baking dish.
Pour over the cheese sauce and then sprinkle over the grated cheese.  Bake in the oven until all is piping hot and the cheese has browned.

It was delicious, filling and on the list of Things To Make Again!

End of day 18

The pea cannelloni, adapted quite a lot.

It's been a delicious day!
B:  porridge with stewed rhubarb and natural yogurt   Total 5p
D:  pea cannelloni with mixed salad and coleslaw.   Total 52p
T:  toastie, coleslaw and mixed salad - both leftovers and costed for dinner.   Total 20p
S:  I was too full up to have any snacks or supper.

So I had £5.35
I spent 77p which is ridiculously low for such a scrummy day
Remaining:  £4.58.

That's a nice way to end the month and I have £4.38 to get some apfs for the May budget.
I still have one and a bit tubes of tomato puree and some plum jam left.  Some will go on more milk and a batch of yogurt and I bought a cabbage the other day which I haven't taken off the budget yet but started using today so I will do that.  I might spend a bit on more basic salad veg, given that it's getting warmer.  

I shall have to ponder on this one, I think.  I want to make the best of the money, after all..

Looking ahead to May (the month, not the politician)

April was a success from the finance point of view but not so much so from the nutrition side of things.  Too many meals out, family get togethers, birthday treats . . . which were lovely and I appreciate them but stepping on the scales was not satisfying!  Not an utter disaster but not what I should have seen.

Ah, well, leave it all behind and . . .

I'm continuing with 5-2 - £8 a week, under £35 a month.  Not bad in anyone's money.  It has proved itself and I don't want to move away from it.  It works with my lifestyle and is adaptable.  I haven't made great inroads into my freezer yet because so many weekends have been off challenge but it's better than it was!

What will change is that I will count up rather than down.  I shall keep running totals of how much I could have spent and how much I actually have spent.  Hopefully, the latter will be less than the former.

I shall run it from month to month now.  Starts of the first day, ends on the last day with a weigh.  Much more sensible.

The left over money from April will buy some more apfs to start May off.  Things like butter, oil, herbs, yogurt, etc.  Works for me!

And that's more or less it really!

It would be lovely to get more comments.  Please feel free . . .

Day 18

I have £5.35 and it's the last day of April so the last day of this cycle.  I have weighed and have gained a pound.  That's entirely down to birthday indulgence and it's behind me now.  I'm moving on (and, hopefully, down)!

Today's plans
B:  porridge (4p) with stewed rhubarb (1p) and natural yogurt (apf)
L:  pea cannelloni (to be costed when I make it), coleslaw (6p), side salad (apf), apple (7p)
T:  toastie (20p), more coleslaw (6p), banana (12p)

The pea cannelloni is a Miguel Barclay recipe which can be found on You Tube.  I am adapting it.
I shall be using up some leftover cheese sauce in the freezer and will mix the peas with some onion and mushroom.  Oh, and the cheese will be cheddar as I got some on special so it's great value.

End of day 17

How it went today

B:  Toast and marmalade.  Total 3p
L:  broccoli soup, 2 apples.  Total 27p
D:  Fish, wedges and coleslaw.  Total 91p
S:  apple, banana   Total 19p

I had £6.75
I spent £1.40
Remaining:  £5.35
One day to go!

Saturday 29 April 2017

Day 17

The penultimate day of the month and of this cycle of the challenge.
Today's plans:
B:  toast (2p) and jam or marmalade (apfs)
L:  soup from the freezer (13p), apple (7p)
D:  battered cod (75p), home made chops ( 7p-ish), coleslaw (6p)
S:  carrot batons

. . . and I have £6.76 left

Friday 28 April 2017

End of day 16

B:  poached egg on toasted crumpet.  Total 15p
L:  leek and potato soup and an apple.  Total 21p
D:  Home made pizza with side salad.   Total 31p

S:  banana.  Total 12p

The pizza was lovely and I have posted about it in a separate post.

So, to recap:
I had £7.55

I spent 79p
Remaining £6.76

Recipe: home made pizza

Morrisons had some yellow sticker pepperami things - those 'fingers' that you get in lunch boxes.  At 12.5p each (50p for a pack of four), it was too good to miss.  Now I have to think of how to use them.

Pizza came to mind, partly because I read yesterday about making them in a pan/under the grill, rather than in the oven.  Worth giving it a go, thought I.

Ingredients to make a pizza for one.
For the base
75g SR flour plus extra for rolling
some natural yogurt
salt, pepper

Ingredients for the topping
Tomato puree or a mixture of puree and tomato sauce (I used some passata from the garden tomatoes last year with some puree and a little bit of ketchup
Mixed herbs, a bit of garlic puree
Some onion, sliced and softened in a little oil
One 'finger' of pepperami, sliced
(any other veg you would like to use, also pre cooked - I didn't)
finely grated cheddar - I used 30g.

Mix the tomato sauces together and add mixed herbs and garlic puree to taste.  Don't add salt if you use ketchup but I added some pepper.
Saute the onion in a little oil in a small pan (that you will use to make the pizza in), remove from the pan but don't clean it.
Have everything ready.
Turn on the grill.

Mix ingredients to a soft dough (add more flour or yogurt if needed).  Roll or punch out to a circle to fit in a small frying pan).
Place in pan, prick all over and cook over a low heat, like this.

Remove from heat when the top looks as if it has cooked through from the bottom.  It's easy to lift up and look, if you want.
Spread over the tomato sauces, then sprinkle over the onion and the pepperami.  Top with the grated cheddar and add some black pepper.
Like this:
Place pan carefully under the grill - don't put the handle under if it is not heat proof, leave it sticking out or tip the pizza onto an oven proof tray.

Grill until the topping is piping hot and bubbling.
Serve immediately.

It was very, very tasty!

Because all the ingredients are pretty frugal, it is going to be pretty frugal and you can make it with whatever you like really so it is very flexible.

Day 16

I have £7.55 left and it is day 17 (of 19 altogether)

B:  poached egg (13p) on toasted crumpet (2p)
L:  the soup I defrosted but didn't have yesterday (13p), apple (7p)
D:  home made pizza with pepperami topping (to be costed out), lettuce and cucumber side salad (apf), natural yogurt (apf)
(apf means already paid for)

End of day 15

How it went.
B:  pears in yogurt.  Total 17p
L:  toast with peanut butter   Total Total 8p
D:  jacket potato with cheese, side salad  Total 46p
Plus birthday choccies and wine (ooops)

I had £8.26
I spent 71p
Remaining:  £7.55

Thursday 27 April 2017

Day 15

I have £8.26 and there are four more days to go - two at £1 and two at £1.50

Today's plans are:
B:  stewed pears (17p) in natural yogurt (apf); toast (2p)
L:  soup from the freezer (13p-ish),  natural yogurt (apf)
D:  I made the salad yesterday but didn't have it so I shall have it for dinner (16p), small jacket potato (10p, maybe less), grated cheese (30g, 14p)

End of day 14

. . . and this is how it went.

B:  beans on toast (10p)
L:  poached egg on crumpet (15p), apple (7p)
D: cottage pie (37p), didn't have the side salad.  Also some cheese and crackers left over from Sunday.  I'm going to say 20p as I didn't have loads.

Also, unfortunately, some wine and chocolate but they were birthday gifts.

I started the day with £9.15
I spent 89p
Remaining:  £8.26

Wednesday 26 April 2017


I love butter, don't you.  I don't ever have loads of it, mms thick on my toast, but a little scrape is gorgeous.
It's way too easy to have too much so this is what I do.
I have a cute little butter dish, just like this one

It holds a quarter of a pack of butter but I weigh into it 50g of butter, a fifth of the pack, and I treat it as an apf.  I can see exactly how much I'm using and it really does help me to be frugal with it.

Day 14

I have £9.15

Today's food plans
B:  beans (8p) on toast (2p)  (I do have a scrape of butter and that is apf)
L;  poached egg (13p) on a crumpet (2p), apple (8p)
(or I might swap breakfast and lunch round, I haven't quite decided yet)
D:  cottage pie (35p), probably a side salad to go with it - lettuce and cucumber is apf, radishes and baby tomatoes about 14p, carrot 2p, some shreds of cabbage apf

End of day 13

I'm glad I planned what I did.  Perfect for such a chilly day.
Here's how it all went.
B:  porridge with sugar and natural yogurt.   Total 5p
L:  beans on toast.  Total 10p
D:  spag bol with grated cheese and peas.  Natural yogurt.   Total 41p
S/S:  apple.  Total 8p

So I started the day with £9.94
I spent 79p
Remaining:  £9.15

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Day 13

The birthday is over - it was good for the budget, not so wonderful for the waistline.  I've had so many off challenge days in this April that I doubt I will have lost much weight this time, but, hopefully, I haven't gained.  Weigh-day is on the 30th

It is day 13, a £1 day and I have  £9.94 in the budget.
Here are today's plans:
B:  porridge (4p), sugar (1p), natural yogurt (apf)
L:  beans (8p) on toast (2p), apple (8p)
D:  spag (2p) and bolognaise (left over from the weekend - 25p), 50g peas (5p), 10g grated cheese (5p), banana (12p)
S:  carrot batons (2p)

The new 5-2 budget challenge starts next Monday.  I think that instead of trying to work out what the budget should be for the month and counting down from that, which has been rather confusing for me with off challenge days, etc, I shall count up.  In other words, I shall work out each day what I should have spent each day from the 1st of the month and what I have actually spent - it will be cumulative.  It should give me exactly the same information but be much easier to manage when things change.
(I hope that makes sense)

Monday 24 April 2017

End of day 12

Today went more or less to plan, aided by a lovely lunch out.

B:  porridge, sugar and natural yogurt.   Total 5p

L:  yum.  Total free
D:  ham salad - leftovers from Sunday.  Total 40p
apf butter  22p

So I had £10.61.  
I spent 67p
Remaining  £9.94
(which looks quite healthy!)

Day 12

A funny old day today as it's my birthday and I'm being taken out for lunch.  All the better for the budget!  :-)

I have £10.61 and my plans are:
B:  Porridge (4p), sugar (1p), natural yogurt (apf)
L:  Being taken out so free.  :-)
D:  Ham (14p), coleslaw, (6p), mixed salad (10p), fruit (10p)
S/S:  carrot batons (2p), apple (10p)

Plus some butter as an apf (22p)

I'm relieved that things are back to normal now.  Five straight days on £1.00 and two on £1.50 to take me up to the end of the month.

End of day 10

This is the split day - breakfast and lunch from Friday and the evening meal from Sunday
On Friday I had . . .
B:  nothing - I wasn't hungry and was rather busy!
L:  toast and jam.  Total 4p

And then on Sunday evening
T:  a ham roll (the ham was a slice off the small ham I cooked for the family lunch and the roll was a brioche bun from the freezer   Total 25p

So I had £9.90
I spent 29p
I have added £1.00 to cover Monday which I hadn't originally allowed for.
Remaining  £10.61

And it is more or less all back to normal now!  :-)

Sunday 23 April 2017

End of day 11

Well, it all went fine and, while I have no exact totals, I am certain that it came to around £1.50 in total, especially as there was some lasagne left over (just the meat and cheese sauces), now resting in a gloopy heap in a container in the freezer, labelled with a slightly arbitrary 25p because I have to call it something!  That'll do for a meal this coming week, won't it?

So . . .
I had £11-40
I spent £1.50
Remaining: £9.90

I'm now into the split day - It's a bit complicated but I know what I'm doing.  Practically, it means that Friday breakfast and lunch and Sunday's evening meal are going to count as one day.
I had planned to be off challenge on Monday (birthday, being taken out for lunch) but, you know what - I'm going to count it as it is only one meal I'm not paying for.  I'll have to add an extra £1.00 to the budget as I hadn't thought I would be including Monday when I worked it all out.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Recipe: Thrifty Lesley's three ingredient cake

Haven't made it (yet\) but it looks great, as is Lesley's blog.  Worth having a good look around there.

Recipe: rhubarb and ginger loaf

I saw this recipe in this week's 'Woman' magazine, which I bought on an impulse because it said 'a week of £1 and under dinners' on the cover.  Leafing through, I found this and I gave it a go yesterday.

I used rhubarb that I had frozen and thawed it gently in the microwave.
It came out deliciously (although fresh rhubarb would have been better and next times I will use fresh) so I thought I'd share.  Here's a link to the recipe.
Instead of one 1kg loaf tin, I used two llb loaf tins which were fine and which didn't shorten the cooking time by much, and I used a tin liner rather than faffing about with strips of paper.  Also I used Stork instead of butter.

I'll change a few things next time.
As well as using fresh fruit, I will also add a bit more ginger (or try another spice instead) and I will cut the rhubarb a bit smaller.

It was difficult to cut yesterday, very difficult, but this morning it's fine and it tastes so good, I thought I'd share.

Day 11

After all my pondering and musings, I have realised that, actually, today should fit into the '2' part of my 5-2 challenge.  I didn't carefully cost out the lasagne, only roughly, so can't be as exact as I would like, but I shall say today costs £1.50 which should be close enough to make little difference and may even be over.

So - I have £11-40 as from yesterday morning.

Today's food plans:
B:  toast and fruit
L:  tomato and lentil soup, bread, home made rhubarb and ginger cake (just a very little bit!)
D:  lasagne, salad, garlic bread, stewed rhubarb and custard

Friday 21 April 2017

Recipe: tuna pasta

A very simple one but sometimes simple is best.

half a can tuna flakes, drained
some passata (mine was from last year's tomatoes)
half a small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
a bit of oil (or butter)
a mushroom, sliced
herbs and seasonings
spaghetti. cooked

Cook the spaghetti

While that is cooking, saute the onion in the oil until it softens and goes translucent.  Add the mushroom and cook a little bit longer.  Add the passata with herbs, salt and pepper and simmer for a short while until; it reduces a bit.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Add the tuna flakes and stir gently.
Tip in the cooked, drained spaghetti, gently mix and serve.

(If you want, before serving, top with some grated cheese and bake under the grill for a short while so the cheese melts.  I didn't)

Day 10

I have £11.40 and now it gets a little bit complicated.
'Day' 10 is actually spread over two days.  Breakfast and lunch today and then tea on Sunday.  This is because in between times I have visitors staying and am hosting a family meal on Sunday.

However, even for those meals, I am automatically thinking 'frugal' without skimping, so I think maybe the habit is starting to become a lifestyle.
As I quoted in a previous post from 'Family Feasts for a Fiver':
'Disciplined household management is a bit like going to the gym and keeping fit; it's tough at the beginning but, if you stick at it, it becomes habit and then, ultimately, a lifestyle.'

Anyway - today's plans
B:  toast and jam (2p), apple (7p)
L:  tuna and a salad  (30p as most of the salad is apf)

And then, probably, on Sunday evening
T:  beans on toast (10p), natural yogurt (apf)
S:  carrot batons

In between times I'm off challenge and planning:
Breakfasts: toast and fruit (what we always have)
Small meal:  tomato and lentil soup, rhubarb cake
Main meals:  fish and chips (oven baked);  lasagne, salad, garlic bread and then rhubarb and custard; and the family meal is ham, cheg, jacket pots, salads, fruit, cheeses and crackers.
Lots of home mades which is almost always better value as well as nicer!

(apf means 'already paid for')

End of day 9

All went according to plan except that I didn't have the side salad.
B:  porridge   Total 5p
L:  soup, apple   Total 20p
D:  tuna pasta bake, natural yogurt.   Total 40p
S:  carrot batons 2p

I had £12.07
I spent 67p
Remaining:  £11.40

Thursday 20 April 2017

Day 9

I have £12.07 and today is a £1.00 day.

My plans are . . .
B:  porridge (4p), sugar (1p), natural yogurt
L:  leek and potato soup (13p), apple (7p)
D:  tuna pasta bake (still costing it out but it won't come to more than 50p), simple side salad of lettuce, cucumber, cauliflower and carrot (5p as some is apf), natural yogurt (apf)
S:  carrot batons (2p)

I've had another 'think' about the weekend, looked carefully at my plans and realised that I think I can do Saturday as a £1.50 day, even with guests.

Breakfast will be toast and fruit, for lunch I plan to make my tomato and lentil soup (and I know that's frugal) plus bread and then something like rhubarb loaf and dinner is home made lasagne (the mince is frugal, bulked out with goodies like lentils, oats and loadsa veg and is currently bubbling away in my Thermomix, smelling wonderful) with a simple salad and some garlic bread, followed by something with rhubarb - probably stewed and with custard as I know my guests love that.
I know that will all fit into a £1.50 budget for me.
I think I will be pragmatic and just say it's £1.50 for the day.  That will keep me on track nicely.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

End of day 8

A good day today.
B:  toast and jam, banana.   Total 14p

L:  soup, pear.  Total 16p
D:  Mince pie (the savoury kind!), cauliflower, cabbage, yogurt with stewed rhubarb   Total 33p

And the pastry was absolutely delicious!

I had £12.70
I spent 63p
Remaining:  £12.07

Recipe: how to make frugal pastry

I need to make a bit of pastry today.  Not a lot, just enough for a one person pie topping and made with oil, not butter/trex, which adds on the pennies.  After asking in the Facebook Feed Yourself for a Pound a Day about how much oil Pat or Lesley uses, I was pointed towards the relevant recipe.

I'm not going to reproduce it here as it's someone else's recipe on someone else's blog/site but here is the link.  Scroll down until you get to the part that is about making the pastry.

While I'm at it, if you are serious about cutting meal costs, Lesley's site is an absolute must, packed as it is with recipes and ideas.  Take a look and you'll see what I mean.
And, of course, so is the Facebook Group.  Not that I am biased or anything.  😊

Edited to update:

It was delicious.  Not soft, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth pastry but crisp, light, float-in-the-air pastry, prefect for a savoury pie topping (or a quiche bottom, come to that - gotta try one soon).
I used 50g SR flour, 25mls oil and 25mls water to make a soft, easily worked dough that didn't need chilling and that behaved itself perfectly.  It was a bit too much for one so next time I will try 40-20-20 or even 30-15-15 (easier on the measuring) and see if that is a better amount for one.  No idea of the calories but the pastry I made yesterday that was too much cost 5p.  If I have pastry, I don't have spuds so more or less equal in value.

I wish I had taken a photo.  Must remember next time!

Day 8

Remaining:  £12.70 and it is another £1.00 day

B:  toast (2p), jam (apf), banana (12p)
L:  tomato soup (made with last year's garden tomatoes so 8p), small salad (lettuce, cucumber, carrot 2p as the first two items are apfs), pear (8p)
D:  mincemeat pie (made with one portion of mince and a pastry topping, about 25p), cauliflower (5p), cabbage (apf)
S/S  I have some lovely, cheap carrots from Aldi, loads of them, so guess what suppers/snacks are going to be for the next little while!  (2p)

Quite a frugal spend today although it would be more if I didn't have apfs, which are things I have already paid for in total as the total cost has been deducted from the budget.  I'm pleased to be able to fit in quite a lot of fruit and veg too.

After another slight change in weekend non-food planning, it's all going to be a bit more complicated.  It was going to be easy - my guests were going to arrive Saturday am and leave Monday am which would fit well into the challenge - just take two days out.
However, now they are coming Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday afternoon so what I'm going to do is have Friday breakfast and lunch and Sunday evening as one day's meals (not sure if it will be a £1.50 or a £1 day) and take the bits in between off challenge.  It sounds more complicated than it will be in reality, I think - I know what I mean, anyway.
And I must remember to take some money off the budget as originally only Sunday was going to be off challenge!
That's real life, isn't it?

End of day 7

How did it go?  Well, fine, as it happened although it's just as well I had some money in hand in the budget.
B:  porridge with sugar and yogurt.   Total 5p
L:  tuna mayo and cucumber sandwiches, two apples (because most of one had to be chucked and they're only small anyway)   Total 39p - expensive for a lunch, darn it, but I really fancied some tuna!
D:  chorizo and bean pasta, natural yogurt and stewed rhubarb.   Total 30p

Plus 60p for cucumber and lettuce and 35p for milk

I had £14.39
I spent £1.69
Remaining:  £12.70

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Day 7

A weekday and therefore a £1 day and I have £14.39 remaining.
Today's food plans are:
B:  porridge (4p), sugar (1p), natural yogurt (apf)
L:  probably a tuna mayo sarnie (25p) and an apple (7p)
D:  chorizo and bean stew (28p), spaghetti (2p), natural yogurt (apf) and stewed rhubarb (1p)
S/S:  carrot batons (4p), banana (12p)

(apf means 'already paid for - the total cost has been deducted from the budget)

Edited to add more apfs.  I fell for a lettuce and some cucumber in Aldi and I'm going to pay for half of each in advance because I reckon half will be used at the weekend when I am off challenge because I have family visiting.  So that's another 60p off.

Monday 17 April 2017

End of day 6

It's very nice to be back on the frugal track again, much as I love living it up with Mum and Dad.  The trouble with getting out of pattern is that I've ended up feeling very hungry this afternoon and I don't usually.  Never mind, I pushed on through and won the battle!

Today went like this:
B:  toast and fruit.   Total free because I was still away
L:  leek and potato soup and a free apple (Dad slipped it in my bag because I didn't have room for it at breakfast)   Total: 13p
D:  Cheese toastie, coleslaw, tomato, yogurt and stewed rhubarb   Total 36p
S/S:  banana   Total 12p

plus a batch of natural yogurt   Total 49p

So - I had £15.47
I spent £1.10 (including the yogurt)
Remaining:  £14.37

Day 6

. . . and it's another £1.00 day

Back on challenge now after two days off while staying at my parents' and eating them out of house and home.  Back on the frugal track again now.

I have £15.47 left in the budget.

Today's food plans:
B:  toast and fruit (free as still away)

L:  (back home)  leek and potato soup (13p), apple (the last of the 9p apples)
D:  I'm tending towards a toasted cheese sarnie (17p) with coleslaw (6p) and maybe a sliced tomato (8p) followed by natural yogurt (apf) with some stewed rhubarb (1p as the rhubarb is from the allotment)
S:  banana (12p), carrot batons (4p)

It's nice to be back!

Friday 14 April 2017

End of day 5

A funny old day but quite a frugal one.
B:  It was a bit of a complicated morning and I forgot to have any so total 0p
L:  very hungry after a morning at the allotment so four slices (little slices!) of toast and peanut butter plus a banana.   Total 28p
Dinner:  out and not paying
Plus 45p for two of the pots of jam.  The other I gave away.

So I had £16.20
I spent 73p
Remaining £15.47

Off challenge now for a couple of days.

Recipe: easy fish pie

(Sorry, I forgot to take a photo.  It was delicious though!)

I use pollack or basa and I find half a fillet is enough for one fish pie.  I cut them in half, lengthwise while they are still frozen.

Half a basa or pollack fillet (or any fish, to be honest, it's just that I'm being frugal - a few prawns from a bag of frozen prawns is nice to add, as is something smoked - haddock or salmon trimmings)
half a small onion, peeled and finely sliced
bit of oil or butter
a few frozen peas (or any other veg you fancy - leftovers are great)
a splash of milk
a sixth of a pack of savers soft cheese
herbs and seasonings

and for the topping:
mashed potato (leftovers or I bung one in the microwave and peel and mash - it saves time, effort and washing up)
20g cheddar, grated
a splash of milk
bit of salt and pepper

Heat the oven to about 180C

Make the topping by mashing all the ingredients together.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Spray a non stick pan with oil and gently fry the onion until soft.  Add the fish and continue frying for a few minutes more.
Add the peas, any other veg (cooked) and a bit of milk.  When the milk is bubbling, add the soft cheese and stir gently while it melts.  If there's not enough sauce, add a bit more milk.  Taste and season - I added salt, pepper and some fresh chopped parsley.

Make the pie by spooning the fish sauce into a suitable sized oven proof dish, spooning over the mash and spreading it out to cover the sauce.  Bake in the oven until the top is golden brown by which time the bottom will be bubbling and everything properly cooked.

Serve with veg of your choice.

Day 5

Another £1.00 day

I have £16.20

Today's plans:
B:  porridge (4p) with jam and natural yogurt (both apfs - or will be by the end of the day)
L:  toast (3p), peanut butter (6p),  banana (12p)
D:  out and not paying

Plus two of the three pots of jam I made yesterday as an apf  (45p)

And from tomorrow I will be off challenge for a few days, already taken into account in the budget.

(apf means already paid for - the whole thing has been taken off the budget, even though there's still some to use up)

Thursday 13 April 2017

End of day 4

This is how it all worked out.
B:  porridge with sugar and natural yogurt.   Total 6p
L:  lentil and veg soup.   Total 8p (I didn't want the bread or the apple and didn't have time anyway!)
D:  fish pie with peas, mango yogurt   Total 48p
S:  apple.   Total 9p

I had £16.91
I spent 71p
Remaining:  £16.20

It's funny how keeping busy makes you forget about food.  I've been working hard in the garden and then in the kitchen, dealing with bits, bobs and scraps from the fridge that really did need sorting out.
I now have:
three pots of plum jam
seven portions of leek and potato soup
blanched and frozen parsnips (for roasting)
chopped and frozen broccoli bits for future soup
frozen cauliflower
chopped and frozen rhubarb
I won't need to do much shopping for AGES!

Recipe: plum jam with star anise

I tidied up my fridge this morning and used some rather wizened plums to make the most delicious jam at 70p for the lot!

This is what I did.

I stoned the plums by cutting into quarters.  I then added a dash of water and one star anise and stewed them in a large pan until they were all soft.  Then I removed the star anise.

I measured how much I had (it very conveniently came to a pint) and used the old rule 'a pound to a pint'.  Plums are high in pectin so you can use ordinary sugar - no need for lemon juice or the very expensive jam sugar.

I tipped the plums back into the pan (it has to be a large pan) and added the pound of sugar, stirred it well and left it so the sugar dissolved into the hot stewed plums.

While that was going on, I thoroughly washed some reused jam jars and lids and put the jars on an oven tray in the oven at a low temperature to warm up.  I then popped two saucers in the fridge (to test for set).

I turned the ring onto high and let the mix come to a boil and a bubble for about five minutes, stirring regularly (or it will stick and burn).

After five minutes I took the pan off the ring and tested for setting point.  Rather than try to explain to those of you who don't know what this is, I will point you to the clearest description online I have ever found.  It's called the wrinkle test.

Mine had reached setting point but if it hadn't I'd have boiled it for another five minutes and then tested again.

I took the jars out of the oven and carefully, very carefully ladled the jam into the jars and screwed on the lids.  I will label them when they're cold.

That'll do for my breakfast toast or porridge, thank you very much!

Day 4

Another £1.00 day and I have £16.91 in the budget.

Today's food looks something like this:
B:  porridge (4p), sugar (2p), natural yogurt (apf)
L:  Lentil and veg soup (8p), bread (2p), apple (9p)
D:  fish pie (to be costed), peas (approx 8p), runner beans (free), mango yogurt (free)
S:  banana (12p)

The chickpea burger was scrummy so I've posted about what I did here.
I also did a couple of posts about what has helped me to stay on a pound a day here and here.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

End of day 3

How did it all go?
B:  baked beans on toast.   Total 10p
L:  cauliflower soup  Total 8p  (it was very filling!)
D:  home made chickpea burger in a brioche bun, coleslaw, radishes, tomato, mango yogurt.  Total 42p
S:  apple   Total 9p

So I started the day with £17.60
I spent 69p
Remaining:  £16.91

Recipe: chickpea burger.

A bit of a casual recipe with no definite amounts really but it made me the most scrummy chickpea burger today so I'm sharing.

I had some chickpeas - part of a small pot of them from the freezer that I used on Monday for the stuffed pancakes and yesterday for the chickpea and pork curry and I still had some left.  It wasn't a big portion but chickpeas go a long way.

I zizzed up half a small onion and a quarter of a carrot until in tiny bits.  To that I added the chickpeas, a pinch of paprika, cumin and coriander, a little squeeze of garlic puree, some fresh parsley, a splash of bottled lime juice and a small amount of plain flour.  I then zizzed it again until it was a firm 'mush'.

Using extra flour, I shaped the mush into a burger, popped it on a floured plate, covered it and chilled it until the evening.
I fried it gently in some veg oil, turning it carefully, until both sides had turned a 'golden' brown and served it with some sliced tomato in a brioche bun with coleslaw, the rest of the tomato and some radishes on the side.

That was it.  I forgot to take a photo, sadly, but there's none left now and I'm full!

Eating for a pound a day - my Top Tips for cooking, baking and eating

Here's the second part of my Top Tips (for me, anyway).  The first part was about planning and shopping, this part is about what happens after that!

Some of this relates to choices and behaviours.  I'd like to quote something I have only just read from 'Family Feasts for a Fiver':
'Disciplined household management is a bit like going to the gym and keeping fit; it's tough at the beginning but, if you stick at it, it becomes habit and then, ultimately, a lifestyle.'
I think that really hits the nail on the head for me.  I'm more or less at the 'habit' stage, I think, having started this at the end of January.

Some of these tips are specific and some are general.  Some relate to choices and some to behaviours.  So I'd better stop rambling and start!

This first one might not work for some.  Don't experiment too much unless you are prepared to eat any disasters.  I've eaten some 'interesting' meals in the last two months or so!  Food in the bin is money down the drain.  The more you cook from scratch, the more likely you are to know what will work and the less 'risky' an experiment becomes.  It's like any skill in that way.  So build up the skills first.

Bake your own bread.  I know it takes time and many of us are time poor but it can be done. It's nicer than shop bought and, for the same quality, very, very much cheaper (those brioche buns in the photo cost me around 5p each). When I was working my socks off as a senior teacher, I made my bread on Saturday or Sunday, enough for the week, cooled it, sliced it, wrapped it and froze it so I could get out just what I needed when I needed it.
I still do.  I ring the changes - wholemeal, white, granary, a mixture of flours.  I also keep a sourdough for the occasional times when I fancy a longer baking 'experience'.
Use any leftovers - bread and butter pudding, croutons, breadcrumbs, toast.  Don't throw your money away!   Bread is one of the most wasted foods in this country and, with a bit of forethought, it doesn't have to be.

Relating to the above, make just about everything from scratch.  Yes, I know it takes more time and effort than bunging a ready meal in the oven or microwave (although there's a way round that) but, oh, the saving!  I didn't realise quite how much I could save until I started costing everything out.
If you are time poor, batch cook/bake and freeze in portions so you only have to do a construction job at the end of the day or prepare your own ready meals and freeze them.  A few hours spent doing this now and again pays dividends.  Just think of the skills you are acquiring too.
But remember to keep that freezer list up to date.

Make a collection of frugal recipes.  There's oodles of them around on the internet.  Save them on your PC or to a memory stick.  Adapt them to work for you.  If you're stuck for ideas and don't have time to explore your cookery books, you have a single source of ideas that have taken your fancy - much quicker.
There's some great places for ideas online.   Find Jack Monroe's site, Thrifty Lesley's site, if you're on Facebook, join Feed Yourself for a Pound A Day (brilliant group),   Take time now and again to Google something like 'very frugal recipes' and I then use Tools: Country: the UK because there are loads of US sites that are no earthly use to me in the UK - different ingredients and, to be honest, different ideas about what 'frugal food' actually means.  Anything that starts 'make up a packet of Betty Whatshername's Make Your Own Thingummyjig' goes straight in the virtual bin!

Know your amounts.  Use your scales to weigh and measure rather than guesstimate, especially at first.  If you do get it wrong and make too much, set it aside and either use it next day or wrap it and freeze it (update the list!).  Don't have extra that day or you are likely to wander outside what is, after all, a very strict budget and most certainly don't just chuck it!

Know your portion size - which might be the same as above, if you live alone.  To be honest, I had to make a decision to reduce my portions when I started this.  I was having too much.
I think we are now conditioned to 'need' a loaded plate.  Look at the adverts, look at what you're given in a pub or restaurant.  The food is almost falling off the side!  If you find it hard to reduce portions sizes, use a smaller plate so there aren't so many gaps.  The eye most certainly deceives the mind and the same amount on a smaller plate can look and feel so much more filling.

Leading on from that, I use two tricks that really help.  Small mouthfuls and eating slowly.  Putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls helps a lot, as does chewing properly and not gobbling.  It takes a while for those 'satisfied' messages to reach the brain and after a while you can tell when it happens.  It means you have to allow yourself enough time to eat mindfully but it really works.
It sounds a bit like slimming advice, doesn't it?  It works the same way and I can promise you that if you are wanting to lose weight, forget the calories and focus on eating healthily and in a balanced way on a fairly strict budget and you WILL lose weight.

A lot of it boils down to the choices you make.  Yes, I could fill up (temporarily) on home made fries and wedges or pig out on delicious bread and stay within budget, but that wouldn't satisfy, nor would it be good for me.

You could go vegetarian - not necessarily all the time, but for some meals.   Vegetarian protein can be so much more frugal, especially beans and lentils if you soak and cook them yourself and there are some wonderful recipes around.  I eat meat because I like it but I use it carefully and have chosen to significantly reduce the amount I have.

Fruit and veg can be expensive but not if you go seasonal and think about the source of your produce.  I go for bags of wonky veg (heartfelt thanks to Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall for his input here) and if something is beyond my budget, I choose not to buy it.  It's as simple as that.  When courgettes and broccoli were scarce (snow in Spain) and therefore appallingly expensive, I had wonky carrots instead.  When fresh is dear, I have frozen.  I unit price apples, etc, in bags.  Why pay 26p for an apple when you can get a banana for 12p or use up some of the stewed rhubarb from last year's garden?

Leftovers.  With the best will in the world there will be leftovers from time to time.  You can reuse the next day for lunch or dinner, turn it into something else (like veg into soup) or you can wrap and freeze (don't forget to label - I never remember otherwise!).  Just don't throw your money away

And last of all, there's nothing wrong with the occasional splurge if you can afford it and are not going into debt for it.  It's jolly nice to eat a meal you haven't prepared from time to time.  However, I am finding more and more that actually I prefer my own cooking, I enjoy it more and feel better afterwards.  The craving for a takeaway has very much reduced as I have come to realise that the anticipation tasted an awful lot better than the actual food!!!

So there you go.  All these have helped me to turn a wish into a habit and will take me on into a lifestyle.  All I am doing is taking control and making changes that I am happy with and I'm enjoying the bonuses by (as someone on Pound a Day said) saving £s as I lose lbs.

Thanks for reading.

Eating for a pound a day - my Top Tips for planning and shopping

My Top Tips for eating on a pound a day - things that have really helped me since I started the first 30-30 challenge.  I hope they help you as much as they've helped me.

Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan . . .   Got it?  Plan!
OK - what I mean is, know what you are going to cook for, say, the next seven days.  Write it down.  I use a table in Word, some use a wipe-able board, some use printable templates, some use a notebook.  They all work.  Don't just plan dinners, plan the other meals too plus snacks, if you are into snacking.  If that's too restrictive for you, plan seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners, then you can choose what you want each day from those lists, knowing you have all the necessary ingredients.

Focus on what you can have rather than what you can't have.  I love salmon but does it fit into a pound a day budget?  No, it doesn't.  So I don't brood over that, I think that I can have sardines, cheaper white fish, maybe a very few prawns to liven up my fish pies . . . all delicious.

Know what you've already got.  Make a list of contents of cupboards, fridge and freezer.  Keep it up to date.  Then USE it.  Find or create recipes that include things you already have rather than recipes that require you to go out and buy stuff you might never use again.  Substitute (look on Google for ideas - type in 'what can I use instead of xyz') or just leave out.

Never go food shopping without a list.  Never, ever.  Just - don't!
Plan your meals, go through what you need and make your shopping list from that.
And then stick to it!

Avoid top up shopping - who goes in for a pint of milk and comes out with a bagful?  Most of us, I suspect.  Plan the weekly (or whatever) shop and then make do.

Don't fall for 'specials' that you don't normally use, just because they are cheap.  BOGOFs can be a right pain, although I haven't seen so many recently since they were identified as a big cause of food waste.  If you end up throwing those specials away, it may not be (much) money down the drain but it is a wicked waste of the earth's resources.

Go for the savers/value ranges.  They're OK, really they are.  I am prepared to bet that in a blind tasting situation, most of us wouldn't know which was which, even if they tasted different and they can represent a HUGE saving.  The first few times I deliberately chose savers stuff I felt everyone was looking at my trolley (they weren't) but now I couldn't care less!

Don't be too shop loyal either.  Use My Supermarket to determine where the real savings are but remember, if you have to travel too far, the cost could wipe out any savings so be sensible.

Regarding Yellow Sticker/end of life reduction type things, I would say be discriminating.  You can get some great buys but you can waste your money if you don't plan how to use them.  I always look and sometimes buy but I don't go out of my way.  On the other hand, others buy as much YS as they can and then plan meals around what they have found.  It works for them; it wouldn't for me because I have already planned my meals and based my shopping list on those meals.

Linked with the above, take food dates with a pinch of salt.  Obviously, be very careful with fish and poultry, but most stuff can go a few days beyond use by dates if stored properly.  If it is frozen, the dates become immaterial.  Freezing presses the pause button.  Sure, the texture and flavour might change (it might even improve) but the food will remain safe and stable until it is defrosted.

These are what works for me.  If you're serious about reducing what you spend of food and want to do it properly, find what works for you and use it!

Good luck.


I have a few standard portions that I almost invariably stick to.  It makes costing so much easier.

They are:
rice, pasta, spaghetti - 50g
oats for porridge - 50g
bread for toast, with soup, etc - 2 slices
baked beans - 1/3 can

So today's beans on toast is actually 1/3 tin of beans and two slices of my homemade toast.  :-)

Day 3

A £1.00 day and I have £17.60

B:  baked beans (8p) on toast (2p)
L:  cauliflower soup from freezer (8p), apple (9p)
D:  home made chickpea burger (15p), brioche bun (5p), coleslaw (6p), tomato (8p), radishes (8p, 20g grated cheddar (10p)
S/S:  banana (12p), carrot baton (4p)

End of day 2

How it all went.

B:  natural yogurt and stewed rhubarb.   Total 1p (yogurt apf, rhubarb gifted so just the sugar)
L:  baked beans on toast.   Total 10p
D:  pork and chick pea curry with rice, mango yogurt.  Total  16p
D/D:  peanut butter (10p), bread  (3p).   Total 13p
(a not terribly healthy day, snack wise, but never mind, once in a while won't hurt)

I had exactly £18
I spent 40p (quite a lot of freebies and apfs)
Remaining: £17.60

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Day 2

Today is a £1 day and I have £18

Today's plans:
B:  banana (12p) and yogurt (apf)
L:  baked beans (8p) on toast (2p), apple (9p)
D:  pork and chickpea curry (about 9p - see below for why), rice (6p), mango yogurt (free)
S/S:  banana (12p), carrot batons (4p)

I have some of the pancake filling sauce left over from yesterday - I needed less than I thought but I had already priced it all out - and I've found some roast pork that my parents gave me in the freezer which really ought to be used up.  I'll use some of the Mayflower curry mix (apf) and some coconut milk powder (9p)and it should make a tasty, although not authentic, dish!

Recipe: savoury stuffed pancakes

This isn't quite a recipe, more an idea.
I will describe what I did and you can adapt to suit what you have

You need pancakes.  I had two smallish home made sourdough pancakes.

You need a sauce for the filling.  I used passata from last year's tomatoes, some onion, carrot and a few chickpeas and some seasonings.  I sauteed the onion and carrot, then added the passata and simmered it down, adding herbs, salt, pepper, bit of garlic puree and tomato puree.  Then I added the chickpeas.  You could use whatever you want: a bit of leftover bolognaise, chicken in a sauce, whatever.  You don't need much filling.  I had more than half left over and made a curry with it next day!

I grated some cheese - I used 40g.  You could make a cheese sauce but I didn't bother.

I used some soft cheese that I had made from a batch of yogurt that I left in the maker too long,

Heat the oven to 180C
Spread the soft cheese over the pancakes.  Spoon over the hot sauce and roll up the pancakes.
Place them is a suitably sized oven dish.  I used a foil container.
Sprinkle over the cheese, ensuring that it covers the pancakes.
Pop it in the oven for about 15 mins until the cheese is melted and everything is piping hot.