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.