Tuesday 31 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 51

I'm on a mission to clear my freezers of all old stuff and bits and bobs, by using it all up instead of spending on new stuff.  Sort of retrospective frugality!

Today's plans:
B:  bacon sandwich with home made tomato ketchup
L:  baked beans on toast; fruit
D:  flat iron steak with fried onions and tomatoes; yogurt

From the freezer:
flat iron steak
maybe tomatoes as there might be enough still hanging around in the garden

The frugal factor:
The bacon is nice slices from a pack of cooking bacon - I got lucky with that one.
The bread is home made..
The baked beans are Morrisons savers (which I like) with a squirt of ketchup or brown sauce.
The ketchup is home made from garden grown tomatoes
The steak is not frugal, of course, but flat iron steak was half the price of sirloin when I bought it and just as nice - the price has gone up since it was 'discovered' though, sadly.
The tomatoes are garden grown, whether fresh or from the freezer.

Monday 30 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 50

This seems to be taking ages.  I suppose the trouble is the freezer is big and there's just one of me so with the best will in the world I can't get through loads each day!  If I fed four it would be a lot faster.

Today's plans:
B:  porridge with maple syrup
L:  toast and cake (the cake is for someone's birthday)
D:  peppercorn kiev, corn on the cob, wedges; yogurt

From the freezer:
the peppercorn kiev (taking up far more room that it deserved because of the packaging)
the corn on the cob
bread for the toast (enough for three so I will use more)

The frugal factor
(I like that name - I might call this blog The Frugal Factor once the freezer challenge is finished)
Porridge is always great value and I have milk to use up so will make it with all milk.  Nice and creamy and perfect for a cold morning
The bread is home made and I will put out jam, etc, also home made.
The kiev was YS, the corn is from my dad's garden and the wedges will be home made.

Later edit:  Well, I've Googled and it seems to be an unused blog name so I shall change the name right now!  It will cover everything this particular blog is about, more or less, and I like it!

Sunday 29 October 2017

Potato pastry


I read about this in a WW2 Kindle download and also in a friend's blog and thought I'd give it a go.  Of course, potatoes are probably more expensive than flour now and pastry ingredients are not in no way a problem to get hold of but never mind, I wanted to give it a go.

I used the recipe above and adapted it.

20g veg oil (the recipe said butter or marg and I will try butter next time)
70g SR flour (so no baking powder)
28g mash (I made up some instant)

Mash the flour and the oil together, mix in the mash and some salt to make a soft dough.  I patted it out by hand. Top your pie and bake at 180 (fan) for around 30 mins until it's browned.

It came out puffed up, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy underneath, a bit like suet pastry.  I wonder how it would do for dumplings.
Just for once, I remembered to take a photo!

There was a bit left over which I will use to make a sort of tattie scone (fried in butter!) and have for breakfast topped with a poached egg.

The freezer challenge, day 49

With any luck I have several days when I can be on challenge now.  Fingers crossed.

Today's plans:
B:  sort of tattie scone with a poached egg on top
L:  leek and potato soup, bread, fruit
D: beef casserole, potato, green beans; stewed apple and custard

From the freezer
bread (it's from a spelt loaf and rather nice)
beef casserole
green beans

The 'sort of tattie scone' is because I made potato pastry yesterday and had a wee bit left over.  Waste not, want not.

The casserole is, obviously, not that frugal although it was YS beef.  However, the rest is.  The soup is home made as is the bread, the potato is garden grown and the green beans are from the allotment while the apple was a gift.

I'm getting to the point where I need to do a re-sort of the freezer, the front opening freezer anyway, and get some order back.  That's good.

Saturday 28 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 48

Yes, I'm back on it after an unavoidable gap.

Today's plans:
B:  toast and marmalade
L:  coffee and cake
D:  chicken, bacon and vegetable pot pie, stewed apple and custard

From the freezer:
bread for the toast
vegetables (peas, corn and courgettes)

A good start back again.  Fairly frugal too as the marmalade is home made and the cake was given, the bacon is cooking bacon, the courgette is from the allotment and the apple and milk for the custard were given too.

Friday 27 October 2017


Other people's freezers also need things using up. 
Yesterday I was cooking for someone who needed a very soft meal as their 'bottom set' was at the dentist (without them) for an addition.

I got out some cooked mince, added tomatoes (from their garden) also frozen plus some tomato puree and some water as it was quite thick, thawed it all in the microwave and then bunged it in the oven for three more hours of slow cooking to really soften it before giving a few zizzes with a stick blender so it still had texture but didn't need chewing.

Served with orzo with grated cheese on top and some carrots cooked for longer than usual so they were soft rather than al dente, it made a really delicious, easily eaten meal that really hit the spot flavour-wise.  AND it used up stuff from their freezer.

I will remember that one as the resulting mince mixture would have been ideal for lasagne or cannelloni!

I should be back on my own freezer challenge on Sunday, all being well.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Using leftovers

I'm not able to continue with the freezer challenge right now but I thought I'd share this (copied from my 'main' blog).

I had a bit of soup left over from a can of chicken broth.  It's not like cream of chicken, it is a thinner soup with added veg and shreds of chicken.  I'm not fond of it as a soup (it's OK but nothing beats home made, does it?) but I fried up some onion and yellow pepper, added the soup leftovers with a splash of white wine and a bit of a chicken stock cube and added some chicken breast fillet, sliced, before thickening it with some thickening granules.and it was absolutely delicious!  I shall remember that!

I also had a bit of tinned pineapple left so stewed it with one cooking apple and had it with custard (good old Birds, of course).  Totally scrummy!

Leftovers are cool!

Wednesday 18 October 2017


Rather infantile but it says the right thing!

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

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

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

The freezer challenge, day 47

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

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

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

What are you using from your freezer today?

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

Friday 13 October 2017



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

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

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

Frugality rools!

Thursday 12 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 46

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe: savoury crumble topping

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Recipe: bits and bobs frittata

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

The gap is where the wigwam of runner beans stood.

Anyway . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(wish I took better food photos)

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

The freezer challenge, day 45

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 10 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 44

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

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

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

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

Monday 9 October 2017

Recipe: potted ham

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

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

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

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

The freezer challenge, day 43

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

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

Sunday 8 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 42

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

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

Doing better today

Recipe: wrap based rustic pizza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to use up ham.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Quiche - of course!

8.  Ham, cheese and tomato quesadillas.

9.  In a cheesy sauce with veg and pasta

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

11. Macaroni cheese'n'ham

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

And there's loads more ideas here.



Or just Google leftover ham recipes.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Recipe: very simple creamy mushroom soup

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe: 'quesadilla'

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

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

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

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

Serve with salad.

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

The freezer challenge, day 41

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

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

From the freezer

Friday 6 October 2017

Recipe: frugal wraps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The freezer challenge, day 40

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

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

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

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

Thursday 5 October 2017

Recipe: making my own wedges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe: ham and lentil soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The freezer challenge, day 39

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

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

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

Wednesday 4 October 2017

The freezer challenge: day 38

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

Today's plans are freezerless - but frugal!

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

Nothing out of the freezer but no spending!

Tuesday 3 October 2017

The freezer challenge, day 37

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

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

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

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

Monday 2 October 2017

Recipe: tomato and lentil soup

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

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

soft cheese (optional but nice)

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

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

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

The freezer challenge: Day 36

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

Here we are, ready to go again.

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

From the freezer:

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

Sunday 1 October 2017

The freezer challenge is back again tomorrow.

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

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

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

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