Well, we finally have cool mornings and darker nights again. But that summer was great! It’s given us an abundance of apples which we are using up in apple pies and crumbles and cakes both brambley and appley 🙂
One of the cheapest ways to pare your food budget right back is to find out what time your local supermarket marks down its perishable products and do your shopping then. This makes possible what we call the 25p meal: feeding a family of four for £1, or under, all ingredients.
Cauliflower (25p) in a white sauce (milk/marg/flour/water totalling 20p), and 30p worth of leftover rice made into herby tomato rice by adding: 1 onion (7p, not marked down but really cheap in Lidl) a squirt of tomato puree (5p), dried herbs (5p) salt (2p).
Above was a nice meal based around getting an organic unsliced wholemeal loaf for 10p, and adding marg and garlic to make it into garlic bread. Cheap spaghetti (often around 20p for 500g in value ranges) mixed with a tin of kidney beans at 25p and marked down pepper and courgette, both 10p each. Salad was a 10p lettuce with a squirt of lemon juice. There was a LOT of garlic bread made with that one loaf!
A firm favourite now, actually considered a treat in this house, is the meal of pizza bagels, or pittas, or, as pictured below, pizza paninis. Made with 4 Paninis at 19p for 2, then with pizza sauce consisting of an onion fried in a tiny bit of oil, tomato puree, herbs and salt, totalling no more than 10p. They only need a few minutes in the oven or under the grill as the bread bases are already cooked. We paired them with a reduced salad bag at 10p, reduced hummus at 32p and a tub of pasta salad marked down to 26p. Over budget by 6p! If we’d used cheaper bread, such as one pack of bagels reduced to 20p, we would have been under.
It would be cheaper to use the pizzas as a side to homemade soup (see our many soup recipes). Of course, you can add any topping you like to these, but the sauce is delicious in itself.
This next one pushes the budget again, though only by 10p, for a luxury breakfast! It’s porridge (20p worth value range oats) made with water, but with a huge box of blueberries (marked down to 75p) and half a bar of Lidl dark chocolate (bar is 30p, so 15p), smashed up. Yum.
Our local Tesco usually does a big mark down around 6pm. The one in the next town is a little later at 6.45pm and its prices go right down to 2p for many items. Asda starts much earlier in the day with its reductions. Martin Lewis wrote an article on the different supermarkets and their reduction times here.
Unless we’re going to use them that day, we tend to avoid ready chopped things which go off quickly. Whole vegetables and fruit will keep for a few days and bread will be good for a couple of days or can go straight in the freezer. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve filled our freezer with 10p loaves and buns!
It can be fun to use your imagination and ingenuity to make best use of what’s available on any given day in the reduced section. Please feel free to share your ideas and successes in the comments below 🙂
Simple to make, lovely to eat. Particularly frugal for us as we found these wraps reduced to 10p on Christmas Eve (freezer has quite a pile of them now) and the peanut butter at 4 jars for £1 at Approved Food, and it’s the nicest peanut butter we’ve tasted!
Ingredients for four people:
4 wraps or tortillas of your choice
a tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin sticks
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each: dried coriander, ground cumin, dried fenugreek. Or you could just use some curry powder.
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon peanut butter
salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pan and fry up the onion and sweet potatoes for a few minutes before adding the spices and mixing well. Add the coconut, peanut butter and salt along with a small amount of water (a few tablespoons), cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft. It should only take a few minutes: sweet potatoes cook much faster than white ones.
Lay out your wraps and divide the sweet potato mixture between them. We lay it out in a line and then fold down the ends of the wrap before rolling the fajitas up for less messy eating!
We’ve walked through and against snow and ice and gale force winds this last week. That’s a lot of weather to deal with! So, reaching for some comforting food, we made beer battered onion rings. The recipe is new to the site here, and is very simple and delicious.
Our order of jumpers for Christmas presents came from Everything5pounds today and we’re very impressed. Designer labels on them all, and an expensive price tag left on one!
These are gorgeous! They’re light and crispy and fluffy and wonderfully flavourful. And really, really simple to make.
Ingredients (for four side portions or two greedy ones):
oil to fry; we used sunflower
one large onion
about a cup/120g of self raising flour, we used Asda’s gluten free
about 200ml of beer of your choice; you could substitute sparkling water instead
half a teaspoon of salt
a quarter teaspoon of dried turmeric (optional, makes the batter more colourful)
Slice up your onion to make the rings, not too thinly, and discard the skin. Whisk together the flour and beer/water until a nice thick batter forms. You don’t want it watery but neither do you want it too stiff like a cake mix.
Heat your oil. If you have a deep fat fryer: go for it! We used a large pan with the oil at about an inch deep and did the rings in three batches. Test the oil with a small drop of batter: if it starts bubbling and frying, it’s ready.
Dip the onion rings in the batter, coating them well, and then pop them into the oil to fry for a few minutes until the batter goes nice and golden. It’s best to do this, both the putting in and lifting out, with a fork or other implement: don’t burn those fingers!
You can lay them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil if you want.
We’ve been discussing Christmas this week and how sad it is that so many people end up feeling overstretched in various ways – financial, physical, emotional – come January. It doesn’t have to be that way! Some years ago one of us wrote an article on having the Christmas you want here.
Yes. Pumpkins and squash abound this time of year, and very delicious and nutritious they are to hold us in good stead through winter. We have a lovely new recipe for you to try: Roast Pumpkin and Garlic Pasta. It’s a good one!
Seasonal, delicious and super garlic-y, this pasta in a blended sauce makes a filling and nutritious meal. The texture of the pumpkin with the pasta works really well. Quantities are for four large portions.
You could use the scooped out flesh of a carving pumpkin for this recipe though culinary ones are more flavourful.
For the sauce:
1 culinary pumpkin, deseeded and chopped into chunks
1 bulb of garlic, with the cloves separated and peeled
a little olive oil
a handful of cashew nuts
the juice and rind of 1 lemon
a little salt
1 apple, roughly chopped
Place the chopped pumpkin and peeled garlic in a roasting tin and coat well with the olive oil (with hands is best). Roast for about half an hour at 200C/400F, then leave to cool.
Prepare pasta of your choice according to packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking you can make the sauce. Remove the skin from the pumpkin chunks and place them in a blender with all the other sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick add a little water and blend again.
Once the pasta is ready, stir in the sauce and there you go. Yummy Autumnal goodness!
Spicy variant: add a couple of red chillies to the roasting pan and to the mix (best to deseed them after roasting).