Monthly Archives: March 2013

Grocery Challenge Mini Round Up 31/03

Just a short post to catch you up with my grocery challenge progress and weekly meal plan.  I’ve decided to keep the grocery challenge updates to once a week on a Sunday, instead of inserting it into the bottom of each day’s post.

April Spend – £65.39

27/03 – Mr Chilli picked up a few bits in Morrisons:
Nescafe coffee - £1.85
Value kitchen towels - £1.15
Mini chickpea tins x3 - £1
Branston pickle - £1
Seriously strong cheddar - £2.46.
28/03 – I nipped into Morrisons on the way home:
Fresh spinach £1.29
2 pints whole milk – 89p
31/03 – Asda delivery today, cost £5
Walkers ridged crisps x6 - £1
Asda walnut halves 150g - £1.76
Doritoes salsa 300g - £1.00
Asda cat food 950g - £1.28
Smartprice food bags 100 – 78p
Nivea deodorant 250ml - £1.50
Olives 310g – 88p
Dried cranberries 170g - £1
Asda rich roast coffee 200g - £1.98
Asda tuna in brine – 97p
Asda mackerel in oil – 85p
Smartprice chopped tomatoes x3 – 93p
Pinto beans – 39p
Extra virgin olive oil 750ml - £2.50
Merchant Gourmet cooked chestnuts 200g - £1.47
Asda crushed chillies 28g – 71p
Asda smoked paprika – 82p
Smartprice ketchup – 28p
Asda balsamic vinegar 250ml - £1
Smartprice orange juice 3x200ml – 45p
Asda bagged salad x2 - £2
Extra special corn fed free range chicken 1.5kg - £7.64
Asda ham 125g - £1
Smartprice butter – 98p
Whole milk 4 pints – £1
Asda large white baps 6pk x2 - £1
Smartprice cat litter 10kg x2 - £3.20
Loose bananas 1.4kg – 95p
Unwaxed lemons x5 - £1.35
Smartprice apples 850g - £1.01
Asda white potatoes 2.5kg - £1.80
Asda cola 4 pk x2 - £4.30
Loose courgettes 170g – 23p
Green beans 240g - £1
Fresh sage – 65p
Butternut squash 1.1kg - £1.14

So what am I doing with it?

Sun 31 – Roast chicken and all the trimmings (for guests)

Mon 1st – HM gnocchi with roasted squash, walnuts and sage butter with salad

Tues 2nd – vegetable enchiladas with salad

Wed 3rd – Spaghetti bolognaise

Thurs 4th – Lentil, mushroom and spinach lasagne with salad

Fri 5th – Mushroom stroganoff with rice and cabbage

Sat 6th – HM hummous, HM pittas and salads

How to make the most of a kitchen mistake

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Tonight’s planned meal was cottage pie – I was going to make enough for four portions, following my own advice about cooking for the freezer.

But I made a very basic kitchen blunder and failed to check I had all the ingredients before I started cooking.

I’d fried off the onions and mince, and added the carrots and beef stock, before going into the fridge to get out the potatoes – except, oops, no potatoes left.

After staring blankly at the fridge for a couple of minutes, I realised why it was such a good thing to be flexible in the kitchen.  My first instinct wasn’t to go and buy some potatoes (especially since we’re getting some delivered tomorrow), which I could have done, but instead to think “what I can I turn this into that doesn’t use potatoes?

Some tinned tomatoes,  cloves of garlic and oregano later, I had four lovely portions of spag bol.

Obviously this isn’t how I usually make spag bol – I normally grate the carrots, add some finely sliced mushroom and fry off the garlic with the onion.  If I had any, I’d add some red wine (I never buy wine for cooking unless we have guests, but there’s often some sitting around leftover from a party).  But it was still delicious, and by being flexible I saved myself a trip to the shops and a couple of quid.

Easy Spaghetti Bolognaise sauce (serves four generously)

  • 4 small onions, chopped 12p
  • 400g beef mince £2
  • 4 small carrots, chopped (I’d grate normally) 20p
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes 62p
  • Beef stock, to cover 15p
  • 1 tbsp oregano 6p
  • 2 big cloves garlic, crushed 6p
  • Couple of teaspoons vegetable oil 4p

Around 85p per person including value spaghetti

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Gently fry off the onions with a little bit of vegetable oil and once softened, add the garlic and mince.  Cooked until browned, siphoning off some of the fat if you haven’t got lean mince.  Add the carrots, cover with beef stock and add the chopped tomatoes and oregano.  Simmer away until reduced and everything is nice and well cooked.

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Serve with 75-100g spaghetti per person (up to 16p for 4 people if using value spaghetti), a little parmesan or similar, and some salad or garlic bread if you want.  I added some chopped fresh basil on the top as I have a plant growing on my windowsill.  

Variations: add sliced mushrooms, peppers and/or olives in place as or as well as the carrots; add wine in place of or as well as the stock; to make it suitable for vegetarians and vegans, swap the mince for green-brown lentils (I’d guess you’d need 150-200g and obviously don’t brown them!) and the beef stock for veg stock.

Lentil, spinach and mushroom lasagne (vegetarian)

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I meant to post this last night but ran out of time due to friends coming round – so here’s a wee morning post for you all instead.

I make lasagne quite a lot, but this is the first time I’ve ever made this particular recipe.  Normally I use roasted vegetables (carrots, peppers and courgette, with spinach stirred in as well) but Mr Chilli had suggested using these green-brown lentils for lasagne after I used them for vegetarian moussaka a few weeks ago.  His argument was that it’d make the lasagne more meaty-seeming and I have to agree with him.

I used to buy dried Puy lentils from the supermarkets but they seem impossible to find now except in pre-cooked packets, so these are the dried lentils you can buy from supermarkets called “lentilles verts” – I think they’re much the same thing anyway, just not grown in the specific region of France that you get Puy lentils from.  I only used one tin of chopped tomatoes, but it was a little dry, so I’d use two from now on.  Likewise, I ran out of white sauce at the end so the quantities in the recipe are increased slightly.

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I’d run out of bagged salad (!) so improvised a salad with roasted carrot, courgette and onion on a bed of spinach, dressed with a little oil and balsamic vinegar.

Lentil, mushroom and spinach lasagne (serves four)

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  • ½ pack lasagne sheets, soaked if needed
  • 20-30g parmesan or similar (can use cheddar instead for a different flavour)

For the tomato layer:

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small onions or 1 medium one, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 125g green-brown lentils
  • ½ bag spinach, washed if necessary
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano (can also add thyme or basil, or substitute for fresh herbs if you have any)
  • 1 glass red wine (optional; add some sugar to taste if you use this)

For the white layer:

  • 20g butter
  • 20g cornflour (I don’t usually weigh these but measure by eye as doesn’t need to be exact)
  • 225-250ml milk (again, just do this by eye)
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Pop the lentils on to boil (don’t salt the water) in a small saucepan, cooking according to packet directions (I think mine say 25 minutes or so).  Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil in a large high-sided frying pan and gently fry the onions for a few minutes.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until mostly wilted down.  For the last 30 seconds, add the garlic and mix round.

Add the red wine and sugar, if using, and the chopped tomatoes and oregano.  Allow to simmer away for 20 minutes or so to reduce down.  Season and taste – you might need to add more sugar or salt here.  Once the lentils are cooked, drain and add to the sauce, and then add the spinach and cook until wilted.

As the red layer simmers, make the white layer by melting the butter in a small pan, taking off the heat and mixing in the flour to a smooth paste, and adding the milk and whisking in.  Put back on to a medium heat and cook, whisking well, for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened.  Add the mustard and take off the heat. Preheat the oven to 200C.

lasagne 1

Layer the sauces and lasagne sheets in a baking dish – you might need more or less sheets depending on the size and shape of the dish and how you layer it.  I put half the red sauce in the bottom, follow by a layer of sheets, then a layer of shite sauce, then another layer of sheets, then the rest of the red sauce, then sheets, then the rest of the white sauce.  Top with cheese and oven cook for around 35 minutes.

How to get enough fruit and veg without breaking the bank

There are many people who believe that you can’t eat healthily if you’re trying to cut costs. I don’t believe that, but it is true that it can be a bit more challenging when you try to incorporate healthy eating and cost-cutting into the same diet. To make things more difficult is that fact that there are so many differing views on what makes a healthy diet. With that in mind, I thought I’d tackle eating fruit & veg first, as its the one thing all nutritionists seem to agree on (as well as being something I slightly obsess over myself).

1. Don’t be afraid of the cheaper classics

Carrots on display at local greengrocer

If you believe that the only way to eat healthily is to eat whatever obscure berries and seeds are fashionable at the moment, you’ll end up spending a fortune. Yes, goji berries are probably good for you, but so are bananas, so if you’re on a budget, it makes sense to buy the cheaper option most of the time, saving the expensive stuff to treat yourself occasionally. Most weeks I take an apple and a banana in to work every day, as they’re really the cheapest fruit you can get- oranges are cheap too, but I don’t like them. Likewise, onions, carrots, cabbage and swede are all underrated but super cheap veg.

2. Know how much a portion is and stick to it

Occasionally I swap the apples for something else, often a punnet of grapes. This works out surprising cheaply when you realise that a 500g pack should do you five days at work when kept in the fridge. Government guidelines state that one portion of fruit is about 80g, yet I’ve genuinely seen people eat a whole pack of grapes at once, making it a lot more expensive (and risking an upset tummy). If you can’t control yourself, portion it up at the start of the week into food bags or whatever. This applies more to fruit than veg, as I’ve never seen anyone eat a whole swede in one go.

3. Be flexible

Because most recipes I make are very adaptable, I can change what veg I buy depending on what’s on offer at the supermarket. I might have courgettes on my list to make chilli, but see that sweet potatoes are half price, for example. Because I’m comfortable switching ingredients in my cooking, I can buy the cheap sweet potatoes and put that in the chilli instead. Also don’t be afraid of yellow-stickered reduced to clear items – you can eat them that night, but they usually have a few days life left in them anyway. If nothing else, you can generally make veg into soup and freeze it, or freeze fruit to make smoothies or milkshakes.

English: Greengrocer's stall, Hampstead High S...

English: Greengrocer’s stall, Hampstead High Street There are still two places in Hampstead where it is possible to buy fresh fruit and veg more or less from the street, and there is a fishmonger behind this one. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Shop around and be aware of the price per kilo

Most people know that sticking to one supermarket isn’t the cheapest way to get your shopping. It’s hard for me to practise what I preach here, as I like the convenience of getting groceries delivered, but if you check out your local greengrocers, markets and discount supermarkets like Aldi’s, you might be able to reduce your bill significantly.  Likewise, you can shop around within the one supermarket by keeping an eye on the price per kilo.  At my local Morrisons, they seem to have four or five different bag sizes of onions, for example, not including loose ones.  The ‘value’ bags aren’t even always the cheapest.  Unless it forces you to buy so much you can’t use it (see point six), you’re aiming for the lowest price per kilo, not the lowest price per pack.

5. Take advantage of frozen, tinned and dried fruit and veg

I’m a big fan of fresh fruit and veg, and am happy to pay a little extra to get it most of the time.  But some veg is fine, or even better frozen (peas and sweetcorn) and some is fine tinned (tomatoes and pulses – yes they count as a portion).  Plus having some of these long-life stocks in can help you out when you don’t have much in the fridge – you can put frozen peas in almost anything, I’ve discovered.

6. But most importantly… Buy less!

Note that I don’t say ‘eat less veg’ – I’m a big advocate of getting at least your five a day. But the average household throws away an awful lot of their fresh fruit and veg, and you could probably buy 20% less and still get he same amount of vitamins and antioxidants if you meal plan better and use up what you have before you buy more. Obviously if you never waste anything you’re off the hook here, but that doesn’t apply to many of us.

EDIT. I haven’t covered growing your own here, which seems like massive oversight, but I’m saving it for another post.  Just wanted to say this in case you all thought I’d forgotten.

OH and another thing – I wrote a meal planning post yesterday, hit publish (which seemed to work at the time) and now today it has utterly vanished!  I will rewrite it next week, but that’s why there was no post yesterday, if you were wondering.

Burgers – with or without meat

Well we had a lovely meal tonight – burgers, which are another favourite of ours.  Mr Chilli is partial to a good home made beef burger (horse free!) with chips, while I much prefer vegetarian burgers with salad.  I’ll give the recipe for both below.

Pinto beans are my favourite bean to make beanburgers with and you can buy them dried, which is cheaper, or tinned, which is much more convenient.  I used tinned ones today, but if you use dried, you’ll need to soak them for several hours and then boil them until tender.  If you want, you can boil up a big batch and freeze in single portions.

Mr Chilli’s burger was big and could be made smaller with less mince; my burger was delicious but not over-large, which was fine tonight but I would have needed chips if hungrier.  I froze the extra burger before cooking for next time.  You could also make one big burger with the recipe instead of two small ones.

Beefburger (makes one large burger; can be easily doubled or quadrupled)

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  • 150g beef mince (but you can successfully use as little as 100g mince for a smaller burger) 75p
  • 1 small onion 3p
  • 1 egg 25p
  • a few gratings of parmesan (optional) 10p
  • a handful breadcrumbs (I keep a bag in the freezer and whizz up any ends of bread going stale into it, so I’ll count these as free)
  • a pinch of dried crushed chillies 2p

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and squish into a ball with your hands.  Squeeze tightly, otherwise the burger will tend to fall apart in the pan.  Pop in a food bag or wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to firm up.

This is when I make the beanburger, chop the potatoes if making home made wedges and make up a salad.  I preheat the oven to 200C for the chips or wedges and put them in the oven about 5 minutes before putting the burger on.

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Heat a griddle pan to medium and brush with a tiny amount of vegetable oil.  Flatten the burger into a round about an inch thick and slap onto the hot griddle pan.  Cook for five minutes on the first side, and turn using a fishslice.  At this point, you can add a slice of cheese if desired.  Cook for five minutes on the other side, then pop onto a baking tray and put in the oven for a few minutes to finish off and for the cheese to melt.  If you aren’t making chips, you might want to cook for a couple of minutes longer on each side rather than putting the oven on for just a few minutes.

Total cost £1.24 including a big bun but excluding chips, salad and any extras like pickles, cheese or onion slices.

Pinto bean and mushroom burgers (makes two small burgers or one large one)

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  • 1 tin pinto beans, drained and rinsed 39p
  • 1 large mushroom or two medium/small ones 15p
  • 1 small onion 3p
  • 1 clove garlic 3p
  • large pinch dried thyme (use fresh if you have any in – can substitute other herbs like sage or rosemary) 2p
  • handful breadcrumbs (again, will count this as free)
  • teaspoon or so of vegetable oil 2p

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently cook the onions for a few minutes, adding the mushrooms and cooking until both are soft.  In the last 30 seconds, add the garlic and herbs and stir through.  Mix in the beans and breadcrumbs, season and mash thoroughly with a potato masher.

Shape into a ball and squeeze together, then separate into two and flatten to make two burgers.

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Bake for roughly 20-25 minutes, turning halfway and adding a slice of cheese if desired for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Total cost per burger is 31p including a bun but excluding chips, salads and extras like cheese.  Cost is 56p if you make one big burger.

Grocery Challenge Mini Round Up

As I’m going to track my spending payday to payday rather than calendar months, I’ve finished off March with £185.17 out of a budget of £185.  My budget for April is £185 again, and I haven’t spent anything yet.  I’m going to be much more careful about not losing receipts this time!  Keeping a spreadsheet of what I paid for each item will also help me price meals more accurately.

Sunday roast

I’ve spent a lot since I posted a couple of days ago, and will postpone the usual grocery challenge round-up until tomorrow – I’ve decided to start tracking from payday to payday instead of the calender month, so I’ll finish up March’s challenge tomorrow when I get paid.  Obviously it’s not too much of a challenge this month as I’ve knocked a week off the end – but to be honest, we’ve got most of the food we’ll need in for the next two weeks now.

I had some unexpected spends today as I invited my parents over for a spur-of-the-moment Sunday lunch, so had to go and get some ingredients (and freeze the mince that I’d bought for the planned cottage pie, which we’ll have next Sunday instead).  I wanted to make roast chicken, but Morrison’s was out of whole free range chickens, so I decided on beef instead.

Roast beef and all the trimmings

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This is more of a template than a recipe.  I love doing a roast for guests, because it looks impressive, all meat eaters love them and you aren’t spending much time in the kitchen except during the last 20 minutes.  Plus the ingredients list isn’t super long.  I find it helpful to consider a roast meat meal as a series of parts, as follows:

  1. When you cook a roast, the first thing you need to think of is the meat.  My favourite roast to do is chicken, and I will write about that soon.  This time, I was roasting beef, and used a 900g roasting joint, which was done to medium.  This served four plus enough for two big sandwiches later.
  2. The second thing you need to think about is your starches, and people tend to have two for a Sunday roast – some form of potatoes and something else.  For a big feast, like Christmas, you might do three or four starches.  Examples include roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, stuffing, bread sauce and Yorkshire puddings.  I’ve even seen roast lamb served with risotto as a starch.  For this meal, I made roast potatoes and jumbo Yorkshire puddings.
  3. Thirdly, you need to pick 2-3 types of vegetables – I tend to keep it simple and just boil them, except for a Christmas type meal, where I’ll roast parsnips.  Ninety percent of the time I serve carrots and green beans with a roast – I just like this combination.  Obviously cabbage, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, peas etc all work well, too.
  4. Finally, you need to sort out sauces and gravies.  I made a red wine gravy with this, and didn’t bother with any mustards or horseradish sauce as I’m not really a fan.

Roast beef timeline

Here was my timeline today (recipes for the roasties, Yorkies and gravy following):

1.30pm – preheat oven to 200C.  Prepare a roasting tin by peeling and chopping a few small onions into quarters and chucking them into the bottom of the tin, and adding some carrots (good use for very bendy ones) and celery if you have it.  Pop the meat on top of this, well seasoned.

1.40pm – put the meat into the oven on the middle shelf.  Peel and halve the potatoes, and put into a pan of cold, salted water.

1.50pm – pour enough vegetable oil into a second roasting tin to cover the bottom several millimetres deep.  Put into the oven on the top shelf.  Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook for a few minutes.  Drain, pop back into the pan, put the lid on a give it a good bash to fluff up the outside.  Sprinkle with some plain flour and bash again.

2.00pm – put the potatoes into the roasting tin and turn so that every side is coated in hot oil.  Prepare the veg and sit in saucepans of cold salted water.  Mix up the Yorkshire pudding mix and sit aside.  At this point, I made the cheesecake, but it was slightly tight for time, so if you’re doing a dessert I’d recommend doing it before you start with the main.

2.30pm – pop the Yorkshire pudding tin (with the oil in it) into the oven to preheat (I had to put it on the oven floor as I only have two shelves)

2.40pm – take the meat out of the oven, move the roasties onto the second shelf and pour the Yorkshire pudding mix into the depressions on the tray, moving to the top shelf.  Turn the heat up to 230C.  Move the meat onto a plate and make the gravy.

2.45pm – put the vegetables on to cook.

2.55pm – drain the vegetables as they finish cooking (cook according to taste) and return to the pan with a little butter.  Strain the gravy, carve the meat and the potatoes and Yorkshire puddings should be done at 3pm.

Roast potatoes

  • 1-2 potatoes per person (I used 8 altogether), peeled and cut into halves or quarters if large
  • vegetable oil
  • plain flour, for dusting

To make good roasties, you need to pop the roasting dish into the oven about ten minutes before you add the potatoes, with a decent amount of vegetable oil at the bottom (i.e. enough to more than cover the bottom and come up a few millimetres deep.  The ideal temperature is 220C, but I usually do them at 200C so the meat doesn’t burn.

While the oil preheats, boil the potatoes for a few minutes in some salted water.  Drain, put back in the pan, pop the lid on and bash them about inside the pan to make them go a bit fluffy on the outside.  Dust with flour and bash again, to distribute evenly.  Put into the roasting tin filled with hot oil and turn so that all sides have been coated in oil.  Roast for around 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

Yorkshire puddings (makes four giant ones)

  • 70g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • vegetable oil

As with the roasties, pour some oil into the bottom of each depression in a Yorkshire pudding tray (again, you need a decent amount), and pre-heat.  They need to be really hot – 230C – so what I do is put the tray in to preheat ten minutes before taking the meat out, then turning the temperature up as I take the meat out and put the puddings in.  If you haven’t got a proper Yorkshire pudding tray, you’ll need to use a muffin tray and make eight little ones.

As the oil heats up, mix the flour with the eggs using a fork, and then slowly pour the milk in, keeping the mix as smooth as possible – small lumps are inevitable and not a problem.  When the oil is hot and after you’ve removed the meat from the oven, pour a quarter of the mix into each depression on the tray (an eighth if using a muffin tray).  Pop back into the oven on the highest shelf and cook for 20 minutes or so.  Most importantly, DO NOT open the oven door or they won’t rise!

Red wine gravy

  • the debris/juices from the meat pan
  • a bay leaf
  • a glass of red wine
  • around the same amount or a bit more of beef stock (homemade or bought – I used a stock cube)
  • a little sugar, if needed
  • 1-2 tsp plain flour

Once you’ve taken the meat out of the oven, transfer to a plate and cover with tin foil to keep warm.  Put the roasting tin (with veg still in) onto a hob and turn onto medium heat.  Add the flour and bay leaf and whisk in to the juices until mixed in, then add the wine and bring to the boil.  Add the beef stock, continuing to stir.  Simmer away until reduced and thick (add more water as needed, especially if you are cooking for more people).  Taste and season, using sugar if the wine is a bit acidic in taste.  Strain through a sieve, pressing the vegetables with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid out as possible.

Lime cheesecake (serves 8-10)

This is (very) adapted from a BBC recipe for a lemon cheesecake, but I prefer lime and don’t bother with the berries.  A 23cm springform tin is the best thing to use – mine is a little bigger, so is a flatter cheesecake. This is a very simple dessert to make, but very tasty and impressive.  You’ll need to make it an hour or two ahead of serving.

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  • 14 digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 750g mascapone
  • 200g caster sugar
  • juice and zest of two limes

Mix the crushed biscuits with the butter and golden syrup, and press into the bottom of the cake tin – I’ve found that you don’t need to grease it if it’s a springform tin.  Pop into the fridge to chill while you make the topping.

Mix the mascapone with the sugar and lime zest, until well combined, then add the lime juice and fold in gently (overmixing here could cause the mix to split).  Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the top.  Chill until it’s time to serve.

Making the most of your freezer

Now, I have a small flat and don’t have an extra freezer or anything – just a good-sized four drawer freezer under my fridge.  And I’m certainly not someone who has mastered the once-a-month cooking thing. But I do love my freezer and have learned a thing or two about using it to lower grocery bills, so decided to share a few thoughts with you below.

English: Westinghouse fridge model- RE221K , p...

English: Westinghouse fridge model- RE221K , picture inside of freezer door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Make double batches

This almost goes without saying. If you can’t muster up the enthusiasm for cooking specifically for the freezer, you can certainly make double or triple batches of soups, stews and pasta sauce when you’re cooking them anyway.  I did this on Monday, when I made four portions of mushroom stroganoff and six of veggie chilli.  After all, having a freezer well-stocked of home made ‘ready meals’ means you’ll have way less temptation to get an expensive takeaway after a long day at work.  My tip is to freeze in the portions you’ll use them in – so because I mostly eat soup at work, for lunches, I freeze in individual portions.  No point freezing six portions in one tub if you live alone and rarely have company.

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2. You can freeze more than you think

When I was younger, I mostly used my freezer for soup or food I’d bought frozen.  I think I was really worried about what you could freeze and assumed most things wouldn’t fare well – like soup with milk or cream in it, which actually defrosts and reheats fine.  Now I assume most items are freezable – obviously not fresh salad leaves and things like that, but almost everything can be frozen in some form or another.  For instance, this allows me to only ever buy whole chickens and cut them up myself, freezing the legs one one food bag, the wings in another (I keep these until I have enough wings for a meal for me and Mr Chilli), the breasts in a third and the carcass in a fourth.  If I use the chicken to make a roast instead, I pick off all the meat while still a little warm and freeze in a tub, freezing the bones in a bag until I next make stock.  If I have any odds and ends of bread that might go moldy, I whizz in the food processor and freeze in a bag, meaning that I always have a bag of breadcrumbs in there.  You can even freeze cubes of wine, stock and cream in ice cube trays to add to casseroles later on.

3. Don’t make your freezer into a food graveyard

While you can freeze most things, there are some things you should never freeze.  Specifically, don’t freeze something just because you don’t like it and feel guilty about wasting it.  It’s not going to get nicer with age.  As an example, I tidied out my freezer last weekend and chucked three portions of coconut rice which I’d stuck in there because I made a big batch and then Mr Chilli hated it.  I didn’t mind it too much but it never made it’s way into a meal because there’s always something more tempting available.  If you don’t like it now, there’s no point storing it for six months only to then throw it out.

4. Label everything

The last thing you want is to reheat some lovely warming soup for your lunch and then realise it’s actually bolognaise sauce.  Ok, you can make a sandwich with it, but it’s still annoying.  Make sure you label everything – I use sticky address labels and write on the name of the food and how many portions if it’s more than one – best practise is to be super organised and write the date, too, though I rarely bother.

Grocery Spending (new total £136.34

2 naan breads - 59p