Monthly Archives: June 2014

Mealplan and Spending Update 23/06

Bit late this one!  Had a busy weekend and I started a new job today so been sort of frantically preparing for that too – seemed to go well though there was a lot to take in so I’m sure it’ll take a while til I’m properly settled in.

Because of this, I’m keeping it simple with the mealplans until I get into a proper routine.  We’re just slightly over the budget for this month but I don’t see us buying anything else until the new month starts so I’m not worried about that.

Since I didn’t need much, I thought I’d save time and only go to the local Tesco garage yesterday, instead of the bigger Morrisons, but I forgot how expensive it was shopping there so won’t be doing that again in a hurry!  The only saving grace of that place is that they do quite good reduced food sometimes – I got the carrots as I needed them anyway, and bought the cream to make butter with instead of buying it.  We could have come in closer to budget if I hadn’t bought the sneaky pack of Snickers, but Dave tripped and badly cut his chin at the weekend, and was in need of a bit of comforting.

Mealplan

Sun 22 – pittas, hummous, couscous, coleslaw and roasted veg
Mon 23 – potato, onion and cheese frittata with salads
Tues 24 – veggie curry with rice
Wed 25 – turkey meatballs and spaghetti
Thurs 26 – pork and veg stirfry with sticky rice
Fri 28 – Dave’s out, so I’ll probably have fishcakes
Sat 29 – I’m out; not sure what Dave’ll have yet

Lunches – usual ham or tuna sandwiches for Dave; mix of stuff I need to use up for me (had leftover couscous/hummous + veg sticks today, having leftover mini quiches with veg & cottage cheese the next couples of days, then probably make some lentil soup)

Spending Update (£185.42 / £180)

Coca cola cans 6pk £1.86
Snickers bars 4pk £1.88
RTC carrots 1kg 60p
Cherry tomatoes 90p
Cucumber 49p
RTC whipping cream x2 90p
Bananas x6 £1.08
Salad leaves £1
Whole milk 4 pints 84p
Bread rolls x 10 £1
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Mealplan and Spending Update 15/06

It’s getting to that tight time of the month again! Got 10 days to go until the new budget but we’ve got loads of food in the freezer so should be OK with a few quid left to get milk and fruit.

Dave’s mum’s staying with us for a couple of days so having a visitor is always an excuse to go all out with a roast dinner 🙂 Not made a proper roast chicken in ages – it was seriously good!

Mealplan

Sun 15 roast chicken with all the trimmings, apple crumble & custard
Mon 16 – my mother-in-law’s kindly cooking for us so got a night off!
Tues 17 – pan-fried salmon with rice and roasted veg
Wed 18 – cashew and veg patties with couscous salad
Thurs 19 Spinach, walnut and pumpkin seed spaghetti
Fri 20 – chicken and ham fried rice
Sat 21 – turkey meatballs, pittas and roasted veg with salad

Lunches smoked salmon and broccoli mini quiches for me; tuna or ham sandwiches for Dave

Spending Update (£174.87 / £180)

fruit & veg £10.60
savers potatoes 5kg £3.45
bramley apples 555g 92p
orange 25p
lemon 25p
braeburn apples 5pk x2 £1.33
frozen spinach £1.25
fresh sage, rosemary and thyme bunch 79p
bananas x6 56p
peppers 3pk 66p
broccoli £1.14

meat & fish £13.03
free range chicken 1.2kg £4.94
tinned tuna x2 £2
RTC pork steaks x2 £1.60
RTC pork and chorizo burgers 4pk £1
RTC haddock £2
savers smoked salmon £1.49

dairy & eggs £5.19
whole milk 4 pints £1.39
savers butter 99p
baking block 55p
RTC free range eggs 6pk 50p
RTC free range happy eggs x2 6pk £1.76

bread 75p
RTC sliced rolls 6pk 35p
RTC croissants 40p

general £6.05
cola x4 £1.80
cola cans 4pk x3 £3
savers mayonnaise x2 80p
savers orange juices 3pk 45p

What I Ate Wednesday 11/06

What I Ate Wednesday is a blog link-up hosted over at Peas & Crayons, encouraging bloggers to post pictures of what they ate over a whole day. Hopefully taking part will show you guys whether or not I stick to the mealplan and give a bit more insight into what I can eat on my budget.

I’ve missed taking part in WIAW for the last couple of weeks – excited to be back sharing my eats this Wednesday 🙂 Pretty typical day for me – I seem to be off soup for lunch and having salads more, must be because it’s getting vaguely summery.  Oh, I forgot to take a pic of the banana I had mid-morning, but you all know what they look like, right?

wiaw1106

8am Breakfast: porridge made  with milk, a little brown sugar, cinnamon and apple slices

11am Snack (not pictured): a banana

1pm Lunch: Couscous salad with feta, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pepper and spices, with a quick carrot and cumin slaw on the side

7.40pm Dinner: Chorizo, black eye bean, pepper and tomato spicy stew with basmati rice

10.15pm Snack: Couldn’t resist an end-slice of my fresh baked no-knead bread with butter

Mealplan and Spending Update

mealplanning

Had a lovely unplanned afternoon out at Glasgow’s West End festival today, so we ended up going for a curry afterwards at Mother India’s Cafe AND it meant I didn’t really have time to do my usual cooking today.  Bit of a frugal fail – worth it though 😉

I’ve slightly rejigged my planned meals because of this – it’s a busy week this week so trying to keep it simple but healthy overall.  I’ve recently joined a Crossfit gym and tend to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I’m planning meals that Dave’ll cook (either from scratch or things I’ve made earlier and frozen) those days.

Mealplan

Sun 8 – out for a curry!
Mon 9 – chorizo and bean stew with rice
Tues 10 arrabiata pasta
Wed 11 – I’m out – not sure what Dave’ll have yet
Thurs 12 – salmon with roasted veg and couscous
Fri 13 turkey burger, wedges and homemade coleslaw
Sat 14 homemade pizzas

Breakfasts – bran flakes with raisins or bacon rolls for Dave; porridge with apple or banana milkshake for me
Lunches – tuna or ham sandwiches for Dave; cottage cheese fritters or lentil soup for me

Spending Update (£139.25 / £180)

fruit & veg £6.75
bananas x6 71p
white cabbage half 47p
onions 1kg 69p
peppers 3pk x2 £1.33
braeburn apples 6pk 66p
courgettes x2 £1.01
mushrooms 89p
four leaf salad 99p

meat & fish £4
turkey thigh mince 500g x2 £4

dairy & eggs £2.87
meadow park milk 2ltr x2 £1.68
savers cottage cheese 64p
savers mozzarella 55p

bread £1
mixed rolls & bagels x5 £1

general £4.60
savers bran flakes 88p
allinson white bread flour £1.72
walkers crisps 6pk x2 £2

household £2.29
toothpaste 50p
shower gel 79p
saving gel £1

Chickpea and Squash Tagine

squash and chickpea tagine 2

You might notice the new blog design – I’ve been meaning to change it up for a while!  Hope you like it 🙂

I was first introduced to a squash & chickpea tagine by a friend, who made it for me for dinner one night using a simple but tasty recipe she’d found on BBC Good Food.  After she sent me a link to the recipe, I literally made it all the time for ages and ages, before for some inexplicable reason I stopped making it and kind of forgot about it.

Last week I remembered the recipe when I was pondering what to do with the chickpea hoard (seriously – I have three cans-worth in the freezer and one and a half kilos of the dried stuff in the cupboard) and I tried to look it up.  Imagine my outrage when I discovered that the BBC’s license for the recipe had expired!  This recipe is my attempt to recreate it from memory and I think it’s reasonably close.

The fresh coriander, while not really frugal, totally makes this dish by the way – try and use it if you can.  Growing your own is the best way to get fresh herbs cheap, but I’ve never had any luck with coriander for some reason – any tips welcome!

Chickpea and Squash Tagine, serves 4

  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pepper (I used orange), diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small butternut squash (I used 3/4 of a larger one), peeled and cut into small chunks
  • Vegetable stock, to cover
  • 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tin chickpeas (I used dried ones I’d cooked from scratch)
  • Small handful dried apricots, finely sliced
  • Large handful fresh coriander

squash and chickpea tagineHeat the oil over a medium heat in a deep-sided frying pan.  Add the sliced onions and the pepper and gently fry for a few minutes, until tender.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the butternut squash and cover with vegetable stock (I used a cube), adding in all the spices.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  Add the chickpeas (drained if using canned) and dried apricots and cook for another few minutes, until everything is heated through, adding a little more water if the sauce starts to dry out.

Serve with rice or couscous, garnished with lots of chopped coriander.

Organising the freezer

I know it doesn’t sound the most fun – but I spent a quality half hour reorganising my freezer (but, er, not defrosting it, as you can see) at the weekend- rounding up the random items that were lurking and bagging them together to stop stuff being forgotten – and thought it was worth a post since I’ve not written about the freezer for a while.

I don’t have a massive freezer – it’s alright for a fridge-freezer, but I don’t have a second one lying about my tiny flat that I can keep half a pig in or anything.  But even if you have a really small freezer you will find that it helps you if you use it efficiently.  It’s great for taking advantage of good deals, cheap ingredients and bulk-cooking.  I find that if you’re not organised, random items tend to get lost in the back and then slowly succumb to freezer burn, so it is worth keeping an eye on what’s in there.

So what do I keep in there?

photo (31)

To help give you some ideas, I’ve listed below what’s currently in my freezer, as of tonight.  Luckily I’d taken the half a lime drizzle cake out last night so it all looks pretty healthy 😉

Vegetables & Fruit

photo (28)

I don’t like frozen carrots, broccoli or cauliflower, so tend to avoid mixed bags, but I do keep other frozen veg in stock:

  • Peas and sweetcorn – the basics that I always have.
  • Mini corn on the cobs – a new revelation for me.  So handy, especially since the fresh ones seem to go off really quickly, and I find these mini ones are a better size too.
  • Spinach – I’m a recent convert to frozen spinach, which I now love for chucking into all kinds of cooked dishes.  Saves that end bit of the fresh bag going to waste and it’s A LOT cheaper too.
  • Green beans – I’m not 100% sure about these because I think fresh are nicer.  But the fresh ones I’ve been buying lately seem to go off in a day or two which was really annoying me, so I’ve switched to frozen to avoid that.
  • Homemade baked beans – I made a batch of these in the pressure cooker and frozen in one tin size bags, tucking these all into one big bag to keep them together
  • Several frozen bananas – perfect for milkshakes, or you can use them to make banana bread/muffins too
  • Tub of mixed summer fruit berries – much cheaper to buy frozen and perfect for milkshakes or baking too

Meat & fish

photo (27)

  • Bacon – it’s cheaper to buy bacon in bigger packs, so I open the packs when I buy them and freeze in 4 rasher bags for Dave’s weekend bacon rolls.
  • Smoked sausagechorizo, and sliced pepperoni – whenever I buy this kind of thing and use half, I freeze the rest to avoid waste.  All kinds of cooked meat freeze well in my experience.
  • Pate – I picked up a couple of packs reduced to 9p each the other week and stashed them away.
  • Beef brisket – half the joint I bought last week to make goulash with.
  • Chicken drumsticks x2 – all that’s left of my last whole chicken
  • Salmon fillets x5 – the four I bought at the weekend plus one I’d bought already frozen
  • Smoked haddock – two fillets I’d bought reduced to half price a couple of weeks ago
  • Cooked ham – from a whole gammon joint I cooked up and sliced; enough to do Dave sandwiches for the next few weeks (he has them 2-3x a week) plus some extra scraps for chucking in a chicken pie or soup

Pulses

One of my favourite tricks is to cook up a big batch of beans in my pressure cooker and freeze in tin-sized portions for ease.  Right now I have chickpeas x3butter beans x1, cannelini beans x1, black eye beans x1 and pinto beans x2.  If you do this, you can either defrost the beans before using or just throw into a soup or stew to heat through from frozen.

photo (29)

Bread

Because I mostly eat homemade bread, it doesn’t keep long once made.  I tend to store it in the freezer and at the moment have 2/3 of a homemade seeded loaf, a couple of homemade brown rolls, three homemade brown wraps, one shop-bought part-baked loaf and a couple of shop-bought mini naans.

photo (34)

Pre-made meals and ingredients

  • beef goulash – two portions left from the meal I made last week
  • concentrated ham stock x2 – two tubs of strong ham stock
  • chicken stock – homemade from the bones of the last chicken I’d bought
  • arrabiata sauce x2 – leftover from a previous week
  • breadcrumbs – all whizzed up and ready for coating chicken and fish or adding to burgers or nut roasts.
  • potato scones – a batch I made with some leftover potatoes a while back and froze
  • ginger – a peeled ‘thumb’ of fresh ginger, ready to grate straight into curries and stir-fries

Apart from some ice, that’s about it at the moment!  I do usually keep some icecream and home baking in there too but haven’t got any at the moment.  Soup is another thing that’s great to freeze but I’m all out at the moment – kind of feeling into salads for lunch lately.

What do you keep in your freezer?  I’m thinking about making up some ice lollies in the optimistic hope that it’ll get warm round here!

Mealplan and Spending Update 01/06

mealplanning

Kept the meals pretty simple this week (two from freezer and the rest are pretty quick to pull together) because I’m just feeling a bit lazy this week! And also feel like I want to eat more summery salady type things – those two warm days Friday and Saturday must have gone to my head 🙂

I’ve decided to stop tracking cat food as part of the challenge, because I’m trying out some more expensive/higher meat content brands on Basil the cat and the plan is to start bulk ordering this online every few weeks/months.  She’s just been having some issues with throwing up over the last few months (we have been to the vet and they confirmed it’s dietary) and she’s also a bit overweight – having done some research, it seems that higher quality food may help with this too.  If we’re doing an expensive order every so often I don’t want it leaving me with no budget for our own food that month, if that makes sense, so the plan is to keep an eye on that separately.  I’ll still get her litter from the supermarket so will continue to track that here.

Mealplan

Sun 01 – mini baked potatoes, roast ham slices, homemade coleslaw, corn on the cobs and salad

Mon 02 – black bean burritos with salad

Tues 03 – squash & chickpea tagine (from freezer) with couscous

Wed 04 – salmon, sticky rice, wilted greens and roasted veg

Thurs 05 – beef goulash (from freezer) with greens and bread

Fri 06 – black pepper, cauliflower and cashew curry with rice and naans

Sat 07 – feta, sundried tomato and spinach frittata with salad

Breakfasts – bran flakes for Dave and bacon roll at the weekend; porridge with apple and/or banana for me and milkshake at the weekend

Lunches – tuna or ham sandwiches or wraps for Dave; soup or couscous & feta salads for me

Spending Update (£117.74 / £180)

fruit & veg £11
savers frozen peas 89p
peppers 3pk x2 £1.33
spring greens 75p
garlic 4pk £1
cauliflower 99p
radishes 50p
vine ripened tomatoes 5pk 99p
bananas x5 52p
braeburn apples 5pk 67p
aubergine 59p
coriander bunch 79p
four leaf salad x2 £1.98

meat & fish £12
gammon joint 1.2kg £6
salmon fillets 4pk £6

dairy £9.36
meadow park whole milk 2ltr x2 £1.68
savers butter x2 £1.98
savers natural yoghurt 45p
free range eggs 6pk £1
savers feta 75p
mature cheddar 350g x2 £3.50

general £4.97
vegetable oil 1ltr £1.29
savers ketchup 40p
savers mayonnaise 40p
instant coffee 200g £1.79
maldon sea salt £1.09

household £2
radox bath salts £1
face wipes £1