My kids asked me to make banana bread this week. I’m convinced they only offer to help so they can lick the bowl and wreck the kitchen with my permission. I decided to sneak some chocolate into the recipe to spare my sanity during the flour explosion clear-up afterwards. My kids keep asking for a second slice of this, so I guess it must be alright.
4 bananas (this might sound excessive but they make it extra-moist)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup veg oil
1tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 Cups flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
Handful of milk chocolate chunks (or in my case, halved chocolate buttons)
Preheat oven to 160 c
Mash bananas with a potato masher.
Whisk in the oil, milk, vanilla, eggs and sugar. I find whisking by hand works best. Don’t be too thorough – leave some banana chunks if you like.
Mix in flour and baking soda. Add chocolate at the end and stir in so it is dispersed evenly. Put mixture in a greased loaf tin.
Bake for about 40 mins in the middle of the oven. Add a layer of foil halfway through cooking so the outside doesn’t become over-crisp.
These cookies are so easy to make that it probably takes less effort than it would to go to the shop to buy a pack of them.
Preheat the oven to 160c. Grease a large baking tray. Actually, realistically, this will probably take two trays.
This makes a batch of 10 cookies for £1 (this price based on all value range items, excluding standard baking powder and free range eggs.)
By the way, I like to measure in cups because I’m not a fan of precise measurements in cooking and scales are annoying to use. I don’t use spoons when I’m cooking; I just throw stuff together and hope for the best. Generally it is edible.
- 1 cup of melted butter
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- A Pinch of salt
- One egg
- Half a cup of chopped up white chocolate (half a value range bar)
- Half a cup of chopped up dark chocolate
Mix the sugar and melted butter together slowly with a wooden spoon.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
Add the sifted ingredients to the sugar and butter.
Chop up the chocolate into tiny cubes and add to the mixture.
Stir in an egg and combine with your hands.
Roll into balls that are about the size of golf balls. Place on trays and flatten them out with the palm of your hand.
Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes and take them out when they are as chewy/crunchy as you like.
I find the process of making these really therapeutic. My kids like helping too and it isn’t overly complicated so doesn’t result in disastrous spillages when they grab the bowl. They make the house smell amazing as well, like one of those cookie scented Yankee candles, except it is actually ok to eat them.
OK, so I might not have the conventional family set up: we are a family of one adult and two children, but I have the appetite of a married couple, at least for chocolate anyway. So, I’m sure my weekly food budget is achievable by most families, or at least something similar to it.
I have had a trying time expense-wise due to a house move and a car accident, so I decided to revert to my £30 Lidl food shops to try and regain control of my finances. I was getting too easily lured by pretty displays and seemingly cheap offers in a shop I shall not name and have had to remind myself of my thrifty capabilities.
I thought I would challenge myself to live in a more frugal way without the need to sacrifice my sanity-restoring rewards and decided to share how I achieve this with others on a limited budget.I’m starting with food since it sits squarely in first place on my list of priorities.
Here are some tips on how to stick to £30 a week:
- Pick two breakfast options and one weekend treat. For example, porridge, one cereal and make pancakes at the weekend.
- Always have flour, baking powder and yeast. You can make pancakes, bread, pizza dough and baked treats really cheaply.
- Invest in spices and dried herbs. You will use them to liven up every meal and they will save you money on pre-made sauces. The same applies to honey, peanut butter and sultanas. They will save you buying flavoured oats and you can use honey instead of maple syrup on pancakes and French toast.
- Don’t buy snacks specifically for kids. Buy a bag of own brand raisins and some miniature tubs for snacks when you’re out or a standard box of breadsticks. Use crackers and cheese instead of flavoured kids’ crisps and biscuits.
- Save leftovers and use them for lunches, adding additional ingredients or using them as a base for other dishes. For example, make a large batch of pizza sauce and then add some of it to meat to eat with pasta or rice.
- Buy a cafetière and some fresh coffee. Own brand coffee grounds are good and often taste better than the coffee in coffee shops. I always look forward to café coffee and quite often find it to just be bitter and disappointing. Bring a travel cup when you go out instead and if you go for a walk you have a drink already prepared to save you from being tempted by certain drive-thru coffee places.
- Only buy juice as a special treat for yourself and your kids. Drink water or make iced tea for a cheap, sweet drink. I will include a recipe for this soon.
- Buy common ingredients for meals. For example, cook sausages and use them in a casserole with beans, use the leftover beans to make homemade baked beans with sausages and chips or wedges made from potatoes. Use the last of the sausages with fried potatoes for a breakfast treat.
- Don’t be tempted by offers if there is a cheaper unbranded item on display. Look at the top and bottom shelves, since the more expensive items are generally placed in the middle, exactly where you are going to spot them first. It’s supermarket trickery.
- Try to go shopping only once a week so you are less likely to be tempted to buy additional items you don’t need.
I will add some budget recipes soon, as well as the unbranded items that I have been impressed with.