Category: Food

How to cook when you don’t want to go to the shops

Tips for when you’re too Sick, Tired or Broke to do a Food Shop

Budgeting, Food April 17, 2018

I’ve spent the last week with the flu and food shopping has seemed like an unachievable task. Here are a few ways to improvise with what you have and avoid going to the shops.

Use your Slow Cooker

Slow coolers are great for sickness because they require minimal effort on your part and you can throw in random ingredients and it somehow turns out edible! Use up vegetables you have lying around in casseroles and stews. You can make vegetarian versions if you have no meat in the house. I made a veggie chilli in mine with what I had left. If you season it well and add extras like chocolate and chilli flakes and coriander it won’t taste bland.

Make Minestrone

Soups are good in general for using up what you already have. I find I always have the ingredients to make minestrone, if nothing else. I always have tinned tomatoes, pasta and tinned or frozen veg even if I don’t have fresh veg. You can put anything you want in it: carrots, courgettes, peas or beans, corn, etc.

Top things with cheese

I find that even a dish made from simple ingredients tastes better with cheese on top. You can mix some into a rice dish or pasta to make it more substantial too. If you roast or fry vegetables and mix it with rice/pasta, oil and cheese it tastes surprisingly good for how little effort is involved.

Improvise with breakfast

If you don’t have essentials like bread or milk there are ways round it that don’t involve trailing yourself to the shops. Make porridge with water and liven it up by adding some butter and sugar/peanut butter/Nutella/honey and raisins, etc. Use old bananas to make banana bread for a breakfast treat. Make omelettes using whatever fillings you have on hand. Make your own cereal bars using oats, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, Rice Krispies or cornflakes, golden syrup, seeds, etc.

Add sauces and crispy toppings

Macaroni cheese is a good staple when you’re running out of food. You can also omit the cheese and make a plain white sauce. Use it over chicken or just with vegetables. Top with breadcrumbs, crackers or crisps and bake in the oven. This is a good way to use up stale ingredients too, as they will crisp up again in the oven.

Change your idea of what counts as a meal

A meal is something that fills you and that hopefully tastes good. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, or always contain certain ingredients, or have three courses. Sometimes my kids appreciate the simple things best, like a peanut butter sandwich, or hotdogs, or tinned soup. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to follow a meal plan formula when you don’t feel like it.

 

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Ways to Feed a Family for £30 a week.

Baking, Budgeting, Food, Single Parents January 30, 2018

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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.