Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The great storecupboard challenge

It's been a while since I posted in here!
I have another blog, but it's more about generally living a simpler life and my musings on life and whatever else is floating around my head :-)
This one I hope to keep purely for money saving purposes, and boy do I need it!

We've moved to my mum's house, which is a challenge in itself because not only are we moving house, we're also trying to condense the contents of two houses into one. This means that a lot of the duplicates we have (plates, electricals, household stuff) have had to be sold or given away. Well, mostly given away!

The thing is, we've also got the contents of two houses worth of storecupboards, which is bad enough as it is, but both myself and my mum are into stockpiling, which means we both have absolutely tons of food! Honestly, I don't know where I'm going to put it all, I think there will be food stored in every corner of the house until we plough through it all!
Anyhoo, apart from dog food, milk and fresh fruit and veg, we shouldn't have to buy ANYTHING for a very long time.

I'm planning to make every meal from as much stuff we already have as possible, and post about the results. Should be fun!
Will you join me as I try to find exciting ways to use up my neverending food supply?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Getting back on track!

I haven't updated in over 2 months, argh!
I have been keeping up with saving mioney, but have been really busy with my new job as a home carer.
It's a great job but very, very busy so it makes being super-organised even more important!
I need to make a fridge list today, so I will update soon with my meal plan and some money saving Christmas tips (tis the season!).

Proper posts to follow very soon, promise!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Waste of the week...

Yes, it's that time again!

Food I have thrown away this week;

6 small cartons of fromage frais - these were dated 11th Sep. I chanced it with the other set of 6 cartons, the kids and I ate those on the 13th. These ones however, are just a bit too old for my comfort zone. I'm happy to eat other stuff long after use by dates, but stuff like dairy you need to be careful with - lots of dodgy bacteria in milk products!
We should have used them sooner, but onwards and upwards!

Half a punnet of strawberries - I would have used these in a smoothie but they went mouldy very suddenly, argh!

That's it! Not bad considering the size of last week's list! I am very proud, I used absolutely everything else up. It's strange though, when you are used to having a fridge packed full of food, to see it virtually empty by mid week. It's good though, to know that everything is being eaten and not chucked away!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The joy of experimentation!

The thing about using up the contents of your fridge is that sometimes you leave things a little longer than you should have and they end up looking really unappetising.
It's not nice to just choke down something that really doesn't look nice purely for the sake of not wasting it. In fact, it's enough to put you off using up old food altogether.
Now, before you think I'm suggesting you should just shut your eyes and throw it in the bin, stop! Sometimes we just need to be a little inventive with our food. Once you learn about what works together, experimenting can be a lot of fun and very satisfying.

Today, for example, I had the rest of those old cherry tomatoes to use. They were about a week past their sell by date, pretty mushy and wrinkled, generally not very appealing.
I minced a clove of garlic and fried it in a little olive oil, then added the cherry tomatoes, quartered. I fried these off until they were pretty mushed up and added a splosh of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of dried mixed herbs, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Let it all bubble awy for a few minutes and it was done!
Meanwhile, I made some macaroni cheese, the lazy way. I didn't bother with a roux, just cooked the pasta, then added a handful each of mild cheddar and smoked mature cheddar. Stirred in, then added a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of mascarpone. These were purely what I had in the fridge, but they made a pretty damn fine cheese sauce!
Anyhoo, I added the tomato sauce to the mac and cheese and BAM! A total taste sensation!
We loved it, and I will absolutely make this again. It's amazing the surprises your fridge can hold if you just dare to experiment.

Spurred on by this success, I decided to make some rock cakes this evening. I have run out of sultanas, so I used some sad looking fresh raspberries instead. This was lovely, it tasted kind of like a rock cake with little explosions of jam inside - vereh nice!

I used to follow recipes to the letter when I first started cooking. I would often nip out to the shops halfway through a recipe because I was missing an ingredient. Now, I like to experiment. If something can be substituted, do it! so you don't have dried fruit - use fresh. If you don't have caster sugar, try brown sugar. Things don't always work out they way they were supposed to, but it isn't the end of the world, sometimes it even turns out better!
Nothing builds your confidence in the kitchen like trusting your instincts and trying new things. Also, you might find yourself saving a fortune because you don't have to have the exact ingredients, just use what you have to hand.

Honestly, give it a try. Using up fridge contents + experimenting = win!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

It's been a tough week.

My dad has been in hospital this week. He had a blocked artery which he had surgery for, but afterwards he had a heart attack. Poor guy is just completely floored.
Anyway, there has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital and back, so there hasn't been a lot of time to cook. To be honest, I've been too stressed to cook anyway. I think I can be forgiven for the couple of takeaways we've ended up having, we've needed some comfort food!
He's still in hospital, but seems brighter today so I feel like I've been able to exhale for the first time in days and actually make something!

For dinner tonight, I used up the last of a bag of potatoes to make mash, and some of the older ceg in my fridge has been used as well.
I sliced onion, peppers, a chilli, 2 cloves garlic and some chicken and put it all into a roasting bag with a few cherry tomatoes and some carribean seasoning mix. Roasted for half an hour and served with the mash. It was lovely!
I still have half a punnet of cherry tomatoes needing used pretty quickly so I will probably roast them and serve over pasta.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

What's in the fridge?

Another new feature for the blog!
I've had a few questions from people asking for ideas on how to use things up. What I'm going to do is once a wkk, when i clean out my fridge and make my shopping list, I will write down everything I have and put a star next to things that need using up first.
I'll write those down here, long with what I'm going to do with them and other things that could be done with them.

Here's my "needs used" list for this week...

12 CARTONS YOGHURT - These will be fed to the kids asap. They could also be used in a smoothie or in fairy cakes.

TUB OF MASCARPONE - This will most likely end up as a pasta sauce. I have some chopped spinach in the freezer so will make a spinach and mascarpone sauce for pasta.
It could also be used to make a cream cheese frosting for cakes, a filling for tiramisu or a filling for cheesecake.

STRAWBERRIES - These are looking a bit soft so will most likely be blitzed with a frozen banana and one of those yoghurts to make a smoothie. They could also be stewed with some sugar and vanilla to make a warm fruit sauce for ice cream or even cereal.

GRAPES - These will be nommed as a snack tonight, but would also make a nice addition to a smoothie.

GINGER - This is looking a bit soft and needs to be used quickly. I love ginger in stir fries and curries. It is also great in smoothies and fresh juices. You could also freeze it, unpeeled. This makes grating easier.

CHERRY TOMATOES - These will be roasted with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and served with pasta and mozzarella cheese. They also make a lovely roast tomato and garlic soup, and are gorgeous when baked in a bag with chicken, peppers and cajun spices. The tomatoes burst and turn into a lovely sauce for the chicken.

OLD PESTO - Okay, I'll admit it. I don't actually know how old this is. It's less than 4 weeks old, cos that's when i last cleaned the fridge, but it's old enough that I can't remember exactly when I opened it. It still smells fine, and I've just had it with pasta for lunch. As I'm still typing and not passed out on the floor, I'm assuming it was still good! Ah, I live on the edge, me!

LOTS OF ONIONS - I don't really need to use these quickly, as onions last ages, but I have a huge bag of them, so had better start making a dent! I will use quite a lot of these to make onion soup. I will also chop and freeze quite a few for instant chopped onions in cooking.

Waste of the week...

New feature for the blog - in an attempt to shame myself into not wasting food, I'm writing down everything I throw away!
I have just cleaned out my fridge and have had to chuck quite a few things, so here is my "waste of the Week" list...

half a carton of single cream (2 weeks old)
a large slice of watermelon (3 weeks old)
6 cartons of yoghurt (3 weeks out of date)
small amount of extremely wilted tarragon
half a bag of mouldy grated cheese
small bowl of leftover rice (2 weeks old)
Tiny amount of creme fraiche (3 weeks old)
some tiny sausages (very dried out)
Very wrinkled soggy cucumber
mouldy cherries
very dried out meatballs

Well, not great but not terrible for a week's worth. It's my own fault anyway for not cleaning my fridge weekly like I should be!
I vow to clean out my fridge every single week from now on and try to use things before they go foosty!