Posts Tagged With: shoestring food

Lazy dinner, home-made soup and Mrs Rochester the Second


I made some Pea and Leek soup yesterday. I made enough to last me 3 days at work. Since I already had a bag of frozen peas, some dried mint and a bottle of olive oil, the only ingredients I had to buy were 3 leeks – very good on the budget! Here’s the recipe if you fancy a go:



  • 1 tablespoon oil (I use olve oil for pretty much everything)
  • 3 sliced leeks
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 850ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint (obviously fresh mint is great though)


  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the leeks on a lowish heat, stirring frequently until they are beginning to go translucent and a little golden around the edges (about 5 – 10 minutes).
  • Add the peas, stir, then add the stock and the mint (if you are using fresh mint then wait to add it until you have nearly finished simemring).
  • Pop the saucepan lid on, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Use a hand-held blender or food processor to blend coarsely.

I popped a bit of ham in at the end because, well, why not? However, I didn’t put ham in the main batch because soups containing meat have a shorter shelf life.

This evening I’m making a bit of a lazy dinner. Lazy because, firstly, the sauce (korma) is coming out of a jar. I’ll be adding chicken, cauliflower and green beans. There should be enough that I can freeze two extra portions which will save me an evenings cooking next week sometime (also, one less meal to budget for next week). This will be a lazy dinner, secondly, because I’m going to use cous cous instead of rice. I like rice but I am pooped and cous cous barely needs any attention whatsoever.

Since I’m not cooking for an hour or so I’m going to curl up on the sofa with a good book. Yesterday I realised the time had come for my annual re-reading of Jane Eyre. Must be all the drizzle, fog and dark evenings…

Categories: Book love, Frugal food, Recipes | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Carrot and Coriander soup

I made another batch of soup last night  – it is fantastic! I took some to work today and attracted a small crowd of people brandishing spoons who wanted a ‘go’.  I didn’t get around the taking a photo but it is a lovely golden colour and the flavour is just gorgeous. This one can be frozen so is great for batch cooking and is a total doddle to make.



  • 450g carrots, chopped (roughly a standard supermarket ‘bag’. I had just under and it turned out fine)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves (sliced/crushed) or 1 teaspoon garlic puree
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1.5 pints vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried coriander
  • Salt and pepper

You will need a large saucepan and a hand held blender or a food processor


  • Melt the butter in the pan and add the onion and garlic. Soften over heat.
  • Over a low heat, add the flour and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the stock bit by bit, stirring until blended.
  • Add the carrots and coriander. Bring the soup to the boil and then  lower the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and season to taste.
  • Blend the soup thoroughly until it takes on a smooth, even consistency.

If you’ve never made soup before you’ve really got to give this one a go. It couldn’t be easier and tastes great. If you like carrots that is.

If anyone tries it out, let me know how you get on. Also, I love collecting recipes for good basics to go in my folder so if you’ve got a good soup recipe, let me know! There’s going to be a lot of soup action over the next few weeks…

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Runner bean chutney, sucking eggs & Food diary: Day 7


Shoestringing, or at least an interest in personal finance, is on the up. I went to my local library last week and picked up a few books. These days my first port of call is a tiny section on finance. When I first discovered this section about 6 months ago it literally had about 4 books of this genre on offer alongside a larger selection on topics like buying an investment property abroad. What with the long-winded tooth drama and one thing or another, I haven’t been to the library since June so I was surprised to see that this section has more than doubled in this time. I would say there were at least 15 books on planning your finances, going green and generally being thrifty. There’s obviously a lot of demand at the moment for this kind of thing!

I picked up the book above – Sucking Eggs: Things Your Wartime Grannny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green… by Patricia Nicol. I’ve only read 100 pages so far and yet I am completely gripped. I was expecting a basic book of tips based on what people ate during rationing but this is much, much more detailed. If, like me, you find history utterly riveting you”d probably find this interesting whether you were interested in thrift or not. There is a lot of information about campaigns such as ‘Dig for Victory’ and people taking Farm holidays (a bit like our equivalent of going ‘WOOFing’), how people managed on rations and generally got creative when everything from eggs to meat were in short supply. It is brilliant – I’d recommend it to anyone.

Teresa over at A Time for Stitching ( saw my mention of a cheese and runner bean chutney sandwich the other day and asked if I had made the chutney. Actually, I hadn’t made it but my Mum has a gorgeous recipe for it so if you are lucky enough to have a glut of runner beans here it is:



  • 2 lb runner beans
  • 4-5 medium onions
  • 2lb demerera sugar
  • 1.5 pints vinegar
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • You can also add a handful of sultanas if you like (I do like)


  • Peel and slice the beans and onions and cook in salted water for around 10 minutes, then drain (it is better to slightly undercook rather than over cook them).
  • Put the beans and onions back in the pan, add 1 1/4 pints of the vinegar (keep the remaining 1/4 pint to one side) and all of the sugar. Boil for 15 minutes.
  • Mix the cornflour, tumeric and mustard powder with the remaining 1/4 pint of vinegar. Add to the pot and boil for a further 15 minutes.
  • Leave to cool and then pot.

I can’t wait for the day that I have my own garden and can grow lots of veg!


BREAKFAST: Cereal and tea.

PACKED LUNCH: Tuna salad sandwich, 2 apples, a banana and a small tupperware filled with a chopped nectarine and a few strawberries. It was yet another colleagues birthday so I also had cake. Two slices actually.

DINNER: Sausages, cauliflower cheese and carrots.

Categories: Book love, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Food Diary: Days 5 & 6

Saturday food diary

BREAKFAST: Coffee and a banana

LUNCH: Husband bought me a hot pork and apple roll from the local butchers as a treat (it was very good – apple sauce and stuffing too!) followed by strawberries and cream.

DINNER: provided by a friend at a birthday dinner party

Sunday food diary

BREAKFAST: Coffee. Lots of coffee.

LUNCH: Sandwiches, crisps and apples (packed lunch due to band practice)

DINNER: Home-made lasagne (taken out of the freezer) with salad, followed by strawberries and cream.

Categories: Ramblings | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Going BOGOF crazy and Food Diary: Day 4

I just spent a bit more than planned doing my weekly shop in the Co-op but they had some good offers on things that I use so I’ve gone BOGOF crazy for the second day in a row! I spent £40 and something pence so I have roughly £42 left for the last two weeks of the month which should be plenty. They had the stir-in sauces and also Dolmio white lasagne sauce on BOGOF so I stocked up. I don’t generally buy many jars of sauce but I have no patience with making my own white sauce (I know, I know, I should persevere) and the stir-in sauces are very handy for packed lunches. My cupboard is so well stocked at the moment I had trouble fitting it all in. Sausages were also on a offer so I bought an extra pack for the freezer. Pizza were also on offer so I grabbed a couple for tonight as a friend is coming over later. We are going to a birthday party tomorrow night. I already had half a bottle of vodka in the fridge so I picked up some yummy looking pressed fruit juice (apple and raspberry) – two for £2.40. AND Pringles were reduced to £1 so I grabbed a couple to take with us. So I did pretty well all in all…


BREAKFAST: Cereal and tea.

PACKED LUNCH: The same bacon-pasta thing as yesterday, 3 apples, a banana and a piece of home-made flapjack (I made a batch last night). Since it was a colleagues birthday I also had a piece of chocolate cake and three mini muffins!

DINNER: Pizza and salad. And flapjack!

Categories: Ramblings | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Bathroom Basics BOGOFs and Food diary: Day 3

I had to go and do some stocking up in Boots today – why does everything run out at the same time? I’m almost out of mouthwash so that was first on my list. I found a BOGOF deal on ‘Plax’ so I went with that one (they had the same offer on an own-brand mouthwash but they only had one left!) saving £3.29. My toothbrush has suddenly started looking a bit frayed so I wanted a new one. Boots are running a BOGOF deal on Listerine toothbrushes so I picked up two of those and saved £1.99. I also bought Boots’ own-brand tooth floss at £1.89 (actually not enough wax for my liking but it was the only option available). While I was hovering in the dental section I also noticed that my usual toothpaste was on offer, reduced from £1.29 to £1 so I picked up a tube of that as well. I generally avoid going into shops if I don’t need anything so, when I actually make it through the doors, I do have a quick ‘sweep’ to see if anything else I generally use is on offer. I spotted cotton wool pads – two packets for £2 (usually £1.65 each) so two packets duly went into my shopping basket. I spent a total of £10.17 and saved £6.87 and I’m all stocked up again.

There were lots of good offers on other products but not on anything I’m likely to run out of for a while so I wasn’t even tempted to pick anything else up. I’m still ploughing through my supply of soaps (remember I had something of a back-log?). I currently have one on the go in the soap dish and another still in its wrapper in a drawer. Even though I prefer body wash/shower gel, I made a pact with myself at the start of the year not to buy anymore until I really had nothing left to wash with. Using the soaps have been fine – my only grumble would be that the bath needs more of a scrub afterwards but that’s about it. I did buy two bars of olive soap while I was in Kos (the only things that I bought for myself to bring back). I decided to pick them up because the only local shop that stocks proper olive soap sells each bar for around £3 and, in Greece, it costs under £1. So, other than that, I’ve stuck to my pact pretty well. I’ve also got an unopened shower gel in the drawer but I’m saving that for when the soap supply has finally dwindled. I’ll really appreciate it when I finally get to use it!


BREAKFAST: Cereal and a cup of tea (are you seeing a pattern here?!)

PACKED LUNCH: Last night I boiled up some wholemeal pasta twists and shells. I then added a stir-in sweet pepper sauce (one of two which I got on a BOGOF deal and which had been sitting in the cupboard for a bit!) and 4 rashers of bacon, chopped up and fried with a tiny amount of oil. Seriously yummy. I made 4 large portions so there is enough for both Husband and I to have some for lunch today and tomorrow.  Also, two apples, a banana and a slice of melon.

DINNER: It’s been a bit of an odd ‘using things up’ dinner tonight – large platefuls of cauliflower cheese (with broccoli and peas added). I’ve also got some corn on the cobb which we’ll have later with butter. This is currently on offer at Tesco – each pack contains two for £1.50 but it is currently…you guessed it… buy one get one free!

Categories: Budget beauty | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Food diary: Day 1

Following yesterdays post, Mo asked how I managed to get the food shop down to an average of £30 per week for both Husband and I (see the comments section of yesterdays post – I had quite a burble about it). Other than the ways I listed I’m not exactly sure so I’ve decided to keep a food diary for a week or so to see exactly what we’re getting out of our food budget!

BREAKFAST: Bran flakes with semi-skimmed milk plus a few sultanas thrown in and a cuppa. I tend to buy a box of plain (supermarket own-brand) bran flakes and add my own sultanas as it is much cheaper than buying a packet with them already added.

PACKED LUNCH: Tuna sandwich, a banana, 3 apples and a nectarine (also someone donated a tub of jelly beans to the office so I had quite a few of those as well!). Tea, coffee and mineral water are provided free at work so I don’t need to take in or go out and buy any drinks during the day.

DINNER: Mackerell (out of the freezer – I bought this on offer for £2.50 in the supermarket last month), carrots, broccoli and small jacket potatoes with butter.

If we’re feeling munchy later on we might have a slice of toast or some melon. Or both!

Categories: Frugal food | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

How I halved my food budget

This year I’ve made big cuts to my previous spending budgets so that I can save more and be less wasteful. I’ve made changes here and there but one of the biggest things I’ve done is halve our food budget. This equates to around £120 extra in the savings account each month and much, much more if I include how much I used to spend on going out for lunch and buying sandwiches. I know most readers and bloggers are pretty savvy in these days of economic doom and gloom but in case there are any newbies out there, this is how I’ve done it.

CLEARING OUT THE CUPBOARDS: One of the first things I did was to go through all of my food cupboards. I threw out anything out of date and then put anything nearing expiry right at the front to make sure I used it up in time.

MAKING A MEAL PLAN: Every week I make a meal plan before I go shopping. I know a lot of people that do this and then don’t stick to it. This is madness if you really want to stick to your budget. Work out which days you will be in/out and plan accordingly, then write a list based on what you will actually need.

SET A BUDGET: It might take a few weeks of trial and error to figure out your ideal budget. The best way is to stick to your list (what you need) and try not to buy too many extras. For me, it turned out that about £30 a week is plenty for both Husband and I for all of our meals, though I often use a bit extra from my general spending fund at weekends, particularly if we have friends coming over.

SHOPPING: I am very good at sticking to the list based on my meal plan. However, I’ll break away from it for a good deal, like buy-one-get-one-free,  but only if I know I will actually use the items and if buying them won’t take me over budget.

WRITING A STORE CUPBOARD LIST: I have a list of basic items (it is quite long!) which I keep in my filofax. I read about someone who has a similar list taped to the inside of their cupboard door. Whatever works for you best – as long as you can find it easily and it won’t get thrown away by accident. The list includes things like olive oil, butter, pasta etc and also non-food items like tin foil and loo roll. Basically, if I use it a lot and it comes dried, tinned, in a jar or in a packet then it goes on the list.

WORKING OUT WHEN TO SHOP: I get paid monthly and my preferred supermarket is a 22 mile round-trip away so I don’t want to waste time and money going there every week. Instead, I use up a large chunk of my monthly food budget doing a ‘big’ shop when I’ve been paid. I prepare for this by going around the kitchen with my storecupboard list and checking how much of everything I have left and what is likely to run out over the next month. This means that, on a weekly basis, I only need to stock up on fresh produce like dairy, fruit, veg and meat.

COOKING IN BATCHES: I really have saved a fortune by cooking up big batches of lasagne, casserole and so on. Not only is it much, much cheaper cooking like this but, after a long day at work, I love sitting down to a home-cooked meal that involves minimal preparation followed by minimal washing-up.

USING THE FREEZER: Not everyone has a freezer I know. Mine isn’t massive – just 4 drawers but I use it all the time now, not only for my batch cooking but also for those handy BOGOFs on everything from bread to salmon.

MARKED-DOWN GOODS: Lurk around in supermarkets and bakeries at the end of the day. There are bound to be some marked down goods. I don’t do this very often as, like I said, I tend to stick to the list. But there are some great bargains to be had on everything from meat to cheesecake.

PACKED LUNCHES: We all know it but I’m convinced that buying lunch instead of taking something with you can almost double your food spending. And how much better does a home-made egg sandwich taste than one from a supermarket?  Also, a colleague of mine bought a multi-pack of crisps today – 8 packets for £1. Sold seperately in the same supermarket, each bag of the same brand was priced at 47p. When I did my food shop on Friday I got some great deals on fruit – 10 apples for £1.50. All good packed lunch stuff, depending on what you like. Personally, I don’t buy multi-packs of crisps, biscuits or chocolate bars because neither Husband or I have any self-control. If I brought it home we would eat it all in one sitting. I wish this were a joke but it really isn’t…

What advice would you give someone trying to cut their food budget?

Categories: Frugal food, Home Economics | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

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