Britain’s cheapest supermarket ?

Hello Dear Reader,

This is NOT a sponsored post. I just wanted to save you some money.

You may have had Farm Foods in your area for a while but our nearest store in Bodmin has opened recently. I went there today for the first time and I thought I’d share my experience. 

Farm foods was started in Scotland and has been around for years and is a well respected discount retailer. It reminded me of Iceland in its earlier days, when it used to be cheaper than it now. Farm Foods had a lot of bulk offers and I made the most of those bulk offers and bought meat and veg multi pack offers. I thought the store would be fantastic for thrifty money savers who have a big freezer and want to stock up the pantry. I know of families who take a trip to farm foods once a month and fill up their chest freezer. I don’t blame them, it was certainly cheap

There were of course, as in any supermarket, plenty of convenience food and foods that make life easier., who can resist a kilo of meatballs for £3.33, I bought the chicken thighs, gammon steaks and pork loin steaks. They will certainly make my life easier. 

I’ve always been a fan of frozen food as nothing goes off or gets wasted. I know some people don’t like to buy any frozen food and that’s ok but if you get a chance, take a look and fill up your freezer. If the leaflet comes through your door, there are discount vouchers that you can tear off and take with you. I saved £2.50 off my £25 shop with my voucher. I bought frozen meat and veg, eggs, ice lollies and bacon, in fact loads to keep us going for quite a while.

Over to you, has anyone else been there? What did you think?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Thrifty sunny Saturday

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been a stunning sunny day here. We were up early and I’ve cleaned the house from top to bottom, changed the bedding and washed all the laundry and dried it in the line. I made buchwheat galettes for lunch, a favourite Breton recipe and I made enough so we can have them another day as well. I have a proper crêpe pan now that we brought back from France and it’ll get well used.

We’re one week down of a very thrifty six weeks where we need to put the financial brakes on for a while. But, I had to get some work shoes and found Clark’s outlet online and bought the shoes at less than half price. They are perfect and really comfortable. I’m hard on shoes and rarely get more than a year out of them as I spend all day on my feet.

We worked in the garden today, DB used up some premixed mortar and repaired the garden path and I found the garden furniture paint in the shed and gave the bench a couple of coats of paint. I’ve stored the paint away as there’s plenty enough for another year.

I reheated left over bits for our supper that wasn’t quite enough for a meal so I made some smoked mackerel pâte as a starter. I skinned the mackerel fillets, added 1/4 pot of fromage frais, 2 heaped tablespoons of horseradish sauce, tablespoon of lemon juice and salt and pepper. I blitzed the ingredients in the food processor.

We shared the bowlful and ate it with carrot sticks. It’s divine and we love it.

So, the house is clean, the garden is tidy, I have lovely new shoes on a budget, the laundry is clean and dry, the path is mended and the garden bench is bright and blue for spring. 

I’ll call today a thrifty success.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Bacon and vegetable risotto with steamed greens 

Hello Dear Reader, 

Quick recipe tonight, one of those, straight through the door, make it and eat it as quickly as you can. 

Firstly, I shredded a bag of spring greens and put them in the steamer.

I boiled the kettle and made 750ml litre of chicken stock.

I chopped one onion,

1/2 small pack of lean bacon

1/4 bag of mixed frozen veggies 

1 1/2 cups of risotto rice.

I added the onions and bacon to a pan and fried it without any other oil

I added the veggies and continued to stir with the other ingredients for ten minutes.

I added the rice and stock in one go.

I kept stirring until all the stock was absorbed. If the rice isn’t cooked to your liking, add some boiling water and continue to cook. 

Normally, risotto is glistening from the addition of butter or oil but it’s not needed as the starch of the rice makes it glossy and it was really delicious and the pile of greens just made it even more tasty.

Give it a try. If you’re following slimming world, this has no syns.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Pancake fillings?

Hello Dear Reader,

Tonight’s supper didn’t go well! Never mind, it was edible, gluten free and relatively healthy. I’d previously made some buckwheat pancakes and tonight I had a filling of mushrooms, spinach and fromage frais. I cooked the mushrooms in frylight (not butter) and then added the spinach (previously frozen) and then I added garlic and fromage frais. That didn’t work and the fromage frais just disappeared. 

To compensate, I added a small amount of half fat emmenthal. Next time, I’ll make a small amount of béchamel sauce and add a little cheese. 

The salad and couple of slices of ham were lovely. Lesson learned? Eat fromage frais cold with fruit and don’t cook with it.

Over to you, have you ever had a cooking disaster ? What went wrong and what will you do differently next time?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Save money: good food

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve just caught up on the TV show where a ‘wasteful’ family are shown as as an extreme example of over spending on food. One family in question spent £250 a week in food including plenty of  takeaways. The family appeared very busy, had slipped into bad habits and would buy food without thinking about what they already had and what they would do with the food they put in the trolley. The end result was food waste. Now, it’s easy to get into bad habits when people are busy.

We’re a busy couple, with full time careers, work to do at home,  dogs to walk and a home to look after so we are not going to be kitchen martyrs and stand in the kitchen every night thinking about what we’re going to eat. I make sure we eat quickly, cheaply and eat the food we enjoy. A little bit of planning now and then, not even every week saves me time, effort and certainly money. 

If I were to work with any of the families on the show, I’d give them the following help.

1. Stock take what you already have.

2. Create menu ideas with what you have. If you’ve a pile of lentils/tinned pears/cheese , then a simple google search of “recipes with lentils” or whatever ingredient you have to give you some ideas of what to do with it.

3. Try and create as many ideas with what you already have.

4. If you have a whole pile of durable, in date food that you think you’re not going to use, bag it up and take it to a food bank collection point. 

5. If you have spare food you don’t think you’ll eat soon, investigate/google how to freeze it. Then use it later.

6. Eat down what you have.

7. Create a main meal menu plan for the week ahead. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you don’t even need to be able to cook. Your meal plan could just say baked potatoes and beans, fish fingers, oven chips and salad, or eggs on toast, just so you have an idea of what you’re going to eat.

8. Plan your lunches, breakfast and snacks. Breakfast here is always toast or cereals, snacks are apples or bananas, lunches are sandwiches, soup, or reheated leftovers. One standard size box of cornflakes feeds both of us breakfast for a week. 

9. When you shop, you’ll also need to buy cleaning products and toiletries, so before you create a list, stock take everything you have.

10. Now you’re ready to create a list. Remember to take it with you and stick to it. A bargain is no use to you if it’s not on the list. 

All of that seems like a massive task but anything you do for the first time is often really difficult. This gets easier as you don’t have a stock of food you’re not going to eat, you’ll know what you have and you’ll have menu plans for the week ahead. Give yourself a break now and then by batch cooking and having food in the freezer for the nights you don’t want to cook. Another time saver is to plan a ‘student food’ night and relive your youth with scrambled eggs or beans on toast or a plain old bacon or sausage sandwich. Of course, home cooking is far more fun but don’t beat yourself up if you’re just not a cook.

It’s easy to think, we don’t have time or planning is too much bother but it will save time and money in the long run.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Cooking ahead saves waste

Hello Dear Reader,

I know it Monday, but it feels like a Sunday, when I usually cook for the week ahead. I spent yesterday catching up on myself. It’s early evening now, it’s getting cooler and we’ve lit the wood stove. I’ve meal prepped for a few days.

I cooked roast chicken for today and tomorrow. Chicken and leek casserole for the freezer.

Here’s how I made that

8 chicken thighs (2.50 in Asda) – I removed the skins, cooked them in a separate dish and chopped the skin up for the dogs and added it to their supper bowls.

3 leeks, chopped and washed – 20p today – Asda

1 red pepper – finely sliced – 30p – Asda

Chicken stock pot – 25p with 500ml water

3 carrots – 6p – 20p a bag today in Asda.

Clove of garlic crushed, salt and plenty of pepper

Place in the oven at 180 for an hour an a half.

I also made minestrone soup, which is more of a veggie stew with GF pasta. I’ll take the reheatable mugs into work each day. 

To make these I used

1 pack of leeks chopped up

4 chopped carrots

1 yellow pepper

1 tin of tomatoes 

1 veggie stock pot and 1 litre of water

1 tin of mixed beans

I simmered all of those ingredients until the carrots were soft, about 30 minutes.

I added a cup if pasta and continued to cook until the pasta was soft.

2 minutes in the microwave is all it needs for lunch.

Whilst the oven was on, I popped in four jacket potatoes. I spray them with frylight. They need about an hour. I just microwave when we need them. They can even be frozen until I need to use them. They’ll go well with chicken casserole.

I bought a small chicken and roasted it, we’ll eat one meal tonight and we’ll eat ding cuisine tomorrow when we get home.

Even though it was a small chicke, there was enough to pull off the carcass and one leg for DB’s sandwiches.

I chopped the chicken and added, 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 1 tsbsp of mango chutney and a sprinkle of curry powder. 

DB has sandwiches for three days and they keep well in the fridge.

Well, that’s me sorted up to Thursday.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Get on the thrifty train

Hello Dear Reader,

If you ever want a thrifty staple to add to your menu, then you won’t go far wrong with a stack of buckwheat pancakes. I’d never eaten them before we went to Brittany and when I found out I could buy the flour here (I found it in Waitrose) I’ve made them at home ever since. It’s a simple recipe

330g buckwheat flour 

75cl water

10g salt (it seems a lot but it doesn’t work if you use less)

1 egg

Some melted butter

Add the salt to the flour and mix well.

Beat the egg and water together,

Combine everything. Now traditionally, you beat that with a wooden spoon for about fifteen minutes. I use a k-mix!

Add some melted butter to a crêpe pan, and to the batter mix. Use a ladle to add the very runny batter to the pan and move the batter around by moving the pan. Cook a stack and keep them n the fridge. I use them as gluten free wraps and as meal staples.

I’ve got a very thrifty few weeks ahead of me. I have one more ferry trip to pay for and then need to put money aside to build another internal wall in Huelgoat. We’ll have to batten down the financial hatches for weeks ahead. It might seem like a little saving but it just means I don’t pop to the supermarket and top up. Here’s my menu plan for my main meals for the week ahead.

Buckwheat pancakes with mushrooms and spinach.

Veggie pasta bake.

Smoked mackerel fish cakes with salad.

Bacon and pea risotto 

Baked potatoes with baked beans and grated cheese

Chicken stew – made from chicken thighs with mash

Roast pork shoulder for Sunday lunch 

All extremely cheap, simple to cook and will keep my grocery budget to £30 a week. I’ll keep the utility costs low and we’ll also keep every other expense to a minimum.

The aim? To keep a smile on my face whilst we get there.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Not a lot, very slowly

Hello Dear Reader,

What a lovely two weeks.

Home cooked food, salads, chilled rosé wine and good company.

We helped some neighbours move furniture.

We got to know the French chaps next door (teachers).

We met the old guy, who wears clogs and lives with a blue eyed cat, opposite us, who chatted to us where he previously used to scuttle indoors.

We had a great night out (lock in!) with the locals.

We tidied the woodland, found and stacked logs, cleaned out the wood shed and sat in front of the fire each night.

Went to the charity shop in Morlaix and bought some furniture.

We built a wall with a door.

We painted a room.

We gave the house a good clean.

It was relaxing and we did not a lot, very slowly.

Tucked it up safely and waved goodbye.

We’ll be back in summer.

I’ll see you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Building a partition wall

Hello Dear Reader,

The top floor of our house was once a self contained two roomed flat but last year DB opened up the floor and built and installed stairs. We’ve built our first wall (ever) and will eventually have a four bedroomed house. 

Here’s our wall building. We bought the door and frame last year, it was second hand but never used and a bargain for 20€. The wood and the plasterboard was all bought from Brico depot and a friend, a builder, told us how to build the wall. His instructions were invaluable.

DB built the frame and plaster boarded one side.

Here it is with the door.

I stapled the insulation inside the frame.

We then screwed the plasterboard to the other side as well.

He filled all screw holes and joints with plaster mix.

We also added beading over the joints, I think it will give it a paneled look. Not to everybody’s taste, especially not if you have perfectionist tendancies but I don’t. It’ll be fine when painted.

I’m currently painting. I put one coat on, allow it to dry and then pain again. It will take three or four coats. Bare wood or plasterboard just sucks up the paint. Here in France, they don’t plaster on top of the board, they just paint.

It’ll be a finished room tomorrow even though I don’t have any furniture for it yet.

All in good time.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Thrifty French life

Hello Dear Reader,

We’re still tidying up the back of the house. We had a great discussion with our neighbours on one side, who luckily for us are English teachers (they’re French) and are a bit less shy with us and told us all about the land at the back of our house. They’d been in touch with the mayor and notaire and the owner has long passed away and no inheritor can be found. This is common in France and land and property is just left unowned and houses just rot and fall down. Sometimes, the local council, called the commune, take over the property and then sell it. If you see a pile of stones and a hectare of land being renovated, it’s usually a British family who want a piece of France for about 15,000€. I ask repeatedly why the French don’t do this and just get the answer that they want new houses that are warm and cheap to run.

So, the immediate bit of land behind our house was so over grown that the willow branches were resting on our roof. We had them trimmed back by a local tree surgeon as soon as we bought the house in December 2015. We also had the trees cut down in the garden, then finally, at Easter last year, had the fir trees cut down at the end of the garden. We’ve long since stacked the wood messily in the front garden and finally got round to pulling the willow logs out of the undergrowth behind the house. We’re still cutting back the brambles so the wild flowers can pop up. In the spirit of thriftiness, we’re also collecting sacks of kindling and they’ll be stacked in wooden vegetables crates in the shed.

After lunch, we headed to the outside of Morlaix to the large charity shop called Emmaüs. We are great fans. They sell furniture, household items, bedding, clothing…..i could go on, you get the picture.

People get there early and the crowd are a bit enthusiastic when they open the doors. It’s only open Wednesday and Saturday and they get new donations all the time. The car park and the roadside outside was soon rammed with cars, vans and Brits with roof racks. It’s quite an experience shopping there. You find what you like, find a member of staff who marks it as sold, then you get a ticket. At the end you take your tickets to the pay booth and brace yourself. The man who takes your money: doesn’t like cards and doesn’t like it unless you have the right cash and will give you a complete telling off. Just accept, he’s like that and emmaüs give people the chance to work when no one else would employ them due to a whole loads of personal issues and just take people as you find them.

Glasses – were about 2€ for ten.

Essential escargot serving set. We really love butter and garlic cooked escargot. But we didn’t buy the set.

You cook them on the tray, hold them with springy clampy thingies and pull them out with the little forks. You may well crinkle your nose, I know I did, but we like them. Sadly, a snail eating kit wasn’t on the list! 

Nor were retro pots or coloured glass.

Nor were God, saints or voodoo! 

No tapestry ladies for me.

Oh my, if you like kitsch- you’d be in heaven.

We were sensible and spent our 50€ budget on some pieces of furniture, squished it in the back of the car and drove the thirty minutes home. 

Here’s what we bought. A small sideboard, a hall cupboard, a bedside table and a picture. 44€ in total. Eventually, they’ll it’ll be painted.

So, a thrifty fun day.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx