Keeping down the scary costs of food.

store cupboard

Hello Dear Reader,

It really seems that food prices are rising every minute and it’s getting harder and harder to keep the costs down. That means we all have to keep our eyes open for every deal, for every offer and make sure that we don’t waste a single mouthful. Now that might seem extreme but it’s never the money you spend you need to worry about but the money you waste.

There are ways to make sure you only buy what you need and that you avoid impulse buying. I know some of you have big store cupboards, chest freezers and can make the most of offers but if you’re on a finite budget (I know I am, my budget is THE budget because there is no more!) or you haven’t got the storage facilities then you need to buy exactly what you need and nothing more.

My starting point is always a stock check or a quick count. How many tins? How many packets? What condiments do you have? How many jars of pickle? How many bags of flour? What’s in the freezer? If you have a chest freezer, make sure you empty it out really quickly with someone else writing down what’s in there as you just call out the contents one by one. How many stock cubes or pots do you have? Spices? Dried fruit?

Most people will have a sizeable list of food already in the house. Here’s the first way you save money and wastage.

Eat that food first! If you can, keep eating that food before you buy anything else. Use of the fridge today or tomorrow, then work your way through the freezer and then onto the store cupboard. If you have tins of beans such ask kidney beans, haricot or butter beans then look for beany burger recipes, for dip or vegan pate recipes and add them into the week’s menu.

Remember all the time, I’m talking about what I would do and I’m only making suggestions and no one has to do as I do.

  1. Stock take and use what you have.

Next, and I think this is the most essential thing to do is to make a menu plan for the week. If you can, do this with the family or in my case, I do it myself as neither of us really care what we eat so long as it’s tasty. There are lots of ways to do this: a chalkboard, a note pad in the kitchen, a spreadsheet, a write on board or you enter it into outlook on your phone. I just use a note pad by the kettle. In that menu plan, I plan three meals a day plus snacks. Our snacks are mainly apples and bananas as those fruit are always on offer or at least affordable.

2. Create a three meals a day meal plan.

Now you know what you have in the house and you’ve created a meal plan incorporating as much as you can from the stock you already have, you can write your shopping list. I make sure, I don’t rush this as it’s easy to forget something. I check the bathroom, do I have toiletries? I check the ‘utility room’ (my porch and downstairs loo where I keep all the cleaning and laundry supplies) to check for cleaning products. I also think, will that last another week?

3. Write a really good list of everything we need.

I’m a budget supermarket shopper. I shop in Lidl, Aldi, Farmfoods and Asda as I find them the cheapest. I also rarely buy brands unless there is not alternative such as stock pots. I’m not a food snob and I shop for nutrition and price. Most supermarkets have stopped doing their very bottom priced products and have just regular branded items. I now have to buy these instead. As I mainly cook from scratch, I don’t buy biscuits, cakes, pies, ready meals anyway so I don’t feel I’m missing out in any way.

4. Compare the unit price!

Whilst I’m in the supermarket, I don’t let them confuse me with baffling unit pricing! They try this all the time and I think it should be utterly illegal! They will try and sell you: each item, an example would be a swede or melon that they don’t sell by weight. If that’s the case, simply find the biggest and there’s the value for money. Some packets of cheese or cooked meat, they will try price on the shelf by 100g – if that’s the case, multiply they 100g unit price by 10 to get the price per kilo. Look at the cheese and find the price per kilo in your budget (in my case, I always go for the lowest price per kilo of mature cheddar – we don’t eat cheese on its own and add it to something as a flavour so I want a mature cheese with lots of flavour)

My issue with unit pricing is that supermarkets deliberately try and con you into thinking you have a bargain, with a multi buy and sometimes the unit price is higher. It’s important that you know what you’re paying for.

5. Stick to the list.

Don’t be duped by offers. They supermarkets use clever psychology to dupe you and convince you with: lighting, product placement, end of aisle offers and blatant bullshit to sell you stuff you don’t need! If you’ve already got some, if you can’t afford it, if it’s not on the list, if you’ve no room in the freezer, store cupboard, if it’s unhealthy, high fat, sugar filled rubbish then I just don’t need it. Remember again, I’m not telling you what to do, do what you like.

6. Rotate your stock.

Pull your old stock forward and place the new items behind. If you have a chest freezer, you could eat from left to right. If you have a small under counter freezer and could decant what you have into two of the three drawers and the new stuff goes into one drawer. Personally, I pull the food I already have to the front of the drawer and place the new behind that and then eat front to back.

7. Batch cook.

A whole chicken is often cheaper than buying chicken pieces so I’ll roast all of it and we’ll eat a roast meal two days in a row. A pack of beef mince will feed four if I was making cottage pie so I’ll make two pies and freeze one for another day.

8. Buy tinned and frozen.

We use frozen fish, tinned fish, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables so they don’t go off and there’s no waste. The price is often cheaper than fresh too.

We all have to extremely savvy shoppers as the prices in the supermarkets seem to be rising daily and it’s getting harder and harder for some families to even feed themselves at all and that’s why number nine is optional for anyone and not even possible for many families.

9. Pay it forward.

Shop, if you can, a couple of items a week for the local food bank. We have collection points at the back of the tills in our supermarkets. The food banks always need protein, fruit, veggies and something to fill up a child’s belly. They always need tinned meat or fish, rice pudding, tinned fruit or veg as there are families who no matter how hard they try just don’t have money enough to eat at all.

10. Stock up.

Protect yourself from that bill, that breakdown, that week of shorter hours and less pay. Try and have your own stock of tins, dried goods and expensive items such as tea and coffee. You can’t plan for every eventuality and help yourself by just having a little buffer to keep you going.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx


Stock pots?

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve been confusing you.

When I say stock pot, I mean these. Pots of stock.

They come in a variety of types and most are gluten free. Most stock cubes are not gluten free so I can’t use them. I buy these when they are on offer or multi buys. You open them, and plop the little lump of concentrated stock into whatever requires it. 

Sorry for any confusion.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs 

Cold, wet and hungry? 

Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve got dirty weather! You know the sort where you can barely see the car in front of you on the commute home. The temperature has dropped and the house felt really cold when I got home….well, it was until I got my fleece PJs on! On days like these (Sept-May!) I need to come home and have something to eat straight away.  Before I left this morning, I used

1 reduced price pack of chopped chicken breast

2 chopped leeks

1 sliced onion

6 medium potatoes cut into large chunks

1/2 a swede cut into cubes

2 tins of tomatoes

1 stock pot

1/2 bunch chopped celery

Add the lot to a slow cooker and cook on low all day. When I got home, I threw in a tablespoon on gluten free gravy granules to thicken.

Most of our weekday meals will be simple meat, veg and stock cooked together in the slow cooker and ready to eat when we get home. It’s not much to look at but I’m hungry enough to eat anything when I get in and I don’t want any faffing around and just want supper.

Nothing to fancy to share at the moment, just chuck it in and cook it food.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Always fix it first 

Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve had a wonky creaky ecofan that had clunked and rattled as if was off kilter in some way. The noise drove us mad!

What’s an ecofan? It’s a fan that converts heat into electricity and turns a fan to circulate the warm air from the top of the wood stove around the room. Ours is the original, made in Canada and that’s where we had the part delivered from; via a supplier in the UK. It came with instructions to replace the motor and now its whirring away quietly on top of our stove creating an even warmth around the room.

I’m a great believer in repairing anything we own and keeping it going even if it might seem cheaper to just go out and buy new. It seems a shame and a terrible waste just to throw things away when they can be repaired. Our ecofan worked perfectly for five years and the repair should get that much out of it again. 

Who’s with me on this one? Who’d rather repair than replace?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Chicken, bacon and bean casserole 

Hello Dear Reader,

We have the first autumn storm bashing Cornwall and the rain is coming in sideways. That says one thing, it’s time for a casserole. This didn’t take long in my slow cooker and I made an entire batch and we’ve eaten half today and we’ll eat the rest tomorrow. 

I used

1 kilo of frozen chicken breasts and I added them frozen and cut them up once they cooked 

Half a head of finely sliced celery

1 small things onion – finely diced 

6 large carrots, peeled and chunked

1 tin of haricot beans

2 tins of tomatoes 

Half a pack of cooking bacon – cut into cubes

I popped the lot in the slow cooker and set it on low for 6 hours. That meant it was warm when I got home but had to take out what we needed and microwave it after I’d cooked some cabbage and rice to have with our supper. 

It’s cheap, simple and the addition of beans meant we didn’t need so much meat. Another supper with a combination of tinned and frozen along with some fresh veggies and rice from the larder.

I’m off to get in my pyjamas, get under a quilt and keep warm for the evening.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Tinned or frozen?

Hello Dear Reader,

I don’t cook on Mondays or Thursdays. I cook for meals the day before and just microwave the next day. We call it ding cuisine. I’m all for money saving short cuts. We’re almost out of fresh vegetables and didn’t want to shop today so I see frozen mixed veg, a tin of mushy peas and a tin of sweet corn. 

The bits in the gravy, if you’re interested, are sage. I used to make gluten free sage and onion stuffing but as we’re eating low carb (following slimming world) I no longer make it. My food processor died and I can’t make bread crumbs without one so we don’t have it any more. The sage in the gravy gives the lunch the flavour of stuffing without the calories.

I always have plenty of tinned and frozen food and use it to pad out our budget and my time budget. If I’m busy, it’s good to have a couple of cooking free nights and a few meals that are much cheaper.

Every now and then, we all need an easier life.

Over to you. Tinned? Frozen? Or a bit of both? Ding cuisine? Cooking free nights? Let me know how you free up a bit of time and get yourself out of the kitchen every now and then?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxk

Corn beef pasties

Hello Dear Reader,

My pasties didn’t stick together very well but it was lovely. Corn beef is a cheap staple and great in corn beef hash or in a pie or pasty. It’s getting more expensive but there’s nothing wasted. 

I used a small tin of reduced fat corned beef

2 medium potatoes, that I microwaved and removed the cooked potato from skins and mashed

2 medium onions, very finely diced and fried in frylight.

1 beaten egg.

4 gluten free wraps, you could use any wrap.

When the potatoes and onion were cooked, I blended everything together with plenty of black pepper and a pinch of salt. You could add grated carrot or parsnips for added sweetness. We’ll have one for lunch and eat one later. 

They’re also light and under 250 calories each or syn free if you’re following slimming world. 

As I said, they don’t look great but they taste lovely.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Sitting by firelight tonight

Hello Dear Reader,

Over the last couple of days we’ve split and stacked one plum tree and one eucalyptus tree. One’s a sappy wood that needed seasoning for two years and fruit wood is a really good hard wood for fires. The wood has been stored by our shed and this year we’re burning it along with pallets and an old picnic table. By the time we’re finished our wood store will be full. We’ll also order some wood and pay for it. The great thing about wood heating is the prepayment. Whilst we’re keeping warm, we know it’s all paid for.

We use a hydraulic log splitter that does all the work for us. It has paid for itself over and over and it saves our shoulders and the windows if a log flies off when struck with an axe. 

It might seem a lot of work but it’s an economy we prefer to make the effort for.

It does mean that I have quite a scruffy garden as the wood takes up a lot of space and it’s pretty to us but not every one would agree.

The end result are very cosy and adds to our very happy home.

As it felt autumnal this evening, we lit the fire and it was lovely to be warm. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Vintage China cabinet refurb

Hello Dear Reader,

Our cottage was built in 1911 and has the original built in cupboards in the dining room either side of the fire. The storage is a real bonus and where I keep my china . The shelves were covered in 1960s wall paper and it was in need of a cheap refresh.

We bought a large PVC table cloth from a budget store for £3.99 and cut it to fit each shelf.

I painted the inside of the cupboard with white paint. Everything at home is painted white.

Above is the shelf before with very tatty paper and the new covering.

The bottom cupboard is for ‘dog stuff’ and that had a tidy up too. In the spirit of make do. And mend, I think that was a successful refurb and now my vintage china has a much more suitable home. 

Some household improvements are really quick and easy. As always, we looked for an affordable way to keep our home nice.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Slimming world pasties

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve seen these all over the internet and I thought I’d have a go. Here’s what I put inside:

2 leek, sliced.

One large  courgette, cut into small chunks

1 large red pepper, diced.

Spray of frylight and cook for ten fifteen minutes.

8 rasher of lean bacon, remove any fat and diced

100g of tomato paste

Plenty of black pepper.

One laughing cow light triangle per pasty 

1 beaten large egg – use this to seal the pasty and glaze it

I cooked it until everything as well cooked.

I used gluten free wraps bit expensive at 50p each!

Eight slices of lean bacon at £2.

Asda free range eggs at £1.50

I covered the wrap with beaten egg, added the filling and popped a cheese triangle inside.

Sealing it was a nightmare, DB suggested I sewed it together with spaghetti ! I kept pressing the edges with a fork. Preheat the oven to 180.

I brushed them generously with beaten egg and baked them for twenty minutes.

It was totally delicious! I calorie counted and each pasty was under 250 calories! 

Our neighbours gave us the runner beans and the corn was in the reduced section at Asda.

If you don’t need to eat gluten free, then you can buy 6 wraps for 75p! It’s a quick low calorie supper and twice as delicious when you get to the cheese in the middle. To make this veggies, you could grill some quorn sausages and dice them and add them.

There’ll be more slimming world recipes as we get back into healthy eating after an indulgent summer.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx