Monday 31 January 2022

Out of Date by HOW Many Months ???


The last day of the month already, wow where has January gone.  

I know for a fact a good selection of my fresh foods have been eaten over this long month, but I'm not too worried as I still have lots left in the cupboards and freezer ... I'll do a financial and cupboard round up tomorrow on 1st February.

I have just finished working out a menu plan for this week, making good use of what I have left, taking care to include most of the fridge foods that now have short dates.

I found this in the fridge door as I was taking some photos ready for tomorrows post - it went out of date in November of last year ... why didn't I notice that at the start of the Challenge?

I thought it was worth cooking the croissants to see if they would be edible as the roll of perforated dough smelled okay.  But I had one of those 'Great British Bake Off' moments when the contestants just can't remember the shape of something and unfortunately as I opened the packets the little picture instructions were ripped through and illegible.

Close enough!!

I ate one straight away warm from the oven with a cup of coffee and yes it tasted fine, so I have the other two for later and I gave Alan the other half to have for his elevenses.

Going through my cupboards, fridge, freezer and other spaces each month is going to be a really good habit to get into for this year and for into the future and needs to be done a bit more carefully I think. Those of you who have read along for the last 14 years will know that I am not a stickler for dates, common-sense is much more useful and sensible in some instances ... and it cuts down on food waste and saves you money. 

Sue xx

Sunday 30 January 2022

Temptation ... and Shopping


Everywhere you shop these days the temptation overload is amazing?

The shops are SO clever with their marketing techniques, and as a person who worked in retail for most of her working life I've seen it and dealt with it from both sides.  Teaching visual merchandising and add-on sales for so many years does at least give me a chance to realise the tricks and techniques in action to try and part me from my money.

And hopefully over the course of this No Spend Challenge not be too tempted. πŸ™‚

I did go mad while we were here at Dunelm though and buy myself a tough little dish scrubby thing out of my non-food budget.  My dishcloths were getting too much wear trying to get the pans clean so I thought this would be much better than buying those packs of green scrubbies that I hate so much.

So that's another £3.50 added to my January spending ... right at the end of the month.   

Sue xx

Saturday 29 January 2022

Mavis Spying, Chocolate Eating, Weekend Watching


I was busy on the computer when the postman came.  He pushed two of my magazine subscriptions through the letter box with a loud bang, waking the dogs and making me jump.  I stopped what I was doing and started opening the post, just a couple of flyers, a letter and the magazines which were in their now eco friendly paper wrappers ... which are great until it rains hard and then the magazines inside get soggy!!

I could feel eyes on me and sure enough there she was, Mavis watching me from the sofa, sadly she knows Mum doesn't get any sausages through the letterbox so it's rarely worth a run up the length of the hall just to sniff out what has arrived.  πŸ˜„

None of our dogs have ever been the sort to run up to the post when it arrives, and either rip it to shreds or bring it over to us, thank goodness really I guess.  Mavis does usually do a perfunctory bark just to let the postman know that there is a very savage and dangerous dog in this particular house and he should beware ... but then she gives herself away when I have to open the door to him for any reason and she greets him instead with a very waggy tail and a look of utter admiration.

Inside the two magazines that came ... the Radio Times and Country Living ... there were all these special offer temptations.  

I could save myself money off the National Trust and get a £10 gift card, we're already members so no need for any of that, there were vouchers offering money off kitchen supplies, money off flowers or food delivery box subscriptions, money off furniture and re-upholstering the furniture you already own.

I'm going to save myself SO much money ... I'm going to save a full 100% in fact ... as I'm not buying anything. Nothing at all, nada, nil, zilch.  Into the recycling they all went, and I said a quiet prayer for all the trees that gave up their lives for the waste of paper that these offers are.

I made myself a coffee, and in the interest of using up some Vego chocolate spread that is just out of date I had some on a slice of hot toast.  It's hard work this eating up of the cupboard supplies. πŸ˜‰

Here are a couple of YouTube clip that I have enjoyed this week, this Cottage Fairy one really resonates with me, you'll see why.

And I've also been watching lots of Happy Pear videos for tasty food inspiration for the weeks to come.  This spice blend idea really caught my attention, making these mixes up would simplify my spice drawer a bit!!

Hope you have a great weekend.

Sue xx

Friday 28 January 2022

I Shopped Again ...


Alan was going shopping and as I needed to pick up my tablets from the pharmacy I said I would go with him.  I only really needed some bleach but as you can see I got tempted ... doesn't that just always happen!!  It's one of the reasons I try not to go to the shops unless strictly necessary.

The tomatoes were one of this weeks Super Six so they greeted me as soon as I walked in the front doors of Aldi.  The bleach was what I went for, the paracetamols because I either me or Alan pick up a couple of packs whenever we are at the shops ... it's awkward that you can only buy two packs on each shop visit when two packs is only a four day supply for me, but we manage.

The Tenderstem Broccoli wasn't really needed but I enjoyed the last lot so much, and as I'm making soup again tomorrow I thought it would be good to use the stems in this for added fresh goodness, and finally I got the Heinz vegan mayo because I don't think I've tried this one before and it was cheaper than the Hellman's that I'm currently on my last jar of.

Rather neatly my total came to exactly £5 ... I like it when that happens.

Alan wanted to have a cup of tea and get his lunch in the Booth's cafΓ©, he did offer me some but I had had a good breakfast so I just had a toasted teacake and a glass of iced water.  They gave me three of these with my teacake and even being generous with my spreading I only needed two, so I also brought this home with me, a nice little freebie.

I really wanted this to be a No Spend Week but in the grand scheme of things a £5 spend is not bad is it, and it brings my total up to now in January to £20.82 spent over three shopping trips.  πŸ˜ƒ

I've also got to re-adjust my menu plan again as Alan's reason for going to Aldi was to get some neeps and tatties for a late Burns Supper tonight, he was away for meetings on Burns Night and he wants to use up the vegetarian haggis that we were gifted in a hamper at Christmas ... so I'm out for tea tonight.

While I was making the other day's Hot Dog lunch I decided to make up some mashed potato for the little Potato Pizzas so I could steal a little bit of onion to add to the mash for the pizza bases, and like in yesterdays mentioned food prep I put aside a portion of the mash for the Shepherds Pie which has now moved to be a Sundays meal.

I decided to try cooking the Potato Pizzas in the Remoska, but it didn't work out too well.  They were very tasty, but also very sloppy and doing it this way the mash didn't 'set' properly ... hence me taking a photo of them while they were still on the foil and not after I moved them to my plate.

If I make them again I will add a good heaped tablespoon of flour rather than just a sprinkle and try frying them as the YouTube video said you should.  Perhaps this will give them a firmer texture.  Anyway it was worth a try as they were delicious, they were just more like pizza-flavoured mashed potatoes than a potato pizza. πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Sue xx

Thursday 27 January 2022

Getting Into Routines and Planning Ahead

I've spent the first couple of weeks of this year and this new Challenge trying desperately to get into a routine, but I still feel like I'm winging it a bit.  Photos are stacking up on my camera and need downloading to the computer, things are being shown on the blog posts slightly out of sync etc etc ... the only good thing is that I'm doing minimal shopping and that I am managing to eat some pretty decent food three times a day, well twice yesterday hence my menu now being out of sync. 😏

I made some mashed potatoes ready to make the little Potato Pizzas for my tea last night and ended up having no tea.  They are ready in the fridge for tonight, well the bases are and the other half of the mash is in a bowl ready for this weeks Shepherds Pie.  

The one in the photo above is last weeks version ...

... and it's mash came from an additional baked potato made when one of my lunches last week was a Jacket Potato.  

It's this doubling up and having things waiting that while being good for energy consumption and less work later also causes confusion and a little queue of foods waiting to be used.

But by and large getting into a routine and planning ahead does work well for meaning that no food is wasted.  For instance I was prepping the veggies for the Mediterranean batched cooked vegetables last week and I decided to pull a couple of slices of the peppers, onions and tomatoes to one side to add to a cheese and mayo bun, meaning that I had a really tasty lunch that in a way was 'free' of extra things needed.  And chopping things for two meals at once means less washing up, and that in my book is always a winner.

The cheese salad bun was eaten with the last quarter of this bag of crisps.

A tasty lunch and less work later on, it suits me just fine.

Sue xx

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Books, Dogs, Television and Rats

This is the book I'm reading at the moment, I bought it last Summer and it obviously planted a seed in my mind for this years Challenge before I had even read a page.

 It's pretty interesting and quite easy to read, but I seem to be out of the habit of reading at the moment so it's being read in fits and starts, it's something I definintely want to get back to this year.  Life isn't life without a good book on the go and a recipe book to hand.

The current recipe book on the go is Miquel Barclays new one 'Green' One Pound Meals that came out on the 30th December ... just in time for a pre-Challenge purchase.  Although this year means I can't buy myself any books Alan has just pre-ordered a signed copy of the New Deliciously Ella book for my birthday for me.  I will have to wait to get it until it's released in August though, I'll be absolutely itching to get my hands on a new book by then. πŸ˜„

There's been far too much television watching instead of books recently ... not that Mavis is complaining at all.  Her new favourite show is The Secret Life of Our Pets.

She was fascinated by the guinea pigs, absolutely driven mad by the rats and then watched everything else with amazement.

Once it went back to mostly dogs she re-joined us on the sofa and settled down for a relaxing watch.  Suky was watching too, but in a much more sleepy way.  Just rousing herself enough for a quick 'gruff gruff' every time something of real interest came on.

It's a fascinating show.

Sue xx

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Menu Monday on Tuesday ... Again!!


I almost got my menu written down in time ... but at least it was done in time for the meals to be eaten.  It's not written in stone, so I can and do adapt it to how I feel or what I'm fancying the most.  But I am being good at using up the bits that need using up first and that is the main thing.  The main idea behind writing out the menu plan is to keep me on track and stop me from using things up in the wrong date order.

I would like to try to make this a totally No Spend Week if I can and this way I will be able to have a big restocking of the almost empty fruit and vegetables drawers in the fridge with my January leftover cash, which should stop me having to dip into February's money too early in the month.

Although I wanted to try the Mini Potato Pizzas that I showed on Saturday's post I knew I had to use up the last of the Mediterranean style veggies that I had cooked up last week first.  I had been dipping into them all through last week and they were starting to look a little sad, and no one wants sad veggies  πŸ˜„

The first meal with them was simply the veggies and some cous cous, which I had soaked in vegetable stock for added flavour.  A nice simple but very tasty meal.

I also had two lunches of quesadillas.

Again keeping things simple with just some of the vegetables with cheese and hummus.  These two lunches also made use of the last four wraps which were starting to get really brittle in the freezer, I'm determined to waste nothing.

The second one had a slice of Quorn Smokey Bacon torn into pieces added to it for even more flavour, it was very tasty.  I think a quesadilla is one of my favourite lunches at the moment, so quick to make, they make good use of leftovers from the bottom of the fridge and they are relatively healthy.

And then finally last week I had a pasta bake, using up one of the tubs of homemade pasta sauce from the freezer, a good handful of cheese and a few spoonfuls of the veggies.  All simply added to the pan of dry pasta with some additional water and cooked in the oven for around half an hour.

Pasta is always extra tasty cooked this way rather than cooking it separately first, as doing it this way it absorbs the tomato sauce instead of absorbing cooking water and you get a much richer tasting dish.

So as you can see on the menu in the first photo I had an action replay of this last night after taking another pot of sauce out of the freezer and thawing it slowly ready to go with the last of the vegetables.  

Sue xx

Monday 24 January 2022

Birthday Happy


Making a birthday cake before you've even had your breakfast is a new one to me.  But as I got up at 5.30 am and the birthday boy was coming at about 11am it seemed prudent to set to and get it in the oven before starting on my coffee and toast.

This was the first time baking a cake in my new oven and I was slightly wary.  

I needn't have been as it turned out beautifully.  This oven does get to and hold a good temperature, and having the glass door panel is a breeze after using an Aga for so many years and not having a scooby doo what was happening behind the cast iron door.

I kept it simple a thin layer of jam and a smear of butter icing in the middle and then a thicker layer of icing on top and a recycled ribbon around the edge to add a bit of colour and we were good to go.  Now when I put the Happy Birthday candles into the cake in person this seemed like the right way round ... seeing it on the photo makes me realise that what my brother said was right.

It does read Birthday Happy!!

He didn't want us to light the candles as he didn't want to blow them out ... Covid and all that, not that he has it, he was just being super careful ... SO I can use them again and have the debate all over again about which way round to place the HAPPY and the BIRTHDAY  πŸ˜„

In my defence when you held the cake at eye level it DID read the right way round.

Sue xx

Sunday 23 January 2022

Making Chickpea Tuna


There are lots of 'Chickpea Tuna' recipes if you use your search engine or read other blogs, some of them using seaweed to enhance a fishy taste and others using a variety of different ingredients.  For me I have settled on my favourites and now I tend to stick to this recipe every time I make it.

One tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

One small red onion (or white or Spring)

One and a half sticks of celery (there are 3 halves in this photo)

Garlic (1 clove, minced or garlic powder or flakes)

Whizz all those ingredients together as rough or as smooth as you like it, and then transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

Use whatever you need straight away and then transfer the rest into a container for the fridge.  It keeps well for up to a week, although to be honest once I have it there it never lasts that long.

I had my first portion on half a toasted sourdough baguette for my lunch with a couple of salady bits on the side.

Very tasty, and remarkably filling thanks to all the protein in the chickpeas.

I've had a couple of enquiries about my KitchenAid Food Processor recently so I thought I would just share this link to Amazon where you can read all about it.  Although I think I bought mine from Lakeland when they had them in stock.  I have to say it's the BEST food processor that I have ever had, a real game changer.  

Ken, the Kenwood mixer with the food processor attachment that I used for many years, now lives with Alan, who has more space both on his worktops and in his cupboards than me.  And I do have permission to borrow it back or just use it in situ if I ever need to.  He was the most perfect bread mixing mixer and might be needed if I get back to making my own bread, which might be a thing later this year as my money dwindles.  😁

Sue xx

Saturday 22 January 2022

Mini Potato Pizzas


I find myself always on the look out for new recipes, especially budget ones that use some of my favourite simple foods, and those foods which I virtually always have in stock.

I came across this the other day and although I've thought of a way I can do it to suit me better*, it gave me the idea and that made it worth watching.  I may have watched a few more videos too, but what better thing to do than sit on the sofa drinking coffee and watching someone else cook on a freezing cold day.

There's so many food recipes and ideas online these days, there is really no excuse to stay stuck in a rut, unless you really, really want to.  πŸ˜€

*Simply make some mashed potato (or use leftover mash) add a spoonful of flour to it to improve the firmness and make it hold together a bit better, and then press out little circle shapes on a non-stick liner.

Sue xx

Friday 21 January 2022

Running Wild in the Aisles ...


Well not exactly running wild in the aisles but shopping twice in one week seemed excessive to my now finely tuned mindset.  This time I went mad and spent a whole 66p ... and five pounds worth of my Nectar points.

The shopping trip was necessary because I had thought that I had enough sugar in the cupboard to be able to make caster sugar to make the cake and enough to also whizz up a bit more to make some icing sugar ... but I didn't.   But instead of buying sugar of any description I decided to buy some ready made buttercream icing.

  Before anyone jumps on my case about the cost comparisons I will just say that I am having a pretty bad week this week and standing to complete everything is just out of the question.  And there is actually very little that I use sugar for, if I need some for visitors I have the little sachets that I pick up from cafΓ©s when Alan has a drink but I rarely use it at home, so buying a kilo bag would have been a bit pointless.

I also had used the last slice of bread from the freezer the day before, at first I thought I would just do without, but that one slice of bread each morning before I take my tablet has become a real habit.  I took one slice out to have once I had made a cup of coffee and then loosened the rest and put the loaf straight into the freezer.  

So I now have 16 slices of bread and two crusts, enough for over two weeks breakfast toasts.  I don't like eating toasted crusts so I usually use them either for breadcrumbs, Poor Man's Parmesan or they get torn into chunky croutons and dried out in the oven.  Oh and I chose this particular loaf as it was until six months ago my favourite bread and it was on offer at £1.25, a similar price to the Ancient Grains loaf that I have been having instead of it from Aldi which is beautiful toasted.

My receipt for posterity, much clearer and easier to understand than the Booths one.

And the self-serve till spewed out a coupon for me, 100 extra points if I buy a vegan chocolate bar ... oh it knows me so well ... but I won't be using it and it has gone straight into the recycling bin to quash any temptation.

Sue xx

Thursday 20 January 2022

The Last Mince Pie


Christmas is well and truly over ... I have just eaten the last mince pie!!

Until this year I have never really liked mince pies, but all the ones I have bought or had given to me this year have been delicious.  I wonder if it's because this years helpings were all vegan, but I can't see it making that much difference to be honest.  But anyway it seems that now I am a mince pie convert. πŸ˜€

 I do have a jar of mincemeat in the cupboard and a roll of pastry in the fridge so who knows I might make some for myself, or maybe they would be more special if I wait until this years Christmas season after all  the jar has a September date on it and it has brandy added so that would preserve it even more.  With my jar of Christmas Chutney in the cupboard as well it seems that I have the start of my Christmas shopping ... which might be very helpful if I've run out of housekeeping money by then.

There how many times did I just type the word Christmas in January!!

Lunch yesterday was the last portion of the homemade soup from last week.  The little garlic bread that I had with it was a huge disappointment.  It was a yellow sticker special offer from Booths sometime last year, a box with two in it and I'd already had one and really not enjoyed it, but by then I had already frozen this other one.  I had been debating throwing it away but in the mindset of waste nothing I thought it would be passible dunked in soup ... wrong!!

It was one of these.

I mean they look so tasty, it's a good example of try it once and then never again.

I finally got my 2021 roundup from my Sainsbury's shopping the other day and not to boast or anything  PP, Small Treasures, it would seem that I am the Number One buyer of Baby Bio Drip Feeders.  So I see your 4th place in the Tinned Pear league and raise you 1st in Baby Bios  😁

Oh and I was happy to see 398 portions of my fruit and veg came from good old Sainsbugs.

Sue xx

Wednesday 19 January 2022

First Shopping of the Year =16p

Did I need to go shopping, not really if you are looking at the food I have in BUT  (yes it's a BIG but 😁)  I had the £10 voucher for Booths in my purse along with my January money and it was due to run out this week, and with such a low budget for this year I was not about to let that happen. 

And I have just this moment realised that the two vouchers I have were added to the grand total in the workings out for the year, so I do in fact have to take £10 in cash out of my purse for this months housekeeping money.

So the photo is quite clear and you can see exactly what I bought with my ten pounds.  I wanted to get a couple of things that were needed ... the apples and bread rolls, and one very necessary thing to pick up was a birthday card for my brother who is another year older on Saturday and is bringing my Mum to visit Lavender Lodge for the very first time on his birthday, hence me buying some eggs.  

Although I don't usually eat eggs I am more than happy to make his birthday cake in the style that he loved when he was a much smaller boy, and yes I will even have a small slice to celebrate the happy day before sending him on his way with all the leftovers.

Don't the apples look lovely compared to those poor wrinkly things I used up the other day.  I nearly bought a pack of six for £3, they were gorgeous looking apples and they were already in my trolley before eagle-eyed Alan spotted these being sold loose at just 30p each.  So I quickly swapped over and thought that four of these whoppers would be more than enough for now.

But I had done my trolley contents calculations on the pack of six so I needed to buy something else to get as close to the £10 voucher value as possible as you can't get change from these vouchers.  So I decided on the shelf-stable milk, this is not my usual brand but this was on special offer and comes highly recommended, and the houmous ... that looks so wrong to me I usually spell it hummus but seemingly houmous is the original British way of spelling it although the American hummus is usually used now ... wow who knew, not me for sure!!

The Booths receipt is a very complicated layout due to how they put the offers at the top and then everything else below.  I figured it out in the end though and have folded it so that you haven't got all the waffle on show and so that it fits to stick it into my Challenge Diary for posterity.

So my first spend of 2022 was a massive 16p ... even the cashier was impressed. πŸ˜€

Sue xx