I have been on a mission recently to eat my way through the contents of the fridge and freezer, trying desperately but not always succeeding not to make too many portions so that the fridge ends up filling the freezer ... if you know what I mean.
The other day I bought a bag of baking potatoes from Aldi's Super Six, 13 potatoes for just 99p a real bargain. I decided to use three of them straight away to help use up the last of the celery, carrots and onion from the fridge.
With the addition of some store cupboard staples to add a real blast of flavour I set to chopping and slicing to make myself a large pan of vegetable stew.
I simply add a dash of oil to the pan and then after washing I chop, slice and add to the pan the things that take the longest to cook first. In went the onions, then the carrots, then the celery and finally the potatoes.
Once everything had been sautéing together for about five minutes, I added all my bursts of flavour and the stock powder with about a litre of water. It was brought to the boil and then left to simmer for about 25 minutes.
Then it was time to divide and conquer.
Two bowls of vegetable stew, one eaten straight away and one left to cool. Two portions of pasty filling lifted out of the pan with my slotted spoon and left to cool. Then the rest of the contents of the pan were whizzed up with my stick blender and made me just over a litre of nice thick vegetable soup.
I filled my two largest bowls with soup and then froze two more portions for another week ... sorry freezer, I know I'm supposed to be emptying you!!
The two containers of pasty filling went into the fridge until the following day. Then I got out the pastry from the freezer (yay!!) and let it thaw and come to room temperature, before making myself two lovely and very big pasties.
One to be eaten straight away ...
... and one in the fridge.
I did my workings out the next day and found that counting only the foods I used, and always rounding the points of a penny up, my eight portions of food cost me:
3 potatoes = 24p
1.5 onions = 11p
2 sticks of celery = 7p
3 carrots = 12p
2 tsp dried vegetable stock = 2p
herbs and spices = 10p
2 tsp olive oil = 2p
ready rolled puff pastry = 1.05
Total = £1.73.
As I ate each bowl of soup with a slice of toast that added 5p per slice to the final cost of the meals, so I came in at £1.93.
Under two pounds for eight very filling meals.
Of course, you could add all sorts of additions to the basic starter pan using whatever you have lurking in the freezer or fridge. Frozen vegetables work just as well as fresh and usually cook a lot quicker ... although cooking gently and for longer can greatly improve the flavours, especially with your onion, celery, carrot starter.
Once you've made the basic pan of stew you could add different things to the stews, the pasties or change some of the soups a bit by adding curry powder or other spices to half of the amount you have. You could add sausages, tinned or cooked meat or fish to any of the portions and have something completely different flavour wise.
I just thought I would share this as a basic idea for cheap, warming foods on these cold dreary days.
Tonight, I am having the second pasty for my tea ... and I can't wait.