Tuesday 31 January 2023

The Final Freezer Based Menu Plan


Week four of my menu planning and it's still going well.  I need to turn this into a regular habit and carry it forward as I begin on the predominately food cupboard based meals.  What is it they say, do something for 21 days and it becomes an easier habit.

If you look at this photo of last week's meals, you can see that I am getting quite good at sticking to the menu now.  I don't always eat the meals on the day that I say I will eat them, because sometimes when you have something written down for one day later in the week you suddenly find yourself really wanting it NOW.  So I do, and simply cross it off as I eat it.

Alan shared the Quorn and Vegetable curry meal with me and offered to buy a chippy tea the following night ... I was hardly going to turn that down now was I.  πŸ˜„  

There are a couple of other things not eaten but obviously they are still available to eat, so the quesadillas have moved forward to this week, but the Miguel Barclay Potato and Leek pasty will have to wait until I make some pastry.

I am having a quiet day today as I really attacked the food cupboard yesterday, emptying it all out in sections, cleaning, reorganising and refilling.  I had to do it all in little bursts as it was tough on my back with the lifting and stretching and on my foot when I was kneeling on the floor.


'Something then rest ... '

Is better than nothing at all, we should all be kinder to ourselves.

But oh boy is it nice looking into the cupboards now!  I'll show you the photos on here tomorrow ... I promise.  πŸ˜€

Sue xx

Monday 30 January 2023

Moving on ... and Distracted by Mini Mince Pies

I think it's almost time to think of moving on from the freezer emptying challenge.  

This week will be the last week of the foods being mostly from the freezer, and then I should have made enough space to be able to put any excess portions that I make into the freezer as there should be at least one totally empty drawer.  What is left in there should be just additions to the meals that I can make from the food cupboard stash, the garlic, vegetables and any sauces that remain.

I opened the food cupboard on Saturday morning with the intention of stocktaking what I had in there, I made a little start and then realised that I simply didn't have the space or the inclination to empty it.  

What I did spy on my half-hearted effort to empty the top shelf was this box of mini mince pies leftover from Christmas.  If you look at the first photo they are on the top shelf, left hand side, between the cereals and the crisps and under the two packs of biscuits.

I slid them out and noticed that their Best Before date was literally that day ... it was imperative that I rescued them ... so leaving the cupboard to it's own devices I grabbed the squirty cream from the fridge, made a cup of coffee and retired to the comfy seats to have a very tasty little elevenses while I watched a couple of YouTube videos.

 The break did me the world of good, and I came up with the game plan that I will be executing today.  I am going to remove from the food cupboard anything that is dated 2024 and beyond.  Leaving in the cupboard just the things that are either out of date or dated with any date during 2023.

Now I need to set to and make this weeks Monday Menu plan ... while it is still Monday ... mostly from the freezer for the final time, and then move on to the Food Cupboard to see what delights await me in the lower cupboard too.  I have found a box and will take out all the longest dated foods and then clean and restock the cupboard ... making an inventory as I go.

Oh, and Alan helped me finish off the final seven mince pies, which we ate whilst watching my recording of Friday's Death in Paradise.  It was tough, but we buckled down and chomped our way through them all ... phew!!  😁

Sue xx

Saturday 28 January 2023

And Not a Penny Changed Hands


It was a good job I was looking through the section of my bag that I use as a purse the other day and noticed that the date on my Booths voucher was about to run out.  As you can see in this photo I had until 29th of this month to use it and I was sorting through my bag on 26th.

Now I wasn't really going to get any more shopping this month, after all it's so close to being next month already ... how did that happen?

So I debated what I would get and shopped wisely, well I think I did.  😁

I got four more bread rolls to put into the freezer (yes ... there is actually space for them to go in there now), four baking potatoes, a pack of tomatoes and one of peppers and then I thought about making a salad as I have the lettuce that I bought earlier this week so I added a cucumber to the shopping trolley.

I bought the eggs, even though I was debating not buying any more as Suky has been really poorly this week, and the vet said to keep her eating eggs and chicken for a few days until her little tummy settles down and gradually reintroduce her dried food.  So I thought I would supply the eggs and Alan can supply the chicken.

I loaded the shopping on the conveyor belt and the cashier rang it all through.  I packed away the shopping and then turned to hand over my voucher, waiting to be told the amount of cash I would also need to part with and unbelievably the shopping came to exactly £10 and my voucher was for £10.

How very neat!!

So not a penny changed hands.  πŸ˜ƒ

Here's a bit of Weekend Watching for you, just a couple of the YouTube videos that I've enjoyed this month.

Someone who bought A LOT MORE food than me.

And rather weirdly, Sophie also found a single rogue veggie sausage while doing her Freezer Inventory Challenge.

Hope you have a great weekend.

Sue xx

Friday 27 January 2023

Turning Two Salmon Fillets into Four Meals


On the menu plan for Wednesday night was Salmon and Spinach en Croute with Mash ... et voilΓ .

The ready rolled pastry came out of the freezer as did the salmon fillets and the three spinach pellets that I used, wow, for once I was completely on track.

The plan had been to use the rest of the pastry for a Leek and Potato pasty thing from one of Miguel Barclay's books, but I decided instead to make something using some of the things that I wanted to use up from the fridge.  I fished out two of my remaining eggs and the third of a block of feta style cheese.

I think you can pretty much work out from the photos what I did, but I do perhaps need to point out that this tin is not a 'jam tart' sized indentations tin.  The six holes are actually small pie sized, the sort you would use to make a Higgidy Homity pie.  

Once I had cut out the six circles of pastry I used the leftovers to re-roll and wrap the other salmon fillet for my Salmon en Croute that's pictured cooked on the top photo.

Straight from the oven and cooling down in the tray while I went off and ate my tea, and boy was that filling ... and delicious.

I now have five of these left in the fridge as I might have been tempted to eat one before I took the dogs out for a walk this morning.  After all I didn't want to repeat the temptation of the other day. πŸ˜„

Sue xx

Thursday 26 January 2023

So, I Broke ALL of the Rules ... and My Feeble Excuses

The Rules

1.  Use up what you have at home first.

2.  Don't go shopping on an empty stomach.

3.  Don't be swayed by things you watch on social media.

Alan's been away all week so I have been walking the dogs.  I drive to the little park that they both love and then they have a good play.  To sort of justify the drive I decided to call to Sainsbury's which is close by, well virtually everything is close by in our town if you go by car, so much difference to where we used to live and I am still getting used to the convenience of it all.

I was supposed to be picking up the chopped chicken pieces that Alan buys for them as he had run out.  Literally as soon as I stepped in the door my tummy was rumbling, and there in all their tummy filling glory were the takeaway sandwich, snacks and drinks shelves.  I was so nearly tempted to grab a sandwich, but all the vegan ones were £2.95 or £3.50 as part of a meal deal!!

So I did myself a little deal, instead of buying one I would buy a loaf of bread and something nice as a filler to have as soon as I got home.  Passing down the fresh fruit and veg aisle I decided if I was shopping for me I might as well get myself a new Iceberg lettuce and some more easy peelers.

I got the chicken for the dogs, chose my favourite loaf from the bread aisle and then as I passed down the frozen foods aisle the VFC Chick*n Fillets caught my eye.  They caught my eye because I had watched a YouTube clip the day before when someone was raving about how good they are.

Three rules broken in almost as many minutes!!

Iceberg Lettuce - 65p
Easy Peelers - £1
Bread - £1.20
VFC Chick*n Fillets - £3

Total spend - £5.85

It's a good job I did buy that small loaf as the chick*n fillets were tiny!

It made for a reasonably satisfying late breakfast/early lunch and was something totally different for me but I won't be buying these again.  The texture is far too much like real chicken for my liking, which I suppose is the name of the game really, but I don't like the texture of meat now, anymore than I like the flavour of most of it.  I did however used to love the KFC Chicken Fillet burger, so I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I was hoping to enjoy a version of this again.

Sue xx


Wednesday 25 January 2023

Menu Plan Monday, on a Wednesday ... and Stealing Food


I must be better organised ... Menu Plan Monday nearly didn't get done until Tuesday, and as you are here now and reading it I've no doubt you have noticed that now it's Wednesday!!

I also swap and change the meals around a bit, which is absolutely not a problem really but on Monday night no sooner had I written down pizza for tea than I made myself ... 

... a salad sandwich using the 'coleslaw' mix and a couple of Quorn ham slices.

Oh well, it's all food and all delicious and it needed using up.  I also stole the bread from Alan's breadbin.  He had just left for work and I was over in his kitchen feeding the dogs and Ginger, and I spied lovely fresh bread just crying out to be nicked ... so I did.

To be honest I could call it a swap for the piece of birthday cake that I gave him to eat before he set off on his travels.  So swapsies, not tea-leafing.

My actual menu from last week shows that I did do slightly better than the first week.  

I didn't make the Quorn and vegetable curry so that has been moved forward to this week when I will have some more time, and not all the meals were eaten on the day that they were supposed to be, but they were eaten and that has made a huge difference to actually being able to open the drawers of the freezer much more easily.

I was feeling really pleased with myself ... and then Alan reminded me just before he left that I have a pack of Aldi meat-free sausage rolls in his freezer left over from Christmas!!

The three pages of freezer inventory are getting a bit more difficult to scan through now, so because I saved them on the computer I may go and alter them and make it easier to see exactly what I do have left to use ... and I must remember to add to the list the four sausage rolls.  πŸ˜„

Sue xx

Monday 23 January 2023

Finishing the Fridge ... and What Did I Throw Away?


Literally half an hour ago I finished sorting out the fridge.  It didn't take me that long because, as you can see, there wasn't that much in there.  

But just before I set to I enjoyed a breakfast of sautΓ©ed garlicky tomatoes on toast.  I had eaten the other half of the punnet last night in a noodle dish and they really were on their last legs.  I had to throw one mouldy one away and wash the others carefully.

So to answer the question in the title of this post, there were two things that ended up being thrown away, one mouldy cherry tomato and some lemon curd ... and that didn't even go in the bin.  It was just the dregs of a jar of vegan lemon curd that should have been used up months ago and wasn't.  I put some hot water in the jar and it dissolved away to nothing, so the lemon curdy water slid down the plughole and the jar went into the recycling.  

Now usually I would keep jars for reuse but this was one of those annoying multi-cornered ones that are almost impossible to get the last of anything out of ... so off it went.

Then with a reasonably full tummy I set to, emptied the fridge shelves, wiped them all down and while they were drying I took the photo at the top of the post.  I had to balance carefully on my little set of steps to get it, because the downside to a kitchen that has less than three foot of floor space is that you can't step back to get a good photo on your only worktop.  πŸ˜„

Truly minimal!!

After I had put everything back on the shelves I emptied the door pockets and this is what I found there.  A two minute wipe down and then I put everything back organised just slightly differently.

On the top shelf the large plastic box holds the dairy-free butters, cream, crΓ¨me fraiche, vegan hotdogs and Quorn ham ... along with two little Floras that must have come from previous visits to Booths for a toasted teacake.  There are also half a dozen eggs and my two tubes of purees, one garlic and one tomato.

The middle shelf has a tin of grapefruit segments in juice, ready for a nice chilled breakfast whenever I am in the mood for fruit first thing.  There is also two thirds of a dairy-free birthday cake, as it was my little brothers birthday yesterday, gulp ... my 'little' brother is now 59 so we met up at Mum's taking him a cake bought from Asda on our way.  Of course I wasn't going to sit and watch everyone else eat cake and abstain myself, so I spent £7 of my money on a cake for me. πŸ˜€

It's got a good date on it, so I will just have a slice of it here and there until it's all gone.

The bottom shelf is all things that are in use or that need using first, so the opened Naturli spread, my ready shredded mix for coleslaw to go with tonight's meal, half a block of Violife Feta-style cheese, a third of a jar of slightly watered down pesto and a box of out of date Pains au Chocolate leftover from Christmas.

I put the things that we take to Mum's when we visit ... the jellies and the cans ... into the top compartment of the door as they are only used every now and then.  For instance it's Alan that has one of the cans of orange each visit so that's a three week supply that I have left.

The jam and sauces, along with the picked beetroot and onions have joined the lemon and blackcurrant that I use in my morning hot water drink, back on the middle shelf and the sparkling water, milk and squirty cream are back on their usual one too.

So that's the fridge done, all neat, clean and tidy and everything except the ready-to-bake Jus-Rol Pains au Chocolates in date.  I had hoped to pop these into the freezer in pairs but it says you can't freeze them.  Although, I might try with two of them when I get them out to use, and we will just have two each.  I used to be able to eat three in one sitting ... but not any more!!

Sue xx

Sunday 22 January 2023

Moving On from the Freezer Into a Slightly Less Chilly Place


Breakfast yesterday was the last of the Warburtons Thin Bagels from the fridge ... these are really tasty by the way ... and have been delicious with butter, jam and as I had them here with peanut butter.

It made for a tasty little start to the day while I planned my next move.

The night before I had made some coleslaw with half of the remaining Iceberg lettuce, a grated carrot and some finely sliced red onion.  I used up two of the sachets of mayonnaise that I had in my sachet stash bowl ... and there was enough of everything to be able to do an action replay the next day.

It made me realise that now was the time to check all the other 'fresh' foods that I had in the fridge and use them up over the coming week.

As you can see, post-Christmas the fridge is a much emptier place ... well apart from the cheese drawer.  😁

The vegetables are all in pretty good shape, the SMEG fridge keeps fruits and vegetables really well, and of course my use of Stayfresh bags helps too.

The unopened celery, the red cabbage and the tomatoes were bought just before Christmas and the onions, carrots and other half-used bunch of celery a couple of weeks earlier.

Everything was checked over and apart from a couple of the outer leaves of the red cabbage and the bottom of it's core ... which were put into the compost bin ... everything was absolutely fine.  The drawer was washed out, dried and a clean tea towel put into the bottom and then refilled with the veggies.

The cheese and fruit drawer.

Basically with this one, I just emptied it all out washed and dried the drawer, put all the cheeses etc back in in use it up date order.  I replaced the apple and ate the Mandarin oranges, sharing a couple of segments with Mavis who absolutely loves all things tangerin-y.

Then I started to flag, so I made myself some lunch before I put the last of the mashed potatoes into the freezer as mentioned on the last post, keeping just enough out for a small Bangers and Mash lunch.

And of course Bangers and Mash needs Bisto gravy.

Two Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary sausages, mash and gravy.

Then I decided to stop tidying the fridge out and write this post instead.

Hope you are having a good weekend.

Sue xx

Saturday 21 January 2023

Some of This Week's Freezer Emptying Meals


This was a pasta bake and it looked great when it came out of the oven ... it's a good job that I took this photo before it went into the oven as I completely forgot to photograph the finished meal.  We both enjoyed this one with a glass of wine and Happy Valley.

It used up that pesky single sausage, the small bag of broccoli and another handful of my 'bonus peas'.

Two and a bit things out of the freezer.

What I thought was a pasta sauce turned out to be a tomato based stew of sorts, anyway it was very tasty and eaten with a 'thin bagel' for dunking purposes.

I must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.
must label food in the freezer.

But two less items in the freezer.

Dahl and brown rice, yummy what a lovely and warming evening meal this made.  There's one more pot of this left in the top drawer according to my inventory.  πŸ˜ƒ

Just one thing out of the freezer.

I had a nice simple lunch one day, just two of the Linda McCartney Lincolnshire style sausages on a bread roll with the last of the tomato ketchup from the fridge.  Time to raid the food cupboard and see if I have another.  In the meantime I have put a bit of water into the 'empty' bottle so that I can use the dregs in the next curry or soup I make.

Waste not want not.  πŸ˜‰

Two things out of the freezer.

A simple bowl of 'green' soup and the crust and one slice of my bread, toasted.

Two things out of the freezer.

One of the pack of two vegan Camembert Nut Roasts and some of my mashed potatoes.

These are not too bad, but I won't be buying them again.  There's one more left to eat but I don't think it will change my mind.

One thing out of the freezer.

So that's a total of six of this weeks meals and ten items taken from the freezer.  

And although I wasn't going to put anything into the freezer I have made an exception this morning and put in the potatoes that I have over after this post into the bottom drawer.  I had planned to eat them all up this week but I feel all potatao-ed out, and I would rather do this than waste any food just in case I don't eat them over the next couple of days.  So now I also have two part-baked potatoes and two tubs ... one small and one a bit bigger ... of mashed potatoes towards future meals.

Food out and food in, it's all food and it's all good. 

Sue xx

Thursday 19 January 2023

Nectar Ninja ... I don't think so!!

The other day PP over at Small Treasures shared her magnificent Nectar Ninja facts and figures, it makes for such fascinating reading doesn't it, when your shopping is dissected in this way.

Her post inspired me to go into my app and check out my own, which although equally fascinating are nowhere near as impressive.

Seeing it in black and white (and in many other colours) it does make you rack your brains to think back over what you've bought in the past year.  As you can see I do seem to spread the things I buy out over all the parts of the supermarket.  A little bit from each category.

The highest of which seems to have been cupboard fillers.

I think that may be because I always pick up some packs of pasta, rice and sauces to go into the Foodbank box at the exit.  Some things I don't know about at all because Alan has the same Nectar card number as me and he obviously buys his milk there on occasion .. and perhaps some ready meals too!

Between us we only shopped there 28 times over the course of last year, mainly because in our town Sainsbury's is the smallest supermarket so we tend to get most things at Aldi or Booths and use Sainsbury's for specific items or to pick up things on the way to Mum's as it is on the back road out of town.

The veg to fruit ratio seems fair as I eat way more vegetables than fruit, although I do buy the majority of them from Booths now.

It seems I am the number four purchase of Naturli in Garstang!  

This is actually the main reason that I go to Sainsbury's regularly as it's the only place in town that has been selling it up to now.  It's delicious by the way, the nearest thing to Lurpak that is dairy-free.

And yes, it's my top buy.

Closely followed by bananas and Quorn ham (delicious fried as a 'bacon butty').

Now I find all this fascinating as I had been in retail for most of my working life and loved it.  The push for sales and the financial workings out of operating a shop are in my blood.  But we have to remember that these cards are dangerous little things, the Nectar card, Tesco Clubcard et al are the retailers dream and advertisers main source of information about us, the great shopping public.

The Tesco Clubcard was trialled in two towns in the UK in 1993/94, and I happened to live near one of them ... Barrow in Furness, so I have held a Clubcard since the first day it was launched.  I remember my Dad being so excited to get his when they were rolled out nationally in 1995 and telling me about all the benefits, not realising that I had been using it for so long already.

At first I guess we were all so naΓ―ve at what this innocent little piece of plastic was actually up to.  Our shopping habits have now been monitored for years and looking back at the Nectar facts and figures above, this gives us just the tiniest glimpse of what the supermarkets actually know about us. 

They know where we live,  what we eat, how often we purchase things, how well we respond to offers and savings and how much money we spend with them.  From this baseline they can plot and plan what to offer us in the future, what to tempt us with and how to tempt us back if we stray.

It can be quite scary stuff if we think about it too much, so I guess if we have the cards we just have to get the best value we can from them and learn to use them in a way that suits us.  We should try not to be tempted to buy things just because we are offered them at a reduced rate ... unless we really need them at that time of course.  But most of all we should consider if we want our information to be held in banks of computers just so that we can save 40p on a tin of beans.

I'll be spending my Nectar points just as soon as I need to more vegetables.  πŸ˜„

Sue xx