How To Be A Secretly Cheap and Cheerful Chef!

S Triple C……..or cooking on a budget but that doesn’t alliterate!

I have a bit of a mission on my hands at the moment trying to work out how to use WordPress – I want to have separate blogs attached to separate sections of my website.  Not sure if that’s going to work or not so for now, I’m going to try to make this page an area to explore the basics and fundamentals of budget cookery and will continue to post recipes on the blog area.

Food poverty and the rising cost of food seems to be very much of the moment.  As a nation, we waste huge amounts of money and resources on food that ends up in landfill.  I don’t know what the national statistics are but I know that as a percentage of income, I spend a lot less on food than my grandmother did at a similar age but that percentage for me has gradually increased over the past five years or so.  I am happy to spend a little bit more on some foods, local produce in particular, but it isn’t always possible and it isn’t a luxury that a lot of people can afford.

The first weapon in the S Triple C armoury is to make some space.  Attack that cupboard full of old toys that they aren’t ever going to get out again or all that stuff in the corner cupboard in the kitchen that you can never really get to because there’s all sorts of junk in front of it and it’s too hard to reach.  Clear out a couple of plastic crates, one to house the essentials you still need at the front and the other to store your bulk items because buying in bulk on dried items will save you a fortune.

The second weapon, leads on from the first and that is to look out for bargains and buy in bulk for your store cupboard.  Dried goods like rice and pasta can often be bought in bulk for huge savings, particularly if you keep an eye out in places like Lidl and Aldi.

Number three on the list, is to clear space in your freezer.

Number four leads on from number three and that is portion control and batch cooking.  A lot of budget meals are easier to make in larger quantities and particularly where a dish is slow cooked for a number of hours, it has to make sense to make as much as possible and then to freeze what you don’t need there and then.  Cooking on a budget isn’t just about the ingredients – running an oven costs money too!  When you first make a large batch of a meal, make a conscious note of how much you are putting on each plate and then at the end of the meal, take note of approximately how much, if any, has been left on the plate.  That should give you a good idea as to the amount/portion sizes to freeze for each meal.

19th October 2015 – update

Well I still haven’t worked out how to have a blog within a blog so am just adding to the bottom of the original page!

I’m fed up with throwing away odds and ends of veg, even though I compost, it still seems such a waste so recently, I’ve been testing out freezing anything and everything that would otherwise be discarded.

I am now religious about zesting citrus fruits before I use them – even if my daughter is having an orange to take to school, off comes the zest before it goes in her bag!  Equally, if I need zest and don’t have any frozen, I freeze the juice in ice cube trays if the recipe doesn’t use it.

When eggs get to date, they get the ice cube treatment too – just break them, beat them, stick them in a lightly oiled ice cube tray and then use for egg washing or even scrambled eggs at a later date.  I’ve yet to try them in cakes but I can’t see why they wouldn’t work.  I think that I get a lot less wastage by using them this way for egg washes – one eggy ice cube is usually more than enough and is probably about a third of an egg.

I always seem to have one or two sticks of celery left over and I’m the only one in the household who likes it raw so this is particularly the case in the summer when I’m having it in salads.  Celery loses a lot of its crunch after being frozen but when you’re using it in stews and soups that really doesn’t matter.  Clean and chop up any left over celery stalks then blanche in boiling water for about 3 minutes.  Remove it from the boiling water and then plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process.  Drain it once it is properly cooled and then pat dry with either a clean tea towel or some absorbent kitchen paper then freeze and use in soups and stews in the same way you would the raw stuff.  If you don’t blanche it, then it will only keep in the freezer for 6 – 8 weeks but blanched it will last a year.


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