being thrifty, fEAsting, hEAlth, healthy eating, meal planning, sEAsons, trEAsury

menu plan monday…

It is definitely that time of year when every magazine you look at has eye-catching headlines such as ‘Best Year ever’,  ‘Your time to shine’,  Make 2017 your year of change’  – I can never decide whether this is motivating or suggests that we are lacking a certain amount of satisfaction with our lives and are left wanting more or different.

The start of the New Year does seem to bring with it a desire to change many aspects of our life that we are disappointed with and of course we all begin with such good intentions but often by the time we are midway through February we have slipped back into our old habits and the resolutions we made become a distant memory.

If I were to make a list of all the things I would like to change it would be so long I wouldn’t have a hope of fulfilling them all this or any other year.  So then I start wondering why I want to change and I can only say to try to make my life feel better – less stressful – more as I imagine it could be – certainly happier, healthier, perhaps a little wealthier – plenty of me time, family time – a well run house, a glorious garden and even some room for creativity.  Of course I then have to wonder why on earth I am not already living this perfect life!

However, in my Economy mode I am whizzing straight past all the magazines with such appealing headlines – I already have a subscription to Country Living magazine (Xmas present) so for as long as I can hold out that is my lot.

This month I am concentrating on compiling Menu plans – mainly for our evening meal at present and then I will deal with my lunches later so I don’t make things too difficult for myself all at once.  I am aiming for low-cost, no waste, nutritional meals using seasonal fruit and veg as much as possible and also using up items from my store cupboard, fridge and freezer.  See the list here.

I have laminated my Good Food – Get 5-a-day every day chart of seasonal winter fruit and veg – this tells me all the British grown fruit and veg and also those items from further afield that are in season and therefore should not be too expensive.  Blueberries and Strawberries are not on the list so I will use up any frozen berries to go with my natural yoghurt for breakfast.




My menu plan this week uses up a few items already in my stock cupboard but most of the veg I will have to buy fresh as I only have celery, carrots and onions left over together with some rather soft radish and a bit of dubious broccoli.

The sprouts, parsnip, leeks, cabbage and beetroot are all in season and British, the Sweet potato is also in season although not grown here.

The items not listed as seasonal are broccoli, green beans and mushrooms.

I am introducing 3 new recipes this week –

  • Vegetable Stew (substituting Sweet potato for the Butternut squash – this will also use up the remaining leek from the Stroganoff on Tuesday).
  • Spiced Chickpea bakes
  • Herby Brown Rice Salad

From my choice of fruit and veg I am told that I will be enhancing my Beta – carotene intake effective against viruses and bacteria, Vitamin C  for my immune system and phytochemical that help the digestive system.

I am looking forward to making the new recipes – if they pass the taste test then I will put them into my recipe binder – if not they will go straight in the bin so I am not keeping recipes that I will never make again.  Any modifications I will add notes to the recipe for next time.

I will be going shopping tomorrow night so will then know just how economical my shop is (or not!) in financial terms – bearing in mind the cold weather a warming Vegetable Stew sounds just right this week.

Have a good week.





being thrifty, fEAsting, meal planning, nEAtening, rEArranging, recipes, trEAsury

The Friday Feast…

A weekend at home at last – I felt so exhausted this morning that it took quite a while to get myself into gear – so my Friday Fling today was a sit down job and I went through a pile of magazine cuttings labelled ‘Home and Cottage decor’ and threw away any unwanted articles and outdated pictures.

Once I regained some energy to tackle my Friday Tidy I concentrated on getting my kitchen back to a presentable state and in the process I checked the fridges for leftover food.

I am always looking to be as Thrifty as possible and I hate waste so I make Friday my use it up day.  I was quite pleased with myself when I discovered there was nothing to throw away – in fact I was worried that I might not have enough food to make an evening meal but I always enjoy the challenge of making a meal from whatever I have leftover.  We have had some strange concoctions over the years!

In the Fridge

I found a few sticks of celery, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a bag and a half of carrots, some sweet potatoes and 1 egg.  I also needed to use up the end of the jar of tomato paste and the very end of some cheddar cheese.

In the Vegetable Rack

I had onions and a new bag of baking potatoes.

In the Store Cupboard

I had a bag of mixed nuts getting to the end of the best before date and a few slices of bread in the bread bin.

After looking through my recipe folder I decided on a Walnut and Tomato Slice – a recipe which surprisingly incorporated all the above items – I should also have put in a red pepper but I had to make do without.  I baked the potatoes and had peas from the freezer and made a little gravy.  I left the sweet potatoes for tomorrow to make soup with the full bag of carrots and more onions.

This was the result and below is the recipe.

Walnut and Tomato Slice

4oz Wholewheat breadcrumbs

4oz Walnuts ground (though mine was a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds).

2 Stalks of Celery chopped (I actually used the left over 4 and it was still fine)

1 Onion finely chopped

4oz Carrot finely chopped and part boiled or steamed.

1/2 red pepper chopped

1/2 tsp Thyme

1/2 tsp Sage

1 free range egg, beaten

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 tbsp olive oil

Ground black pepper

a little salt to taste

2 Tomatoes thinly slice (I used Cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1 tbsp Sesame Seeds (I used a sprinkling of grated cheese as an alternative).

  • Cook the onion and celery together in the oil and add the red pepper until soft.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, nuts, herbs, salt and pepper, tomato paste and egg in a large bowl.
  • Add the onion and celery mixture and bind all ingredients together. 
  • Turn mixture into a greased loaf tin and press down (Tip: place a greased strip of greaseproof paper running along the bottom and up the two ends of the dish for ease of turning out after cooking).
  • Arrange the tomatoes along the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at Gas mark 6 (200C or 180 Fan Assisted) remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
    Serve hot or cold

It was delicious and could be adapted depending on what you have available – next time I might throw in some mushrooms.

Have a good weekend – lets hope the weather is fine.


fEAsting, meal planning, recipes

The end of the week budget meal…

Otherwise known as the ‘throw it all in and use it all up’ and see what you get!

By the end of the week I find that I have an assortment of bits of vegetables that are leftover and not wanting to waste anything I either adapt a recipe or just create something new (a bit like they do on the TV programme ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ when presented with an assortment of items).

This is what I had left today to use up – I named it Hearty Chickpea Stew – it was quite delicious and very filling.  I will definitely make it again.

From the fridge or vegetable rack

  • 1 Leek
  • 2 small and almost sprouting onions
  • A few ends of celery
  • A handful of new potatoes
  • A medium sweet potato
  • 4 small carrots

From the store cupboard or pantry

  • I can of Chickpeas
  • a few slices of bread

Plus a few staple items

  • Add 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 Kallo Tomato Stock cube, a scoop of Tomato paste, salt and pepper and a pinch of mixed herbs.

To make

  • Gently cook the onion , leek and celery together in the olive oil until soft.
  • Add chopped / diced vegetables
  • Add Tin Chickpeas (well rinsed)
  • Add stock to cover veg, tomato paste and seasonings
  • Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes

Serve hot with crusty or speciality bread


being thrifty, budgeting, fEAsting, food shopping, meal planning, trEAsury

Never spend your money before you have it…

and when you do have it hold on to it and don’t waste it on lots of things you don’t really need…I really should listen to my own advice!

I have spent all day today entering a stack of receipts into my money program on the computer and balancing bank statements from as far back as March.  That must be when my life notched up a gear and everything went a bit crazy for a while.  As I remember we had my sister’s wedding, then a two-week holiday at Easter, followed by my return to working a lot of overtime well into the evening, followed by a visit from my mum, followed by another holiday and so on and so on…

Anyway I am now balanced again and it has been no surprise to find that I have well and truly overspent on food, clothes, general day-to-day spending and dare I say it…I will whisper it (magazines).  So much for my budget and good intentions – so much for those good ideas I had to shop at home – so much for my pledge to myself to avoid the magazine aisle – I certainly need to take myself in hand again as I have 10 more days to pay-day and I refuse to dip into savings to bail myself out.

Tonight I have been down to my local Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop (yes I know how sad I am to be shopping in Sainsbury’s on a Saturday night) and I managed to claim back £65 before I began by returning some clothes that didn’t really work for me and some door hooks we decided didn’t look right where we were going to put them.  My total shop was £74.79 and with items already in my store cupboard and freezer I should be able to make a decent meal every night and packed lunches for me and my daughter to take to work each day.

As it happens many of the items I bought tonight were on offer so certain items will cover next week too.  I actually saved £3.34 according to the slip of paper I was given at the till called a Brand Match. I don’t usually buy many Brand items as I tend to go for the Sainsbury’s own ranges but I do like the Alpro Organic Soya milk mainly because Sainsbury’s don’t do an organic one.  My most expensive item was a block of Organic Parmesan cheese at £4.50 but I intend to grate it all and freeze it and that way it is much cheaper than buying those little ready grated packets.  I find that it adds flavour to many dishes when sprinkled on the top and as you need less it is better for you than other full fat cheeses and apparently easier to digest.

Deutsch: Parmigiano Reggiano in der Markthalle...

My cheapest item was a tiny tin of Tomato Puree for 25p followed closely by 4 Bananas for 40p.  It is unusual to see anything on a receipt for under a pound now – I expect if I bought the Basics range there might be more but I do tend to go for the Organic range and foods with no additives and as close to nature as possible especially with dairy foods, eggs, breads and vegetables.

This week I intend to make a Nutloaf to use up some of my left over nuts and we can have it hot one night and then cold with salad the next.  I also like to sprinkle Almonds on my Cauliflower and Broccoli bake as they are an excellent source of protein.

My budget isn’t the only thing I have been busy on today – I have been developing a new system for my clippings as I seem to have quite a collection.  I see all kinds of bits and pieces when I am flicking through my magazines, sometimes it is a new beauty product or supplement that I might like to try, sometimes I want to keep an article about a place or art exhibition I want to go to or a play I might be interested to watch at the local theatre – so tomorrow I will introduce you to SPIF my Systemized Product and Information Folder.  Until then I am going to bed with a mug of cocoa and a couple of magazines ( that I bought last week and not tonight – just in case you were about to ask!)