Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Frugal Little Foodies

I love being able to go to the cupboards, fridge or freezer and decide what we're going to eat on the day. Sometimes only half an hour before we're going to eat. This doesn't aid being frugal as I think the best way to be frugal is to plan your meals and use up every last scrap that you have in the house. I obviously have to plan our global meals but all others tend to be ad-hoc.

A few years ago we berated ourselves for being so wasteful with food. My husband used to joke that I stayed up until midnight and then anything that went out of date from a minute past midnight went in the bin. I wasn't quite that bad! But I do remember a lot of stuff going in the bin. Shameful! We got better and I started using up things that were starting to turn.

At this point I should be hanging my head in shame as I admit that the pigs cheek which I collected from the butcher two weeks ago sat in the fridge unbrined until it had to be thrown away. I kept telling Hubby that it would be fine, knowing full well it wouldn't, he went to the butcher on Saturday morning and told them I hadn't brined it. I'm sure what ensued was a little characterassassination of yours truly. Anyway, he ordered some more and this time the butcher is brining it. I'm a little disappointed as I wanted to do the brining but maybe I never would have got round to it. Not this side of Christmas anyway. I've been going to that butcher on and off since the age of 21 when I left home. I haven't been in since my husband's visit! I can see them all now, tutting and laughing as I next walk in.

Anyway.... I have found that to accommodate my need to cook what I feel like at the time and tie in with being frugal that I have to be ready to cook up any and all food that's on the turn. It's a lot easier in Winter as soups and stews are so easy to throw together. Though it can be just as easy in the Summer, you just have to be prepared to cook things which you wouldn't necessarily cook normally. Braised lettuce and lettuce soup springs to mind. Herbs freeze quite well too.

One thing I did the other day which went down very well was to make a plum cake with some plums that were far too ripe to eat uncooked.

Plum Cake

Very simple, using the old favourite that you can make without thinking - 4,4,4,2 sponge mix poured over halved plums and one halved greengage.

This was an all round winner! We used up the plums, we had cake for a couple of days, always a bonus, and the children got to do an activity with Mummy not using expensive craft supplies.

What's your favourite way to be frugal?


Meeta said...

Amanda, I can so relate to you - I used to throw a lot of things out too. But then I wished for a larger freezer and everything that is about to go out of date is cooked in some form and frozen. LOL! I find that it's a great way to "save" food and then put it together with other dishes that have also been frozen. Frozen meals have a completely different meaning here LOL! Love the plum cake.

Asha said...

Plum cake looks yum Amanda!:))

Kelly Mahoney said...

Looks delicious! My family has a membership to a discount warehouse and buys everything in bulk once a month. To fill in during the month, we buy fresh produce and other items that the warehouse doesn't specialize in by shopping at another discount grocery store.

Deborah said...

I need to be better about not throwing things out and using them up. I have been freezing a lot of leftovers lately - that way I don't throw anything away, and I always have a meal in a moment as well. I just read Meeta's comment - we are on the same wave length!

Cynthia said...

Plum cake look moist and ready to have with a cup of tea. Don't worry honey, you hold your head up high when next you go to the butcher. :)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Meeta, I don't think I use our freezer enough. Some things that go in never see the light of day again.

Hi Asha, thank you, I see you've got a veritable feast on your blog this week, as ever!

Hi Kelly, That sounds very organised!

Hi Deborah, I think I need to get more organised about using the freezer and then I'll have it sorted.

Hi Cynthia, thank you. I'll try to keep my head up high but as they've known me since I was all fresh faced they have a way of making me feel quite little. At least I can laugh at myself.

Thank you for your comments.
Amanda x

Marie said...

My favourite way to be frugal is to make breadcrumbs out of stale bread. I have a freezer full of them, but they always come in handy! Delicious looking cake!

Cottage Smallholder said...

Ohh Amanda, I can relate to this post 100%. I used to throw away loads of stuff and D got so worked up about it that I began creeping out to the dustbin when he was in bed.

Now we compost the tired veg and not much is thrown away. We do have a packed freezer though!

Kelly-Jane said...

I used to be very wasteful as well, in fact still am a bit I am SO trying to get better at using food faster, but really I need to not buy as much in the first place, maybe.

I bought a melon, well two actually as they were on buy one get one free. I felt it needed a little ripening, so ripened them and gave one away, then left mine to sit a while. On Tuesday night there was the incident of the "burst melon" with liquid all over the counter, and the most hideous smell. It really would have turned anyones stomach! I just wanted it to be perfectly ripe!!

Plum cake looks great :)


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Marie, ahem, yes, errr, have done it a couple of times but bread tends to go in the bin. Hangs head in shame again!

Hi Fiona, it's weird when we both went out to work we took equal responsibility for being wasteful. Now though it seems to be solely down to me and can induce a heated glare across the kitchen! We compost and put stuff in the wormery so a lot less gets thrown away than used to.

Hi Kelly-Jane, that made me laugh so much! The story of the exploding melon... a classic for sure! You know that's just the sort of thing I could be guilty of if not kept in check... We can't be totally perfect can we?!

Thank you for your comments.
Amanda x

Baking Soda said...

Haha, I'm a hoarder myself and can't throw any left overs out (which prompts my husband to say: honey, are we going to trash it now or stick it in the fridge and dump it tomorrow?).
Add that to the fact that I never plan meals.... It does wonders to your creativity though!

tash said...

I'm definitely not bothered about food being a little past its best. As long as it's not meat or certain dairy I'll cut any bad bits off and carry on using.

I do plan our meals, and have found that it makes not only shopping easier, but quicker and I don't have to think about what I am making each mealtime. We also make everything from scratch and always have. We haven't ever bought a ready meal and I've been living with husband now since I was 18 and first out of the family home.

I was brought up by a generation who believed in using everything and I can make a really hearty quiche with 2 rashers of bacon, a tomato and 2 eggs - I make it go a long way, much in the same way as they did in the war. We eat what we want when there is a glut in the garden and we don't when there isn't. Now that we have hens I refuse to buy eggs, so we eat plenty when they lay, I have frozen some for cakes throughout the year, and when they stop we'll stop eating them. Oh how I'll miss my poached eggs on toast, but it's a seasonal thing and it'll make me all the more pleased to have them lay again in Spring!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Baking Soda, Creative genius indeed! ;)

Hi Tash, I wish I was that organised. I used to be a bit of an OCD list maker but not so much now. Even when I do plan now I tend to change my mind at the last minute...

Thank you for your comments.
Amanda x

Elle said...

Great cake and super way to interact with the children.
Lately using foods from the garden and shrubs and trees (walnuts)has been my way of being frugal. I'm also learning some vegan recipes. Vegetables are usually more frugal than expensive meats and fish.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Thank you Elle. Sometimes we are ridiculously wasteful. I think a lot of people are, as we live in such a throw away society nowadays. We're going to really work on being a lot less wasteful. We might do a comparison of our outgoings month of month to see how good we've been. After a concerted effort to be a lot more frugal and thrifty of course.

Amanda x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Pig's Cheek? Brine?
Is this legal? The pig is shocked!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Ah yes! Erm! Sorry about that Pig!
Amanda x


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