Thursday, 31 January 2013

My plans for affordable food (make it up as I go along)

I have been reading posts from menu planning Mums with admiration. It is very appealing, and it is stops the ridiculous food waste apparently endemic in most households it has to be applauded.

I realised that I have a very different approach (no surprises then). I reckon that I save up to £50 a month by gently eeking out my groceries, and refusing to do a 'weekly' shop and instead just buying when I absolutely have to. I can usually get a day or so of good food from what, on first inspection, looks like a barren fridge.

I have to think on my feet, sometimes when I start cooking I don't even know exactly where I am going!

To do this I need to stock up on a few basics. I start with a veg box (I alternative between veg and fruit & veg boxes as I am a bit remiss with eating fruit). I am not dogmatic about organise, but the box is a good discipline and I have even learnt to like beetroot! Here are a few links that I find useful What you should and shouldn't buy organic and at a glance table of what to and not to buy organic

I was rather freaked out my the horse meat saga so it has strengthened my resolve to shop only at our farm shop for meat. Poor DB would like meat three meals a day, but for a variety of reasons we tend to eat very little the Husbter has just signed up to a green scheme at work to eat 40% less. The localfarm shop is great, the lamb comes from their farm, the beef comes form his brother's form less than 20 miles away and they make their own sausages (okay they use bought spice mixes, but they do make random concoctions too - marmite sausages anyone?) They also have a children's petting farm so we can buy some feed and toddle off to chat to the aaaaas and chooks.

I do an on-line supermarket shop, but I see how long I go between shops. I tend to be eek out more from my existing ingredients than I think I can. The benefits of an online shop is that you can have a budget and stick to it - there is no embarrassment in putting back those expensive biscuits that jumped into the trolley, and no pissed off children to cajole.

I also go to the Chinese supermarket because it is fun! I don't want my children to be scared off new things, so as well as my invaluable wonton wrappers and gyoza pancakes, we always try something new. The only rules are that we ask how to cook / prepare the goodies, and if we don't like it I do not create a drama. I do not want meals to become a battle zone!

Also, I volunteer at the amazing Truefood Coop. Mainly because it is fun, and it is the kind of place that if you don't support it will disappear. It is an organic food cooperative, great affordable and ethical food and way more fun to shop at than the supermarket. You can fill your own kitchen canisters, avoiding packaging waste and have a cuppa while you add up your bill (much of it works on trust); if you have little ones with you they can push their own toy trolley or sit in the toy and book corner.

Finally, is shop at Costco. Food for Mr Woof pays for the membership fee, then I shop carefully for other bits and pieces. I tend to buy cheddar and goats cheese. The goats cheese is immediately portioned, wrapped and put in the freezer. It is also great for book sets for little people - worthy party bag fillers :)

My freezer etiquette: always divide and wrap individual portions. Keep track of what goes in and check the Hubster goes not fill it with unidentified brown bags (fortunately mainly chilli or curry) ... I fail at this.

My secret stash of magic food:
Freezer - chicken, salmon, prawns, peas, goats cheese, wonton wrappers or similar and fish fingers (most bought then they are on a special deal).
Fridge - carrots, butter and chorizo
Store cupboard - passata (checked for salt content), flours (bread, wholemeal, plain, self raising - and now I am truly posh pasta flour), dried fruit ( apricots and dates etc), cashew nuts, peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce!

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