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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

FoodCycle Breadline Challenge

FoodCycle is brilliant, I have volunteered several times at my local branch cooking a three course lunch for the local community from food which would otherwise go to waste.  There are FoodCycle hubs around the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check them out and help out if you can.   For information on all things FoodCycle, browse their website.

I was asked to compile a Meal Plan to promote the FoodCycle Breadline Challenge 2015 which will entail supporters living off a food budget of £2.86 a day for one week.  The Challenge will run from 16th – 22nd November and is aiming to raise awareness of rising UK food poverty and also raise vital funds for FoodCycle's work across the country.

My budget was £20.02 for 7 days worth of food, I overspent by 7p.  Here's my shopping list:

29 items: £20.09

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Muesli (1Kg)                                                    £1.18
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Pearl Barley (500g)                             64p
1x Whitworths Granulated Sugar (500g)                                           49p
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                                45p
1x ASDA Lemon Juice (250ml)                                                         55p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                     40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g)                                       29p

2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                                   £1.54
1x ASDA Cook from Frozen Pollock Portions (368g)                         £1.75

Tins, Jars and Cooking
2x ASDA Chopped Tomatoes with Garlic in Tomato Juice (390g)      80p was 50p
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Black Eye Beans in Water (300g)        40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Chilli Beans (290g)                              40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g)                                  25p
1x ASDA Smartprice Strawberry Jam (454g)                                    29p
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Green Lentils in Water (400g)              40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g)      40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Chosen by You Vegetable Stock Cubes (12x10g)               75p
2x ASDA Chopped Tomatoes with Chilli and Peppers (390g)             80p was £1.00
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Mixed Bean Salad (290g)                    40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00

Dairy and Eggs
2x ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                                      £1.78
1x ASDA Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                                    85p
1x ASDA Mixed Weight Free Range Eggs (6)                                   85p
1x Anchor Grated Mature Cheddar (200g)                                         £1.00 was £2.38

Fruit and Vegetables
3 ASDA White Baking Potatoes by Weight (430g)                             86p
7 ASDA Grower's Selection Bananas by Weight (170g)                     69p
300g ASDA White Cabbage by Weight                                             17p
1x ASDA Grower's Selection Carrots (1Kg)                                       49p
1x ASDA Brown Onions (1Kg)                                                          74p

1x   ASDA Smartprice Instant Coffee Granules (100g)                      47p

My Meal Plan is as follows:

Muesli, with grated carrot, a banana. and milk

Onion Soup with Cheese and Herb Soda Bread x 2
Mixed Vegetable, Herb and Pearl Barley Soup with Cheese and Herb Soda Bread
Pearl Barley and Mixed Vegetables Risotto x 2
Black Eyed Peas Patties with Rice, Cabbage, Carrot Stir Fry
Rice, Chilli Beans and Vegetable Bake

Fishcakes with Mixed Vegetables
Mixed Bean and Vegetable Stew with Pasta
Egg Fried Rice with Vegetables
Fish and Chips with Vegetables
Kidney Bean Patties with Vegetables and Champ Mash
Twice Baked Potato with Cheesy Chilli Bean Topping and vegetables
Lentil Bolognese with Pasta

Rice Pudding
Oat and Fruit Soda Bread with Jam

Soda Bread

300g/2 cups self raising flour
30g butter
1/2 cup grated mature cheddar cheese (leave out if making sweet version)
1 or 2 tsp dried mixed herbs or a handful of muesli
250ml milk
2 tsp lemon juice

Mix the lemon juice and milk together and leave to stand whilst you grate the cheese and measure out the other ingredients.  Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the grated cheese, herbs  if you are making a savoury version or muesli if you are making a sweet version.  Add milk then mix until mixture forms a sticky dough.

Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth, don't over knead it or your bread will be heavy. Form into a round loaf then mark into four with the handle of a wooden spoon. Dust with a little flour.

Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Serve warm or cold.

Mixed Bean and Vegetable Stew

Heat one tin of drained mixed beans with one pack of Chopped Tomatoes with Chilli and Peppers and 100g of frozen mixed vegetables, add a pinch of mixed herbs if you want.  Simmer until the vegetables are cooked then serve over 100g of pasta cooked according to packet instructions.

Kidney Bean Patties

1 tin kidney beans
1 carrot, grated
1 onion, grated
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 Tblsp flour

Drain and rinse the kidney beans then add mixed herbs, grated onion and carrot.  Mash together until a lumpy puree mixture forms.  Mix through the flour then form into patties. Chill in the fridge for half an hour to firm up if you have time.  Cook over a moderate heat in a frying pan for 3 - 4 minutes each side. 

Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto

Rice Pudding

600ml whole milk
65g long grain white rice
50g white sugar

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice.  Place saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender. This usually takes about 25 minutes. Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

When the rice is tender (al dente) take the saucepan off the heat and sugar to taste.  Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool, cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To make into a Mullerrice type treat mix in some jam.

What are your favourite budget meals?  Will you be taking part in the Challenge? 

Friday, 6 November 2015

English Muffins

I was asked to try out Clover spread and see how my family liked it. So that we could taste the flavour of the spread I baked some English Muffins using Clover instead of butter, and spread them liberally with Clover, so we could properly taste test the spread. 

Clover spread tasted buttery and full of flavour. It contains buttermilk and no artificial ingredients, with half saturated fat of butter, so is great for those wanting a buttery taste with less saturated fat when making family meals. 

I shall be creating a delicious recipe using Clover over the next couple of weeks, so do pop back and keep a look out. In the meantime, why not bake some English Muffins and enjoy them for breakfast on the weekend.

English Muffins

675g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
50g Clover
500ml milk
1 free range egg, beaten

To make fruited muffins add:
75g dried fruit, soaked in hot water to plump up, then drained well
2 tsp mixed spice or cinnamon

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Heat the milk in a saucepan over a low heat or in the microwave with the Clover spread.  Once the milk is lukewarm remove from the heat, the Clover should be just melting.  

Make a well in the flour mixture in the bowl, add the egg along with the milk and butter mixture.  Mix until a soft dough forms.  Knead for 5 minutes then put into a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave to prove until doubled in size.  

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.  Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Knock back the dough then roll out on a well floured surface until 1cm/0.5 inch thick  Cut our muffins using a large circular cutter, mine measures 10cm/4 inches in diameter.  Roll out the trimmings and cut out as many muffins as you can, I usually end up with approximately 12 - 15 muffins.  Put the muffins on to lined oven trays and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Back the muffins for 5 - 7 minutes then remove from the oven, turn them over, and put back in the oven for a further 5 -7 minutes.  They should be slightly golden and cooked through.  

If you bake some of these delicious morsels or any other yeasted bread bake, don't forget to link up with Bready, Steady, Go this month.  The linky is here!

I'm also entering these English Muffins into Credit Crunch Munch, the thrifty food challenge created by Helen and Camilla, hosted this month by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.  This recipe makes 14 - 16 English Muffins for far less than the cost of purchasing them from the supermarket.

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