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Eating well is hard when you’re skint…

14 Jan

I haven’t posted on this blog in a very very long time; but after a long rant on my Facebook today, I feel that I need to write this down.

The point I was making on Facebook is that if I can feed myself for an entire week with just £20, so can anyone. This, in turn, led on to discussions of how poverty is linked with obesity, and other such subjects. But my main point still stands. Fortunately for me, I am blessed with the ability to cook, which many people nowadays aren’t. And this makes me really sad. Because there’s no reason why this should be the case! But unfortunately, it’s today’s culture. There’s no pressure for people to be able to cook anymore. It’s not taught in schools. It’s just not important. Why would you want to go out and buy ingredients to make a lovely dinner when you can buy a frozen pizza for £1? But this sort of mentality helps no one.

So, anyway, before I get too side tracked, here is my list of tips on how to shop smarter, eat smarter, save money and generally be happier 🙂

  1. Do your research! Pick up leaflets the next time you shop and see what’s going to be on offer next week, or look up offers online. Plan your meals around the deals! (This weekend, the ingredients for one of my favourite dinners are all half price! Result.)
  2. MAKE A LIST! So many people don’t do this! Make a list and stick to the list. This is the best way to keep on top of your spending. And it’s true what they say, don’t go food shopping hungry. That multipack bag of crisps that aren’t on the list will look 10 times more appealing.
  3. Don’t try and make complicated meals. The more ingredients your meal needs, obviously the more it’s going to cost. Stay away from dishes that require exotic ingredients that you’ll use once and then leave in the cupboard forever. It’s not worth it!
  4. Invest in a slow cooker. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but you can pick one up from Tesco for about £12. Have it cook dinner for you whilst you’re at work all day, so it’s all nice and prepared for you when you get home! Plus, slow cooking helps you to utilise cheaper cuts of meat as these are best cooked slow and low and are good in things like stews. Just throw everything in before you leave the house.
  5. Only buy what you need. Where possible, especially with things like veg, try to only buy what you know you’re going to use. If you only need a few carrots, don’t go for a whole 1kg bag if there’s the option to select and bag your own.
  6. Use your freezer! If something is about to go off and can be frozen, freeze it. Scour the reduced section of your supermarket for things you can chuck in the freezer to use at a later date. Most veg can be frozen too if you prep it first; if you’ve got a bunch of carrots that you don’t think you’re going to use for a while, chop them into rounds and bag them up in the freezer. Jamie Oliver showed us all how you can chop up herbs that have gone a bit sad and freeze them in olive oil in ice cube trays. But try and remember to label and date things with a sharpie. No one wants to be playing freezer roulette!
  7. Avoid doubling up. Look in your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you go shopping. If your recipe calls for mayo, make sure you don’t already have some before you go buying some more. At the same time, look to see what you already have before you plan your meals. Chicken in the freezer? Rice in the cupboard? Jerk chicken and spicy rice!
  8.  Downgrade. Don’t be snobby about brands. Sainsbury’s value chopped tomatoes are just as good as a name brand and will save you money. If it’s going into a bolognese, you’ll never know the difference anyway. A lot of products that are supermarkets own brand are made in the same factories as name brand products such as biscuits and condiments, so you’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Buy in bulk. Sometimes this is appropriate and sometimes it’s not. Buying a 3kg bag of pasta is probably a good idea as it’s likely that you’ll use all of it eventually and is cheaper than buying six 500g bags in the long run. On the other hand, multi-buys on things like salad is definitely a bad idea as it’s unlikely you’ll use all of it (unless you’re having a salad party) before it goes bad.
  10. Batch cook. Sometimes it makes sense to make a big batch and freeze portions for quick meals at a later date or pop in the fridge for lunch the next day. I always always ALWAYS cook 1 extra portion of a meal to take to work the next day for lunch so I don’t have to spend any money when lunchtime rolls around.
  11. Scour the internet. There’s so many websites and blogs that will show you how to make cheap meals; you really don’t have to look very hard. Not everyone is gifted with the power to just magically think up meals (I certainly can’t).
  12. Keep a recipe scrap book. This tip is absolute genius. I’ve kept a recipe book for YEARS and it’s like my holy bible. I’ll see a recipe that appeals to me, cut it/print it out and add it to the book, if I make it and I don’t like it I remove it. Pinterest is great for this if you’d prefer a digital version. That way you can find recipes online and add them instantly without having to faff around with printing anything.
  13. Change your supermarket. I’ve always shopped at Lidl and I’ve heard so many people make nasty comments about it, and I’ll never understand why! The only difference is that you don’t get such a wide choice of products. 1 type of chopped tomatoes, 1 type of bagged salad etc etc but this is where they cut their costs. All their fruit and veg is British (where possible) and all their fresh meat has the Red Tractor badge, so I really don’t know what everyone is moaning about! Aldi is also a good option if you have one or the other near you, but if not, mysupermarket.co.uk is a great place to see which supermarket your shop will be cheapest at. It compares Tesco, Sainsburys, ASDA, Aldi, Waitrose and Ocado, so you can either do a ‘pretend’ virtual shop (which is what I usually do) or just order online from whichever one works out cheapest!

These tips have been said over and over again by multiple people and sources, but these are the ones I live by and I follow them almost like a religion. Good luck!

My Skint Person’s Christmas Gift Guide!

30 Nov

Okay, here’s the scenario. You’re skint. You’re a student or out of work or generally just have nothing but moths in your wallet. Someone beloved to you is a foodie. Aside from actual FOOD, what the hell do you get them for Christmas?! You can’t afford a KitchenAid, and they appear to already own every gadget ever invented!

Well, never fear! I am here to guide you through the chaotic high street to find the perfect present. Or at least close enough!

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Let’s start off with the Jme Mini Terracotta Pot with paste set – £7.50 from John Lewis.

According to their website –  “These terracotta pots have been designed exclusively for Jme by Russell Pinch. Use is as a simple pinch pot for salt or pepper, in the oven to make a baked egg or mini pudding or swirl the paste into yoghurt or mayo to make a tasty dip”

Great! So once their done eating their yummy paste on some ciabatta or zesting up some meat, they have a lovely little pot to keep for other stuff!

You can either order one individually, or go here if you don’t mind letting John Lewis pick for you. (You can find links to the individual ones from there, don’t worry! I’m not an idiot. Most of the time.)

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If you’ve got a BIT more cash than you thought, we’ve got the Paxton and Whitfield Cheese Dome – £20 also from John Lewis.

I got something similar for my brother and his wife last year, but it didn’t have the fancy dome or sexy little chutneys with it, and he uses it all the time! (By all the time, I mean when he’s having a ‘do’)

I think this is a great little gift that looks really fancy and professional. The little drawer with the knives definitely ties it all together.

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You like the idea of the cheeseboard, but £20 is a bit above and beyond budget.

So how about this cute Heart Shaped Cheeseboard from Wilkinson’s ‘Little Birds’ range? It’s got a little laser etched heart design in the corner (and is heart shaped…) so perhaps a little girly for the special bloke in your life. But for only £4, maybe he can look at it as an expression of your love?

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Wilkos have also got this cute red and white polka dot Pie Maker set, also from the ‘Little Birds’ range, for £10.

Actually, Wilkinson’s Little Birds range is generally great for little bits and bobs. They’ve got heart shaped ramekins, a mezzaluna (which I really wanted to include in this post, but they don’t have it on their website. Bugger!) and all sorts of stuff. I highly recommend it for the budget conscious.

BHS (as usual) have an enormous array of foodie gems this Christmas. Seriously. They have so much stuff, I really struggled to pick just 2. (Have a look at it all here.) But here they my picks –

ketchup

For the Americana fan in your life, they’ve got this super cute Heinz Tomato Ketchup napkin dispenser for £8, which comes with 30 ‘I ❤ Ketchup’ printed napkins. It’s also refillable (duh).

oils

If your budget can stretch to it, they’ve also got this Oil & Vinegar duo with pourers for £20. If anyone would like to buy me this for Christmas, I’d be more than willing to humbly accept. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!

M&S’s selection was a bit pants, so I’m not even going to bother trying to pick stuff for you out of a rubbish selection. You suck Mr Marks and Mr Spencer!

Okay, new scenario. You get a call from a long lost friend/relative who says they’re on their way to your house with a gift! (And no doubt to drink all your wine/eat all your Quality Street) You haven’t got time to run into town and grab them something, the only option is the supermarket! So here’s my pick of decent supermarket foodie prezzies.

First up is Tesco…

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This metal Tala RetroCook’s Measure for £7.94 would also satisfy any retrophile as well. Two in one! Kapow!

 

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Forgot your wallet in the rush? Only got what’s in your pockets? Wallace Mug (of Wallace and Gromit fame) with special W&G teabag for £5. Bish bash bosh!

Next up is ASDA…

pestle

Who does’t need a Pestle & Mortar? And I think this one looks considerably more expensive than it is….£3! THREE POUNDS! *Runs off to ASDA to get one…*

mulledwine

Is Christmas really Christmas without mulled wine? Probably not. This set comes with the lovely red jug, wooden spoon, infuser ball and spice mix, for £10. Okay, it’s not the cheapest present they’ve got over at Baby Walmart, but it’s pretty. And once you give it to your unexpected guest, you can ‘suggest’ you use it immediately. But of course, it’s only a ‘suggestion’…ahem.

And Sainsburys…well, let’s not talk about Sainsburys. Their selection was rubbish. RUBBISH. So I’m not including them. You need to up your game sirs!

Anyway, that’s my selection from the high street. My Christmas shopping is nearly done. If you haven’t started yet, I suggest you hurry up!

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Ikea Casserole Dish

19 Nov

Ikea Casserole Dish

I got this casserole dish from Ikea about a month ago and it’s fantastic!

It’s cast iron, suitable on ALL hobs, oven safe and it’s only £24!

Can’t afford a Le Creuset? Never fear! Ikea to the rescue!

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