Tuesday, 28 January 2014


The grocery bill has started creeping up a bit again.  I have not gone over the new 50-a-week (reduced from the £250 a month that it's been for years) budget as yet, but I have also stopped putting in a chunk of money into the re-stocking account, and I would like to start doing that again.

Tiredness and ill-health is the main cause - when you walk past a couple of supermarkets daily, it's a lot easier to just grab a packet of cheese-topped baps (which I could eat myself in one sitting quite easily if I've not had the time or the energy to prepare myself something before going to work) and a multipack of chocolate bars for DD, as opposed to baking soft rolls and perhaps whipping up a batch of Florentines myself.  The fact that DD has hit a bumpy spot with hers studies and is needing a lot more help than I can comfortably give (yet I still give it, discomfort aside), and that my hands are not up to kneading at the moment does not help, either.  Even using the dough hooks on the mixer causes a bit too much vibration than I can contemplate right now.

But enough is enough and a bit of lateral thinking is needed to find a happy way out - so this week is a "Back to Frugal Basics Week".   This means, if you crave carbs, have carbs, but don't forget that there are carbs other than bread.  This means - use what you have in.  This means - a simple meal with a couple of ingredients is absolutely fine a couple of times a week.  This means - the freezer is your friend.

And there were soups - different flavours for different people, as they were all frozen in single portions.  DD had leek and potato, OH had pumpkin, I had a country soup batch-cooked from an Approved Foods mix. 

I had no bread left though, and barely an hour left till dinnertime.  Irish Soda Bread was my most realistic option, but guess what ?  No yogurt. Or buttermilk.  In fact, the only kind of cultured dairy product in the fridge was a jar of HM kefir.  Hmmmm..... Oh well. Who dares, wins, right ?  Kefir went in instead.  It was yummy :o)
Another meal was a favourite simple stodge concoction - crushed potatoes.  Peel (even that is not compulsory if the hands are not up to it though) a couple of spuds, quarter them and boil for 15  minutes. Drain, pop the lid back on and bash them about a bit.  Fry off a sliced onion and a bunch of sliced mushrooms. Mix.  The herb scattered over the top should have been parsley, but parsley grows outside, and the heavenly buckets were pouring out their contents in force, and basil grows on the windowsill.  No contest. Crushed mushroom potatoes with basil.

 And tonight it was pasta and veg - any pasta will do, and any veg.  We had fussili with leeks, because that's what we had a lot of, and the two go well together - the strands of leek intertwine with the pasta twists, bringing the whole thing together. A sprinkle of cheese on top for the teen


and a drizzle of home-made sweet chilli sauce for the adults.

In other news, I have just completed my squillionth re-read of the complete Terry Pratchett opus (it's traditional in times of stress and ill health), and have moved on to Stephen King.  IT seemed as good a place to start as any.


  1. Sorry to hear you're struggling at the moment, but you do sound as though you're battling through.

    I love the sound of the pasta and leeks together, especially with cheese sprinkled on top, I'm sorry now that I used all my leeks up in the soup that I froze (also in single portions like you do), I should have saved some for other things!!

    I used to love Stephen King books many, many years ago.

    1. This too shall pass.... It's always been my motto, and it's always been right - eventually, lol ! Plenty of chances to try the leeky pasta in the future, I'm sure :o)

  2. All of these meals sound delicious. I love that on a tough week you didn't give in and still came up with healthy meals. Now I need to try the pasta and leeks because I have both at home. Feel better! ~ Pru

  3. CJ - I think I've done something wrong whilst trying to reply to your comment, as it seems to have vanished, and I can't find it now - but if you come back to look at this post, at least I can tell you that I read it, and very much appreciated the sentiment, as always x

  4. You're doing so well to keep it together - I went off the rails with the budget a bit last week under a lot less trying circumstances (just bad planning, really). Would a breadmaker help? I know it's an initial spend, but it may pay off in the long run, even it you just use the dough setting. Sam (DS2) loves HM pizza and it's so easy with the breadmaker - although it came out a bit sticky last time, so I may need to adjust ingredients with this particular flour. Fingers crossed that things improve soon. Barbara

  5. We just started on crushed potatoes and love them. My stress re-read is Georgette Heyer but when I have finished I will restart Pratchett, Vimes first, then witches then misc.

  6. Hi
    I grew up in Northern Ireland and have been making soda bread all my life. If you are stuck, then add a spoonful of vinegar or lemon juice to ordinary milk, leave for a few minutes and use that for soda bread. Works a treat. Also, if you have any milk that is "on the turn" then that has the optimum amounts of lactic acid etc to react and raise the soda bread to new highs : )
    And of course, it saves waste. Milk on the turn also does great yorkshire puds and pancakes.