Thursday 31 October 2019

Not just fresh

Our five a day do not necessarily have to be fresh food even though that's what I usually aim for.  At the moment I have quite a lot of dried fruit in the cupboard, the remains of packs I bought to make the Christmas puddings.  Apricots, prunes, figs, sour cherries and dried cranberries may appear on my menus over the next few weeks.  Actually I had a few cranberries with my breakfast yoghurt. 

Tinned fruit and veg can also be used.  I use a lot of tinned sweetcorn in salads and am rather partial to a tin of mushy peas with red sauce or mint sauce.  Just on their own.  Comfort food.  (Come on, a girl is allowed the odd guilty secret.)  Those are about the only tinned vegetables I buy and there are several tins of each in the cupboard.

But there's another tinned veg which I never think of as tinned veg - and that's baked beans.  I buy the reduced sugar, reduced salt variety and I think they may be consumed several times before November ends.  I don't often buy any other tinned beans.

And of course there are vegetables in the freezer.  Beans I've frozen, ramekins of cauliflower cheese, portions of braised red cabbage, bags of frozen peas.   I should be able to eat healthily one way or another!

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Five a day

My biggest problem is going to be getting my five a day*.  Oh no it isn't!  My biggest CHALLENGE is going to be getting my five a day.  There's not a lot left in the garden and there's not a lot of free food from other people's gardens once November is here so I shall have to some  some creative thinking.  (By the way, I give away garden produce as well as receive!)

I decided first to check on portion sizes.  I tend to think the more the merrier with vegetable (and to a lesser extent fruit) portions but although that will continue with cheaper veg, I want to make sure that even when I have the more expensive stuff I get enough  of each "five".   So I looked on the NHS website here.

The first place to check is (as always) the fridge and vegetable store.  I need to know what fresh food I have.  I  waste very little anyway but with a very limited budget I have to be extra careful.

First, I've got plenty of root vegetables.  When it comes to carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions I'm covered for at least a couple of weeks.  

Salad vegetables have a much shorter shelf life.  I've got a portion of cooked beetroot, a portion of pepper, about three portions of tomatoes, one portion of celery, and one portion of cucumber.  I've also got a small green cabbage and a rather larger red cabbage.  

I think there may be some coleslaw on the way using some cabbage, carrots and a red onion.  There's a couple of days worth of chopped salad and maybe a tomato salad as well.  I may need to shop for fresh food before the weekend but I'll make sure the fridge is much emptier than now.  

*The current advice from our Health Service is that we should eat at least five portions a day of fruit and veg.  I am also very well aware that this is way below the recommendation in many other countries so I try and get more than five a day.  A quick count tells me that yesterday I had damsons. celery, cucumber, onion, pepper, tomatoes, sweetcorn apple and peas.  

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Starting on the goodies

Low budget months sometimes sound a bit dreary but not here at Frugal Follies!  My freezer has lots of lovely stuff in it which I've cooked but not got around to eating.

I started off with a free breakfast.  Last week my friend Sarah gave me a huge tub of yoghurt.  It's my favourite sort (Lidl, Greek) but she doesn't like it so I relieved her of it.  Last month I relieved some friends of the embarrassment of damsons which they had.  I cooked and pureed them (the damsons, not the friends, silly) and froze them in small quantities so I had a portion of yoghurt and a portion of damsons for brekkie.  Very nice. 

Lunch was simple: a chopped salad of celery, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and pepper with sardines.  Tins of sardines are only 34p at Lidl so for a portion of oily fish it's a bargain.  

A friend delivered a salmon (which I paid for last week): a bargain at £10.  I made ten fillets which have gone in the freezer and I made pate with the trimmings.  That went down a treat with oatcakes.

The first few days of a challenge like this are never difficult.  I think the only thing I might get very short of is salad vegetables.  This will take some planning.  

Monday 28 October 2019


Yet again I need to take myself in hand!

Yesterday I made rubbish food choices - it's a long time since I had a whole day of bad choices but yesterday was devoid of healthy fruit or veg and alarmingly high on both fats and refined carbs.  So tackling the diet is must become a focus.  I'm not trying to lose weight  - I'm talking about "diet" as my total food intake

I defrosted the freezer a few days and it's full of lovely food, dishes I have batch cooked and frozen.  I really have no excuse for poor dietary choices.  What's more unless I eat some of that lovely food I will have no space to store the lovely foods I expect to buy or cook in the lead-up to Christmas.

My grocery spend this month is a little higher than I would like - not much but it has definitely been a "could do better" sort of month.

So, my focus from now to the end of November is to have a food budget of just £1 per day.  So that's £34 for 34 days. 

I'll let you l know how I spend it and what I find in my freezer and other stores and whether my menus improve.  They really couldn't get much worse.

Saturday 19 October 2019

A Cautionary Tale

I love Christmas!  I love birthdays!  I love making things! And I love giving away things which I have made!

The problem is that as we give things we also receive them.  And somehow or another, year on year, very gradually, the value of the presents we buy and make gets higher.

A couple of years ago I won a £500 voucher for clothes.  I spend very little on clothing so I invited three friends to share in my good luck and choose £100 worth of clothes each as my Christmas present to them.  I explained to them that it was a win, that this would be a one-off, and that the following year normal service would be resumed.  It seemed like a win:win - they would get a very nice gift and I wouldn't spend anything!

Two friends responded as I had hoped - I received a "normal" present from them and they were delighted with the very nice clothes they received.  The third found it more difficult and felt that she had to spend nearly £100 on me!  I was SO embarrassed!

So last year we had a serious discussion at my instigation.  I apologised for having been tactless in giving a very expensive gift but said I thought we ought to bring the gift giving back to earth and we agreed a spending limit.

I think many adults find giving easier than receiving.  There is an unspoken etiquette in gift giving between friends (I'm not talking about family or inter-generational giving) which involves giving roughly equivalent gifts.  We hate to appear mean and are happy to give a gift of much higher value (taking into account making time too if we are giving home made stuff) than the one we receive but are embarrassed at the reverse.  

Christmas is a time of ridiculous spending for many.  The run-up to Christmas is a time of stress.  Since the conversation I wrote about above I have instigated conversations with a couple of friends and I think that both of them were relieved that I raised the subject.  I shall still be generous to anyone who works for me or who helps me out, and to my nearest and dearest.  But I know I have arrangements with several friends to our mutual benefit.

And the best thing of all?  I think that each of those conversations has deepened my friendships.