Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Eating less meat...


I thought I'd share with you how we eat much less meat than we used to. We were big meat eaters...every day in greedy quantities!

My family has changed. At one time I was feeding six adults. Now most of the time it's just two adults and Daisy. 

We don't eat meat every day now. I will make egg and cheese based meals with jacket potatoes or pasta or rice. I make veggie risotto or pasta. Sometimes omelettes or simply dippy eggs (one of Daisy's favourites). We have adapted and adjusted to not miss the mountains of meat we were consuming.

We went shopping on Sunday and after looking for the offers, we choose a selection of meat to last the next fortnight. We choose to buy good quality and British so look out for when these are on offer. We never buy the value meat because of the animal's living conditions and welfare standards. If the better quality 'happy' meat is really expensive, we won't buy it and do without. 

When I get home from shopping I split the meat up to freeze...

The meat is divided into meal portions, bagged and frozen until needed. The portions I need to create our meals is considerably less than I used to cook. This is how we continue to afford to be meat eaters. We are not greedy either now! I pad out meals with extra veg too. We are certainly not underfed!!

Does anyone else do this? I like to get as many meals as possible from a pack of meat. 

Mandy x

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Using the slow cooker on a hot day!

Hi everyone...anyone?

I've been going through my cupboards this week, picking out anything close to its use by date. I plan to gradually use these bits up, incorporating them into our meals and baking. 

I have also started to go through my freezers doing the same. This is what I've done this morning...

The blackberries have been in the freezer a while and the apples have wrinkled skins! These are the base of my crumble for tonight's pudding.

The apples are sweet so no sugar needed.

The crumble mix is simple...plain flour, marg and I used soft brown sugar. Sprinkled over the fruit and ready to bake just before tea.

The slow cooker is on with lamb that's been in the freezer for a while, with some frozen cauliflower, frozen mixed veg, sweet corn, onions, mixed herbs and gravy granules that Daisy can't have (contain lactose would you believe!) Not my normal slow cooker combination, but using stuff up...

I've made Daisy a vegetable stew and raspberry jelly with frozen raspberries for pudding. She will eat this with her dairy free ice cream.

My cupboards are looking much less cluttered now. Tomorrow I will be using up more things. Until then...

Mandy x

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A bit of baking...

Hi everyone

Sorry for the gap in blogging, but things have been pretty busy here. The beautiful weather has meant that I've been spending much more time outside with Daisy. She will happily play outside whatever the weather, but we've been trying out different activities and taking advantage of the sunshine while it lasts.

Sorting, tidying and decluttering have also been happening (while Daisy naps) and I have thrown so much stuff away.
I really feel like I'm getting somewhere now.

Today we played out in the garden for a while then came in to do some baking...

Gingerbread men

200g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt 
1-2 tsp of ground ginger
75g butter
3tbsp golden syrup 
75g soft brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170 oC.
2. Sift the flour, bicarb, salt and ginger into a bowl...

As demonstrated by Daisy!

3. Melt the butter, syrup and brown sugar in a pan...

4. Leave to cool and pour onto dry ingredients...

5. Mix to form a soft dough...

6. Bring together and gently knead...

7. Sprinkle a board/ work surface with a little flour to prevent sticking and roll out to 2-3mm thick...

8. Cut out your gingerbread shapes and put on a lightly greased baking tin...

9. Bake for 10 mins...

10. Don't put them too close together as they will join hands! Leave to cool slightly on the tray before transferring them carefully to a cooling rack (limbs are easily lost at this stage!)...

11. Decorate and add eyes, mouth and buttons...

We used the tube of icing up as glue to stick the bits on. 

This is Daisy's own work...she is so independent now! 

We also made some vanilla cakes but I will put up the tutorial for these tomorrow as it's getting late now. I know I promised small cakes next, but this is how I bake...spontaneously! The gingerbread men were planned as an activity for Daisy   and the vanilla cakes just followed! 

I hope you're enjoying my recipes and tutorials.

Mandy x

Friday, 9 May 2014

Packed lunch ideas...savoury

Good morning everyone,

This one is for you frugal in bucks :)

Packed lunches can simply be a sandwich, apple and a piece of HM cake, but this isn't suitable for the times when you're 'being good'! Here are a few ideas:

I would start with a base of lettuce (plenty of different choices there and easy to grow), cucumber and tomatoes. To that you could add different things to make it more exciting:

Baby spinach leaves
Cress (easily grown on the windowsill)
Grated carrot
Sliced red onion
Chopped peppers
Sweet corn 

To your chosen salad you could take a HM salad dressing (then you know what's in it) in a little pot to add when you're ready to eat. 

I would add some protein at this point:

Low fat cottage cheese 
A little grated low fat cheddar
Hard boiled egg

Other ideas

HM veg soup in a flask
Sticks of celery filled with low fat cream cheese
Spread low fat cream cheese on rice cakes
Pasta salad
Chicken drumsticks and HM low fat coleslaw (made with yogurt)
HM hummus and veggie sticks to dip

I found a recipe for hummus although I haven't made it because I don't like hummus! I hope this helps?


410g tin of chickpeas
100g sesame seeds
2tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3tbsp natural yogurt
Juice of 2 lemons (4-6tbsp)
Salt &pepper 

1. Put sesame seeds and oil in a blender and blitz for one minute.

2. Drain chickpeas and add with all other ingredients.

3. Blend for a few minutes on high.

4. Taste and check seasoning. Chill for a few hours and serve.

This will keep in the fridge for approx a week.

This recipe was taken (but not copied word for word) from a fantastic book that I cook from quite a lot...

'How to feed your whole family a healthy, balanced diet with very little money..and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill-fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets- unless you count the garlic crusher...simple, wholesome and nutritious recipes for family meals'

Gill Holcombe

It's quite a title! Basically, no excuses, everyone can try to cook. It's  great book!

I hope this gave you a few different ideas to what you're already eating frugal in bucks. 


Other news...I'm still busy sorting, throwing stuff out, recycling and preparing things to sell at the boot sale. 

I am trying to fit other activities into my day like baking and hopefully sewing soon. The house is getting easier to keep clean and tidy because we have less stuff! I'm currently looking at storage ideas to pack things away neatly. I went to Dunelm Mill for the first time the other day and they have some cute storage baskets that I'm thinking of buying. I did pick up a couple of bits for baking

I've been looking out for a cake storer/carrier for a while and this was far cheaper than what I've previously seen...£3.99
The gingerbread cutters were £1.49 and perfect for baking with Daisy as she loves the gingerbread man story and can chant the 'run run as fast as you can' bit! We also got Daisy a gruffalo tabard apron. 
I got some new piping bag nozzles. These were quite pricey at £5.99, but I want to make more pretty cakes and need a wide star nozzles for what I want to do. I looked for a single nozzle but the one I wanted came within a set of seven. I will use them all and this means I can pass my other nozzle set onto my son's girlfriend as she loves to bake too. See..the one comes in...one has to go rule is working for me now!!

Hopefully I will find time for more baking later for my next tutorial of small cakes. I have also noted the requests for choccy puddings. We still eat puddings (not every day), are we in the minority? Does anyone else eat puddings??? I have a lot of those recipes and all of them tried and tested!

Please keep the suggestions coming.

Mandy x

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Baking tutorial...fruit rock cakes and chocolate rock cakes

Hi everyone,

As promised, I've been baking this evening. Starting off my baking tutorials with rock cakes. I also made chocolate rock cakes with a slightly different recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Rock cakes
5oz self-raising flour 
Pinch of salt
1tsp mixed spice
2oz marg
2oz caster sugar
1 egg 
4oz dried fruit
1tbsp demerera sugar

1. Weigh out your ingredients  (I find it easier to be organised so you're not rushing about looking for things half way through mixing etc)

2. Put the flour, salt and spice into a large mixing bowl. Rub the marg in using your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs (shake the bowl gently from side to side so the larger lumps surface to check)

3. Stir in the caster sugar and fruit.

4. Beat the egg and stir into the mixture.

5. Place heaps of the mixture onto a baking tray (I used baking parchment to prevent sticking, but you could just lightly grease the tin instead). I made 6 rock cakes.

6. Sprinkle each cake with demerera sugar.

7. Bake @ 200 oC for 10-15mins. They should look crispy and a big cracked on the top when they're cooked. If you gently press the top, it should be soft but not sticky.

Mine came out of the oven a bit flat! 

You could easily double up the ingredients to make more cakes.

Chocolate rock cakes

8oz self-raising flour
1oz cocoa 
4oz marg
3oz caster sugar 
1 egg
2-4tsp milk
Chocolate chips or buttons 

1. Weigh out all the ingredients.

Please excuse the mess on the table...Daisy was doing a drawing while I got ready!

2. Put the flour and cocoa into a large mixing bowl and rub in the marg with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs...

3. Stir in the sugar...

4. Add the beaten egg and milk and stir.

5. Add the chocolate (I chopped up 15 squares of cadburys dairy milk) and work into the mixture (it should come into a ball now).

6. Put heaps on a baking tray (as before) and bake for 10-15 mins @ 200 oC.

These are my own recipes  that I've been making for years! 

Coming up... Low calorie packed lunch ideas and small cakes.

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Slow cooker recipe...chicken couscous

Hi everyone, 
As requested by frugal in bucks and Jane, I will be putting up recipes/tutorials tailored to their needs. If anyone else has any different requests, then please comment below and I'll see what I can do. 

For Jane, there will be baking tutorials. For frugal in bucks, there will be low fat/calorie meals for the slow cooker and packed lunch ideas. 

Later on today I will be baking for my first tutorial, but first here's a recipe for the slow cooker...

Chicken couscous
This is adapted from my Easy Good Food Slow Cooker Favourites (BBC Books)

It's low fat/cal and can be used up in a packed lunch the following day.

Cooking time:2 1/2 hrs
Serves 4

1tbsp olive oil
1thinly sliced onion
Chunk of ginger (peeled and grated)
200g diced chicken
10 dried apricots
200ml hot chicken stock
220g can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
200g couscous
Coriander to garnish

1. Put oil, ginger and onion in the slow cooker. Heat on high setting until softened. The recipe says for 1hr, but I would keep an eye on it as I think it may stick to the bottom without any liquid!

2. Add the chicken,apricots and stock and cook for another hour until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Turn off the slow cooker and stir in the chickpeas and couscous. Cover and wait 10 mins until the couscous is soft. Fluff up with a fork and scatter with coriander.

Per serving: 281 kcals

This would be ideal for weekend cooking because you'd need to be around to check on it! I picked it because it was an all-in-one meal and quick. Please make sure the chicken is cooked properly :)

Photo taken from book...please note...I have not actually tried out this recipe frugal in bucks...I don't like chickpeas! I won't be offended if you don't like any of the ingredients either. 

More slow cooker recipes to follow :)

Jane...rock cakes coming up!

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Thursday, 1 May 2014


Hi everyone

As a result of a little chat with Jane in the comments, I have decided to post up some of my frugal recipes. 

My question is which ones???

I have many and I don't cook all of them on a regular basis, so if you are looking for inspiration using up particular ingredients, I might be able to help. 

It could be meat or veggie based, egg or cheese, rice, pasta or potatoes. I have so many books full of recipes that I have collected and adapted to be low cost and suitable for my family...I'm sure I can find something! 

Are you looking to save money on packed lunches with homemade goodies, or just keeping the cake tin topped up as cheaply as possible? 

This will be my next challenge...to bake more...to save money and stop snacking on bought goodies. I will share my baking results with you, but if you want the recipes/tutorials posted up...please say so in the comments. 

So Jane, I know you're interested in baking more. I left you a reply in the comments but I don't know if you've read it? What do your family like to eat? Cakes? Biscuits? Loaf cakes? Scones? Whole cakes? Fairy cakes? Icing or no icing? What do you make that doesn't always turn out as you'd like? Or do you want me to surprise you? Although there's no point me doing a fruit cake if you don't like dried fruit (like me)! If it's easier, tell me what you don't like. I'll leave it with you...have a think and get back to me and we'll make a start. This is fantastic motivation for me :)

Anyone else? Any requests? I'm asking because I don't want to fill my blog with unwanted recipes! 

I would love to hear from you.

Mandy x