OK so I keep reading Fithacker and it advises me on what I should be eating and drinking to improve my general health, but to be honest I do like an easy life as well as being a bit tight with my money!
Apparently lemon mixed with ginger in a glass of water is really good for you and we should be drinking it first thing in the morning. Sounds wonderful but there is no way I am going to get out of bed any earlier than I already do to start grating ginger and squeezing lemons especially when I am trying to get the kids to school and myself ready for work - don't get me wrong, I try to be good but I am not that good!
Hints and tips
If you have any frozen lemon slices stick them in the water instead of ice cubes. As I grow mint in a pot in my garden I add some leaves to give it a more intense and refreshing flavour
So I asked Elaine (my colleague at work) if she had any good recipes to put on the website and she told me that when she and her husband were buying their first house together they often ate egg and chips so they could save money.
This got me thinking of what you can actually make with those two ingredients, to make them a bit more interesting if you are eating them on a regular basis:
Poached egg and chips with Asparagus:
I am useless at poaching eggs but I saw an article on Facebook showing you how to cook them in cling film in boiling water so I thought I’d give it a try:
I added some asparagus to the boiling water for the same amount of time so I was only using one saucepan. Asparagus is really cheap at this time of year and is great for one of your five a day. It also tastes great dipped in egg yolk!
After cooking the oven chips until golden brown I placed everything in a bowl and watched my 11 year old son devour the lot.
I cooked some oven chips in an oven proof dish until golden brown. Then covered them with a couple of whisked eggs and added some salt and pepper for seasoning. Then I placed the dish back in the oven until the omelette was cooked through. I then added some rocket garnish, but you can try parsley or spinach. Anything green and edible will do!
If you prefer a light fluffy omelette add a desert spoon of boiling water to the eggs whilst you are whisking them.
Healthier Spanish Omlette
For a healthier version of the above, cut a potato (you can also use sweet potatoes) into slices keeping the skin on if you want to save time and benefit from the extra potassium and iron potato skins give you.
Toss them in some olive oil with a pinch of salt and cook as you would your oven chips. Add a sprig of rosemary, this is really easy to grow in pots or in the garden.
Preparing the chips this way may take a few minutes longer but taste just as yummy and also has some great health benefits.
Ok, I spent a bit more than I should have at the Garden Centre on the Saturday afternoon. We have all been there! Although it's usually shoes, handbags or clothes that tempt us into a spending frenzy. Then on my way home, I thought to myself I could balance out my weekly budget by spending a little bit less on the Saturday night meal for the family.
So I popped into my local Asda and came home with a bag of Pasta, some tomatoes and Mozzarella, a garlic bread and a bottle of their award winning La Moneda Merlot Reserva .
La Moneda Merlot Reserva reduced to £4.50
Asda Penne Pasta 2 for a £1.00
Asda Garlic Bread £1.00
Asda Antipasti Tomato and Mozzarella selection £2.50
ASDA Grower's Selection Cherry Tomatoes (Optional) £1.00
I already had some fresh tomatoes in my fridge at home and always keep a basil plant in the kitchen but these were nice to not need to have extras.
We all have times when the lemons need using up and you have bananas and grapes the children won’t eat because they have gone a bit brown around the edges. DON’T THROW THEM AWAY. Peel and cut your bananas up and pop them in the freezer they are great in smoothies or in banana bread. The same with the grapes pop them in the freezer they make great ice cubes in the summer.
Put your oranges and lemons in the freezer either whole or cut them into quarters. In quarters they are again great to cool down a glass of water in the summer or added to Sangria or Pimms. Whole, I pop them in the microwave frozen for a few seconds then use the juice as I would if they were fresh. You often get even more juice this way as they were probably over ripe when you froze them and heated up they are easier to squeeze.
Strawberries are also great in smoothies, jams, trifles and my grandmother use to put them frozen into Jellies for us when we were children it helps the jelly to set quicker and keeps the strawberry whole without going mushy.
The same with raspberries, great defrosted on top of a Pavlova or used as sauce on ice cream or again in a smoothie.
I now never throw away fruit when my friends come round and ask for a glass of water they are always so impressed when it is chilled with frozen fruit and a sprig mint. A bit posh you might say, no not me I just know how to live well for less!
Do you ever have posh fish and chips in those rather smart restaurants and always think the tartar sauce tastes so much better than what you get in a jar, well the good news is that it's actually really easy to make and can save you money.
When you buy a jar of tartar sauce, quite often if not eaten within a couple of weeks it can go yellow around the edges and has to be thrown away. Well if you invest in a small jar of capers, take a few out, mash them up with a fork and add them to some mayonnaise that is your posh tartar sauce. Just add more capers or mayonnaise depending on the consistency and taste you prefer.
If you want to add a bit more citrus, you can squeeze in some lemon juice or use some lemon mayonnaise if you have any. If you are a bit of a pepper fan then add a pinch of freshly ground pepper as well.
It's the same for mint sauce, if you have any fresh mint chop it up and add it to some vinegar. You can add a pinch of sugar if you like your mint sauce a bit sweeter.
If you have any fresh herbs left in the fridge that need using up pop them in the freezer and add them to sauces, curry’s, stews etc. as and when you need them.
You can add frozen mint to vinegar and it will defrost virtually immediately to give you a lovely homemade sauce.
I don’t know about you but as a busy working parent I struggle to come up with ideas for evening meals which help towards your five a day.
One trick is to buy those packs of casserole vegetables most supermarkets have. You know the ones with some carrots, a swede, parsnips and an onion? Be sure to check the reduced section in the supermarket first, otherwise they are reasonably cheap in the normal section, and grab a bag of potatoes whilst you are there.
OK so Christmas is well and truly over and it is time to reduce the waistline and the food bill.
Before you do that though if you don’t already have a slow cooker now is a good time to buy one. Preferably one with an inner casserole dish you can use on the hob that way you only need to wash one pan and it saves on time as well as money. I love the George Home 5.5L Slow Cooker from Asda it is really large, has an inner dish that can be used on the hob (not induction) and is currently reduced in the New Year’s sale.
Slow cooked food always tastes great whether it be vegetables or the cheaper cuts of meat. You can put it on before you go out to work or when you have a busy day at home and you have a healthy and hearty meal waiting for you which won’t break the bank or hurt the waistline.
I often search the offers section with the 'use by date' bargains in the supermarkets. I will quickly fry onions on the hob first, the same with meat to seal it before I add the vegetables and put the casserole dish back in the slow cooker. Then add a tin or two of chopped tomatoes some chillies if I fancy a chilli or some curry powder if I prefer a curry. For a more meaty dish add some chicken or beef stock cubes and hey presto a meal that often lasts more than one day and can be frozen for a later date.
Slow cookers are also great for cooking a joint of pork, flash fry it first on the hob, then place back in the slower cooker add some cornflour, ginger, brown sugar and cider. This makes a great meat dish for Sunday lunch.
For full details of the recipes mentioned please go to www.grubonabudget.com
Building confidence in the Kitchen by keeping cooking simple!
Cooking is not a science I will never understand why it was called domestic science at school and neither is it an art, it is a basic skill needed to survive. I was never artistic or scientific at school and I hated domestic science as it was far too regimented and prescribed. The only skills you need to be able to cook is taste and smell.
When first starting to cook ‘keep it simple’. For years food was cooked in one pot and it still can be. I make some great meals using just one saucepan it also creates less washing up.
I look to recipes for guidance but remember everyone’s taste is difference and so is their oven. Which is why timing and heat is for guidance only! If you know your oven takes longer to heat up, wait until it is fully hot before place your pie or cake in, otherwise it might still be undercooked even though you have had it in for the time specified.
Some very easy recipes I encourage first time cooks to try is soup, bread and jam.
There is nothing quite as nice has eating homemade soup with homemade bread or homemade bread and jam. They really are meals to relish, cheap to make and good for you!
Using Christmas leftover cheese to make great canapes
So Christmas is finally over and we start the New Year however the fridge is still full of all that left over Cheese. Don’t despair not only can cheese be chopped up and frozen for use in soups and sauces at a later date it can also make great Canapes.
I like to use my leftover stilton and create a stilton pate:
So the fridge is full of leftover food, stuffing, bread sauce, gravy, cooked potatoes of different varieties, cooked vegetables, meat and the list goes on. What to do with it all??
Well I re-use and freeze as much as I can by making the following:
Soup – blend the leftover meat, gravy, potatoes and vegetables, add some meat or vegetable stock cubes dissolved in water until it is at a consistency you like and also add some leftover cream if you still feel like indulging. The soup can be eaten over the next few days or frozen for a later date.
Spanish Tortilla – chop the meat, potatoes and vegetables into small pieces, place in a greased oven proof dish. Add some whisked eggs until all the leftover food is partially covered and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees until the mixture is set (20-30 minutes). Eat either hot or cold or freeze until a later date.
Bubble and Squeak – I use all my leftovers for this, I mash everything together, potatoes, vegetables, meat, bread sauce and stuffing in a bowl. Then I either fry it up in a frying pan or mould the mixture into balls, dip them in some whisked eggs and then roll them in some bread crumbs. These can then be fried or placed in the oven at 180 degrees until golden brown (20-30 mins). This is great served with some leftover meat or with a salad.
Gravy – I quite often freeze leftover gravy in small containers to use at a later date.
Christmas Pudding – this is great frozen and used later in the year or used as the base for a black forest trifle.
Cheese – Remember you can freeze all types of cheese and use it in cheese sauces throughout the year. I usually cut the cheese into chunks first, then when needed I take them out of the freezer and then throw them in some cream and slowly warm through. This also makes fantastic pasta sauce.
At a time when food seems to get more and more expensive don’t throw it away, recycle and re-use that fridge full of leftovers.