Tag Archives: Food

Lasting Till Payday: Freezer Sauce

Lasting till Payday header

It’s been a while since THIS feature has been up on the blog….mainly because my ENTIRE LIFE is about doing things on the cheap….I mean…why spend money on boring stuff like bills, when you can spend it on fun things that you will remember or enjoy for a long ole’ while.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty…Freezer Sauce….I know I know…it doesn’t inspire any sexiness on a dinner plate at all…but it proves to be a life saver on a night when I am just to tired to cook (and am sooo tempted to phone the nice lady at the chinese), and after the vegetable glut we had this year, it also stopped us throwing food away. Which is a massive problem for families at the moment. PLEASE…stop throwing food away….you are literally throwing money in the bin.

Freezer Sauce was invented so we could cope with the MOUNTAIN of courgettes I grew this year. Courgettes are notoriously hard to freeze as they end up with the consistency of slugs when defrosted…pleasant no? The best thing to do with them is to mix them with something else and make a sauce. A sauce in fact that is great for bunging with pasta and cheese and is also 2 of your 5 a day.

I realise now this is slightly out of season for the home growers…but something to bear in mind for next year!

tomoatoes cheap and easy meal Freezer sauce courgettesYou will need tinned tomatoes (or if like us, your house is an episode of The Good Life… your own home grown toms, cooked down), some courgettes and some garlic. Now giving you measurements would be a little useless as I generally use one tin of toms per medium-large courgette.

Pop the chopped/grated garlic in the pan, fry gently for a minute or so then add your tomatoes, cooking down if home-grown or warming through if tinned (I use both…so no judgement!). Then I add the courgette that has been through my mini food chopper, so it is almost grated in consistency. You can chop into small chunks however if you don’t have a super cool tool.

tomoatoes cheap and easy meal Freezer sauce courgettes mini chopper

Cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, allow to cool, transfer to suitable labelled freezer storage (bags or tubs…whatever your pleasure) and freeze.

tomoatoes cheap and easy meal Freezer sauce courgettes

It will keep frozen for 6 – 12 months if you abide by that sort of thing…

So picture this….horrid day at work…you have gotten home late….you are starving and you have serious E.T.S (Empty Tummy Syndrome – it’s a real problem in our house). You can defrost this sexy sauce in the microwave/in a pan as your cook your pasta in another before combining the two…. and before you get all weird about defrosting things as you cook them…you’ll be fine…done it a million times….and it’s VEGETABLES forgoodnesssake. Cover with grated cheese and collapse on the sofa and fork it into your face as fast as easibly possible….. bliss.

What is your homemade go-to freezer filler?

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How To: Scrimp & Save on your Big Day: Food & Drink

Deep breath everyone….here is where you generally spend the majority of your budget…..

But before you splash out and spend a ridiculous amount of money, I have a heap of tips of how to pinch pennies and still have a ruddy good knees up. Food and drink is vital at a wedding…it isn’t something that you can leave out….in my humble opinion anyway. Food makes a party…I can leave the alcohol (although it does aid the less confident to bust a move on the dance floor later), but food is essential to every celebration. So to make sure that we could have the best feast possible I had to make our menu work really hard. I also had to choose a venue where I had full say over what we ate and drank…if you wed in a hotel, you will find that this choice is taken away from you and you can’t get your ‘price per head’ any lower than they say so.

Let’s do it in the order of eating and drinking shall we?

Arrival drinks and canapés

I know that champagne is apparently the ‘only’ choice for arrival…..but pah. It’s your wedding, it’s your party and you can serve whatever you like. We decided to go for a crowd pleaser that would slide down easy. Pimms. We bought bottles when they were on offer (in fact we bought 24 bottles and ended up bring 12 home….I have since told off our friends for not drinking enough….they vouch that they REALLY did drink enough due to their hangovers). This is such a nice soft drink that everyone likes (I mean WHO doesn’t like Pimms?! Get them out of England….PRONTO!) Big jugs of cocktail are often cheaper than bottles of fizz, as you can water them down with more juice/lemonade etc, so making your expensive alcohol go further.

Arrival drinks bride groom pimms thrifty

And as for canapés? Well let’s be TOTALLY honest shall we? I do not want some piddly little floppy crudite after hours and hours since breakfast where in I have spent most of my morning getting ready and then standing around in stupid shoes….I want carbs and I don’t care if they are classy.

We served crisps. Yup…crisps. Yes…I know it isn’t salmon bites, but ruddy hell…this is just fodder to keep them going till the main event…. come on…who can honestly tell me that a teeny little canapé is going to keep you going till after the speeches?! This saved us SERIOUS amounts of cash and I have had nothing but great feedback from friends and family.

The Speeches

Now again…you don’t have to have bubbly if you don’t like it. I don’t like champagne, the taste or the cost, so we had a nice Asti instead. Speak to a friend or family member who knows about such things if you aren’t sure. I had no idea and just asked my Aunt to sort it out for as little cash as possible. She did me proud.

The Main Event

Now…there is nothing cheaper than a buffet. It doesn’t require as many staff to plate it up and serve it out, and it also goes a lot further making your overheads less. We had a Hog Roast which came to about £400 for the pig, the man to cook it, the baps, the stuffing and the apple sauce. That fed EVERYONE except our herbivore friends and family who had another option. Our sides included the usual pasta dishes and salads, meaning everyone got a fully rounded meal for little expenditure.

We opted for red and white wine with our main course. If you can do a booze cruise….go… if you can get a bulk buy in Tesco with a discount….flaunt it. A lot of supermarkets will also hire you the wine glasses too, so check if it is cheaper for you to do your glass hire that way or with your venue.

This was also the last lot of alcohol we paid for for our guests. I did feel a bit of a Scrooge for this, but I couldn’t afford to water them ALL day….I tried really hard to get them pretty soggy before the venue bar (at pub prices) opened and they had to fund themselves. Our guests really didn’t mind….being quite merry by 5pm due to the amount of Pimms… but do make sure if you are in a small or rural venue that they take cards and inform your guests if they don’t.

Pudding

cake table wedding thrifty competitionWe asked our guests to bake and take part in a cake competition, where the prize was £20 to pop behind the bar later in the evening. The amount of effort our guests put in truly amazed us and I loved the healthy competition between friends from the moment it was announced on our wedding invite. Even my husband concocted a fridge cake for the event! It was lovely to have our loved ones contribute to our day in pudding format and yes… I am quite aware that I am an actual penny-pinching GENIUS, when it came to our dessert option.

Guests wedding cakes

This also meant that everyone had an option of something they liked, they could go up for seconds and some even took a load home! So pudding cost us £20. I thank you.

Wedding cake table thrifty idea

The Cake/Evening Buffet

So we opted for a pile of cheeses as our wedding cake. This was to balance out the mountains of cake that our guests were providing and also to be the main fodder for the evening buffet. Cake doesn’t go very far once everyone has had a bit, but cheese….. oh my golly gosh…..people were stuffing their faces for hours and still we took WHEELS of it home and ate it for weeks.

We coupled it with oodles of crackers and fruit for easy pickings between dancing and mingling.

Cheese wedding cake thrifty food

By doubling up the cake and the buffet we saved ourselves a heap of cash. All it took was a little planning, shucking ‘tradition’ and some forethought to make our food work really hard for us.

I hope this has helped! Feeding our guests ample amounts of yummy things was very important to me, and I found that this was the best way, for us, to do that. Just remember to plan well and stick to your guns…. some of my family members asked if there would be another meat option over pork…. I put my foot down and said no….despite offers to pay for chicken and not-so-polite calls to my caterer (who thankfully asked before she bought any!). I flatly refused. It was my day and I wasn’t about to be bullied into changing my menu, because somebody wanted meat but not pork…pfffft……

Stand your ground, because as I very well know…some people just don’t understand that it is a party….that they are lucky to be invited to!

Big Love!

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Hungry House

Nobody tells you that the week before you get married is a special sort of nightmare reserved for brides alone. What with folks still not confirmed that they are coming and others asking if there will be chicken….no…there won’t be ruddy chicken…we are having a hog roast….I sort of forgot to find time to shop or cook or generally stuff food in my mouth. Cue moody wife-to-be snarling at her future husband, who is rethinking turning up at the church.

Thankfully, a few days earlier I had been contacted by the lovely folks at Hungry House and as a wedding gift they sent over one of their vouchers…. that’s right…vouchers….genius. You don’t have to work at Hungry House to be able to send out vouchers either… us mere mortals can buy them and give them out as gifts. I loved the idea that Giddy Aunt Lola had when she guest posted for me in August. I will also be buying one for my brother when he moves out.

A while ago I did a post about moving house, and one of my top tips is to get some takeaway menus from the local eateries for your first few nights. This sort of service means that you don’t have to. You can order online or via your phone, if you haven’t got the net hooked up yet.

We hadn’t used Hungry House before, but found the process easy enough. Found a chinese (our favourite sort of tasty treat) in our area, not the one we normally frequent, but hey, for a change, we thought why not!

Popping the voucher code took a little thought…make sure you click the right button, else you will have to make an embarrasing call to the chinese to cancel and then replace your order online….that didn’t happen to me at all….. *cough*

I think the only negative side for us was that we actually preferred our regular chinese who are not signed up to Hungry House.

Have you used this sort of service before? What do you think to it? Is it the future of takeaway ordering?

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*Our meal was provided by Hungry House, but my views are my own.

Chekhov Chats: On Dinners

Chekhov Chats Dogs Dinner what I feed my dog

It has come to my conclusion (with Daddy’s constant grumbling as support to my theory) that I am spolit when it comes to my dinners. I can also say that when I have asked other woofs on walks, they have come to the same conclusion.

The humans aren’t sure what my feeding arrangements were before I was rescued, but I was pretty skinny when I got here…like models banned from the catwalk skinny… so as you can imagine,  I now like to devour everything given to me at record speed.

Despite being a rescue woof, or even just a woof for that matter, I do not eat dog food from a can….there is no Pedigree Bum in our house.  Dog food is actually quite expensive and Mum, as you know, is always on the hunt for a bargain, but she didn’t want me to just eat rubbish.

Mum also decided that I should get something a little different for each meal. She knows she would be bored out of her mind just eating pasta for the rest of her life…even if it did come with a different sauce every now and then. So she scoured the internet looking for the best way to feed me.

After what felt like a woof week, but Mum reckons was only a few hours, of forum and testimonal reading, and after considering feeding me raw (but realising that Daddy would go MENTAL if I got more fresh meat than him…) she stumbled onto CSJ. A lovely company who make woof food….at really reasonable prices. A 15kg sack of my food is £12.30…..that is sack that actually weighs only 3 kg less than I do right now! And it is full of good stuff, no rubbish….like E numbers and additives….

Now Mum just cooks a little extra of whatever she is cooking for their dinner and mixes it in with a bit of my kibble….my favourite so far has to be a mix of kibble, pasta, mushrooms and chicken…that was lip-smacking good.

Chekhov Chats Dogs Dinner what I feed my dog

My favourite foods are peanut butter, pasta, peas, mushrooms, all meat, and CSJ That’ll Do! 

I also enjoy drinking water from Daddy’s glass….but he is not so keen.

I don’t like celery and peppers….they are NOT nice…but Mum keeps hiding them in my food and mixing them with other yummy stuff, so I eat them anyway.

Ooooo…Dad is in the kitchen….I’m off to go sniff stuff….

Toodles!

C

Lasting Till Payday: Make Packed Lunches

I love food in boxes….especially those in lunchboxes….

Fancy hearing me talk about it?

How I Spend My Christmas Vacation

Today was the last day of term (I’m in tomorrow to do a care shift…but lets glaze over that shall we?), so work for me is finished! HUZZAH!

So from finishing one job, to starting another. Time to crack on with my christmas hampers.

My jams are already done, and my relishes are relishing. What I wait for ages to do are my sweet things as I’m always afraid my biscuits will go soggy and my truffles will get….well…. scoffed.

The first thing I’ll start making are my homemade chocolates. These are possibly the easiest of all my goodies to make, but this year I’m adding a little flavouring to make mint and orange delights.

Brrrrrrrilliant

 Last year, P had bought a penguin shaped ice cube silicone mould for making…you guessed it…penguin shaped ice cubes.

Due to being totally amazeballs and full of great ideas (check out MY SELF-ESTEEM!) I pinched it to make Choccy Penguins for my friends children and my younger brothers as seen last christmas here. Since last year, we have bought LOADS of different silicone moulds (IKEA you legend!) for my christmas chocolates and I’m most excited about using the heart shapes.

1: Take 200g of chocolate (any flavour, how about chilli chocolate for the menfolk? – I’ve done plain white & milk shapes as they are for children) – 200g does one ice cube tray. Keep the empty ice cube tray in the freezer till you are just ready to put the chocolate in it.

2: Break it up into squares and nuke in the microwave until completley melted. You can do it the traditional way over a pan of hot water, but I feel it takes too long when I’m in this festive rush! (At this point, stir in a few drops to taste, of peppermint or orange essence, if you fancy some flavoured chocs)

3: Using a teaspoon, scoop and dribble molten chocolate – it has to be runny or it will make silly blobs too quickly, into the mould…halfway you can add a nut, or a sweetie if you wish, dependent if you want them to have a centre. You could also do half white and half milk…etc etc, just stopping halfway through before adding the different layer.

4: Ensure you are as neat as possible as this will save you neatening them up after they come out the freezer. Clean up the edges with a flat butter knife. Give the mould a little wibble to make all the chocolate fall into the cracks.

5: Whack in the freezer for about an hour.

6: Pop out of the mould (you may have to be a bit rougher than you think) and place in bought or homemade bags or boxes lined with greaseproof paper.

Do try not to scoff them before you finish….mine get stored in our drinks fridge (that doubles as an end table) ready to go in their cute cellophane bags. I have to wrap them pretty quick else P thinks they are fair game and scoffs them all!

Midweek Munchies: Chickpeas as a Snack Food?

I stumbled on this fahhhhhbulous recipe for Sweet & Salty Roasted Chickpeas by Stef over at The Cupcake Project and I cannot wait to get home after our trip to Disney (I leave tomorrow morning! Eeeee!) to have a go at these as an alternative to popcorn.

Stef’s blog is wonderful and I urge you to head over there and get lost for an hour or two.