Frugal but Fabulous Food?

On our office bookcase sit many, tantalising and beautiful cookbooks. They have huge ‘kerb appeal’ but in reality with (much) closer inspection are rarely practical…

and their authors seem to exist in some parallel universe where there is always time (and money) to shop at the local farmers’ market or quirky deli to buy some obscure ingredient, and always vast amounts of time to spend on preparation and food presentation.

Most of us though, live in the real world, where time is a rare commodity, that elusive deli is probably 25 miles away and the farmers’ market falls on the day when we have to stay in and wait for the electrician. Life is just not that perfect. That’s why part of my job is to create a cookbook that is tantalising and beautiful but also practical – this is the reason dairy cookbooks have been so popular for so many years.

So, what subject matter does the next cookbook tackle?
One idea is to create a book that focuses on how to shop, cook and eat cheaply. But is that not why “mums go to Iceland”? Can we make a book that will compete with these bargain convenience food shops? Hopefully not all of us want to fill up on junk. Many of us love food and know the importance of eating well, but perhaps not how to eat well on a budget (including me, if I’m honest).

Whilst researching this concept I have come across some great money-saving advice. The first and REALLY important point is to reduce food waste. Try following these great tips from www.myzerowaste.com

FridgeMenu plan.
Think about the meals that will cook and make a menu plan for the week. Write down the ingredients you need for each meal on a list. Stick to this list when you shop (and don’t shop when you’re hungry). I always plan for two fewer meals than we need as there are bound to be some leftovers to be used up.

Use up your leftovers.
Before you begin to cook or shop, look what’s left in the fridge and plan meals with anything in there. Vegetables which are starting to go soft can be made into soup or pasta sauces. Over ripe fruits can be made into pies or blended to make smoothies. Half a tin of tuna could be tonight’s pasta bake and a few spoons of cooked mince could be made into pasties.

Take a look at what you throw away.
Be honest with yourself and start writing things down. Do you throw away half a loaf of bread a week? Then why not freeze it and take out slices as you need them. Take individual slices out for sandwiches the night before you need them, or use straight from frozen for toasting. If you regularly throw away vegetables then maybe you need to buy them loose and reduce the amount you buy each week.

Check your fridge.
Are the seals good and is the temperature set to between 1 and 5 degrees? This ensures your fridge will keep your food fresh for as long as possible.

Portion control.
Make smaller portions so less food is thrown away.

Our cookbook Clever Cooking for One or Two was specifically created to reduce food waste (any leftover ingredients will have a long shelf life). Try these two recipes, Cheese and Ham Souffle Omelette/Ham and Green Pea Soup, which share one 250g pack of good quality cooked ham.

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