Top Tips

The best British gardens to see snowdrops



Driving home earlier this week I was delighted to see a cloud of snowdrops underneath the oak trees.

They always bring me joy. Maybe it’s because they are one of the few plants to flower in the middle of winter?

Around the UK there are lots of gardens awash with snowdrops. Why not discover them?. I’ll certainly be visiting two: Rode Hall and Dunham Massey in Cheshire (followed by the essential tearoom visit to warm up with tea and cake!)

Of course, there are many more. Click here for a list of snowdrop-packed gardens to discover around Britain.

I planted snowdrops in my hanging baskets, they should would appear after the pansies… but no such luck yet.
Perhaps mine are late bloomers!

I should have consulted our book, Seasonal Garden Ideas.

It has lots and lots of easy projects, some of which can be undertaken in a matter of minutes.

Seasonal Garden Ideas




Win Outdoor PlanterOr for a spring colour – no effort guaranteed – enter our competition to win a beautiful spring planter.













Live more with less!

Live more with less

Bask in new-found space and freedom from ‘stuff’


Apart from a calm and clean home, decluttering has many life-enhancing advantages including more cash to spend on experiences rather than ‘stuff’ and a happier state of mind free of the compulsion to purchase more.

How should you declutter?

Tackle an area of one room at a time. Hold each item you find and ask yourself, ‘Do I love it or is it useful?’ If the answer is no then it should go. Tips on recycling and selling can be found in the Dairy Diary Live more with lessarticle.

Sort items into different boxes, each labelled with its destination e.g. charity shop, car boot sale etc.

Don’t try to declutter the whole house at once. Plan it in your diary, allocating time to each room, and give yourself a break in-between; otherwise you may just become demotivated by the whole process.

The full article can be found on page 28, Dairy Diary 2019 now available for just £8.50.


Dairy Diary 2019





Top tips for reducing food waste part 4

Top tips for reducing food waste part 4 - Freeze!


Almost anything can be frozen – honestly, when I first learned about what you can put in your freezer I was amazed.

At present, in my freezer I have: leftover shepherd’s pie, leftover pea soup, 2 loaves of bread, a block of cheese (buy one get one free), petits pois, fish fingers, Smiles (don’t judge – my children love them), homemade cookie dough, minced beef, chicken breasts, ice lollies.

Okay, you’re not really interested in the contents of my freezer but I thought it would be useful to show the breadth of what can be frozen.

Here’s a speedy and hopefully useful summary of what can/can’t be frozen. With all of the following, ideally freeze when they are at their freshest.


  • Raw fish and meat – but check that they haven’t been frozen previously
  • Cooked fish and meat
  • Vegetables
  • Cooked meals – I tend to avoid rice or pasta dishes as I never think that they reheat well
  • Herbs
  • Bread
  • Stocks and sauces
  • Pies and crumbles
  • Most fruit, raw or cooked. Strawberries and raspberries though tend to go a little soggy so I would avoid freezing.
  • Almost all biscuits, bakes and cakes (unfilled and without frostings)

Don’t freeze

  • Lower fat creams and cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Yogurts
  • Jams
  • Salad stuffs, which will go mushy

Always allow to cool, pack in a suitable container and label. I never defrost in the microwave but prefer to leave overnight in the fridge.

And remember to use
what’s in the freezer!

If it’s getting full, have a ‘cheap shop’ week and use up your freezer contents rather than buying more.

Ideal for freezing leftovers, this beef recipe is pure comfort food.


Braised Beef with Stilton Scones


Braised Beef with Stilton Scones

Time 3 hours
Per portion: 594 Kcal, 29g fat (13.8g saturated)
Serves 4
Suitable for freezing

  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Diced stewing beef 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Plain flour 2 tbsp
  • Beef stock 750ml (1¼ pints)
  • Tomato purée 1 tbsp
  • Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp
  • Hot horseradish sauce 1 tbsp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Self-raising flour 175g (6oz)
  • Butter 25g (1oz)
  • Stilton or other strong blue cheese 110g (4oz), crumbled
  • Egg 1, beaten
  • Milk 3–4 tbsp
  • Closed cup mushrooms 110g (4oz), wiped and sliced
  • Cooked frozen peas to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the beef for a few minutes. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes, stirring, until the meat is browned and the onion softened.
  2. Stir in the flour, then mix in the stock, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish sauce and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stirring.
  3. Transfer to a casserole dish large enough to hold the stew and scone topping. Cover the dish and cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the flour, a little salt and pepper and butter into a mixing bowl and rub in the fat until you have fine crumbs. Stir in the cheese, then add nearly all the egg, keeping just enough back to glaze the top. Gradually stir in enough milk to mix to a soft, but not sticky, dough. Knead very lightly then roll out on a lightly floured surface until a little smaller than the top of the casserole dish.
  5. Remove the lid, stir in the mushrooms then cut the scone topping into eight pieces. Arrange on the meat in a single layer and brush with the remaining egg.
  6. Cook, uncovered, for 20–25 minutes until the topping is well risen and golden. Spoon onto warmed plates and serve with peas, if using.

Cook’s tip
For a richer sauce, you might like to add some red wine or beer in place of some of the stock.



Fantastic Food For Less cookbookThis recipe is taken from our wonderful Fantastic Food for Less cookbook.

For more fantastic food, you can buy the book for just £5.99!!

Use the discount code DDPR and you’ll get free postage too!








Top tips for reducing food waste part 3

Top tips for reducing food waste part 3

Make your fridge fabulous

One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to get organised. Obviously, shopping lists are essential, as is buying just what you need.

But an organised fridge is important too as it means that can easily find what’s in there and use up what you have.

I’ve had a complete revamp, and it really does help. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Remove everything from your fridge and throw away anything mouldy or that’s past its use-by date.
  2. Wipe inside with a solution of water and vinegar with a few drops of your favourite essential oil (I like lemon or peppermint).
  3. Move shelves up/down to make best use if the space.
  4. Add a few clear dishes or plastic tubs, which best fit your fridge. A Lazy Susan is great for jars!
  5. Decant food from bulky packaging and re-stock the fridge. Ensure that raw meat is at the bottom and cooked meat is stored above it and stack with the earliest use-by date on the top.

One of my favourite ‘fridge’ recipes is below. It’s ideal to adapt and use up any leftover veg, fish or meat.


Fantastic Food for Less

Chorizo Fried Rice

Time 15 minutes.
Per portion: 476 Kcal, 24g fat (11g saturated)
Serves 2

  • Butter 15g (½oz)
  • Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
  • Mushrooms 50g (2oz), wiped and sliced
  • Microwave basmati rice 250g packet
  • Chorizo 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Egg 1, beaten
  • Frozen peas 75g (3oz)
  • Frozen sweetcorn 75g (3oz)
  • Soy sauce 1–2 tbsp
  1. Melt the butter in a wok or frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the garlic and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the rice in the microwave according to the packet’s instructions. Add the chorizo and egg to the pan and cook until lightly scrambled.
  3. Add the peas and sweetcorn and cook for 2 minutes and then add the rice and mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes until everything is hot.
  4. Serve on warmed plates sprinkled with soy sauce.


Fantastic Food For Less cookbook

Fantastic cookbook with FREE delivery

This recipe is taken from our wonderful Fantastic Food for Less cookbook.

For more fantastic food, you can buy the book for just £5.99!!

Use the discount code DDPR and you’ll get free postage too!









Top tips for reducing food waste part 2

Make your own compost

When I come to put out the bin for its fortnightly collection, I’ve noticed that our black rubbish bin is now only half full. Yay!


What it does contain a lot of, however, is fruit and vegetable peelings. And while my children would love me to bring home a peeling-loving guinea pig or rabbit, I think an easier option is a compost bin.

I’ve seen quite a few on sale cheap or even free on Gumtree and Facebook, but none are close to where I live. Our local authority recommend, which seems pretty cheap – especially as I shouldn’t have to buy compost ever again.

Their top tips on composting are as follows:

  • Find the right site – Ideally site your compost bin in a reasonably sunny site on bare soil. If you have to put your compost bin on concrete, tarmac or patio slabs ensure there’s a layer of paper and twigs or existing compost on the bottom so the worms and other creatures can colonise. Choose a place where you can easily add ingredients to the bin and get the compost out.
  • Add the right ingredients – Have a container available such as a kitchen caddy or old ice cream tub so that you can collect items for your compost bin from all over the house. Fill your kitchen caddy or container with everything from vegetable and fruit peelings to teabags, toilet roll tubes, cereal boxes and eggshells. Take care not to compost cooked food, meat or fish.
  • Fill it up – Empty your kitchen caddy along with your garden waste into your compost bin. A 50/50 mix of greens and browns (see below) is the perfect recipe for good compost.
  • Wait a while – It takes between nine and twelve months for your compost to become ready for use, so now all you need to do is wait and let nature do the work. Keep on adding greens and browns to top up your compost.
  • Ready for use – Once your compost has turned into a crumbly, dark material, resembling thick, moist soil and gives off an earthy, fresh aroma, you know it’s ready to use.
  • Removing the compost – Lift the bin slightly or open the hatch at the bottom and scoop out the fresh compost with a garden fork, spade or trowel.
  • Use it – Don’t worry if your compost looks a little lumpy with twigs and bits of eggshells – this is perfectly normal. Use it to enrich borders and vegetable patches, plant up patio containers or feed the lawn.

So now, I’m all prepared to make my own
compost and reduce our contribution to
landfill in the process.

If your fruit, veg and salad are not quite compost-ready then use it in this scrummy recipe (mix and match what you have).

Pittas are in the method, but you could use wraps or other bread if it needs using up.


Falafel Pittas with Fruity Crunchy Salad


Falafel Pittas with Fruity Crunchy Salad

Time 20 minutes.
Per portion: 554 Kcal, 24g fat (3.2g saturated)
Serves 2
Suitable for vegetarians

  • Falafel about 200g (7oz)
  • Pitta bread 2
  • Crème fraîche 3 tbsp
  • Milk 1 tbsp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red or white cabbage 50g (2oz), shredded
  • Dessert apple 1 small, peeled and chopped
  • Ready-to-eat dried apricots 25g (1oz), chopped
  • Raisins 15g (½oz)
  • Little gem lettuce 1, shredded
  • Tomato 1, sliced
  1. Preheat the oven and warm the falafel according to the packet’s instructions.
  2. Place the pitta bread in the oven during the last 3 minutes of cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, make the salad. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the crème fraîche and milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage, apple, apricots and raisins and mix well.
  4. Split open each pitta and fill with the lettuce and tomato and some of the fruity salad, then top with the falafel.
  5. Serve with the remaining fruity salad.

Cook’s tips
Make the salad quickly by popping the ingredients into a food processor and pulsing it a few times – add the cabbage first, then add any leftover dried fruit. Use any leftover crème fraîche to make a dip for crudités by mixing with herbs and grated cheese.



Fantastic Food For Less cookbookThis recipe is taken from our wonderful Fantastic Food for Less cookbook.
For more fantastic food, you can buy the book for just £5.99!!

Use the discount code DDPR and you’ll get free postage too!









Top tips for reducing food waste part 1

Stop wasting food!

I’m dedicating this month’s blog series to the subject of food waste.

Yes it’s hot topic now, but really I think it’s always been important.

My grandparents’ generation had no choice to be careful with food and use up every scrap. First, there was little money and lots of mouths to feed, then rationing and then even after that food was relatively expensive in relation to earnings and to waste it was to waste money.

Environmentally, food waste has catastrophic implications, with the wasted resources to create it in the first place and then the excess of packaging and how it can be disposed of, but more than this, it’s ethically wrong. We should reward all the time and effort that farmers put into creating our food by respecting and cherishing it – and if by minimising waste we also save money then great – more cash for holidays!

Having said all of that, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Some foods come in packets that are just too large for us to consume all in one go and others have a really short shelf life.

After much trial, error, debate and thought, here are a few tips that I’ve incorporated into my life and quest to reduce food waste:

  • First, I always plan my food shop: I write a list of meals for the week (usually only six as we have a ‘leftovers’ day) and write down only what we need for those meals.
  • I shop online, this way I’m less likely to be tempted by extras on shelf or special offers encouraging me to buy more than I actually need.
  • We never finish a bag of salad before it goes mushy, so I no longer buy them. Instead, I will buy a head of lettuce and cut off and shred only what I need.
  • Raspberries go mouldy so quickly! Instead of putting them in the fridge where they may be forgotten for a couple of days I dip them in water and put them in a bowl on the dinner table for dessert on the day they’re purchased.
  • On the day of purchase, I sort any cooked or uncooked fish and meat by use-by date and stack them in order. Those that may not be used before this date go in the freezer.
  • I buy only small bread loaves and keep one (plus a few rolls, wraps or bagels) in the cupboard. The remainder goes into the freezer.
  • I use my eyes and nose – I strictly stick to use-by dates on meat and fish, but for anything else I just look at it and smell it. If it looks okay and smells ok then we usually eat it! (Please use your own judgement here and don’t necessarily take my advice, this is just something I’ve done for years but may not be recommended for everyone).
  • Every month I have a look in the freezer and ensure that we use up anything that’s been there for a while before adding more.
  • Leftovers for lunch – many different ‘weird and wonderful’ foods left over from the previous night’s dinner have ended up in my lunchbox – just add salad.
  • Veggie, fruity slaw. Finely chop firm leftover fruit and veg, such as carrots, apples, peaches, grapes, cabbage and mix with mayonnaise – I like to throw in a few chopped nuts and sultanas too.
  • Make soup! Any slightly iffy looking veg can taste wonderful when cooked with stock. Add a little curry paste or chilli for an extra kick, if you like.

I’d love to hear any tips you would like to share. Together we can make a difference……

Broccoli is an often forgotten veg,
but this fab recipe revives it into
something scrumptious.

Broccoli & Apple Soup

Broccoli & Apple SoupThis surprising combination of ingredients, work beautifully together to create a light soup with subtle flavour.

Time 25 mins
Serves 4
Calories 107
Fat 4g of which 0.4g is saturated
Suitable for freezing
Suitable for vegetarians

Olive oil 1 tbsp
Red onion 1, peeled and chopped
Dessert apples 2, peeled, cored and chopped
Vegetable stock 750ml (1¼ pints)
Broccoli 1 large head, trimmed and roughly chopped
Low fat natural fromage frais 4 tbsp, optional
Granary bread and Cheddar cheese to serve, optional

1 Heat oil in a large non-stick saucepan, add onion and apples, cover and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Pour stock into pan and add broccoli. Bring up to boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

3 Turn off the heat, season with black pepper and purée with a hand-held whisk. Serve immediately with a spoonful of fromage frais, and a chunk of bread and Cheddar, if using.






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