Gazette columnist The Frugal Foodie, Christine McAllister, is aiming to spend £50 a month on food shopping each month until her cupboards are bare! She’ll then use the lessons she’s learnt and make eating as frugal as possible.
I’ve done it! My second month of £50 grocery shopping is complete. Now I need to check out my cupboards and get inventive again!
It’s also time to get planting. In all honesty, I should have done this earlier but it just means that some things will be ready a little later than usual.
If you’ve been inspired to get your gardening gloves on for the first time, why not start with the really fresh, perishable ingredients such as lettuce, salad leaves and herbs?
This is a great way to keep you out of the supermarket and they are the easiest things to grow, absolutely anywhere.
Use pots, windowsills, borders or, if you’ve got the space, create a vegetable garden.
Some leaves, like rocket, are so hardy that you are rewarded all year round. And some herbs will also stay throughout the year, while others will pop up again every spring.
It’s a great feeling going out to the garden to get your own ingredients.
I have rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, oregano, parsley, chives, dill and tarragon.
I have a constant great supply and all from a couple of hours work a few years ago.
Basil and coriander are great windowsill or greenhouse herbs and give you an instant taste of sunshine.
Freeze herbs so that you have a year-round supply.
Either freeze them whole in freezer bags or chop them, put them into ice cube trays and cover with water.
Freeze and you’ll have lots of herby ice cubes at your disposal.
Why not give radishes and spring onions a go too?
They are also quick and easy to grow, anywhere.
If you’ve got a small patio, you could grow a tomato plant in a sunny spot or you could stick some seed potatoes in a pot and have panfuls of buttery, minty new potatoes in the next few months.
A top frugal tip is to plant out any potato skins that have started to grow shoots.
Just peel them carefully, use the potato as normal and put the skin in some compost.
Et voilà, free potatoes!
If you would like to make your own compost, get savvy about what you can use.
All our egg shells, tea bags, peelings etc make it onto the compost heap, along with any fresh things that the hens won’t want.
Once you start growing, you’ll want to grow more and more. It’s therapeutic, rewarding and, most importantly, cheap!
Why not upcycle to create your own, unique, pots. An old sink, bath, watering can, bucket... the list goes on.
You don’t need to spend money on new pots.
I’m going to use some old broken drawers to grow lettuce and herbs this year.
Why not check out freecycle and get creative?
With grow-your-own in mind, here is a nice little potato recipe to whet your appetite.
You can play around with the ingredients to use up any leftover meat or veg, so it’s a great way to avoid wasting anything.
Rosti with poached egg
I love a rosti. I often make them for Saturday lunchtimes or Sunday suppers.
Grate about six raw, peeled potatoes (I use the food processor).
Squeeze the excess water out of the potatoes, add a beaten egg, 1.5 tbsp flour, pinch of salt and pepper, some chopped herbs, a handful of grated cheese and any chopped veg and meat.
I used some chorizo, an onion, a green pepper, a celery stick and a carrot. You could add a spoonful of Dijon mustard, if you fancy.
Shape into balls and squash them down to about 1.5cm thick.
Fry them in some oil on a low heat. Turn over when browned.
While they’re cooking make some poached eggs.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and a capful of white wine vinegar and then break your eggs into the pan (I tend to do two at a time). Turn off the heat immediately and cook for about three minutes or until the yolk is at your desired consistency.
Put an egg on top of each rosti and serve immediately. Call us northern, but we had it with some sweet curry sauce – lovely!
Follow Christine’s blog at diaryofafoodie.co.uk or on Twitter @thefrugaldiary