The final post of a (not quite) month involving a lot of creative cooking and not a lot of shopping!
The starting point
I don’t usually keep a lot of food in the house, I don’t stockpile and I hate to waste food, so I only buy what I need for the week, maybe two weeks if I know I’m going to be busy. I’m also a bit of a free spirit in the kitchen and don’t like making plans when it comes to food, so it’s not uncommon for me to leave the house a few minutes earlier before picking up the kids from school to go grab grab something from the shops.
But, I still manage to end up with odds and ends and half-used things that get lost behind other odds ad ends and half-used things and slowly crowd every corner of the kitchen.
I am extremely lucky in that I’ve always lived in urban centres with lots of shopping options. I’m spoilt for choice, and I know it. And I try to take full advantage of it, but with a pantry and fridge full of leftovers it’s impossible to do it.
II’ve posted a lot of our meals in Instagram, and I strongly suggest you go and check it out. Some meals and ‘inventions’ turned out really nice.
Some highlights include:
- A bunch of different muffins
- Capers, anchovies and seeds breadsticks (based on a Paul Hollywood recipe)
- Southern chicken salad. I used Aldi’s Deep South sugar seasoning mix to make it ‘Southern’.
- Toast with butter and apple sauce instead of jam. Mind blown.
- Throve Tuesday chocolate pancakes with plum sauce, so good!!
- Chickpea corn fritters. I make fritters probably once a month, but I had never tried the chickpea and corn combo.
- Bannock: smoked paprika and thyme, and honey cinnamon. Bannock is the best, it can sweet or savoury and it’s so easy to make.
- Lentil loaf stuck together with oats, vital wheat gluten (seitan flour) and lots of BBQ sauce. Look awful, tastes awesome. We used it as a roast meat alternative and in sandwiches.
There were also some duds!
- Kebab seitan. I make seitan quite regularly and successfully, but this was a new recipe from a magazine and not good at all!
- Black chickpea hummus. I figured humus is hummus and while it might look brownish it should still work. It didn’t, the flavour is somewhat different and regular chickpeas have a creamier texture.
- Tomato-based curry with passata. Where do I start? It was just not good. Curry needs actual tomatoes or all the subtlety of the flavour is gone. I ended up using half as pasta sauce and tomato noodle soup. Very successfully, I might add. Indian curry flavours work great in both pasta sauce and soup.
I ended up spending £49.37 if we count meals and drinks bought outside, and £28.49 in actual groceries, over 18 days. The kids had a week off school so we went out a lot and had drinks, ice-cream and some snacks while out. Hence the almost £21 spent outside.
I was hoping to stretch the challenge to 30 days, but I just didn’t have enough things to make it work. Having the kids home meant more food was consumed. If they had been at school, I could probably have made it to the end of the month. But by day 18 I was out of breakfast basics, veg, fruit, almost all starches and for proteins I only had chickpeas and lentils left. All that was left was a bunch of sauces ad rice paper wrappers.
I originally had 4 large bags of lentils and chickpeas, and managed to use most of them. With the result that we are now sick of lentils, we don’t want to see them again for a long time! I’ve had enough lentil soup, stew and loaf to last me a lifetime.
I’m incredibly happy with the result, all the dry food fits in one half of one shelf of the pantry and all the refrigerated food fits in less than one shelf of the fridge. After the 18 days there were still 5 single-serve meals in the freezer that became weekday lunches for myself.
Most of what I bought was (soya) milk, bread, margarine and peanut butter. Basically breakfast items. We have breakfast everyday at home and those items get used fast. I also work from home so there’s always a cup go milky tea or coffee next to me. I realised that we use 8 litres of milk per week, 1 goes for baking, 5 are mine and the other 4 get divided between the kids. I drink a lot of milk!
When we hit day 10 or thereabouts I had to go ad get some more produce and a few more starches (I got millet and spaghetti). But we managed to live for several days without coffee (my and usually my daughter’s breakfast) or hot chocolate (my son’s breakfast).
Click here to read all the posts in the Spring cleaning the kitchen: a no-buy month challenge topic. And don’t forget to check my Instagram to see what I’m eating and cooking as I go through the challenge. Join me by tagging with #springcleanthekitchen