Monday, 24 September 2012

Eating out on a shoestring - affordable treats!

Eating out on a shoestring - affordable treats!

As you all know by now, I'm a big fan of eating as cheaply as possible but that certainly doesn't mean I'm not a fan of eating out! Quite the opposite in fact - Mr Kate and I love eating out and saving the pennies eating #SOS food means we don't feel quite as guilty when we do spend in restaurants!

However, we have recently become avid Groupon deal buyers which makes eating out even more affordable! For those of you who haven't yet discovered Groupon, new offers are posted every day at with cut-price deals from businesses offering their wares to new customers.

Groupon offers discounts on all kinds of products - literally everything from teeth whitening to garden tools - but my favourite offers are the local restaurant deals. Today I bought a great deal for one of my favourite restaurants in Northampton - a tapas restaurant called Les Olives (

The deal was £15.50 for two people for a starter and five tapas to share. Most of the tapas cost around £5 to £6 each so, depending on what you end up choosing, the deal sees savings of up to 61%. And the food is absolutely great at Les Olives!

Unfortunately this deal has now sold out on Groupon's website but keep an eye out on the site as new deals are posted at midnight every day. I've now become a little addicted to checking just before I go to bed or first thing in the morning - and I'm glad I did today as the Les Olives offer sold out in just a few hours!

We had a lovely meal out recently from a Groupon deal of two courses for two people with limoncello and coffee for £24.50 at Gian Biaz - a very good quality Italian restaurant in Northampton ( Mr Kate's slow roasted shoulder of lamb with four bean casserole would normally cost £16.95 on its own and they certainly didn't scrimp on the portion sizes!

Another cracker was a deal for four people to have a two-course Indian meal at the Imperial Raj (, with wine, for £29. I treated the parentals to this one and at that price a meal out for four didn't break the bank like it normally might!

Some other deals I've bought recently and am going to be redeeming soon include:

- Afternoon tea for two with a cocktail each at Borjia (a fabulous bar in Northampton - check them out at for just £14.99.

- Gastro pub meal for two for £15 at the Olde Red Lion in Kislingbury ( These folks were winners of the Northamptonshire Food Awards last year so I'm expecting good things!

I'd thoroughly recommend trying out a Groupon deal - I've loved trying out new restaurants for next to nothing! And the restaurants gain too - we've been back to some of them as full price customers so it's win win all round! I say I've been back as a full price customer but actually we've been given money off vouchers at the end of the meal - a fiver off the total might not be as good as the initial Groupon deal but it's certainly helped to lure us back after a great night out on the cheap!

Watch this space for my reviews of the Groupon deals I'll be redeeming soon!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Waitrose cut-price glitch - 24 sausages for 16p!

24 sausages for 16p! 

I haven't been doing a huge amount of shelf raiding for the past week as we've been eating our way through the freezer and the special delivery Mr Kate received (more on that in a future post!) but I could not resist this brilliant glitch in Waitrose's pricing...

A colleague of Mr Kate had told me about an occasion where someone he knew had gone to Waitrose, bought some #SOS bargains and, quite bizarrely, Waitrose had ended up paying them to have the food! Confused? Yes, I was too until it happened to me the other day!

Here's what happened...

- I found packs of sausages reduced from £1.19 per pack to 45p.
- However they were also on a three for the price of two deal.
- So I picked up three packets which you think would have cost £1.35 (three times 45p).
- But, Waitrose have a glitch in their pricing in that even if something is reduced to clear, they still honour the special deal which in this case was three for the price of two.
- However, instead of simply charging 90p (two times 45p) they took off the original price per packet of £1.19... still with me?!

To recap...

- The original price for three packets for the price of two was £2.38.
- Three packs reduced to 45p each was £1.35.
- They took off the normal full price of one pack (£1.19) to honour the three for two deal so my £1.35 for three packs of sausages ended up costing me just 16p!

And this is how it can end up that Waitrose actually pay you to take the food off their hands if the reduced price is right! If you had three items that cost a pound each, they were on three for the price of two, but were reduced to 10p each (30p in total), Waitrose would end up paying 70p back to you!

Complicated for the mathematically challenged like myself, but the basic message is - if something is reduced to clear in Waitrose and also on a BOGOF or 3 for 2 offer, buy the full amount and it will cost you next to nothing OR even better Waitrose will pay you to take the food off their hands! RESULT!

Do let me know if you manage to get some bargains using this pricing glitch - and fingers crossed they don't change the pricing any time soon!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Beef keema curry with fresh coriander and mint

Beef keema curry with fresh coriander and mint

My take on keema curry is one of my favourite trusted recipes that I go back to again and again when in need of some warming comfort food. This recipe is very quick and easy and I would really recommend it to anyone who has never made a curry from scratch as it is so simple to make.

And, thanks to some #SOS ingredients, I made this tonight for a mere £1.50 to feed four people! I had a 54p pack of lean steak mince in the freezer (down from £3.60) and some fresh garden peas for 25p (down from £1.56). The rest of the ingredients took this up to approx £1.50 - pretty good going for a freshly made curry!

I usually make this recipe with frozen peas but as the fresh were on offer I plumped for them instead.

I use plenty of fresh coriander and mint in this recipe - I always try to have a few pots of living herbs on my window sill to add flavour to dishes and thanks to the nice folks at The Fresh Herb Company I've got this lovely new window box to keep them in!

I find having living herbs is cheaper in the long run than buying the packets of cut herbs which often ruin within a few days. I'm also growing my own too! The lovely Fresh Herb Co folks also recently sent me a messaluna for preparing fresh herbs - it made chopping the mint and coriander for this dish so much easier than faffing about with a standard knife!

Here's my recipe:

1) Brown some mince and a finely chopped onion in a large pan for a few minutes.
2) Add a clove or two of chopped garlic, a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, two teaspoons of ground cumin, one teaspoon of ground coriander, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, half a teaspoon of turmeric and some chopped fresh coriander stalk (keeping the leaves for later). Fry until soft and the meat is fully browned.
3) Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes.
4) Add some frozen peas, chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves, juice of half a lemon and heat through for a few minutes until the peas are cooked.
5) Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of the fresh herbs over the top.

Delicious served with rice or naan bread!

I love this dish - proper spicy and fragrant comfort food and the lemon juice cuts through the flavours to add a citrus kick. Delish.

P.S. Lots of tips on keeping fresh herbs at:

£14.19 worth of food for £4.55!

£14.19 worth of food for £4.55

I'm back in shelfing action! Am still eating through the freezer but also in need of a few fresh bits and bobs so stopped off at the shelf on the way home from work tonight and got this little lot from Co-op and Tesco.

Activia prune yoghurts down from £2.10 to 60p (Mr Kate's breakfast sorted for next few days), two cartons of Covent Garden courgette and Camembert soup down from £2.25 to 65p (one for the freezer and one for Mr Kate's lunch tomorrow), a punnet of cherries down from £2 to 35p (part of tomorrow's five a day action), houmous down from £1.04 to 55p and cashew nuts down from £2.99 to £1.50.

Was also delighted to get a bag of fresh garden peas down from £1.56 to 25p as had a keema curry planned for tonight's dinner so needed peas! Recipe to follow!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Lamb shish meatballs with chickpeas, courgette, bantams' and quails' eggs

Lamb shish meatballs with chickpeas, courgette and eggs

Mr Kate made this cracking #SOS dinner a few nights ago when I was caught up at work - one of the best meals he's ever cooked me!

We had found some #SOS lamb tandoori shish kebabs on the shelf the night before, quite remarkably reduced from £3.79 to 25p, and had some free bantams' and quails' eggs to use from Mr Kate's nan. I'd fancied cooking a Moroccan style meatball dish with the traditional eggs cracked into the dish - this was our twist on the Moroccan dish as we swapped the standard Moroccan spices for Indian ones to blend in with the tandoori flavoured meat.

Here's Mr Kate's recipe:

1) Fry the following in a shallow pan in hot oil: two cloves of finely chopped garlic, a teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli flakes, ground chilli and shish seasoning, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
2) After two or three minutes add a finely chopped onion, a courgette diced into 1cm cubes and soften.
3) After a few minutes add a tin of chopped tomatoes, stir well and add a glug of white wine.
4) Remove the shish kebab meat from the skewers and combine with a beaten egg, chopped mint, and a dash of ground cumin and shish seasoning. Mix well and shape into meatballs.
5) Add the meatballs to the pan and space out evenly (I would have browned the meatballs before adding them to the pan but Mr Kate didn't bother and I didn't even notice!).
6) Add half a tin of chick peas and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.
7) Simmer for 20 minutes over a low to medium heat.
8) Crack some eggs into the gaps between the meatballs, scatter over some fresh coriander and cover the pan with a lid or plate for about five minutes or until the eggs are cooked.
9) Finish with more chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
10) Serve with warm bread.

We had this with some #SOS garlic naan bread (to mop up the lovely juices) reduced from £1.29 to 15p. When all the ingredients were added together this cost no more than £1.50 and was the tastiest meal I've had in a long time - the flavours packed a real zingy punch and complimented each other really well.

Cheap, healthy, tasty and creative use of cheap ingredients - the very essence of the #SOS way of life! Mr Kate can certainly make this one again!

Chicken dinner on the cheap - £2.50 for two people!

£2.50 chicken dinner for two!

It's all been quiet on the shelfing front for the past few days as have been using up the contents of the freezer. Tonight's simple Monday night tea was a chicken dinner on the (very) cheap - Morrisons half tandoori chicken down from £3.79 to £1.95, Waitrose corn on the cob reduced from £2.19 to 55p, runner beans free from Mr Kate's Uncle Gerald, free coriander grown in pots on the windowsill - grand total of £2.50 for a chicken dinner for two people!

Jazzed up the corn on the cob by mixing a little butter with a splash of lemon juice and some chopped coriander leaves - added a  certain zing to the proceedings!

Back to cooking from scratch tomorrow though - I'll be using up some #SOS minced beef to make one of my trusted favourite recipes of beef keema curry. Looking forward to it already!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Addicted to shelfing - £16.14 worth of food for £2.88!

£16.14 worth of food for £2.88

Yesssss, I know... I KNOW I'm supposed to be thinning out the freezer stocks to make room for Mr Kate's surprise purchase... But how can you resist bargains like tonight's when it's over 80% savings?! What's a girl to do...?! The key to successful shelfing is buying the bargains as soon as you see them so I simply can't say no!

Luckily Mr Kate was with me and was happily putting things in the basket himself so he can't complain. He actually found one of our best ever bargains tonight - Lamb tandoori shish kebabs down from £3.79 a pack to 25p. 25p?! That's 93% off! We'll have two thanks! One for the freezer and one for tomorrow's dinner when we're going to turn them into meatballs and use them in a Moroccan meatballs with eggs style recipe!

Other highlights were a 15p baguette and corned beef down from £2 to 25p. Lunch sorted!

I'm an #SOS addict - and my bank balance LOVES it!

Lemon and garlic samphire recipe

Lemon and garlic samphire with fishcake and poached egg

Those who read last night's blog will remember I found some #SOS samphire in ASDA down from £1.32 to 21p. Mr Kate did the honours tonight and served it with a cut-price fishcake from the freezer and a poached bantam's egg.

Here's how he prepared the samphire:

1) Rinse the samphire and leave to dry.
2) Very finely chop a clove of garlic.
3) Fry the garlic in a little olive oil over a high heat just until it starts to colour.
4) Add the samphire and stir continuously.
5) Squeeze over some fresh lemon juice to taste.
6) Add some freshly cracked black pepper.
7) Serve!

We had this with some ready-made cod and chorizo fishcakes (not a huge fan of ready-made food but these were a bargain and sometimes midweek you just want to throw something in the oven!) and a poached egg to top it all off.

With the samphire at 21p, the fishcakes at 99p and the eggs free from Mr Kate's nan's friend Arthur, this cost us just £1.20 for the two of us! Would certainly have samphire again too if it appears on the shelf again!

Posh-ish nosh on the (very) cheap!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

£25.19 worth of food for £5.42!

I know I'm supposed to be using up the freezer stock to make space for Mr Kate's mystery purchase arriving soon, but I was in a different part of town tonight on the way home from the parentals so broadened my horizons with a trip to Waitrose and ASDA - conveniently next door to each other in Kingsthorpe, Northampton. And we did need some fresh veg in so Mr Kate can't grumble too much! And grumble he certainly can't when this little lot should cost £25.19 and I got it all for £5.42! 80% savings!

The boys in ASDA were making the final reductions as I arrived (just before 8pm fact fans!) and I got packs of rhubarb down from £1.80 to 27p, mint 65p to 10p, Covent Garden soup down from £1.97 to 42p, two half swedes for 7p each and samphire down from £1.32 to 21p. I've never cooked samphire before so that will be a new experience!

Waitrose also came up trumps with corn on the cob down from £2.29 to 55p, a cute little round courgette down from 79p to 22p, Muller rice 60p to 19p, romaine lettuce £1.50 to 25p, blinis down from £2.19 to 79p, and packs of crackers down from £1.09 to 19p - they'll keep for another month or two yet!

All the fruit and veg I got was perfectly fresh and some will still be fine in a good week or so's time. Blinis and soup in the freezer for another time - sorry Mr Kate but they were good bargains!

Now to plan what to do with that samphire! Anyone got any suggestions?!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Stewed peaches with custard and amaretti biscuits

Stewed peaches with custard and amaretti biscuits

It's been a quiet few days on the shelfing front as I'm trying to run down the freezer to make room for the arrival of a mystery bargain buy... more of that to come in a future blog!

In the meantime, Mr Kate did treat me to this rather lovely creation using some #SOS fresh custard (£1.69 to 45p) and some peaches that needed using up. For something so cheap it really did make a lovely dessert and, with his smart presentation, wouldn't have been out of place at a dinner party.

Here's his recipe:

1) Chop some peaches (allow approx two per person).
2) Put the peaches in a pan on a low heat and add a sprinkling of sugar, a healthy glug of orange juice and a splash of white wine (optional).
3) Cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the peaches are soft but still retaining their shape.
4) Pop a few mini amaretti biscuits in the bottom of the serving dishes (Mr Kate used glasses) or if you have large biscuits break them in two.
5) Layer the fruit on top followed by warm custard.
6) Crumble some more amaretti biscuits on the top to serve.

Delish! Mr Kate can make this one again!