Sunday, 1 December 2013

Recipe: Mum's apple cake

Mum's apple cake

I'm really not much of a cake baker. After all, if you make a cake you have to eat it and I really don't need the extra calories! But my cousin Jess (a keen cake baker) came to stay and as we had lots of apples to use up I thought it was a good opportunity to try out my mum's faithful apple cake recipe. 

And you know what, I could get used to this baking lark as this recipe was so easy and made such a lovely moist cake - even I couldn't go wrong with this recipe and there certainly isn't much of it left! And it was cheap as chips to make as the apples were from Mr Kate's parentals' garden. A great one to use up any late fallers.

Here's my mum's recipe:

8oz plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4oz margarine
4oz sugar
1 egg
8oz peeled apple
Milk to mix
A sprinkling of brown sugar

1) Heat the oven to gas mark five, 190C or 375F. 
2) Sieve flour into mixing bowl. (Although I didn't bother sieving as I'm far too lazy for that lark!). 
3) Rub the margarine in with the flour until like breadcrumbs. 
4) Add the sugar and egg and stir well. 
5) Dice the apple, add to the bowl and mix well.
6) Stir in enough milk to give a slow dropping consistency until the spoon needs a hard shake before the mixture drops into the bowl.9
7) Put the mixture into a greased and lined seven inch cake tin. I actually used a silicone cake tin).
8) Sprinkle a few teaspoons of brown sugar over the top of the cake. 
9) Bake for one hour. 

This really is a deliciously moist cake. Lovely on its own but even better served with a dollop of custard. Would also be good adding in a little mixed spice, cinnamon or currants. 

I've always loved it when my mum makes this cake - now I've realised how easy it is to make I think I'll be making it more often myself now too! Thanks for the recipe, mum!

Cousin Jess gets her bake on!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

£10.77 worth of food for £1.65!

£10.77 worth of food for £1.65!

A great little haul on the way home from the gym tonight when we popped in to our local Tesco Express and mini Co-op. £10.77 worth of food for just £1.65!

Here's what we got:

Greek yoghurts - £2.39 down to 65p
Milkbread - £1 down to 25p
Wholemeal rolls - 85p down to 9p
Multiseed loaf - £3.15 down to 32p
Houmous - £1.38 down to 14p
Two lettuces - £1 down to 10p each

Plenty of bread to stock up the freezer!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Recipe: 'Out of time' swede, celery, carrot and thyme soup

Swede, celery, carrot and thyme soup

Do you get confused by sell by dates, use by dates, best before dates? No need. Just ditch them. Yep, that's right, ignore them. Use your senses instead. Sight, smell, taste, touch. Only ever use a date on food as a guide.

Since I've been writing this blog, so many people have told me they throw food out as soon as the date has passed. Or worse still... BEFORE the date has passed. Fifty years ago did our parents and grand-parents have dates on food? No, they just used their common sense - and their senses.

Many people these days would turn their nose up at what I did this afternoon - I cooked soup using a swede that had been left in my fridge for three months. Yep, you read that right - three months. And I've survived to tell the tale!

I must admit, I did approach the three-month-old swede with a little caution. But after a quick whiff, peel and chop, I realised it was absolutely fine. To reassure Mr Kate I did have a quick Google and read on several websites that swede can keep in the fridge for several months. In which case, why do the supermarkets put such a short date on them? I'd hazard a guess they're just playing safe in this health and safety obsessed blame culture we live in these days.

And it's not just swede. I had some month-old celery to use as well. And yes, that was absolutely fine too. Not as crisp as you might like it for a salad, but fine for a soup. I only used four sticks so still have some left - another week or two left for the rest of the packet I reckon!

So my plea to you, if you're not already a convert to yellow stickers and using your senses, ditch the dates and use your brain. If it smells bad and is moulding - bin it. But please check before you bin perfectly good food. And think about the money you're, literally, throwing away.

Here's how I made my 'out of time' swede, celery, carrot and thyme soup to serve four:

1) Peel and chop a whole swede, an onion, two carrots, and four sticks of celery.
2) Soften the onion in a large saucepan with a glug of olive oil for a few minutes.
3) Add a clove or two of chopped garlic.
4) Add the chopped swede, carrots and celery for a few minutes.
5) Add a teaspoon of dried thyme.
6) Add a litre of chicken or vegetable stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the veg is all soft.
7) Add a good grind of black pepper and rock salt to taste.
8) Serve and enjoy!

With the 19p swede, about 4p worth of reduced celery and a reduced chicken stock cube added to the cost of the other ingredients, this soup came in at around 60p. That's 60p for four healthy servings which are now portioned up and ready for lunch tomorrow and our packed lunches on Monday.

Ditch the dates!

Friday, 13 September 2013

£21.98 worth of food for £5.61!

£21.98 worth of food for £5.61!

My first blog for a month or so - I've still been hunting out bargains but just a little too busy with the day job to blog! But I had to let you know about this cracking haul of cut-price bargains from Co-op on my way home from work tonight. I was surprised to see such good reductions at 5pm!

Here's what I popped in my basket:

3 x fish pies down from £3.69 to 89p
2 x Muller Corners down from 71p to 18p
Roast chicken breast down from £4.05 to £1.09
Fresh tortellini down from £1.95 to 55p
Roast veg cous cous down from £1.49 to 39p
Fresh blueberries down from £2 to 55p

Should have cost £21.98 and I got it all for £5.61! Weekend lunches sorted, fish pies in the freezer and I'm planning on treating Mr Kate to a breakfast in bed of porridge and blueberries. Result!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Recipe: Aubergine and coriander dip

Aubergine and coriander dip

I've never been a particular fan of aubergines and as they're not at the top of Mr Kate's veggie list I've never actually cooked them myself. But when I saw two reduced from £1 to 15p each I thought it would be worth giving them a shot.

We were having fish and veg for dinner so I thought I'd whizz them up into a dip to serve on the side. With some fresh coriander on the windowsill waiting to be used, aubergine and coriander dip it was!

Here's how I made it:

1) Pre-heat the oven, wash the aubergines and dry.
2) Prick the skin of the aubergines with a fork.
3) Place in a baking tray and drizzle a little olive oil over the aubergines.
4) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the skin is all wrinkly.
5) Leave to cool for a few minutes and then scoop out the flesh.
6) Whizz the flesh up in a food processor along with the juice of a lime, a finely chopped garlic clove, a few handfuls of fresh coriander and a glug of olive oil.
7) Add salt and black pepper to taste.
8) Serve with a little fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

This dip would be great with carrot sticks or pitta bread and I certainly would try aubergines again after this tasty experiment!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Restaurant review: La Pazienza, Northampton

La Pazienza, Northampton

I’ve walked past La Pazienza on Northampton’s Wellingborough Road several times since it opened earlier this year but never ventured in. So when a two courses for two (and coffees!) for £17 Groupon deal popped up I thought it was the ideal opportunity to try out the new Italian eatery.

My experience didn’t get off to a very promising start when I called to book a table – I asked if I could book and was told to ring back in 10 minutes as they were busy… Why answer the phone if you’re busy? If I call a restaurant and no one answers I take that to mean they’re either closed or busy serving and I’ll call back later. To actually answer and be told to ring back… well, that’s just not good customer service in my book.

As a result, I wasn’t expecting great things when we arrived but I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed into a pretty dining room – spotlessly clean, tastefully decorated and neatly laid tables with pristine pale green tablecloths. Someone has clearly paid a lot of love and attention to the room.

Our waiter was perfectly pleasant but we were surprised that our starter order was taken and he left before taking the order for the mains – coming back ten minutes later! Mr Kate asked for fritata for his starter and was told they had none left. He then asked for octopus salad and was told they had none left. He then asked for the coppa salami and was told (can you see a theme developing here?) they had none left… Three out of the eight starters were off the menu so we both went for the easy option and ordered bruschetta with fresh tomato sauce.

With the fuss of ordering, our expectations were lowered once again but were soon raised when the bruschetta arrived. A very generous portion of two huge slabs of bruschetta each but we devoured every bit of the bread laden with delicious finely chopped garlicky tomatoes. Things were looking up!


The mains arrived in good time and I went for fusilli pasta with a tomato and tuna sauce whilst Mr Kate plumped for a classic spaghetti carbonara. Both dishes were thoroughly decent and we ate every last bite. Good home-cooked comfort food.

Tuna and tomato pasta

A nice touch during our meal was the chef coming out to every table to enquire how their meals were – something that doesn’t happen very often in restaurants these days but was a happy addition to the experience.


We were both too full to sample a dessert but as coffees were included in the Groupon deal I did opt for a hot chocolate to get a little post-dinner chocolate hit! And the hot drinks certainly didn’t disappoint – Mr Kate’s Americano coffee hit the spot and my hot chocolate was deliciously frothy (as all good hot chocolates should be!).

The total of our food and coffees bill should have been £30.15 but was just £17 with the Groupon deal.

If you’re after a warming bowl of comforting pasta then La Pazienza is a good place to try for a quick bite and ideal for families. If you’re after something a bit more ‘restauranty’ then it might not be for you but it is well worth a visit for decent home-cooked food in pleasant surroundings.

La Pazienza, 268 Wellingborough Road, Northampton.
01604 949017

Monday, 29 July 2013

Recipe: Stuffed courgettes on the cheap!

Stuffed courgettes

I'll be the first to admit that these stuffed courgettes weren't the most appetising meal I've ever cooked, but don't be fooled by appearances - they tasted great!

And they were cheap too! The courgette, which was actually more marrow sized, was free from Mr Kate's Uncle Gerald's veg plot and I decided to use up some yellow-sticker specials from the freezer and cupboard.

In somewhat of an experimental mood, I used a small pack of minced beef reduced from 96p to 45p and a jar of salsa reduced from £1 to 49p.

Here's how I made my stuffed courgettes on the cheap:

1) Pre-heat the oven.
2) Slice the courgette in two length-ways.
3) Scoop out a well in the centre of each courgette half for the filling.
4) Brown the mince in a pan with a drop of oil and a clove or two of garlic. Add the scooped out courgette if you don't want to waste it.
5) Add the salsa to the mince and warm through.
6) Rub a little olive oil on the skin of the courgette, add a good grinding of black pepper and salt and place on a baking tray.
7) Spoon the mince into the courgette and sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the top.
8) Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the courgette is cooked but still firm.

I had some filling left over so popped it in a little casserole dish with some breadcrumbs on top and served it on the side.

It might not look all that but it really did taste good - the experiment certainly paid off!

And with 45p for the mince, 49p for the salsa, courgettes and garlic for free (we've grown our own garlic!) and a few pence for the olive oil and seasoning, this came in at just over £1 to feed the two of us. Result.

Looks like we're going to be getting a lot more courgette deliveries from Uncle Gerald soon so I'd best get my thinking cap on for more recipes!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Waitrose lemon sole fillets reduced from £4.71 to 78p!

Waitrose lemon sole fillets reduced from £4.71 to 78p!

Not a lot puts me off my food but this heat certainly is! Light meals are the order of the day at the moment and I really enjoyed my simple supper tonight. I used a pack of two lemon sole fillets from the freezer - one of my bargain buys from Waitrose reduced from £4.71 to just 78p.

I always think fish should be cooked as simply as possibly to properly enjoy the flavour - all I did was season the fillets with a little salt and black pepper and then cooked them skin-side down on a griddle pan for a few minutes before turning over to to colour the fleshy side for no more than a minute.

I served the fish on a bed of spinach as we had some left over nearing the end of its life in the fridge. I added flavour to the spinach by chopping a red chilli and softening it in a pan with a glug of olive oil. I added a touch of garlic and ginger paste before wilting the spinach.

Lemon wedge to serve - done! Healthy fish supper for two for around 50p each. Bargain.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Free home grown fruit, veg and eggs!

Free home grown fruit, veg and eggs!

No need for scouring the reduced section for fruit, veg and eggs this week - we got all of this for free today! I took a trip with Mr Kate to see his parentals and whilst we were there paid his Uncle Gerald a visit. Regular readers of my blog will know we often get veg deliveries from Uncle Gerald and today was no exception!

Freshly picked blackcurrants, raspberries, cabbages, carrots and beetroot - what a haul! Add to that a delivery of fresh eggs from another neighbour in the village and we are more than sorted for the week!

Blackcurrant bushes
Uncle Gerald's veg plot is amazing - his blackcurrant patch is bigger than our entire veg patch put together! We picked a huge bowl of blackcurrants and barely made a dent - it would have taken all day to harvest this lot!

We are mere beginners in the growing your own lark - Uncle Gerald on the other hand has years of experience and we certainly have a lot to learn from him.

Summer fruit pudding or a berry compote anyone? Any other favourite recipes for summer fruits?! Will see what I can come up with when I cook up this lot tomorrow.

We also now have cherries to add to the haul as our lovely neighbour popped a bowl over the fence to us - freshly picked from their cherry tree. Only fair for us to share out our veg haul in return!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Recipe: Broccoli, chilli, lime and mint summer soup

I have veg coming out of my ears at the moment. Our novice veg patch is coming along nicely and we've also been getting weekly deliveries from Mr Kate's Uncle Gerald's considerably more established veg plot.

I have to admit that we're still making lots of beginners' mistakes - we have been too late in picking some of our purple sprouting broccoli and it has gone to seed and started flowering. So we harvested this good bunch the other day to make sure we didn't miss out this time.

We also had some broccoli left over from Mr Kate's reduced Waitrose haul from the other day, reduced from £1.69 to 15p. Now I know that summer isn't really the time for soup, but with all this veg to use I decided to try and create a light, summery soup. I found half a lime and some spring onions (on their last legs) in the fridge and the idea started to come together.

Here's how to make my broccoli, chilli, lime and mint summer soup:

1) Chop a few spring onions, a red chilli and a clove or two of garlic. Reserve a bit of chopped chilli to garnish the soup later.
2) Soften in some olive oil in a large saucepan on a low heat.
3) Cut the broccoli into florets and add to the pan.
4) Add boiling water to the pan to cover a third of the broccoli.
5) Bring to the boil, turn down and simmer with the lid on for five minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
6) Blend the soup in a liquidiser or hand blender - add more water if needed.
7) Squeeze in the juice of half a lime
8) Chop a few leaves of fresh mint and add to taste.
9) Add freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.
10) Sprinkle red chilli on top and serve.

I know it's far too hot at the moment for soup but I served this warm (instead of piping hot) and the mint and lime made it deliciously light and summery. Mr Kate was sceptical when I served him up some soup for lunch but he soon changed his mind when he tasted it!

Leftovers for lunch tomorrow and a big dent made in my veg glut! Price? No more than 50p for the whole lot!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A tenner's worth of Waitrose veg for £1.75!

A tenner's worth of Waitrose veg for £1.75!

I've been neglecting my shelf raiding duties of late but Mr Kate got us firmly back in action with this Waitrose veg haul tonight.

He's working in Market Harborough at the moment and was given firm instructions to see what the reduced shelf at Waitrose had on offer when he left work tonight. And he didn't disappoint...

Mediterranean mixed veg down from £1.99 to 65p, corn on the cob down from £2.29 to 25p, asparagus down from £1.99 to 25p, mixed carrots, beans and sugar snap peas down from £1.99 to 45p and broccoli down from £1.69 to 15p.

In total, £9.95 worth of Waitrose veg for £1.75! And it's all perfectly fresh and will last several days yet.

That's our five a day intake sorted for a while!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Indian meal for two for 76p!

£18.06 worth of food for £1.82

Excellent shelfing action tonight! Popped in to a Tesco Express on our way home from a meal out with a friend (a Groupon deal of course - more on that another time!) and secured an excellent cut-price haul!

We're not ones for ready meals but when you find an Indian meal for two reduced from £7.61 to 76p... well, you can't really say no to that! Chicken tikka, chicken korma, four onion bhajis, pilau rice and two naan bread - tomorrow night's dinner sorted.

Mr Kate's lunch is also sorted for tomorrow - a pack of two Tesco Finest scotch eggs reduced from £1 to 10p. And the freezer is stocking up again nicely with the three packs of quarter pounder burgers we bought reduced from £3.15 to 32p per pack.

A grand total of £18.06 worth of food for £1.82. 90% savings. Don't mind if I do!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Recipe: Curried cod, carrots, leeks and potatoes

Curried cod, carrots, leeks and potatoes

Friday night after a long week at work and recovering from a cold... last thing I wanted to do tonight was cook dinner but Mr Kate was out at a meeting and duty called.

I dragged myself away from the sofa and quickly threw a meal together using a pack of Waitrose skinless and boneless cod fillets reduced from £4.73 £1.53.

Here's how to make this easy curried cod with carrots, leeks and potatoes:

1) Peel a carrot and a few potatoes and slice into rounds.
2) Par-boil for about 10 minutes.
3) Chop a leek.
4) Heat some oil (I used lemony olive oil) in a roasting dish in the oven.
5) Drain the potatoes and carrots and mix in the chopped leeks with a generous sprinkling of curry powder and a teaspoon or two of chopped garlic and ginger (I used a ready made jar of garlic and ginger that I keep in my fridge for when I'm feeling lazy!).
6) Chop a lemon into wedges and add to the veg mixture.
7) Throw into the roasting dish and pop in the oven for about five minutes.
8) Place the cod fillets on top and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
9) Serve and enjoy! The baked lemon wedges turn deliciously squidgy and you can scoop out the flesh and juice and spread all over the fish and veg.

Hardly gourmet but great for a quick midweek dinner.

And the grand total? Just £2 to serve the two of us. Friday night fish supper on the cheap - DONE!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Restaurant review: Brabenec's, Northampton

Three courses for £19.50 at Brabenec's, Northampton

Tucked away on Northampton's Wellingborough Road is the unassuming Brabenec's - an unpretentious, cosy restaurant which you would be forgiven for missing on the busy street. But it's well worth hunting out as I discovered last night...

We were tempted in by the set menu available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Two courses for £16.95 or three courses for £19.50 - got to be worth a try!

I plumped for a starter of in-season asparagus with a warm citrus dressing of grapefruit, lemon and orange. Deliciously light and fresh it was the perfect starter to get the tastebuds going without filling up before the main.

Mr Kate had pea and ham soup with crusty bread - the waiter proudly told us he had made the bread himself that day and you could certainly tell it was home-made.

We swapped starters half way through so we could try both dishes. I have a bit of a thing about soups as a starter as I find they always fill me up too quickly, leaving no room for the main. But this pea and ham soup was a revelation. Light, frothy, delicate and full of flavour. Best soup I've had in a long, long time.

For mains I went with the pan-fried salmon with brown shrimp and spring onion butter. The fish was cooked just how I like it - all the way through but still moist and juicy. Mr Kate had roast belly pork with apple sauce and was delighted with the quality of the crackling. Both were served with a mix of sauteed potatoes, new potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, green beans and carrots. Not much of a fan of potatoes, Mr Kate proclaimed these were the best potatoes he'd had for ages. High praise indeed.

We barely had room for a dessert but thought we should make the most of the three courses for £19.50 deal. I am CutPriceKate after all! Baked chocolate mousse cake and home-made ice cream it was then! And cor, it was good - moist, rich and verrrrrrry chocolatey. My kind of dessert.

Mr Kate went for the lemon treacle tart and commented that Mary Berry would have been most impressed with the light, thin, crisp pastry. Not a soggy bottom in sight...

All in all, I was most impressed with Brabenec's. Good, honest food, served with pride by a helpful and professional waiter who was eager to help without being over the top (nothing worse than gushing waiting staff). The quality of the food was spot on and at £19.50 for three courses it was excellent value.

I'm reliably informed Brabenec's has one of the best Sunday carveries in town - I may well have to make a trip to find out!

Well worth a visit.

Brabenec's, 187 Wellingborough Road, Northampton.
01604 634428
Twitter @brabenecsfood

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

His and hers haul - £53.24 worth of food for £18.78!

His and hers haul - £53.24 worth of food for £18.78!

Mr Kate is an absolute gem sometimes. I knew he would be passing Waitrose on his way home at about 6pm last night so gave him firm orders to pop in and see if there were any good reductions on the go. Whilst he was at one end of town wandering through Waitrose, I was at the other end meandering through Morrisons on the way home from work. Some might say that could have been a recipe for disaster and we'd end up buying the same things - but no, our cross-town hauls were the perfect match!

I came home laden with reduced breads, muffins, wraps and rolls whilst Mr Kate came up trumps with a host of cut-price meat and fish. Bingo!

Highlights from the his and hers haul include:

Chunky cod fillets - £2.79 down to 49p
Chorizo sausages - £2.99 down to 99p
Chicken breast fillets - £4.43 to £1.82
Thai green chicken kebabs - £4 to £1.49
Diced veal - £3.99 to £1.49
Aberdeen Angus steak burgers - £4.99 to £1.69
Chilli beef shish kebabs - £3.49 to £1.29
Mussels in Thai broth - £2.99 to 99p
Watercress, rocket and spinach salad - £1.99 to 35p
Nectarines - £3.49 to 75p
Tortilla wraps - 69p to 9p
Seeded loaf - 89p to 9p
Apple pies - 50p to 9p
Muffins - 75p to 9p

And much more!

Mr Kate was delighted to have mussels on a Monday night - a rare treat! Not being a shellfish kinda gal, I had some of the shish kebabs in a wrap with a touch of sweet chilli sauce and some of the watercress, rocket and spinach salad.

I made up more wraps with the leftover kebab meat for today's lunch and then finished the 9p wraps off tonight by making chicken fajitas for our dinner.

In total, Mr Kate's meaty haul should have cost £36.36 - it actually cost £14.40. My bread heavy haul should have cost £16.88 - it actually cost £4.38.

So in total, £53.24 worth of food for £18.78 - a 65% reduction overall. Not bad work for a Monday night and our freezer is now fully stocked for the barbecue season. All we need now is a bit of sunshine...

Monday, 20 May 2013

£14.20 worth of food for £4.04!

£14.20 worth of food for £4.04!

The best thing about the drive home from a visit to the parentals' house is that I pass four supermarkets on the way back! Would be rude not to pop in and see what's on offer, right?!

A lovely little haul on Saturday night - £14.20 worth of food for £4.04. In Waitrose I secured some chicken wings down from £2.45 to 79p and two packs of salmon grills down from £4 to £1.35. In Tesco I also picked up a pack of celery down from £1.25 to 25p and two bags of sprouts down from £1.25 to 15p.

Sprouts? It's not even Christmas! Time to get my thinking cap on and see if I can do something creative with everyone's favourite (??!) Christmas veg!

Any inspiring sprout recipes?! Do let me know!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Cut-price store cupboard staples

Cut-price store cupboard sauces

Most of my yellow-sticker hauls tend to be fresh food coming to the end of their shelf-life, but once in a while I find a basketful of bargains with several months' worth of life in them yet!

There's a shelf in our local Morrisons that is usually stocked with slightly damaged products. You know the sort - multi-packs of canned drinks with one missing, a broken flan base, dented tins and bashed boxes... unloved products that have taken a bit of a bruising and are just waiting for a home! Usually there's nothing worth taking home but from time to time it comes up trumps as it did on a recent trip...

Jars and jars of yellow-stickered sauces, pastes, salsas and dressings. Kerching! We stocked up our cupboard with two jars of curry paste down from 64p to 29p, Wahaca Mexican sauce down from 99p to 49p, soy sauce down from £1.15 to 59p and Old El Paso sauce down from £1 to 49p.

And the best thing? The best before dates! June, August and October! Why they were reduced I don't quite know - maybe it was simply the end of the product line and the supermarket wanted rid.

Next time you're passing the 'unloved' shelf take a look - you never know what you might find!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Two litres of cola for 17p!

Two litres of cola for 17p!

Friday night, a long day at work and Mr Kate is away... Whilst the cat's away, this mouse needs fizzy drinks and chocolate! So I took a quick stroll to our local Tesco Express (that'll burn off 1% of the calories about to be consumed in choc) to hunter gather some treats.

Chocolate - check. Next stop the drinks aisle. Tonight, however, my eyes were drawn away from the branded cola deals of two bottles for £3 when I spotted a bargain on the bottom shelf. Not sure how long this own-brand bottle has been around, but I was amazed to find a two little bottle of Tesco Everyday Value diet cola for just 17p. That's right - seventeen little pennies!

So what does it taste like? Well the branded pop purists might not be satisfied but I actually quite like it! I've got a glass on the go as I type (plenty of ice and a slice of lemon of course) and as far as fake fizz goes I'm more than happy!

I'll definitely be swapping the pricey branded pop for this cut-price pop in the future!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Free milk - and more!

Free milk - and more!

Call me old-fashioned, but I do think there's something deliciously old-school about having milk in a proper glass bottle instead of that new-fangled plastic lark!

Mr Kate and I had been considering having milk delivered for a while, so when I spotted a Milk & More ( promotional stand in our local shopping centre I was keen to sign up. Even keener when I overheard the promo lady say that the first £10 of milk was free! Surely there must have been a catch? Nope - I signed up for weekly deliveries and the first £10 worth is indeed completely free! And I was even given four free cartons of orange juice for my troubles too.

I did have to create a direct debit for future purchases over and above the £10 credit, but I'm pleased to report that a couple of weeks in and we're still only half way through our £10 and haven't paid a penny so far! Free milk a-go-go!

To make it even better, a snazzy cool bag arrived on my doorstep with the first order, complete with a welcome pack and voucher for a free packet of cheese. Mr Kate was best pleased at that seeing as I so rarely buy him cheese (I hate the stuff!).

I must admit I got ridiculously excited  waiting for our first bottles to be delivered - simple pleasures!

The Milk & More website is really easy to use and you can choose the days for your deliveries, cancel them up until 9pm the night before, or even order more if you realise you're running short for the next morning's brekkie.

And it's not just milk - they also deliver bread, juice, dairy products and other daily essentials. I'm sticking to milk and juice for my deliveries though as am too addicted to bargain-hunting on the reduced shelves!

We have a few weeks left to go before our £10 free credit runs out and I have to say I'm more than tempted to keep the service going - call me daft but it's just so much more satisfying pouring milk from a proper glass bottle!

If you fancy trying out the service feel free to use my refer a friend code and you'll get £10 off your first £20 shopping. Go to and enter the code 7E38TKIS and you'll be able to redeem the offer. You'll also be able to enter your postcode to see if they deliver in your area - and even find out the name of your milkman! Ours is called Brian!

Roll on Wednesday and the next delivery!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Bank Holiday Bargains!

£37.95 worth of food for £12.78!
Happy Easter all! If you're not up to much this afternoon or evening then get to your local supermarket and see what you can find on the reduced shelves - bank holidays are usually excellent times to get bargains if the shops are closing for a day!

It was actually this time last year that I first realised the brilliance of buying from the reduced shelf - about 5pm the night before Morrisons was closing for the day, we got a trolley-load of 75-90% reductions and stocked up our freezer. An obsession with shelfing was born!

Looking back, I'm so glad we discovered this new way to shop - if only we'd kept tally of all the savings we've made... I'm sure it would run into the hundreds over the past year!

Just the other day I got the great haul pictured above - £37.95 worth of food for £12.78. Some of the highlights in that haul included Waitrose fresh cod fillets reduced from £ 4.73 to £1.53  and loaves of bread reduced from £1.35 to 20p. All straight in the freezer. Also found some cans of lager reduced to 50p each so thought would treat Mr Kate!

Was also pleased to find stock cubes reduced from £1.67 to 70p and soup reduced from 85p to 25p - all with 2014 dates on them so they must have been end of line stock. Just goes to show that it's not always stuff approaching the end of its shelf-life that gets reduced.

Hope you all manage to pick up a bargain or two this Easter Bank Holiday - if not then there is always the reduced Easter eggs next week to look forward to!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Courgettes - Part 2!

Courgette and mint soup, courgette bolognese and griddled courgettes

I've finally used up all of the courgettes!

Griddled courgettes
Last week we had griddled courgettes alongside some grilled meat. Really easy to make and they cooked in seconds on a hot griddle pan - Mr Kate sliced the courgettes lengthways and marinated in a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli and lemon juice. Quick sizzle on the griddle pan to get the lovely sear marks and hey presto.

Courgette bolognese

As we're on a bit of a health kick at the moment we also decided to try out courgette pasta instead of the usual calorific spaghetti to go with our bolognese. Simple to make - use a potato peeler to shave the courgette into tagliatelle-esque ribbons and then boil or steam for 2-3 minutes and season well. We were both pleasantly surprised with how tasty it was and neither of us missed the real thing.

Courgette and mint soup
And finally, I've just whipped the last four courgettes up into some delicious soup, adapting an Angela Hartnett recipe* as inspiration.

Here's how to make it:

1) Chop a bunch of spring onions or an onion and soften in a large pan with a glug of olive oil.
2) Chop the courgettes and add to the pan with a few cloves of chopped garlic and some salt and pepper.
3) Cook for a few minutes and then cover the veg with some chicken or vegetable stock.
4) Simmer for no more then ten minutes or until the veg is all soft.
5) Add about a tablespoon of fresh chopped mint.
6) Blend the soup and serve with seasoning to taste.

The fresh mint really added a certain je ne sais quoi to this soup - I went back for seconds for my lunch today! The rest is safely tucked up in the freezer ready to take to work for a healthy packed lunch.

And that's that - no more courgettes! Well... until Uncle Gerald's veg patch produces some more!

* Here's Angela Hartnett's original recipe that I adapated to make my own version:

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Courgettes - Part 1!

Courgettes anyone?!
So, dear reader, in the process of testing out whether Co-op honour special offers when the items are also yellow-stickered, I've now found myself with 12 courgettes to use!

I spotted packs of three courgettes reduced from £2.10 to 75p - but also clocked that they were on buy four get one free as well. In my quest to share with you money-saving tips, I of course had to see if they would honour both the yellow stickers AND the buy four get one free... And the good news is they did!

So, I ended up getting £6.30 worth of courgettes for £2.25. Unlike Waitrose they only take off the cheaper price but still not bad at all! Have a read of my previous blog on the wonderfulness that is Waitrose's price glitch when it comes to special offers and yellow labels - you can end up with them paying you to take food off their hands. My kind of shopping! Read more at:

Anyway, back to the courgettes...

I must say it seems quite crazy to me that the standard price for three courgettes in Co-op is £2.10 - 70p per courgette is pretty high in my book! The price of veg seems to be getting higher and higher in supermarkets - I'd really advise trying out your local market for fairer prices and good quality. Fitzy 's stall at Northampton market is well worth a visit if you're a Northamptonian.

You may think I'm mad for buying 12 courgettes but they were all nice and firm and I knew there was a good week left to use them all up before they started turning. So now to get creative with my glut of courgettes!

We went from 12 courgettes to 11 last night by adding one to our chicken and veg stir-fry. Cut-price chicken, mushrooms, chillies, courgettes and stir-fry sauce and this meal cost us less than £1 for the two of us. Bargain. One courgette down, 11 to go...

Another two were used up tonight in this courgette frittata. So simple to make - simply fry up the sliced courgettes with some onion and a chilli, beat 4-6 eggs in a big bowl, add the fried veg to the egg, give it a good mix and then back into the pan on a slow heat until the egg is all set. Serve with a salad and bingo - quick and healthy meal for two, DONE!

Three courgettes down, nine to go! Feel free to share your favourite courgette recipes with me!