Sunday, 24 February 2013

95% reductions: £19.90 worth of food for 90p!

95% reductions: £19.90 worth of food for 90p!

The best #SOS shelf-raid EVER! Couldn't believe my eyes in Kingsthorpe ASDA last night - I was lucky as arrived just as the final reductions were being made at around 8.45pm. And my goodness, what reductions they were! Everything was being reduced to just 10p! Yes, you read right - EVERYTHING REDUCED TO 10p!

- Three punnets of blackberries (perfectly fresh) reduced from £3 per punnet
- Two packs of 12 sausages reduced from £2.10 per packet
- A pack of two mini lemon cheesecakes reduced from £2
- A pack of six Petits Filous reduced from £1.50
- A pack of two baby cabbages reduced from £1.20
- And a pack of beef and pork mince reduced from £2

Should have cost £19.90 - actually cost 90p! A 95% reduction! Incredible!

I'm sure the most ardent of foodies would argue that the meat isn't the best of quality, and ok, it might not be, but I'm here to show that you can cook fresh food for a family on the very smallest of budgets. The beef and pork mince is going to be made into a bolognese sauce tonight for, literally, next to nothing.

And yes, the sausages might not be the best farmhouse quality but I have a soft spot for these particular sausages - a guilty pleasure you might say! My nan used to buy these sausages and they remind me of staying with her in North Wales. I thoroughly enjoyed having them for breakfast this morning and will probably make a sausage stew or hotpot with the others in the freezer at some point.

With a few store cupboard essentials, this shop could feed a family for a couple of days - FOR JUST 90p!

The money I save with shops like this once in a while means I can afford to buy good quality meat from local butchers and more expensive ingredients for special meals. But for now, I'm more than happy with my 10p mince and am off to the kitchen to make tonight's bolognese!

P.S. For the non-believers, here's a copy of the receipt!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Oranges and lemons - five for 15p!

Oranges and lemons - five for 15p!

Just back from a decent meal out at Rahul's Indian restaurant in Northampton (review to follow soon) and popped in on way back to see what our local express stores had going on the shelf.

Good timing as the chap was making the final reductions as we got there (8pm, fact fans!) so I snapped up these oranges and lemons all reduced from 35p down to 3p each. They were perfectly fresh and will last a while longer yet.

Also picked up a Moroccan couscous reduced from £2.21 to 22p - that'll do nicely for Mr Kate's lunch!

Plenty of ready-meals reduced to 20p but we swerved those - a great bargain for someone else though!

Recipe: Simple spicy chicken and sweetcorn stew

Simple spicy chicken and sweetcorn stew

Haven't been up to much on the blog of late as have been suffering from girlflu (significantly worse than manflu!) and not feeling particularly inspired. Back in action now though and made this simple spicy chicken and sweetcorn stew last night to blow the final stages of the cold away. This is a really simple recipe which is perfect for a quick midweek dinner.

And, of course, it was as cheap as chips thanks to some cut-price chicken breast chunks I'd found reduced from £4.54 to £1.39 - reductions like that get sent straight into my freezer for a rainy day!

Here's how to make it:

1) Chop an onion and soften gently in a large pan with a glug of oil.
2) Add a few finely chopped or crushed cloves of garlic.
3) Add the chicken breast chunks and brown for a minute or two.
4) Add a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of ground coriander, and a few tablespoons of tomato puree and cook for another minute or so.
5) Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
6) Throw in some frozen sweetcorn (tinned would be fine too) and simmer for another couple of minutes.
7) Done!

I served this with rice and my obligatory sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves (I'm a little obsessed with fresh coriander!). Would make a good jacket potato filling or could be good served with crusty bread too.

The stew served four and cost around £2 in total. Simple, speedy and cheap - just how I like it!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

BBC Radio Northampton lunch challenge: Day four - Cous cous, roast veg and ham salad

Cous cous, roast veg and ham salad

Brightened up my lunch-box today with some colourful veggies in my cut-price cous cous salad. I used some leftover veg I got when visiting the parentals for dinner last night - waste not, want not!

To the left over red pepper, courgette and onion I added a sprinkling of cumin, a glug of lemon olive oil and popped in the oven for 15 mins. A few minutes from the end I threw in a few slices of some chopped up cut-price ham (reduced from £1.79 to 65p).

I made up some cous cous, stirred through the veg and ham, added a drizzle of lemon oil, et voila - lunch, DONE. And for the princely fee of no more than 50p.

Add to that a reduced cinnamon hot cross bun (£1.45 down to 35p for a pack of four) and lunch came in at 59p.

BBC Radio Northampton presenter Stuart Linnell tweeted his lunch today - a McDonald's for £3.10! My lunches for Monday to Thursday this week have cost a grand total of £2.18!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

BBC Radio Northampton lunch challenge: Day three - Chilli, red pepper, celery and pea soup

Chilli, red pepper, celery and pea soup

Day three of the lunch challenge and the pickings have been slim in the bargains stakes so I resorted to using up some cut-price and leftover veg languishing in the fridge.

I had some celery reduced from £1 to 13p, some potatoes reduced from £1.50 to 49p and some chillis reduced from £1.12 to 39p. Only used one chilli, half the celery and a handful of potatoes and teamed them up with some other left-over veg.

Here's how I made the soup:
1) Chop an onion, fresh chilli and a few cloves of garlic and soften in a large pan with a glug of oil.
2) Dice a few potatoes, add to the pan and leave to soften for five minutes.
3) Chop up some celery, red pepper, a few tomatoes and add to the pan.
4) Add a litre of vegetable stock and leave to simmer for 15 minutes or until the veg are all soft.
5) Blitz up with a hand blender and add salt and black pepper to taste.
6) Mr Kate forgot to serve the peas with tonight's dinner so I added them to the soup - waste not want not!
7) Sprinkle a few chilli flakes to serve.

The soup was good but could have done with a bit of meat in it - maybe some chorizo or pancetta would have added a certain je ne sais quoi!

Pricewise this soup came in at just under £1 and has enough for four portions so 25p per portion.
Add to that a 3p yoghurt (reduced from £1.43 to 13p for four!) and another cut-price 6p roll from the freezer and today's lunch of soup, roll and yoghurt is 34p.

Think I might deserve a meal out at the weekend from all the money saved this week!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

BBC Radio Northampton lunch challenge: Day two - Tuna, houmous, red pepper and coriander filling

Another day, another #ShelfWars lunch! I'm not usually a sandwiches kinda gal but actually really enjoyed today's wholemeal sarnies. And, of course, they were cut-price!

I had a pack of Warburtons wholemeal sandwich thins (if you haven't tried these they are actually jolly nice and great if you're counting calories as only 100 per thin) reduced from £1 to 15p for a pack of six and houmous reduced from £1.45 to 45p for three mini pots.

But what to do with them? I added a small tin of tuna (33p a tin), quarter of a red pepper and a few coriander leaves and mixed with the houmous. Sort of like tuna mayo but with houmous instead of mayo. And jolly nice it was too!

So, 5p for the bread, 15p for the houmous, 33p for the tuna, and another few pence for the small amount of red pepper and coriander and we have a grand total of 60p for the sandwiches.

My lunch was rounded off with a creme caramel reduced from £1.04 to 45p for a pack of six so 7.5p for dessert!

Sandwiches and a sweet treat for less than 70p! Hurrah!

Now to plan tomorrow's lunch...!

Monday, 4 February 2013

BBC Radio Northampton lunch challenge: Day one - Parsnip, celeriac and garlic soup

Parsnip, celeriac and garlic soup

Day one of the #ShelfWars lunch challenge from BBC Radio Northampton (see my last blog!) has got off to a great start!

I used some #SOS parsnips (reduced from £1.69 to 29p), celeriac (reduced from £1.40 to 21p) and a lime (reduced from £1.29 to 25p for a bag of five) to make a somewhat experimental soup for next to nothing.

Here's how I made it:
1) Dice an onion and soften it in a pan with a glug of olive oil.
2) Peel and roughly chop some parsnips and a whole celeriac along with a few cloves of garlic to your taste.
3) Add the chopped parsnips, celeriac and garlic to the onion and soften for a few minutes.
4) Add approx one litre of vegetable stock to the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the veg are soft.
5) Blitz up with a hand blender and add black pepper and salt to taste.
6) For a zingy kick squeeze in the juice of a fresh lime and serve.

I had this with the lime juice and Mr Kate had it without - both tasted great but I did like the zing that the lime added. It might sound like an odd addition but I really enjoyed it! The soup was silky smooth too - very pleasant indeed!

The soup cost approx 80p to make when I added in the non-shelf garlic, onion and glug of olive oil, and there was enough for four servings. 20p a serving!

I added a reduced sesame seed roll for 6p from the freezer (reduced from 70p to 38p for a pack of six) and a pot of reduced fresh pineapple and mango reduced from £1.30 to 29p to complete my lunch.

So, day one of the lunch challenge and a grand total of 55p for a two-course lunch packed with several of my five a day fruit and veg portions! Healthy and bargainous!

Beat that BBC Radio Northampton! ;-)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Recipe: Thai coconut chicken

Thai coconut chicken

So apparently today is national Yorkshire pudding day - I seem to have missed the memo about that one and gone for more exotic flavours altogether for our Sunday dinner!

As always, the meal was based around making the most of my latest cut-price buys. Last night I found some free-range chicken breasts reduced from £4.63 to £2.50 as well as a pot of coconut chunks reduced from £1 to 15p. With a bag of reduced chillies in the fridge (£1.12 to 39p) and some limes (£1.29 to 25p for five) something with a Thai influence was clearly on the cards.

Alas, as I was preparing the meal something very rare happened - for once I actually threw out one of my shelf bargains! The coconut, only a day out, did not smell particularly appetising and so was banished to the bin. A rare occurrence but one I thought worthy of mentioning - use your nose and you'll soon know if you should be using the cut-price food or not.

A re-think was in order, but here is how I eventually made the meal:

1) Dice a red pepper, a green chilli, slice a few spring onions and finely chop a clove of garlic and a thumb-sized piece of ginger.
2) Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks.
3) Heat a glug of oil in a wok or large frying pan and brown the chicken for a few minutes.
4) Add the veg and stir fry for another minute.
5) Add a tin of coconut milk, the juice of a fresh lime, a glug of Thai fish sauce and a glug of soy sauce.
6) Leave to simmer for five minutes.
7) Add a handful of frozen peas and leave to cook for another minute or two.
8) Serve with rice and fresh coriander leaves sprinkled over the top.

Simple yet very effective. Mr Kate seemed most pleased with this one!

Pricewise this was a little more expensive that I usually like my meals to be but it still only came in at around £4.50 for the two of us. Coconut milk is rather expensive these days - £1.99 a can for the more well-known brands but we got a lesser known foreign brand for just 89p a can. £2.25 per person isn't bad for a weekend meal but not as cheap as I'd like! The cut-price mission continues!

BBC Radio Northampton lunch challenge!

My first lot of ingredients for BBC Radio Northampton's lunch challenge!

For those of you who are reading this from my neck of the woods (Northampton) you may have heard me being interviewed by Carmela Sereno Hayes for the John Griff show on BBC Radio Northampton this week.

I spent a lovely hour or two in Carmela's company last weekend talking food on a budget (and munching banana muffins!) and the interview was played out on John Griff's show on Wednesday. I was giving tips and hints for finding bargains and turning the yellow labels into tasty meals and, a bit of Twitter banter later, have found myself agreeing to a lunch on a budget challenge!

The show's presenter, John Griff, his new resident foodie Carmela Sereno Hayes, Radio Northampton news editor Laura Cook and my good self are ready to battle Monday to Friday this week to see who can come up with the cheapest, healthiest and tastiest lunches! They are going to be putting the weekly shop to one side and trying to hunt down some cut-price bargains to turn into lunches fit for a foodie.

I've already got tomorrow's lunch sorted with some cut-price celeriac and parsnips ready to turn into a tasty soup - recipe to follow.

Fancy joining in our #ShelfWars challenge? You can follow us all on Twitter @cutpricekate, @Grifster96@lauraj_cook and @carmelahayes - I'm also on Facebook at:

Please do share your photos and recipes - I reckon shelfing novices John and Laura will be in need of some hints and tips! ;-)

Let battle commence!

P.S. You can hear the interview on listen again at this link:

And hear Laura and John set the challenge here: