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!

Monday, 18 March 2013

90% off Waitrose food - £19.14 worth of food for £1.84!

90% off Waitrose food - £19.14 worth of food for £1.84!

Took mum out for the afternoon yesterday and stopped off at Waitrose on the way back just before closing... and my, what a lovely haul we got to share between us!

Two packs of speciality mushrooms reduced from £1.99 to 10p, Charlotte potatoes down from £1.49 to 15p, chillies down from 99p to 10p, prawn noodle salad down from £2.75 to 19p, pesto pasta salad down from £2 to 19p, loaves down to 23p, coleslaw down to 15p...

In total, £19.14 worth of food down to £1.84! Over 90% off!

The potatoes and chillies will last for at least another week or two, the mushrooms went in our stir-fry tonight and Mr Kate and my dad had one of the salads each for their lunches today.

I love shopping like this - making the most of whatever cheap deals you can find instead of one big weekly shop saves us so much money on food. We've more than halved our monthly spend on food since we started looking out for the cut-price bargains!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

£11.26 worth of food for £3!

£11.26 worth of food for £3!
One of the tricks to eating cheaply? Ditch the weekly shop and simply pop in to your local supermarket whenever you're passing!

That's what I did last night on the way out to dinner with Mr Kate at our local Indian restaurant - I insisted on dragging the poor boy into the two mini supermarkets we passed before and after the meal to see what was on the reduced shelf!

We were rewarded with this haul of good reductions which included two cabbages reduced from 95p to 25p, wraps reduced from £1.70 to 50p, sandwich thins down from £1.36 to 50p, and the best bargains - chicken tikka slices reduced from £3.15 to 75p. £11.26 worth of food for £3!

Bread into the freezer and I'm thinking chicken salad for my packed lunch on Monday. Mum will be delighted when I see her later today with a gift of a reduced cabbage - her favourite veg! I'm so very generous! ;-)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Recipe: Stewed plums with orange and cinnamon

Stewed plums with orange and cinnamon
I used to love it as a kid when my mum made stewed plums, served with lashings of Bird's custard... delish. But I've never made them myself so when I spotted two punnets of yellow-stickered plums (£1 reduced to 45p) I thought it was time to give stewed plums a whirl myself.

Not sure how my mum used to make them (if you're reading this mum then feel free to leave a comment at the end of the blog with your recipe!) but here's how I made mine, adapted from a Tesco recipe at

1) De-stone and quarter the plums (I ended up with about 750g of plums).
2) Juice two oranges and add to 400ml of water in a pan.
3) Heat the orange juice and water with 100g of cinnamon sugar. (I had sugar which already had cinnamon in it but you could use normal sugar with a sprinkling of cinnamon or, even better, a cinnamon stick).
4) Slowly heat until boiling, stirring occasionally, and then add the plums and simmer for 15 minutes.
5) Delicious served hot or cold!

When I talk about my blog and yellow stickered habits, people often ask how we manage to use up the fresh fruit and veg we buy before it goes off.

I bought these plums a few days ago and they certainly needed using today - but by stewing them they'll now keep for several days more in the fridge and we will be tucking into them for breakfast with a dollop of yoghurt, or as a dessert with ice-cream or custard.

The oranges I used I actually bought for 3p each a few weeks ago - and they were still perfectly fine to use! Just because the date says they're past their best doesn't mean you can't still use them!

Recipe: Rocket and potato soup

Rocket and potato soup
Finally getting round to writing up the recipe for this rocket soup I made a few weekends ago - apologies for the lack of blogging these past few weeks!

Anyway, the soup was a bit of an experiment to use up leftover rocket. I don't know about you but I always find that if I don't use up salad leaves straight away, they tend to end up languishing in the fridge until they get thrown out. I hate wasting food so when I saw the box of rocket I had was a little wilted and past its best for eating as salad I thought I'd try whizzing it up into some soup. And mighty tasty it was too!

Here's how to make it:

1) Wash the rocket and leave to drain.
2) Chop a large potato and boil until tender.
3) Chop a few cloves of garlic and an onion then soften in a large saucepan with a glug of oil.
4) Make up a litre of vegetable or chicken stock.
5) Add the potatoes and veg stock to the onions and garlic and bring to the boil.
6) Add a few grinds of black pepper and salt.
7) Add the rocket and simmer for a few minutes.
8) Whizz up the soup in a blender or with a hand blender.
9) Serve with salt and pepper to taste.

I really enjoyed this soup and it cost around £1 for four portions. It tasted so healthy and peppery - like it was cleansing my insides! I certainly won't be wasting any leftover rocket again!