Thursday, 29 May 2014

£5.10 worth of food for 51p

£5.10 worth of food for 51p

A quick nip in to Tesco Express on the way home tonight and I picked up £5.10 worth of food for just 51p. Two packs of cherry tomatoes each reduced from £1.70 to 17p and a pack of cinnamon and raisin bagels (Mr Kate's faves) again reduced from £1.70 to 17p. 90% savings!

At that price the fresh tomatoes are cheaper than a tin! Bargain!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Recipe: Smoky bean and chunky veg soup

Smoky bean and chunky veg soup

I had quite a bit of reduced veg left in the fridge at the weekend so decided to try and use lots of it up in a soup. I've had a jar of chipotle paste in my cupboard for a while now so thought I'd experiment and make a hot smoky soup.

Here's how I made it but please don't be limited by the veg I've used as you can pretty much throw in whatever veg you have and need to use up!

1) Dice an onion and soften in a pan on a low heat with a glug of oil.
2) Chop two leeks, a few carrots, half a swede and a few sticks of celery.
3) Add a teaspoon of smoked paprika and the chopped veg to the onion and continue to soften for five minutes or so.
4) Add a clove or two of chopped garlic - or a teaspoon from a jar of ready chopped garlic. (I buy jars of chopped garlic from Asian supermarkets as they're very cheap and keep in the fridge for weeks).
5) Stir in two teaspoons of chipotle paste - or more if you want the soup to be extra fiery!
6) Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and give it all a good stir.
7) Fill the empty tin with water and add to the soup.
8) Add a can of drained cannellini beans. (You could use other beans such as black-eye beans, flageolet beans, kidney beans etc.)
9) Add a good grind of black paper and a touch of salt and leave the soup to simmer for 20 minutes or until all the veg is tender, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed.
10) Add a handful of frozen peas and sweetcorn for the final few minutes of cooking.
11) Serve with a sprinkling of coriander leaves and a dash of lime juice for extra zing.

I really enjoyed this soup - although as the weather is starting to turn warmer I need to start making more salads as soup in the summer months never seems quite right to me! A good job the lettuces in our fledgling veg patch look about ready to pick - time to start planning some interesting salads for lunch instead methinks!

Oh and the cost of this soup? About £1 for four portions - I won't list the individual prices for all the reduced vegetables as it was so packed full of veg we'll be here all night!

Smoked haddock fillets for 79p and ten sausages for 99p!

Smoked haddock fillets for 79p and ten sausages for 99p!

A fruitful five minutes in my local mini Co-op on the way home from work tonight! Picked up a pack of ten decent sausages reduced from £3.50 to 99p and smoked haddock fillets reduced from £3 to 79p.

Both straight in to the freezer to use another day. I'm thinking of creating my own take on kedgeree with the smoked haddock - time to plan a new recipe...!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Recipe: Rhubarb and clementine porridge

Rhubarb and clementine porridge

I've really got into eating porridge for breakfast of late. However I do have a confession to make - I've been having the individual sachets pre-packed with fruity bits. But the cost adds up and, when I saw this 1kg bag of porridge oats in Morrisons for just 75p, I decided it was time to change!

And I'm certainly glad I did - not just for the price but also for the taste. Today I made rhubarb and clementine porridge for a fraction of the price and a much better taste.

Here's how I made it to serve one - simply up the quantities to make for more people:

1) Chop a stalk of rhubarb and slice a clementine in half.
2) Put the rhubarb in a saucepan with the juice of the clementine and one or two teaspoons of brown sugar.
3) Heat gently on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for around 10 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.
4) Add half a cup of porridge oats to a separate saucepan with one and a half cups of milk.
4) Bring to the boil and then simmer for around five minutes - making sure you stir now and then to avoid the porridge sticking to the pan.
5) Transfer the porridge to a bowl, add the rhubarb and then drizzle the remaining juice from the rhubarb around the edge of the porridge.
6) Enjoy!

I really loved this - the best bowl of porridge I've ever had. The clementine juice set the rhubarb off perfectly and added a lovely zing to the porridge.

The rhubarb was free from Mr Kate's Uncle Gerald's veg patch - we've got some growing in our fledgling veg patch at the mo as well but it doesn't seem to be doing too well unfortunately.

The clementine was left over from a bag of reduced fruit and cost just 7p. So allowing 3p for the sugar, 7p for the clementine, 15p for the milk and 5p for the oats, this came in at 30p per portion. If you need to keep the costs down even more you can of course replace the milk with water to make the porridge or use half water and half milk. It won't be as creamy but will still taste great.

If you have a satsuma, mandarin or orange lingering in your fruit bowl then these are a great replacement for the clementine - just make the most of whatever fruit you have and need to use up.

No more porridge sachets for me (well, when I've finished the two packs I've got left!) - it's proper porridge all the way from now!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Recipe: Tortilla wrap pizzas

Tortilla wrap pizzas 

Love pizza but don't love the calories? I made these lighter option pizzas when I stumbled across a packet of wholemeal wraps reduced from £1.89 to just 10p. We always seem to have a few wraps left in a packet whenever we have fajitas - wrap pizzas are the way forward to use them up! They're also a great way of using up leftover veg and meat from your fridge.

I made these by spreading a dollop of chilli pesto on each wrap as a replacement for a tomato base. I then lightly fried a few leftover slices of bacon chopped up with a yellow pepper, some spring onions and a sprinkling of cajun spices. I also threw in a handful of frozen sweetcorn. Once the topping was cooked I popped it on the bases along with a grating of cheese for Mr Kate. No cheese for me though as I'm really not a fan!

I then popped them into a pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese melted and the base was crisp. And there you have it - a pizza with about half the calories but still full of flavour. And they cost me next to nothing!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Recipe: Spicy cottage pie with root veg mash for 25p per portion

Recipe: Spicy cottage pie with root veg mash for 25p per portion

I was delighted to come home the other day to find that Mr Kate had bought two packs of mince reduced from £2 to 20p! They went straight in the freezer to use another day.

I love cooking with mince; it's so cheap and easy and proper comfort food too. But I do like to try creating different recipes with it instead of sticking to the usual chilli con carne or bolognese. So tonight I teamed up the mince with some reduced root vegetables to create a spicy cottage pie.

Here's how I made it (and my all important prices too!)...


500g of mince (20p)
Half a bag of parsnips (5p)
Half a swede (15p)
Three carrots (10p)
One onion (10p)
One fresh chilli (4p)
Garlic - I used a teaspoon from a jar of ready chopped garlic or you could use one or two cloves of fresh garlic. (5p) 
A handful of tomatoes (10p)
Glug of oil (5p)
Ground coriander (5p) 
Cumin (5p)
Beef stock cube (4p)
Salt and pepper (1p)

1) Chop the parsnips, swede and carrots and boil until tender.
2) Whilst the veg are boiling, dice an onion and soften on a low heat in a frying pan with a glug of oil.
3) Chop the chilli (leave the seeds in if you want it extra spicy) and add to the onions along with the garlic.
4) Add the mince to the onions and cook until browned.
5) Chop a few tomatoes and add to the mince along with a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of ground coriander and a crumbled stock cube.
6) Add a splash of water to the mince.
7) Spoon the mince into an oven-proof dish.
8) Mash the veg and add a dollop of butter or drop of milk if you like (I didn't as we're counting the calories at the mo!) and add to the top of the mince, using a fork to finish the top.
9) Grind a little black pepper and salt over the topping.
10) Cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes until nice and brown on the top.

Once my head had got round the fact that this wasn't a traditional cottage pie with the usual spuds, I really rather enjoyed this! A lighter and much healthier version of cottage pie and packed with veg.

We had the pie with Tenderstem broccoli - reduced of course from £1.49 to 19p!

The cottage pie came in at exactly £1 for four portions - 25p each. Bargainous!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Recipe: Stewed plums, peaches and mint with yoghurt

Stewed plums, peaches and mint with yoghurt

We often find bargain fruit in the reduced aisle and it's always good to do something different with it instead of leaving it in the fruit bowl to eat on its own.

Stewing fruit is an excellent way of making the most of reduced fruit. If you get a big haul of fruit in then simply stew it up and have in the fridge for several days worth of breakfast or desserts. Or even better - portion it off and freeze to enjoy another time.

Last night we stewed up some plums and peaches for this morning's breakfast - and tomorrow's too! It's really simple to do - we sliced the fruit, added to a saucepan with two spoons of brown sugar and a little lemon juice, and then simply let them stew over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft but still with a slight bite. We also chopped some fresh mint from the garden and added to the fruit to give it a little extra je ne sais quoi!

This morning we portioned the fruit into four glasses and poured over half an Actimel yoghurt drink (reduced of course!).
And the cost?

Two peaches = 19.5p (from a punnet of four reduced to 39p)
Six plums = 24p (reduced from £1.20)
Lemon = 5p
Sugar = 5p
Two bottles of Actimel = 25p (reduced from £2.95 to 99p for eight)
Mint = from the garden

So a total of 78.5p for four portions - just under 20p per portion for a healthy breakfast and two of your five a day!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

£18.49 worth of food and plants for £2.79

£18.49 worth of food and plants for £2.79

Well, I've had quite a busy day today - quite unexpectedly my blog was featured on the Daily Mail website and I've had so many lovely tweets, Facebook messages and emails as a result! (Oh and some rather hilarious negative comments on the Mail Online - my favourite being someone saying they hope I get worms, much to my amusement!).

Anyway, despite it being rather frantic, I still managed to pop into Tesco and Waitrose on my way home for my usual five minute check of the reduced section to see what I could make use of! And I'm certainly glad I did as I found some excellent bargains - in total I bought £18.49 worth of food (and plants!) for just £2.79.

Here's what I nabbed:

Two bags of parsnips reduced from £1 to 10p per bag
Seeded loaf reduced from £1.50 to 15p
Tenderstem broccoli reduced from £1.49 to 19p
Pears reduced from £2 to 39p
Peaches reduced from £2.50 to 39p
Three pot plants reduced from £3 to 49p each

The fruit and veg were all perfectly fine and nowhere near past their best - several days left to enjoy those at least.

Now I've just got to plan what to make with all the bargains - anyone got any good parsnip recipes?!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Day 5 #BelowTheLine: 99.5p for three meals

Day 5 #BelowTheLine: 99.5p for three meals

Finally it's the end of #BelowTheLine - what a week!

My last day living #BelowTheLine started with another smoothie - this time with strawberries and raspberry yoghurt. The yoghurt was the last of the reduced ones I bought a few days ago. About four days out of date but tasted absolutely fine and I'm still standing! Breakfast total = 17.5p

Lunch was tricky as I was travelling to Sheffield for work so needed a packed lunch. Egg rolls it was - a bit stinky on the train though! More reduced rolls (4.5p each) and two of our cheap farm eggs (6.5p each) meant 22p for lunch. I also managed to keep a few strawberries aside from the breakfast smoothie as a mid-afternoon snack.

Dinner was time for a bit of creativity with a pack of Morrisons sausage meat reduced from £2.99 to 69p. We chopped an onion (10p) and mixed it into the meat before shaping them in to patties and cooking them on a griddle. Add to that the leftover reduced potatoes (19.5p), the rest of the reduced spinach (16.5p) and a veg patch leek (5p) and we reached a total of £1.20 for two people. So dinner per person was 60p.

That made a grand total of 99.5p for my three meals today.

And there we have it - #BelowTheLine is over. I hope I've shown that it is possible to eat three decent, healthy and balanced meals on £1 a day - hard work, yes... but it is possible. However I'm acutely aware that if you're living in real poverty it would be a very different matter.

Last year I was invited to speak about cooking on a budget at Bromford Support - a social business that helps people who are dealing with issues such as unemployment, homelessness and poverty. I met a man who had been struggling but, thankfully, had got his life back on track. He told me how he had resorted to picking food out of bins to survive. He said he could live out of bins or turn to crime. He chose bins.

His reality at the time was that when he did have a little money to buy food he ended up buying ready to eat food or takeaways. Why? Because he had no cooking utensils. And no money for electricity and gas to power an oven or microwave - or even boil a kettle.

Eating cheaply is a fun challenge for me - not a necessity. I make the most of the yellow stickers and bargain offers to save money for the nicer things in life. So if you've ever read my blog and gone out and saved a few pounds here and there on your weekly shop as a result, please consider donating a little and sponsoring my #BelowTheLine £1 a day challenge. I'm raising money for The Global Poverty Project and there is still time to donate at:

Thanks to everyone who has donated so far and helped me to raise £220.

I'm back to eating normally tomorrow - no more £1 a day for the time being... but I'll still be hunting down bargains to turn them into something fabulous so watch this space for more cut-price action coming soon!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Day 4 #BelowTheLine: 96p for three meals

Day 4 #BelowTheLine: 96p for three meals

Day four of #BelowTheLine and I'm seriously getting bored of toast and reduced soup sachets. However, I'm just living on a pound a day for five days and have light at the end of the tunnel - other people aren't so lucky so I mustn't grumble.

Breakfast was plain wholemeal toast. Again. But it only cost 2p. Thank goodness that loaf is finished. 

Lunch was a 5p reduced soup sachet and toast. Again. But only cost 7p which meant I could spend 25p to enjoy half a punnet of strawberries that Mr Kate bought from the market yesterday for just 50p. 

So 34p for breakfast and lunch, leaving plenty to play with for dinner! Funny how I'm calling 66p plenty!

Cue another cut-price bargain - lamb mince reduced from £1.99 to 59p. And from Waitrose again! Time to use up some of the other ingredients from this week and make a bolognese. Here's how I kept it in budget:

59p mince
20p tomatoes (from the reduced pack the other day)
10p onion
5p chilli
5p oil
14.5p pasta (the rest of the pack we used on day one)
5p spices
5p soup sachet (the soup sachet saved the meal - it was one of these squeeze and stir soups so comes out like a tomato puree and made the bolognese nice and rich).

= 123.5p total for two

So 61.75p each - let's call it 62p! That makes a grand total of 96p for all three meals today.

The good news is I've now used up all my 5p soup sachets - if I never see another one it'll be too soon!

Tomorrow might be hard - I'm working out of the office and travelling to Sheffield. Time for some serious planning methinks.

One more day to go - thank goodness I don't have to live like this every day, unlike some poor souls.