I’ve been thinking about how I make my shop “thrifty” – after all that is the name of the website. Which in turn lead to me thinking – rather than just talk in general about being “thrifty” – why not show it?
(I’ve not received any kind of kick back, or promise of goods from any of the suppliers linked to in this post).
I do a main shop every other week – when the benefits get paid. That does mean having to think about a fortnight’s shopping at a time but it also means that once all the main components are brought – I don’t have to worry about it again till the next benefit payment.
What this also means is that I end up walking around all the local supermarkets every other Wednesday to see what is on offer, take stock of what’s already in the freezer, and work out a rough meal plan to fit.
The Thrifty Dieter’s Thrifty Shop – 13th July 2017
Somehow I’ve just realised that I’ve forgotten to include bacon in the above photo – but then I suspect we all know what bacon looks like. So let’s start with that.
Bacon is much more expensive than it used to be – but then so is everything else. I tend to buy bacon from one of two places as I do use a lot of it. If I only need a few rashers – then my local Heron is usually a good bet – 99p for 200g is the standard at the moment (sometimes it’ll be on a buy 2 for £1.70 of something similar but not this week). But almost without fail, every fortnight I buy the big 1kg pack from Aldi – £3.69. This will generally do me through the fortnight (and then some). Last time I counted a pack – there was over 24 rashers in there – so anything I don’t use immediately gets stuck in freezer bags (two or three rashers a bag). Then I’ve nearly always got some bacon to hand but have the fall back of Heron as above if I do run out.
What am I going to do with all that bacon?
Well, I’ve been blessed by being given a load of meat and the bacon will be wrapping that meat. Why wrap with bacon? Like most Food Optimisers – if I’m cooking chicken I’m faced with the choice:
- Cook it in the skin and then face having to throw the nice (hopefully crispy) chicken skin away.
- Or remove the skin before cooking and end up with dry meat? (And the same goes for pork fillet if roasting it).
So, some of that big pack of bacon will be used to wrap around skinless chicken thighs (originally from Aldi – £1.89) – if I’m feeling energetic later, I may also bone them and stuff them with a few mashed up Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary sausages (syn free). I choose to skin (and bone) my chicken thighs myself – because I get more chicken thighs for less money that way. Yes, it’s a yucky job as it means having to pull off the skin, etc, but it doesn’t take more than a minute a thigh and I save so much over the “fillets” that to me it’s worth it. This is I should add, at least two meals for me – if I stuff the thighs too – then that stretches them out to 3 meals a pack.
I also make a mean meatloaf – that’ll be wrapped in bacon too – if nothing else it helps hold it together a bit better. I’ll probably detail that recipe another time – but as well as the bacon – it costs £1.99 for the 5% fat pork mince from Aldi, and goes for 3 or 4 meals as well.
I was also recently given a piece of pork fillet – and I knew immediately what I’m going to do with that. Bacon wrapped stuff pork fillet. Not sure I agree with it being “cheap as chips” as pork fillet isn’t always that cheap, but I won’t be buying a second piece – just butterfly and pound out this one piece and stuff with as much stuffing as it’ll take. I had this last Christmas – and a few other times – I’d not use as much lemon as the recipe says as it can be over powering. I’ve also been known to syn some dried apricots (or have them as my Healthy Extra B choice) to add to the stuffing to.
I’m including the number of servings I expect out of each of these because on the surface adding the cost of these ingredients together may not seem “thrifty” – but “thrifty” doesn’t have to be reducing cost, it can be about finding ways of making things go further. I’ll happily pay £5 for a cut of meat – knowing it’s going to do 4 or 5 servings (or more), but as much as I love a good steak – I won’t spend £5 on a single steak except maybe at Christmas. I also don’t see why being thrifty has to compromise on being tasty.
Pineapple and passion fruit.
Both from Aldi, the pineapple is in the current “Super 6” range at 75p which beats even the local market’s usual price. This will end up top/tailed/quartered/cored before being removed from the skin and cut into wedges for the freezer – in the hope that the good weather returns. A healthy alternative to an Ice Lolly. (Just a shame it’s not a speed food eh?).
The passion fruit (89p for 3 in Aldi) – this will be served in rice pudding, or on top of flavoured quark (flavoured with whatever I fancy at the time – chocolate is always a good one). When I did my usual prowl around Tesco yesterday who had theirs reduced to £1 (from £1.25) and was going to buy those as a “treat” till I noticed Aldi stocking them again. This is why I go checking each week before I go shopping – I know where to go to get what I want at the cheapest price.
The one thing to note about both of these items – they’re not ripe yet. That’ll take at least another 3 or 4 days (if not longer) but all supermarkets are guilty of conditioning us that what they present in fruit is at it’s best – but often it isn’t. Yes, it is firm to the touch. Yes the skin is smooth and looks nice, but the actual fruit needs more time.
Arla Skyr Yogurt
OK – this may end up back firing on me – and go out of date before I can use it all. But the two tubs cost £1 – that’s both, not each. Heron again I’m afraid on that one. Backfiring because there’s only 6 days on the “Use By” date – and I hate throwing food away. However – it does mean an ample supply of yogurt for:
- Overnight Oats (if you’ve not heard of Overnight Oats – it’s cold porridge using a Healthy Extra B amount of porridge oats (typically 40g but check what you have) in yogurt, Quark, etc. and preferably overnight, and served with fruit. Variations include using Grape-Nuts (which also make a nice hot desert – but I’ll detail that recipe another time) instead of oats, or crushing 2 Weetabix amongst other things.
- Simply with fresh or frozen fruit.
- As the base of a marinade for some chicken mixed with some Tandoori Masala spices I have in the cupboard.
Almond Drink (Milk)
One or other brand of Almond drink is nearly always on offer somewhere – at the moment it’s the Blue Diamond Almond milk in Tesco – long life only – £1.50 each or 3 for £3 (or buy 2 and get the third free). This really is a luxury item I guess but I only buy it when it’s on offer and you get so much more as the Healthy Extra A allowance – up to a litre. Up to? It depends on brand and style and can range from 575ml to a whole litre. This Blue Diamond Almond one however comes in at 875ml for the Healthy Extra A and 0.5 a syn per extra 100ml – so not too bad.
Smash instant potato
Yes, it’s cheating. Yes – I could boil/mash my own for less, but that’s so much effort sometimes and hard to vary the consistency doing it that way. I also only pay £1 for that tub – again from Heron (which can be up to £2 in other supermarkets).
I’ll use that tub on toppings for cottage pie or as the base of a potato fry/bake (recipes to come). The cottage pie tends to require a looser consistency than that of the bake/fry which needs it to be quite a stiff consistency – and I can’t alter that with “proper” mash as easily as I can with instant mash.
What you will never see me doing however is “smash pizza bases” or “smash scones”. TWEAK ALERT; TWEAK ALERT; TWEAK ALERT. (Another subject for another day).
Forget the £1 flash on the box – this was 75p from Best Before (which I mentioned on my previous post – their website is currently down, but you can always “like” their Facebook page). I only buy the smallest packs at a time on anything like Weetabix – as I have this habit of eating multiple servings, so having this size pack helps to control that. It’s also cheaper then the main supermarkets – even buying the 24 biscuit packs of the actual Weetabix brand (There are other brands of wheat biscuit cereals out there however). So bulk buying isn’t always cheaper.
Combined with the stuff I already have in the freezer, along with this shop – I’m set for main meals for the fortnight. All I have to do is buy fruit and veg. Market day tomorrow – so I’ll be adding to the fruit stock pile then no doubt. Am I happy with the thrifty approach today – yes, some good bargains in there. Could I have done better? Possibly – if I didn’t have this self-control issue around things like Weetabix.
(It should be noted – this isn’t all I brought – there were things like the pork mince for the meatloaf. I’ve just included the items where I applied my interpretation of “thrift” and being “thrifty”).