Economy Gastronomy- HELP!

Hi All

I'm new to the boards and have just started on my debt free journey! I'm trying to cut back where I can and decided that food is one area that I'm completely stuck with. I watched Economy Gastronomy by chance last night, and I have to say, although they seemed like a nice family- I didn't really get the impression that they were the kind who needed to spend less on food, £410 a week :eek: thats more than I earn! :eek: Anyway, I thought the principle of the idea was good, but I found it really difficult to relate to or interpret the show, since the budget was still so incredibly high (compared to my measly £70 a month) this is what brings me here!

I was wondering if anyone could give me any pointers on how I could do the same sort of thing, but on a much smaller scale? I find that I can stick to my food budget, but thats because I only buy the cheapest and frankly blandest food I can find- I normally end up with 15 packets of 9p noodles, a huge bag of pasta, potatos etc, and I pretty much eat the same thing ALL the time. Needless to say, this is starting to grate on me and I always end up having a mid week breakdown and ordering a chinese or buying loads of chocolate :o

I'd love to be able to make a decent meal everynight, and wouldn't mind taking the leftovers to work the next day for lunch- and thats another thing, how on earth did the mum hold down a full time job, 5 children and all that cooking?! I dont think even I'd have the time to cook that much and I'm 23 single and childless :rotfl:anyway, I digress! Basically, I'd like to make nice healthy meals, I am allergic to fish and fish products and I only have a tiny freezer, and my abilities in the kitchen are *ahem* limited :rolleyes: but if anyone could give me any pointers of where to start I'd be very grateful!

Thankyou, and sorry about such a long post :D



  • misskool
    misskool Posts: 12,833
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Start with what you like to eat and tell us what you can and can't cook. :)

    Then make a list of everything in your cupboards and see what you have lurking around.

    How many days can you eat the same meal (nicely cooked) before you get bored?

    I commute 2.5 hours a day and have a batch cooking day at the weekend where I make the meals or prep the basis for the meals and it takes 2-3 hours but then every meal during the week is homecooked. I keep all the meals cooked in the fridge, don't freeze anything (as it'll take too long when we get home).

  • randomer
    randomer Posts: 275 Forumite
    Could you get a bigger freezer. It's initial outlay but ultimately will be worthwhile.
  • Bitsy_Beans
    Bitsy_Beans Posts: 9,640
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I meal plan and stick to it (although have been slipping a bit lately). That way I only buy what I need for the week.
    I do find a decent sized freezer invaluable, that way you can cook large portions and freeze the rest. Just the thing when you have those lazy nights when you can't be bothered to cook.
    I have a gift for enraging people, but if I ever bore you it'll be with a knife :D Louise Brooks
    All will be well in the end. If it's not well, it's not the end.
    Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars
  • I live in a flat and wouldn't have anywhere to put a freezer, even if I did have the money to buy one. I know its something that would be really useful but sadly it would just be impossible. I do have enough room in the one I have to fit a few things in, its bigger than an icebox :p

    misskool- At the moment I'm eating the same thing everyday- normally go without breakfast, lidl lentil soup for lunch, then either packet of noodles for dinner, pasta with a tomato sauce, or a jacket potato with cheese or beans, or sometimes just margarine if its the end of the month! Anything on that would be an improvement, ideally I'd eat something different every night, but realistically I could put up with anything!

    I'll eat pretty much anything apart from fish and shellfish, not a fussy eater at all will eat all meats and veg the only thing I really tend to shy away from is medeterrainian (sp?) flavours and ingrediants. I'm okish at cooking, I just dont have all the eqipment the cookbooks tell me I need but I would be willing to spend much more time cooking if it meant a nicer meal at the end.

    Thanks again

  • misskool
    misskool Posts: 12,833
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Are you making your own lentil soup or buying it?

    It's easy to make your own soup. Chop an onion, some garlic, fry it off, add some veggies (carrots etc) and then pour over some stock (chicken/veg, fresh or made up from a stock cube) and then pour in some lentils. Cook till lentil are soft. Whizz it up if you like it smoother.

    An easy base for meals is mince. One packet of mince (500g) will do us about 6 meals, 2 dinners for 2 people and 2 lunches for me. chop an onion, fry it off and add the mince. Add vegetables chopped up, I like brocolli and carrots and whatever I can get my hands on cheap, then pour a can of chopped tomatoes on it.(if you are using a can of normal tomatoes, bash it with a spoon to break the tomatoes up). simmer 10-15 mins. Season and eat with pasta/rice/couscous.

    Add grated cheese if you like.

    When bored of bolognaise, add a tin of kidney beans some chilli powder, some cumin some coriander and call it chilli.

    when bored of chilli, add some curry paste and call it curry.

    Roast chicken is easy peasy too, and once you're started on the rubber chicken, you'll be hooked for life :D
    Buy one medium or small chicken, wash and pat dry. season with salt and pepper, dribble with olive oil or push some small pats of butter under the breast so it stays moist. Stuff with half an onion and a couple of wedges of lemon.
    Cook according to packet. Then make your roast trimmings. Parboil potatoes for a few minutes, fluff up by draining the water and shaking it on the pan then chuck in roasting tin (with or after chicken has been rested). Then cook up some veggies.

    then over the next few days, reincarnate chicken into sandwiches for lunch or as a basis for couscous or pasta salad. Make chicken curry one night then when you've picked all the meat off the bones, make a stir fry with noodles.

    Then boil bones for stock for lentil soup.

  • "When bored of bolognaise, add a tin of kidney beans some chilli powder, some cumin some coriander and call it chilli.

    when bored of chilli, add some curry paste and call it curry."

    I had to laugh at that, I had no idea mince could be so versatile! :D

    I love the chicken idea, think I'll give that a go this sunday, how do I make the chicken stock from the bones? Once its made do I freeze it until I need it again?

    Whats rubber chicken?! :o

    I'm amazed that its so easy to make my own lentil soup, I love lentils, can I freeze that too once its done?
  • If you can't afford mince, or want to free up some money for some chocolate ( like I would!!) you can use lentils and grated carrots in place of mince in that recipie ^ :) Actually surprisingly nice, and super duper cheap!!

    How about making some rattatouie(sp?!?!) basically chop up whatever veg you have/like steam until almost cooked, then throw in a pan with a tin of tomatos, a squeeze of lemon and whatever herbs you have lying around (I like either lots of garlic, or some chilli!) Then you can serve with pasta, on a jacket potato, or make a lovely veggie lasagna.

    Rubber chicken is amazing, I am such a convert since I started reading this forum!! It's basically what misskool saif to you about using 1 chicken for a weeks worth of meals!!

    1 thing I would say is where do you buy food from? If it's a big supermarket, you would probably be better off going to Aldi or Lidl for a lot of things, and maybe a market for veg?

    OH, and if you like peanut butter, this recepie is one of my faves and super cheap :)

    -cook some noodles, rinse in cold water and set aside with some sesame oil (if you have some, don't worry if not)
    - find some leftover chicken/ cook up some mushrooms/squash/whatever
    - make a salad (no lettuce or tomato though) usually I just use spring onion and cucumber!
    - cook half a finely chopped onion, 1 crushed clove garlic and a few chilli flakes in a little oil until soft, then add a big spoonful of peanut butter (crunchy!) ans stir.
    -add some veg/chicken stock a little at a time until you get a smooth but not runny consistency.
    -put noodles on plate, topped with salad, topped with chicken/veg, and spoon over sauce. NOM!
    Feb GC: £197 :T / £320 Feb £5 a day challenge: £ / £145
    I'm a (rubbish) Flylady!
    Still De-cluttering in 2012!!!
  • Chell
    Chell Posts: 1,683
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker

    I'm amazed that its so easy to make my own lentil soup, I love lentils, can I freeze that too once its done?

    There is a really easy dhal recipe on the board made with split peas that you might like. I freeze portions and my DH takes it to work with a mini Nan bread. You could also eat it with rice or as a jkt spud topping.
    Nevermind the dog, beware of the kids!
  • quiche is easy to make use a packet mix pasty will make 2 quiches then mix egg milk salt and pepper in bowl. put pasty in flan dishes and lay your filling in i do bacon and mushroom pour over egg mix and cook. then u could eat that with home made chips (in oven if no frier) or potatoes. cut the rest into portions put some in the fridge to take to work and some in the freezer. also if u have it with potatos u could mash it and fry it up and serve with beans the next day its yummy.
    can make your own chinse to depending what u like is how easy it is. i have chicken chowmien which is just egg noodles (dried) mushrooms beansprouts(optional) chicken (i don't like off the bone chiocken for this but if u have space a bag of frozen chicken is cheap esp home brands) and u can get some chow mien sauce in little sacget its about 50p really easy just throw it in super quick to

    i could go on all day but i won't lol
    also with eggs u can make omlete super quick and easy mix 2 eggs, milk, filling in a bowl and pour in omlette (small frying pan) cook bottom and place under grill to could top once cooked u could grate cheese onto it.
    another thing from mince is burgers.
  • OH! And a really cheap way of making a pasta bake, is to use a tin of soup (my fave is tomato) with some garlic and herbs thrown in, whatever leftover veg/meat you have lying around and some cooked pasta, bake in the oven with some grated cheese (if you have any!) mmmmm :) If you use tomato soup, add in some tomato puree, it makes it less soup like! But once it's mixed with the pasta and veg, and has herbs and stuff in it it really doesn't taste like soup anyway. SO much cheaper than those pasta bake sauce jars!
    Feb GC: £197 :T / £320 Feb £5 a day challenge: £ / £145
    I'm a (rubbish) Flylady!
    Still De-cluttering in 2012!!!
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