Thursday, January 04, 2007

Having Fun

My 'Rule of Four' was devised some many years back when I discovered that foods fit into four categories: (1) dairy, (2) meat/fish, (3) fruit and veg. (4) groceries. The idea then was to each week divide your food allowance by four then go out and shop, trying spend a little less than one quarter on each category. It wasm and still is, a good way to find out more about which foods are the 'best buys', and also a way to start saving.
Because, for this challenge, I am shopping in bulk, I can spend a lot less that a quarter of the £250 budget on meat and fish. This is because the more I have in store at any one time, the less I seem to need overall. As I have said before, I don't know why, but it does seem to work. This is why my meat budget waas set at £30 to last us for ten weeks, and yesterday saw me spending £28.34p at the butchers coming home with:
2 lbs quality beef mince - £5.50
1 lb minced pork - £2.70
2 lbs diced stewing steak - £7.00
1 lb diced mutton - £3.85
2 lbs diced chicken - £7.30
1 lb lambs liver - £1.99
Being quality meat, the cost is more than we would pay at the supermarket, even though that would leave us with more cash to spare. But we're not happy with second best, are we?

The meat was packed away in small amounts '- putting my hand in a small plastic bag, grabbing a handful of meat and then turning the bag over onto it, thus hands never actually touch the meat. One big handful is around 8 oz which is more than enough (together with other ingredients) for two portions and always, always I make it stretch to three (and even four).

The stewing steak will be used in casseroles and curries; the minced pork was divided into four to put with an equal share of the minced beef - for spag.bol meat sauce which will be cooked with finely diced vegetables making loads and loads to be used for various dishes, the remaining minced beef maybe for chili con carne, cottage pie etc.
The mutton was for a Rogan Josh curry, and maybe a Lancashire Hot-Pot; the diced chicken mainly for curries or stir-fries.
The liver was divided into small packs, each of which, once partly thawed, will be cut into narrow strips (called 'gougons' if you want to impress and meat is easie to slice or cut if still slightly frozen), to then be tossed in flour and fried for a very few minutes in the bacon fat (served with bacon, potatoes and cabbage).
One must not forget the 'free' chicken carcases (to be collected from the butcher this Saturday (he hadn't any on Wednesday) - to make stock and to gather more cooked chicken from the bones.
The fish, well - not enough money left to allow for much , but quite a bit has already been bought from the supermarket, and the price taken into account, so not too concerned about that.

Yesterday - as mentioned, we had a plateful of cold meats and salads. The home-cooked chicken and ham were excellent. With two slices each of chicken and ham, two slices of corned beef, one big sausage, a variety of salads, and a jacket potato, there was so much that my husband's portion was served on a small meat plate. My more modest portion ( one slice each of ham and chicken, two of corned beef and one sausage, plus salads and jacket potato) overfilled my dinner plate. We both struggled to finish. Despite this, later in the evening my husband managed to force down a helping of TOPud. With cream. Me - I couldn't manage another mouthful.

Today's main meal will be vegetable curry. Almost certainly using up some of the onions, butternut squash, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots. Taking the easy way out by using half a jar of curry sauce (decant and freeze the rest for later). Plenty of side dishes to tuck into - mango chutney, raita, dessicated coconut, flaked almonds, sultanas, hard-boiled eggs, maybe even sliced banana. Rice, pre-soaked and cooked with bay leaves for flavour, plus some crushed cardoman seeds.
Possibly the end of the first tub of ice-cream to follow.
I had thought of making samosas, and using the naan bread I have in the freezer, but too much too soon will deplete my stocks. I want to finish the MCC with a bang. A week of feasting in mid-March. So am keeping tight hold of the reins for the first few weeks, and just enjoying myself. See you tomorrow.