Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Domino Effect

The intention on this site is not to spoon-feed readers, but to start everyone off and give them the freedom to find their own (and most enjoyable) way to cut costs. Some may choose to spend less, others to cook more. The clever ones do both. So today, although giving some good Tesco bargains, with suggestions for use, hope that you will make your own comparisons with other stores. It has to be said that in many cases, the more expensive the product, the better flavour it will have, but just because one is low-priced, that doesn't mean it is not worth using. We can always improve a flavour by using other ingredients such as herbs and spices, a pinch of sugar or knob of butter. Garlic and onions work wonders.
Below are some cheapo products taken from Tesco's on-line site, and all are own-brand, usually 'value' packs. Suggestions are given as to how they can be used. Please note, these are the prices at the time this posting was first published. It will be interesting to see how prices have risen as time passes.

Sardines: 17p can. Use in the normal way.
Soups: 18p can: Use chicken, tomato and vegetable as a cheaper version of 'cook-in' sauce.
Canned New potatoes: 25p use for frittata, potato salad. Suggestions for these have already been posted.
Mushy Peas: 19p can: a pinch of sugar and a wee knob of butter when heating much improves them.
Jelly: 8p: use as flavoured gelatine and improve the flavour by making up with fruit juice.
Cornflakes: 29p for 500g: mix with the more expensive to make it go further. Putting the mixed blend back in the original pack makes people believe they are eating the real thing.
Digestive Biscuits: 26p for 400g: eat in normal way, or crush to make cheesecake bases. Spread backs with melted chocolate to make chocolate digestives.

Plain and S.R. Flour: 36p 1.5 kg bag. Use instead of, or sifted with a more expensive flour. Always use the cheapest flour for dusting pastry boards, coating rissoles, dusting cake tins etc.
Strong White Bread Flour: 48p 1.5 kg bag. Use instead of or mixed with the more expensive flour.

Instant Noodles: 8p sachet, various flavours. Use to make Chinese type soups, in stir fries etc.
Dried Spaghetti: 23p for 500g. Use as normal spaghetti.
Lasagna sheets: 35p for 250g. Use as normal pasta sheets, may require short cooking before using.
Pasta sauce: 26p a jar. Normal use, add onions and herbs to give a more intense flavour.

Long Grain Rice: 43p for 1 kg. Use as you would normal l.g.rice.
Curry Sauce: 4p can. Has to be the best buy. Much discussed recently.
Vegetable Stock Cubes (10): 19p pack. Use in the normal way.

Canned Green Lentils: 40p for 400g. Good protein, saves cooking, can be added directly to soups and casseroles.
Chopped Tomatoes: 21p for 400g can. Useful in many dishes, add herbs and onions to enhance the flavour.
Plum Tomatoes: 19p for 400g can. A better buy than the chopped as the plum usually have a more intense flavour.
Sieved Tomato Passata: 29p for 500g (jar?). Again bring this up to par with the addition of more flavourings.

Canned fruits:
Strawberries: 25p for 406g. Probably soft, but would have their uses.
Fruit Cocktail: 15p: good to add to trifles, or jellies, or just eaten with cream.
Tropical Fruit Salad: 38p for 432g. More expensive but far cheaper than branded cans. Makes a pleasant change from the normal fruit cocktail. Other tropical fruits can be added (bananas, kiwi fruits) to make a lovely fruit salad
Broken Mandarin (orange) Segments: 11p for 312g. Make up with jelly or add to fruit salads.
Pineapple Slices: 23p for 227 g. Chop up rings and add them to stir-fries and fruit salads. Use juice to make up jellies, freeze surplus rings to use as and when.
Pineapple pieces: 39p for 540g. weight for weight, more for your money as above rings, can be used in the same way.
Broken Grapefruit Pieces: 30p for 540g. Can be added to a blend of orange and lemon Mamade to make a three fruit marmalade. Also makes a good breakfast dish, and can be drained and added to salads. Plenty of uses.

Orange Marmalade: 28p for 454g jar. Not the best quality of course, but useful when making marmalade cakes, or to add to sauces (when serving duck), and on toast in the usual way.

Frozen Oven Chips: 47p for 1.5kg. cheapest and presumably not as good as the higher prices, but could be worth trying.

There are obvious others, baked beans can be bought cheaply, as can other foods, even coffee, and most of the time not that well liked, but try the mix and match approach: a cheap beans mixed with the branded are often accepted and not even noticed; low cost coffee mixed with stronger instant can often work out cheaper than the normal brand bought (this was tried here in the Goode Kitchen and we now prefer the mixed).

We should not forget the non-foods, the cheap washingup liquid (13p litre), the value packs of sponge pads used for cleaning dishes (think it is 14p for 4), the packs of tissues that can be used as paper hankies and many other items worth checking out. However cheap a product is, if it isn't fit for the purpose, it wouldn't be sold. If we have reason to complain, we return it and get our money back. Win win situation.

A well balanced diet of protein (meat, cheese, eggs, fish,), vitamins (fruit and veg), carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, pastry), does not have to be expensive. It COULD be, if fillet steak, served with asparagus and Jersey potatoes (with a rich wine or cream sauce) was our choice. But equally, a good casseroles made with the cheapest stewing steak, added onions, carrots and old potatoes (or instead of potatoes a pastry topping), preferably a green vegetable as well - this could be just as good if not better for us, probably even more enjoyable to eat, and £££s cheaper to make.