Sunday, January 15, 2012

Keeping On Track

Before my usual 'chat', first replies to comments sent in during last 24 hours..

Interesting that your husband doesn't like mean on the bone Frugal Queen. This may be that if he does the carving of a joint, he doesn't find it easy. Myself never can sort out how to carve a leg of lamb successfully. However, cooking meat with its bone does give it a MUCH better flavour, and we can always ask the butcher to remove the bone, but still give you the bone with the meat, and then we can tie it back together again for cooking, and the bone is then easily removed after cooking.
One joint that B love 'on the bone' is lamb shanks. But the the meat is so tender it just falls off the bone without any difficulty.

Am pleased your polytunnel stayed in place during the recent gales Urbanfarmgirl, perhaps we should throw nets over glass or hard-plastic greenhouses and tie them down to hold the bits in place during the winter months. At least we removed our soft green plastic cover from our small greenhouse, and the frame managed to stay in place. This year am thinking of growing beans and other climbing veg up the frame and doing without the cover altogether, the tomatoes last year were not worth the trouble. They would probably grow better in a much warmer spot where they get all day sun against a wall (unfortunately not a place where B will allow me to put the greenhouse)

Like you Lisa, quite a lot of England still has 'drought conditions'. Here in the West we get a lot more rain, so wish it was the other way round. If we don't get a lot of rain soon over towards the East much of the country will ban watering of gardens and washing of cars using hose-pipes. They will have to make do with watering cans and a bucket!
Pleased to read that you make use of some of your soya 'leavings' after making the milk. We often discard 'stuff' like that instead of finding a use for it (and these can be useful). When I used to make barley water (cook the barley then use the cooking water - discard the barley etc) the cooked barley was always added to a soup or used instead of rice in a risotto etc.

Seems that most husbands are very weak when it comes to shopping. They have no self control. When they see something they like, they pop it into the shopping basket even when it is not on the list they (hopefully) take with them.
Yesterday Beloved brought back 2 x 4 pint containers of milk "because Morrison's were selling it for £1 for 4 pints". Tesco charges more, so probably worth the purchase although I'd just opened the first of my containers of UHT as we'd run out of the fresh, and my plan was to continue using these instead of buying 'fresh'. But it's only £2 (MORE!) to add to the £2.50 he had already spent without my authority, so can't grumble. It's been a month since food was bought, so spending under £5 (total) this week is pretty good.
I've even cancelled my hair this week, so could put the 'hair' money into my purse to replace B's expenditure. There are more ways to skin a cat and so on and so forth.

It's probably silly to expect everyone not to buy SOME fresh food as it runs out, and just live of what they have. It's an interesting challenge, and the longer we can do this the more money we can save, but as long as we are aware of what is happening, and we try to keep on track, then almost certainly we will end up with more money left at the end of the week, month, three months or however long your personal challenge will last (or the food stores run out).

You are giving us much inspiration Margie, for you too are curtailing your purchases to only the very necessary, then making do (beautifully) with what you already have in store. Sounds as though you are enjoying it too, this being a very important part for if we can't enjoy our 'challenges', then what's the point?

Although my Beloved also grew up in wartime Sairy, living in a large family and his mother very chummy with her butcher (allegedly!) they seemed to have plenty of meat (they also kept rabbits for food, and chickens - although these were mainly for eggs, but B remembers his mother going out into the back yard and wringing the neck of an old boiler), and enough of th other rations to manage. In those days, like now, the more you have to feed the easier it is per head.
It was more the way his older brothers took more than their fair share that I think B has not been able to get over, so he now wants more than his share of almost everything to make up for it I suppose. Also, when he started work as a salesman, travelling the country most of the week, he was able to claim expenses, so 'ate out' quite a lot, and got used to what was then restaurant quality meals. Quite different to the very plain meat and two veg that was served my me (not being able to cook much at all at that time). So I was asked to learn how to cook better meals, but unfortunately not given the money to do so, so it took time and probably managed it only when money was very short and I began to cook everything (and I mean everything) from scratch. Suddenly the meals got a lot better. The family commented on it. The rest is history.

Alternative breakfasts and recipes have been mentioned many times on this blog Ceridwin, and these have covered making our own muesli, yogurt etc, American pancakes, various ways of cooking/serving eggs, even Kedgeree, through to the 'healthy' full English. If I can come up with some different ideas will put them up. Maybe not today - but will try to do so this week.

The trade mag is gearing up for the start of a new year. Apparently Easter products (choc eggs etc) are already now on the shelves (my belief is that Hot Cross Buns never left them), whereas in 2008 the eggs did not appear on the shelves until mid-March. Does that mean Easter is earlier this year. The good news is that 90% of Easter eggs sold by the 'major multiples' will be on promotion this year, as it seems last year customers 'shied away from shelling out of full-priced products'. Sounds as though we might just be beginning to control supermarket pricing for once.

Not such good news when it comes to fruit and veg. as Brits are near the bottom of the class when it comes to eating our 'five a day'. "On average, Brits eat 258g of fruit and veg a day, compared with a European average of 386g". Overall, just four European countries achieved the World Health Organisation's recommended minimum intake of 400g."

This is interesting on several points. Firstly we expect southern Europe to eat more fruit and veg anyway as they have the right climate to grow a lot of what they want, even in their own gardens (Italy eating 452g). Yet the three of the four top countries that ate the most were Poland (577g), Germany (442g) and Austria (413g).

Have to confess that I have never weighed the fruit and vegetables that I have chosen to serve/eat. I assume there is enough, yet rarely do I manage a deliberate 'five-a-day', although on certain days consume a lot more than that. We have to remember that canned fruit and beans can be counted, although not potatoes (being a starch), also canned tomatoes, so probably - over a week - we get enough vitamins and minerals. As well as potatoes, almost always serve at least two veg with a meal, often three. With some fruit as a pudding (hot or cold).
Perhaps it might be a good idea - maybe just for a week - to see if we can match the recommendations. At least we can then be sure of just how much we will need to serve in the future.

It is predicted that on-line sales will remain the fastest-growing part of UK grocery, with sales set almost to double in the next five years. This may be because it is becoming increasingly expensive to drive to the supermarkets on a weekly basis, and far easier for young mothers to have food delivered than have to battle with young children constantly wanting to run round the supermarkets, or drag foods from the shelves THEY want, and then scream when they can't have it. Myself find that I have always spent less when shopping on-line than when previously buying in-store where I always lacked self-control and was easily tempted.
Unfortunately, on-line shopping - although still providing food on offer, some of them for on-line shopping only - is limiting in that the big reductions that appear late evening or just before closing, never are available on-line. So when shopping in store we really do have to make sure we buy only what we need, but first check out to see what has been drastically reduced in the hope they can replace what we intended to buy.

From comments sent in, it seems that many of you are already doing that, so keep on letting us know for it is very inspiring and then others will follow suit.

An interesting article about 'the diet trap'. A scientist has said that the notion "fostered for decades by the nutrition establishment and self-interested processed food industry..." is that calories matter, not the form in which they come. In other words it is what we eat that counts. Different types of food have different fattening potential "because of their impact on fat storage hormones'".
"Governments and health professionals have dispensed duff diet advice for decades, promoting a formula that dooms many to a life of excess weight......Processed food manufacturers have exploited the idea that it it's excess saturated fat that is fattening - in order to sell us an array of 'low-fat' or 'fat-reduced' foods that are based on sugar and grain, cheap enough to produce, but bad for our health."
Anyone interested in the above should read "Escape the Diet Trap" by Dr. John Briffa.

One of the main features this week is "Putting the veg into vegetarian". As 'healthy foods' and 'eat five-a-day' is being heavily promoted over this coming year, and as meat prices rise, we will be seeing more veggie meals on sale (at a price of course - seems we have to pay to be healthy).

According to a spokesperson at the Vegetarian Society "Not all 'meat-free' food is totally vegetarian, and consumers have been telling us and the food industry that these details do really matter".
For those who still eat meat, the emphasis will now be on the higher vegetable content in a 'ready' than the lack of meat it will now have (but bet the cost won't be less because of it).
The Veg. Soc. says just 3% of the population are vegetarians, but a further 5% regularly eat meat-free meals, and "vegetarian food - if not vegetarianism - is a growing market". The article ends with "The days of meat and two veg could be numbered".

The above of course is good news, we could all do with eating less meat, maybe more fish, and the more five-a-day the better, but what of the cost? re"Meat-free is a relatively affluent market reflected in Waitrose's overtrade. Upmarket shoppers have not been deterred by price rises and penetration within this group has risen, upping an already strong demographic share".

Reading between the lines it seems that supermarkets and manufacturers will soon be pulling out all the stops, and 'providing' us with very healthy meals in future. And if we can be convinced this is what we need, then - of course - we will be happy to pay over the odds for it.
All I can say is follow the trend of healthy eating, but make the meals from scratch using fresh ingredients, and if at all possible, grow as much fresh produce as you can yourself. Only then can we keep our costs down.

With making a meal to serve four this lunchtime, will now have to take my leave as the meal will shortly be needing my attention, and wish to get this edited and published before Gill phones me at 9.00am. Even her hour-long call will have to be much shorter - as I need to 'get on'. She won't be pleased, but then sometimes she doesn't phone at all when she 'has things to do', so 'sauce for the goose etc."

Hope you can join me tomorrow when I will be able to spend a bit more time at the comp. See you then.