Thursday, July 10, 2014

Purchase Planning....

In an ideal world we would probably decide what we would like to eat, then be able to afford to go and buy it.  Maybe some of us still can.  Not everyone has expensive tastes.

Before the Farm Foods flyer ended up with the other papers (to go to the tip), felt it worth a second look, and even thought I had no intention of going to that store, was able to sort out what would be worthwhile purchases if I needed to get the most for my money.

The other day I mentioned Jamie O's Money Saving Meals series, and how he seemed to have an average of around £1.60 per portion.  Many readers thought that £1 per portion was what we should aim for, and - of course - even less. 
So I decided to work out how many portions I could make from the offers at Farm Foods, working on the 'any 5 for £15', and a couple or so 'extras' (allowing myself a budget of no more than £20).

Several weeks ago was asked about my 'four meals from one chicken' that was published in Cook's Weekly some many years ago.  Each meal served four (one actually served 8 - 10), so even though the Farm Foods chickens were slightly less weight than the one used in the article, decided I would buy two chickens, knowing I could get three good meals for four from each (24 portions at least in total), and I'd also have the two carcases to make loads of chicken stock, plus around 8 - 12oz of cooked flesh able to be picked off the bones (another two portions).

Next purchase would be the 800g pork loin roasting joint (approx. 8 portions), and 8 lamb loin chops. As the total weight for the lamb chops was 550g, I'd expect to serve two per portion BUT the Shirley way would be to use four in a Rogan Josh curry, and four in a Moroccan tagine - making two meals to serve four (in other words 8 portions).

Having chosen 4 out of the five items (2 chickens, pork joint, lamb chops), decided the last would be fish.  My personal choice would be the four large cod fillets in Harry Ramsden's famous batter, but no weight was shown, so perhaps I'd get better value if I had the rainbow trout fillets (500g), or the Atlantic Cod portions (500g).  At least four portions in each.

Now needed to work out how many portions I would be getting for that £15, and - if I'd chosen the curry/tagine for the lamb, plus the extra chicken scraps, no difficulty in getting at least 46 portions - approx. 33p each.  As animal protein is more expensive than veggies and carbos, then it would not be difficult to keep the price per portion for a complete meal at well under £1 (more like 50 -75p).  Without even scraping the barrel so to speak.

As I'd decided to budget for purchases of £20, with the £5 remaining I'd certainly be buying the 1kg pack of mature cheddar for £5, and spending £1 more for 15 eggs.  Just think of how many meals the cheese and eggs together could make (plus a few more store-cupboard ingredients).

The above is mainly to show how my mind works when it comes to costing and 'worthwhile buys'.  Like most things it's what we do with what we've got, making the most of what we have, and making the BEST of what we have. 

With a little advance thinking and prices and weights in front of us (flyers, or on supermarket sites), we can usually find we could make many more portions than if we'd bought a different cut of similar meat. 

After half a century of scrimping and saving, thankfully I don't have to be quite so careful when planning my purchases, but knowing how to get the most for our money is knowledge worth having, something to fall back on when times get hard.  Canny shopping can cut costs dramatically, but this doesn't mean we can't still eat well.  Because we can.

Yesterday mentioned that my Beloved was making himself scrambled eggs using the very large free-range eggs I'd bought for him.  Today asked him what he thought of them, and how much better were they than the cheaper (cheapest) eggs I buy for cooking that he usually uses?  He said he preferred the cheaper ones, they made a creamier scramble (the free range ended up 'lumpy'), and there was no difference in flavour. He did admit two large eggs made more scramble but that was to be expected.

As Granny G mentioned, we tend now to cook eggs thoroughly because of that salmonella scare some many years back, but I see that the new cook-books and cookery mags now have returned to using raw eggs in some uncooked dishes, with a warning against serving to very young children, pregnant ladies, and the elderly (just as a precaution).  As long as the eggs have the little red lion stamped on the shell, this means the hens that laid the eggs are salmonella free. 

When my children were small, do remember that duck eggs were a bit suspect (not so today), and if used always to be well cooked.
All my children, when very small, ate boiled eggs with very runny yolks, always enjoying dipping their bread 'soldiers' into the yolks (my B still enjoys eating soft-boiled eggs with his soldiers).

Funny how garnishes/decorations go out of fashion.  Hazel remembers her mum making chocolate leaves, but today it seems chocolate 'curls' are now used  (made with a veg peeler scraped along a block of choc).  Suppose the advantage with these is that they can be prepared in advance and kept in an air-tight tin ready to be used.  Chocolate leaves are a bit more fragile, but still keep well when layered between sheets of kitchen paper (not pressed down), again in a tin. 

Mentioning '20 ways with a packet of jelly' Jane,  almost (but not quite) got my little grey cells working.  Was watching a repeat of Paul Hollywood's cookery series this afternoon and he made a 'mousse cake' using the same method as mentioned on this blog recently: whisking a can of chilled evaporated milk until thick, then whisking in cold (but not set) strawberry jelly (he added a little fresh strawberry fruit juice/coulis as well) then pouring this over a sponge cake base sitting in a cake tin lined with baking parchment. If I remember he first put halved strawberries around the base of the cake before pouring in the mousse.  Placed in the fridge until set, then removed the spring-sided tin, peeled away the paper, and decorated the top with more strawberries.

Listening to Radio 4 today, heard someone say she didn't hear children singing together any more (unless at school).  Made me remember the days when we used to enjoy singing 'rounds',  as children, then later as a family, or just with friends (or both).  Favourites were 'London's burning, London's burning....', and 'Frere Jacque, Frere Jacque.....'.  Anyone remember similar songs?

Practically midnight, so think I'll call it a day, and what a wonderful day it has been, I sat on the garden bench for at least a couple of hours this morning, in blazing sunshine, am now turning a lovely deep golden brown.  Showers were expected but they stayed away, and possibly we may get some over the weekend, on the other hand - may not.  We seem to be blessed with the best weather here in Morecambe, and did read somewhere that we have more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the country (although am sure that is debateable).  Certainly seems like it at the moment.

Beloved had his favourite supper tonight (or at least one as all his meals are 'favourites'), this being lamb's liver, with bacon, little potatoes, and shredded/steamed white cabbage (the latter then tossed in the bacon fat).  That was the last of the cabbage so must buy another - the hard white cabbage keeps for weeks/months in the fridge, and extremely cheap considering how much it will shred up into.

Right that's it.  Will return again tomorrow (Friday), then taking my usual Saturday off.  Did I mention the sailing club have now 'lost' my very expensive baking tray that I used to cook and send the gingerbread?  Seems that someone took a fancy to it.   I am so very cross.  They have offered to buy me another, but I want the same quality, so had better buy it myself and hope they will cover the cost.
I'm rambling again, and it is now one minute past midnight, so must be off to my bed.  TTFN.