Store Cupboard Challenge ~ Days 3 and 4

Thursday, 27 September 2012

It's going very well. No one has noticed that anything is different about the food I have been cooking this week. There hasn't been anything different. I am seriously considering carrying on the challenge next week and possibly even the week after that.

Taking Stock

I have made very little impact in my dry stores, there are still plenty of lentils and other pulses and lots of pasta and rice. The dairy produce is being used up fairly fast though and I will have used up the frozen chicken, the ham hock and fish by the end of the week. The bread flour is all gone. I have made six large loaves this week four of which are in the freezer and one waiting to be cut in the bread bin. That should be plenty to see us through until Monday. The coleslaw I made on Monday is still going strong. I have been putting it in Charlie's cheese sandwiches and eating it myself at lunchtime. There is 4 lb bag of apples still unopened which is quite an achievement round here.

Breakfasts and lunches

I made Scotch pancakes this morning, but other mornings have been toast or granola.



Sandwiches on Monday and Tuesday had chicken mixed with mayonnaise and mango chutney (sort-of-coronation-chicken) in them, yesterday there were pitta pizzas. Today and tomorrow it's cheese with or without chutney or pickles. I have a sandwich most days but today because George was home for lunch I baked a couple of potatoes which we had with cheese and coleslaw.


The picture above shows our evening meal yesterday. It is chickpea and squash curry with rice and cucumber and mint raita. I used all of the small butternut squash pictured in Monday's post. It had hardly any seeds in it and had a nice potato-like texture. My curries are very inauthentic but they are quick and easy to make and always seem to go down well. They can also be pulled together with store cupboard ingredients.

Simple Vegetable Curry for 4-6 people

In a roomy pan with a lid fry a chopped onion or a handful-sized portion of vegetable hash in a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil (or butter, or ghee). Once it has softened add a crushed clove of garlic and 2-3 teaspoons of curry powder.*Cook over a gentle heat for a few minutes -add a little water if it looks like it is starting to stick.

Next add a couple of handfuls of chopped squash/carrots/sweet potato/potato. Stir to coat with the spices and onions.

Add a couple of handfuls of cooked chickpeas/other cooked beans/lentils (no need to cook lentils first).

Now add either 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes or a 500ml carton of passata. I like passata best.
You can also add a can of coconut milk at this point, or as I did yesterday a chunk from a block of creamed coconut plus some water. Bring it all to the bubble, add more water if it looks too thick and likely to stick (particularly if you are using red lentils). Then turn it down to a simmer and cover. Leave for 30 -40 minutes, stirring now and again, until the veg are all soft.

Taste and season. It will probably need salt. I some times stir in some mango chutney at this point.

Lastly add a handful of frozen peas and let them cook through, this only takes a minute or two. Peas aren't essential but I like them for colour and vitamins.

You can use other vegetables; spinach, mushrooms, okra for example. I choose ones I know everyone will eat. And you can of course replace the pulses with leftover meat.

*I used madras curry powder yesterday but I really like Patak's curry pastes and would have used one of those if I had had it. I will at some point find a recipe and make my own curry blend as I am sure I have most of the necessary spices.

Today's Supper

Katie and Tom have to be at school  to 'help' with an open evening. I believe Tom is playing the drums. I have no idea what Katie is doing. Tom has to be there for 5.45, Katie for 6.30. Needless to say they will both be there at 5.45. Better things to do than drive around Worcester all evening. All this means they need to be fed early, so beans on toast for them it is. George has to eat at around 6 because he has to go out. This means I need to be cooking at precisely the time I am driving Katie and Tom to school. George will be getting himself beans on toast too. Charlie and I will have omelettes. Yes I know I should have made a tart or casserole which we could have all eaten at different times but I haven't.


23 comments:

  1. Don't beat yourself up on the last point, Sue. I really don't know how you do all you do.

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  2. I am finding your challenge fascinating. It has made me think more carefully about what we are eating. Over the last two years we have gradually started eating together every night - by which I mean the girls eat later and I no longer have to make two meals. There are endless issues, of course, around various likes and dislikes, but I am becoming firmer and they are beginning to be more adventurous. I've found that sitting them down at 4pm when everyone gets home from school and forcing fruit into them, followed by a slice of toast, before they launch into biscuits seems to mean fewer biscuits are eaten and everyone is a little happier, and, by suppertime, hungry too.

    I seem to recall you mentioning something about wartime rations somewhere, but can't find it - I'd love to know how you handled the sugar allowance - the girls pile through the stuff and I keep threatening them with rationing, but wonder how it would work! What did you do?

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    1. Ah the wartime experiment. That was before blogging when I used to frequent the Old Style forum on the Money Saving Expert under the nomme de guerre of Thriftlady. You can find it all here.

      The sugar issue was not a problem. The ration was a whopping 8oz per person a week. So we had 2½ lb of sugar a week which we didn't use up by any means. We also had a sweet ration each which was something of novelty to kids who weren't routinely bought sweets.

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    2. Dammit that's no good at all is it? 8oz per child, per week! Hmm. I think some form of weaning is called for, the other day I found one of the girls sprinkling sugar over the jam she'd slathered on her pancake. Urrgh. I'll go and check the link anyway, sounds good.

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  3. Hi Sue
    I am enjoying reading about your menus , your current menu challenges and what you buy/ don't buy routinely.

    Did you manage to cook so healthily when your children were smaller? I do try to cook healthily, but find I do use cereals / fish fingers / sausages in our meals.

    My sprogs are 20 months, 3 3/4 and 6 1/4. They are not as yet the most adventurous eaters!

    Thanks
    Sally

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    1. Sausages make a frequent appearance on our table Sally, good quality ones mind you.

      When the boys were very little and needed to eat earlier I did buy those potato smiles, oven chips and fish fingers but I still cooked them things from scratch too -pasta mainly. I don't think I've ever really bothered with cereals because porridge is so cheap and easy.

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  4. Sue - Elaine at mortgagefreeinthree.com has a base recipe for a curry which she then uses to make lots of different curries - I have tried it and the family enjoy even just the basic version. If you search for "curry in a hurry" on her website, you will find a series of posts with the variations on the recipe.

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    1. Thanks Morgan, will check it out.

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  5. I consider homemade beans to be a casserole, and I love having a big pot of it on the stove for Saturday so that everyone can help themselves to it all day. I am the only one who enjoys it on toast, however!

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  6. I am loving these posts Sue, and am beginning to feel decidedly inadequate, reading about how thrifty everyone is. I thought I was too - Green and Black's habit excepted - but now I see how much more I could save if I only had a little more time and energy to spend in the kitchen. So I've started working out how to achieve that. You're an inspiration!

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  7. That vegetable curry sounds lovely with the coconut milk. I'll be trying it this weekend. Since discovering Patak's Lime Pickle I've been serving it with everything; this will be no exception.

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  8. I have completely the opposite problem; just come in from work starving and it's nearly 10pm. But no beans in the cupboard! Pasta yet again.

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  9. I'm pleased to tell you that your curry has a long lost cousin regularly residing in my kitchen! :-)

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  10. We just had pasta and sauce and cheese en casserole for the third time in a row. Monday was pork chops with apples and onions and baked potatoes. I went out Monday night, cooked the Pasta on Tuesday and DH want out last night and tonight. I am going away for weekend, and if DH decides to stay home because of his cold, well, he'll be cooking for himself. It would be a miracle if he made beans on toast, it will be peanut butter scooped out of the jar with the crackers. So don't feel badly, even with DD at school, there still is no time to cook every night.

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  11. Inspirational - once again I am ending the month with more food than at the start and several £100 poorer! think next week will be a store cupboard challenge for me - and to use up some the more obscure random bargain purchases!

    I cook 95% of the time - occassionally due to different people being in and out and poor planning I do end up cooking twice - last night for instance I got in from work 35 mins before I had to leave again so chucked together a chicken and noodle dish for the kids (sliced chicken and veg, made an improv sauce from peanut butter, soy and coconut milk) then when I got in I made the planned thai curry for OH and I. The 2 other nights we've been out this week our commitments have been later so there has been time to eat before going out. Tonight I'm eating out - I'll feed the kids before I go and OH will treat himself to takeaway....though I suspect ds will sneak a slice or 2!

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  12. Anonymous10:47 am BST

    Hi!
    I enjoy reading your blog and am in awe of the level of planning and organisation you exert in your cooking! Wow! I don't really care about cooking (and I absolutely detest cleaning), it is more of my husbands thing, but I am forced to take charge now as I'm at home and hubbie is working. I'm trying to absorb a little bit of your attitude... I find the cultural and gastronomical (:D) differences between our countries intriguing too. For example the thick cheese slices sound such an utterly foreign problem to me, as every household in I think all Nordics have a thing called cheese slicer (Ikea version here: http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/search/?query=+Cheese+slicer). It is inexpensive, small and easy to use and I can't understand why it has not much spread outside the Nordic countries. You can get really thin slices with this! There are different models for soft and hard cheeses, but the soft version can be used for all. Apart form Ikea, they are readily available in Britain (even our tiny shop in rural Wales offered a selection of those back in the nineties although I have to admit none of them were very good). I don't really know why some slicers are not so good and some work just fine, it has probably something to do with the sharpness and angle of the edge. If you see one, have a try, they should not cost more than a few quid apiece.

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    1. Thank you, I shall certainly investigate next time I am at Ikea. Mind you, I think the thick slices are more to do with being a teenage boy than being British.

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  13. Pati from London2:46 pm BST

    Brilliant Sue! It doesn't feel you are on a challenge, does it? As usual it all looks yummy! Pati x

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  14. the curry sounds lovely thanks for sharing your recipe.

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  15. I've just read through your store cupboard challenge posts and, as per, am totally inspired.

    I just wondered if I could pick your brains? I think I am over-worrying about the 'packed lunch in warm school bag' thing. I used to occasionally send the children with a pasta salad but then heard that, like rice, cooked pasta can develop bacteria if kept at room temperature. Same applies to any cooked fresh meat, i.e. chicken. (That's what prompted me to ask; your sort-of-coronation-chicken sandwiches sound delicious and I often have a carcass in the fridge.)

    Thanks Sue. Heather x

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    1. Heather, you can buy cool packs and whatnot for packed lunches if you are concerned about food safety. I'm afraid I am not particularly concerned about it -I don't believe a bit of cooked chicken in a sandwich is going to become dangerous by lunchtime. We used to live quite happily without fridges after all. I am careful with rice and don't keep rice warm for a long time.

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    2. Bless you, thanks Sue. I think it's a worry I picked up from my mum years ago. I daresay there is far more lurgy lurking on the desks and door handles anyway!

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  16. Hi Sue, I've just been catching up on your frugal weeks all in one go-seeing your comment on how much you like Patak sauces, a top tip I can share for sanswiches for lunchtimes-if you shred some chicken, add mayo, sultanas, a splash of milk and a spoon of Pataka tikka masala paste it makes a delicious coronation chicken type sandwich filling. Sometimes I put mango chutney on the bread and then lettuce, really delicious. Have really enjoyed reading your menu plans, thnks for sharing x

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