The Promised Recipes: Recipes for The Needy Greedy.

In these  challenging times I am taking a moment or two to share the basics of living better on less. Here are some recipes that have worked for me. I am not a professional cook so these are easy to make recipes.As a British ex-pat, of course, they reflect my background, but also include some favourites from Australia. Some are simple enough that older children can make them.

boy in yellow shirt sifting flour
Cooking can be a fun activity for kids

 

Porridge for one. (Winter Breakfast or supper choice.) Quantity can easily be multiplied.

¼ cup rolled oats  ¾ cup water

To serve -Golden syrup/maple syrup/Brown sugar or topping of your choice.The Scots use salt .Place oats in a saucepan  pan, add water and stir over medium heat until thickened. About 5 minutes.Pour into cereal bowl and top with syrup to taste.

Note: can be made in microwave if liked- adjust timings . Quick Oats are chopped finer and give a smoother porridge.

Muesli for one (summer breakfast or snack)

You can double or triple this recipe. I find it easy and refreshing

Muesli

 

¼ cup rolled oats.    ¾-1cup water. Few raisins, sultanas, or other dried fruit.

Apple. Natural yogurt

Pour water over oats and dried fruit and leave to absorb *

  • this can be 5 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
  • Overnight results in more liquid consistency and softer fruit.

Grate or chop apple over mixture and add as much natural yogurt as you like. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.

What the heck is a frittata?

Think a pasty less quiche and a convenient way to use up  leftovers

Qucihe
Think  a quiche without the pastry

2 rashers of bacon, or ham, salami or sausage etc ( For a vegetarian frittata omit these and add more vegetables).

I small onion thinly sliced.  1 cup cooked diced pumpkin

Assorted leftover vegetables, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli , any or a mixture. Or tinned vegetables like asparagus

4 eggs * vegetarian eggs for vegetarians

1/2 cup cream or natural yogurt (I always use yogurt ,the original recipe called for cream.)

2 tablespoons Plain Flour * I have experiment and you can omit the flour-especially as flour is  now in short supply

I cup grated tasty cheese.* Can be  a mix of cheeses using up odds and end or special vegetarian cheese.

Salt and fresh milled black pepper to taste.

Method

Preheat oven to 180C  350F

Fry onion and bacon for a few minutes until onion is transparent.

Place in the base of a well-greased 25cm flan dish. I line my dish with baking paper for easy removal .Add cooked pumpkin and  any leftover vegetables.

In a bowl beat together eggs and cream or yogurt, add the  plain flour and make sure there are no lumps. *Add the grated  cheese and season well.

Stand flan dish on metal baking sheet and pour egg mixture into the dish. Bake for about 30 minutes.

I have made this without adding the flour ,bulking up with more vegetables and it still works. Good served warm or cold. Can be sliced and frozen and reheated. Makes an easy packed lunch.

Roast Dinners: Into the Oven and forget it!

 

Roast dinner
Once you get your timings right a roast dinner is easy.

 

It probably isn’t worth roasting a piece of meat much under 2 kilos./5lbs Yes, meat is expensive, but one roast can give you meat for several meals.

Meat needs to be at room temperature so remove from the fridge about ½ hour before cooking. Roasting pan big enough to take the meat and about 6-8cm /2-3 inches deep.

Meat can be set on a rack or even an upturned cake tin. Roast vegetables can go in the tin for the last 45minutes –hour depending how large they are.

Roast Meat Cooking times and temperatures.

Beef.   60 mins per kilo for medium well done. 180C oven  / 350 F

Adjust times for rare or well done.

Lamb   60 minutes per kilo  180C oven/350F

Pork   90 minutes per kilo    180C oven/350F

Leave the cooked joint in a warm place for about 15-30 minute before carving it. Serve with  Roast vegetables; Potato, pumpkin, carrots, onions and some green vegetables.I always try to have at least one orange vegetable and one green one.Parboil potatoes or microwave them , prior to roasting to speed cooking process.  I microwave pumpkin briefly to make the skin easier to remove.Packet gravy is easy to make and work well.

Roast potato
Roast potatoes , you can add pumpkin, parsnips,

Mashed potatoes.

Peel and boil the potatoes, smaller pieces will  be cooked quickly but may disintegrate easily. When prodded with a fork with the potatoes will feel soft when cooked. Tip into a colander or sieve and drain them well , return to the pan .Add butter or                          milk to the mix if liked and mash. Spoon out to serve

How to freeze mashed potatoes.

 You can of course place individual tablespoons of potatoes on baking paper and freeze them.  I prefer to make them a bit fancier , so I  put the mash into a  large piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe swirls of mash potato which I open freeze until solid and then bag and store in  the freezer. Can be reheated in the microwave or oven.

The roast meat I slice into individual lots-I use 100gm/4oz  when cooled and  pack  and store in the freezer. It can easily be reheated by placing it  covered with a lid  on plate over simmering water. Add gravy when serving

Fruit Crumble

 100gm/4oz Self raising flour (British version)

50gm/2oz margarine or butter. 50gm /2oz sugar

Fruit and sugar  if needed for filling, apples (eaters or cookers) peeled and chopped and stewed OR  frozen berries  OR tinned apricots or peaches.

Put the chosen fruit into greased ovenproof dish.

Place the flour in a bowl and use your fingertips to lightly  crumble the margarine  into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add sugar and mix thoroughly. Spoon over the fruit. Bake in a 190c/375F preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Serve with custard or ice cream. Good hot or cold. Can go in the oven after the roast meat.

Jelly Delicious: A Sneaky Way to Get Children to Eat Yogurt.

This recipe goes into the jelly mould as a single layer, magically it separates into a creamy layer and a clear jelly layer. Looks pretty.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
Experiment with different flavours of Jelly

 

I packet jelly (any flavour). ¼.cup natural yogurt.

250ml/8. 5 fl oz Boiling water.  ¾ cup cold water.

A  jelly mould 500ml / I pint capacity or 6 small jelly moulds.

For children use the  individual moulds.w 2 colour jelly

Lightly oil the jelly moulds with oil or non-stick spray.Dissolve the jelly in 250ml boiling water. Mix well,   add the yogurt and mix again. Top up with cold water and pour into mould or moulds. Leave to set in the fridge.

Pumpkin & Sultana  Scones

250gm chopped pumpkin, cooked, cooled and mashed.

40gm/1.5 oz approx  butter or margarine  ¼ cup caster( superfine) sugar

I egg. 2 and a half cups self-raising flour-sifted.  ½ cup sultanas (or raisins)

1/3 cup natural yogurt. (The original recipe called for Buttermilk)

pumkin scones
I prefer to serve  them with apricot jam.

Preheat oven to 200c /395Fand grease a baking sheet Cream the margarine and the sugar and add the beaten egg. Stir in the cooled mashed pumpkin and the sifted flour. Add the sultanas and the yogurt. Spread a little flour on the board and turn the dough out. Pat out to a thickness of about 2cm.Use a scone cutter or an upturned glass dipped in flour  to cut out roundS of dough. Do not twist the cutter. Recombine the remaining dough and cut more discs.

If you like a crisp top brush with milk, otherwise leave them  plain. Bake for 15 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.  Serve with butter and or jam. To have a soft-top cover with a clean tea towel whilst they cool.  The recipe can be doubled or trebled. The scones freeze well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Better on Less or with Less.

‘May you live in interesting times-‘ is a Chinese proverb or maybe it’s a curse.

 

woman in gray tank top showing distress
Life is stressful right now

 

We certainly are living in interesting times right now, as we live with bad and then worsening news, day after day.  But some people have had it much worse. They are our grandparents or great grandparents who lived through both shortages and war. Their wisdom can help us now as they had learned how to stretch their budgets and make a dollar go further.

With incomes disappearing and shelves in the stores emptying these tips can help us.I am not a dietitian,  a cookery expert or pretending to be superwoman. But I have been living on a limited income for a while and along the way, I have learnt how to improve my quality of life without spending wads of cash! These life skills can help us now

two adult women beside each other
Older people have much to teach us.

Do you know how to shop?

Any fool can spend money, but how do you plan to feed yourself for a week? Apply your intelligence to the project and consider a rough menu plan for the week. I cater for 2 adults, while you may cook for more, or you may eat alone.

Today shopping can be a bit of a lottery,  and you may have to adapt to what you is available in the shops. I usually stock up on bread when I can and store the extra in the freezer. It stores perfectly and can be toasted from frozen.

Know your shops and your products.

If you live in a high-priced suburb, consider shopping in your nearest cheaper area, if you can get there and not break restrictions. Not all supermarkets are the same!

close up photography of cheese
Cheese is a great basic.

 Cheese  Don’t leave that tempting big I kilo  /2.2 pound block in the fridge though, or your savings will simply disappear. Cut it into four 250gm/ approx 8 oz pieces. Leave one in the fridge and freeze the others. Grated cheese goes further in sandwiches. Cheese keeps perfectly well in the freezer.

 Chicken It is generally cheaper to buy a frozen chicken than either a fresh one or the chicken pieces. It‘s easy to cook, put it in the oven and forget it for an hour and a half or so. It should provide one or two meals and maybe some leftovers to go in soup or sandwiches.

 Oatmeal Poor students in Scotland used to be sent to university with a sack of oatmeal. It’s filling and can be eaten hot or cold. Hot as porridge and cold as a basis for easy home-made muesli. My next post will be  Recipes for the Needy Greedy. I buy store brand Rolled Oats (not quick oats). Of course, the name brand oats cost two or even three times more.

If you can read or watch YouTube, you can cook!

Australians spend about one-third of their income on convenience foods, takeaways, and supermarket ready to eat meals. If you are like me, they can end up leaving you still feeling hungry. Maybe you never learnt to cook, but it’s not too late. If you can read, you can cook. Look for simple recipes online or watch on YouTube Avoid like the plague complicated recipes with a yard-long list of ingredients. Some recipe leaflets fall into this category!

photo of woman holding pan
Cooking can be fun!

The Kitchen: you know that room where the fridge and the microwave are.

Simple equipment can cover most of your cooking needs.It’s better to discover what you cook and buy what you need. A fridge is pretty much essential; a freezer (even at the top of the fridge) is great, a microwave speeds thing up but is not essential.

Quick meals and snacks.

Easy and fast lunches or dinners include the following:- Baked potato-Super speedy in the microwave, but still feasible in the oven. Takes about I hour. Top with grated cheese or baked beans. Serve with a salad or 2 vegetables. Make some fast scones, or fruit crumble and cook at the same time. Pumpkin scone recipe and fruit crumble recipe in the next post.

Tinned salmon or tuna, for salads, sandwiches and easy bakes.

Any variety of toasted sandwiches! Cheese and tomatoes on toast (use tinned tomatoes)

pizza on the black plate
I prefer to use warm tinned tomatoes to top my cheese toast

Sardines (from a store brand tin ) on toast.

Easy pizza using pitta bread, Lebanese bread or a readily bought base, tomato sauce or ketchup to thinly cover the base and whatever topping you like cheese, tomato, ham, salami, etc.

Mince can be used in a host of quick meals especially spaghetti b- bulk up by adding red lentils. Cottage pie, cook mince with gravy and put in a pie dish topped with mashed potato and bake in the oven until the top browns.

Quick stir fry: any vegetables chopped fine, bits of left-over meat or sliced ham. Soy, oyster or chilli sauce to taste. Serve over 2-minute noodles (the low-fat variety) take 2 minutes to cook.

Vegetables –  but what is in season if you can, otherwise frozen vegetable make a perfect substitute- quick and easy and no waste.

Eggs, boiled, poached, scrambled or fried. Add a couple of sausages and some baked beans to the eggs for a hearty meal. Serve on toast.

 

Proper Meals

selective focus photography of beef steak with sauce
The traditional meat and vegetables

Cooled sliced roast meat can be frozen.  I freeze in 100gm /4oz lots, which can be quickly reheated on a plate over simmering water (5mins.) Roast vegetables freeze perfectly and can be reheated in the microwave or refreshed in the oven. Details for roast meat on recipe sheet, i.e. cooking times and temperatures.

You don’t have to make it all yourself.

I like to cook- sometimes. Other days I am too tired. I keep a couple of jars of sauces that I can quickly transform into a meal. For example, Chicken Tonight Curried Chicken with Vegetables Sauce does not have to be used with just chicken. I halve the quantity (for 2) and freeze half in a plastic bag. With the rest, I make a curried prawn dish.

Curried Prawns Stir fry some onion, capsicum and mushrooms until tender, add either chicken, prawns or even tuna to the sauce. Serve over rice; I prefer to use brown rice; it takes longer to cook (30 mins) but has better nutritional qualities.

 

Baby Food and Kids Meals. 

Lots of grown-up foods can be pureed for baby. Best of all YOU know how much-added salt and sugar there is. Those tiny jars and packets soon add up to a hefty sum.

girl eating cupcake while sitting beside woman in blue denim distressed jeans
You know what is in the food you make yourself.

 

Children often eat better if given a small portion, and then offered more, if they ask. Cut sandwiches into quarters and remove the crusts if they hate them. Sneak yogurt into their diet with my recipe for Jelly Delicious, which magically separates into two layers.

Bathroom and Laundry essentials

Please consider that YOU do need a deodorant/antiperspirant as a basic. Buy one and USE it.

Laundry:

white textile
Washing dried outside smells fresh,

Experiment to find a soap powder that cleans your clothes without emptying your wallet. Wash only full loads in the machine. Hang clothes inside out if drying outside to prevent fading. Limit or do not buy clothes that need dry cleaning. Replace costly fabric conditioner with a big bottle of white vinegar, it removes soap scum and leaves fabric soft.

Soap – look and you will find plain wrap soap. Unwrap and leave it to harden so it lasts longer. For even greater savings cut the bar in two. Will your quality of life be compromised if you buy generic toilet rolls?

Kitchen sponges and cloths- work just as well and last twice as long if you cut them in half. Washing up liquid-  always rinse out the empty bottle with warm water to get more liquid to use.

Toothpaste simply ignore the commercials; you can brush your teeth perfectly well with a pea-sized blob of toothpaste. It is the time taken brushing, not the toothpaste that makes the difference.Have you tried the generic shaving foam? It works perfectly well, as do the home brand razors.

Hair  Do you need to shampoo every day? Consider using less shampoo, how much dirt could there be in one day? Some thick shampoos work just as well if when the bottle is half full, you add about half as much water. The same trick works with conditioner.

Skincare for everybody: male or female

person applying hand cream
Use sun cream every day!

No, not wonder creams advertised by a fifteen-year-old.. The best thing anybody can do for their skin is to wear sun cream every day. Australia has an incredibly high skin cancer rate which should be reason enough to wear sun cream. Additionally, you will stay looking younger longer- think of a prune and a plum. The same fruit, one just exposed to the drying effects of the sun.A basic 15+ or higher sun cream can cost little, so buy it and use it.

Libraries  May be closed now, I was so sad to see our local library close., another link with normality gone . You can still access material online. Books for adults and children and escapism is in order right now

The Next Generation of consumers.

Encourage children to critique what they see on television. Even quite young children can understand that ads are not programs. Once they grasp the concept, they can be quite discerning. Teenagers have a better understanding, but it does not necessarily translate into not wanting the latest fashion or gizmo. Honesty is the best policy here; tell them what money they can spend and that anything else they will have to earn .If they blow the money don’t bail them out, let them learn the lesson.

The Moody Blues and the Mean Reds.

Sometimes not being able to afford things  or find things gets us all down. We can critique the culture all we like, but now and then it feels as if life SUCKS. Have a good old moan and groan, really exaggerate with ridiculous statements, and see if you don’t find it all a bit absurd and start to feel better.

 

bare feet boy child couch
Moody blues and mean reds.

If, however, every day is a struggle, you are not seeing any joy in life, you might be suffering from depression. Life won’t get better unless you make an effort to do something about it.  And of course,   if you are depressed it’s hard to motivate yourself to do anything. Don’t let it go and sink into a spiral of depression.

Talk to friends and family (if you have them). Find a forum online. Treat yourself gently and do not make any hasty decisions. Try and find a purpose in life, have something to love, (a plant, a pet, a person?) and have a belief in something (a religion, a cause, bettering life for others?). You, and your life, matter and it should not be all about money. If things are what makes people happy shouldn’t all celebrities be awash with happiness?

Please feel free to share your own thrifty tips. We are all in this together .