Food Shelfie’s: What is revealed when you do a Food Inventory

I always try and do a full food inventory at least once a month, most usually after the online delivery and main shops have been done, but this month I have been slacking.

I get a bit obsessive over it. I have a notebook that is now the household notebook, where anything relevant to the home gets recorded within its pages. I also bring out the electronic kitchen scales and weigh the odd half opened packets so I can get an accurate idea of how much I have left.

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I’m having to do a bit of emergency cupboard re-arranging, as we are entering Winter. My kitchen is an extension tacked onto the house and as a result has 3 external walls. This means in Summer it is sweltering hot and in Winter it is freezing and damp.

Damp is a major issue in our house, one we are having an ongoing argument with our landlord’s over. As a result I have to have interior dehumidifiers in most of the cupboards that contain foods and I’ve had to move certain things out of the cupboards and on to the work surface to prevent mould building up. This week I had to throw away a few things that were no longer usable due to the damp conditions affecting them, and others I had to use up quickly and I know I won’t replace until the next season.

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As I love baking and am also a food hoarder I tend to buy anything and everything on the basis that I might need it one day. This is why I have 6 different dried fruits, 5 different nuts, 2 different types of  seeds and several types of sugar/sugar extracts.

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You may have heard me earlier this year refer to my ‘tin collection’, well the good news is I have mostly got that under control and only have 4 tins each of chopped tomatoes and chickpeas.

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The boy has the top drawer of the freezer, this is the meat drawer (I don’t eat meat).

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I have the next drawer down – the vegetarian food stuffs drawer. I also did it this way as when I was growing up my Dad would arrange our dinner plates in order of descending ages, so I do the same in this house with things.

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The third drawer down is the frozen vegetable drawer, and any miscellaneous items that didn’t fit in the bottom drawer.

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The bottom freezer drawer is the miscellaneous drawer, it currently has 7 slices of bread, 3 salmon fillets, a tiny bit of ice cream and about 9 individually frozen bananas. It is where the odds and sods go.

I do a food inventory each month as it helps remind me of what I actually need, and what I definitely don’t (fruit and nuts by the looks of things). I often try and set myself a challenge of using up a certain amount of things before the next food shop.

My items to use up before the next food shop are the potato waffles, the ice cream, the bananas and the salmon fillets.

 

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My Top 10 Own Brand Products From Sainsbury’s

Disclaimer: The prices quoted in this blog post were what I most recently paid for the item, so it is possible they have changed since then. Also this blog post is entirely of my own doing and is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sainsbury’s in any way.

As a student I almost exclusively shopped at Sainsbury’s as it was the biggest supermarket nearest to where I lived. I was not aware at that time that Sainsbury’s had a reputation for being upmarket and therefore expensive until someone I worked with asked where I shopped and when I said Sainsbury’s they said in disgust ‘Huh, you’re rich’

(Despite the fact I only bought Sainsbury’s basic products and was from a low income family, the people I worked with thought I was rich because I chose to shop at the supermarket I could get to on foot, and they were sending their kids at University money each month whereas I was working two jobs just to survive. C’est la vie.)

Anyway, as my funds decreased I had to become a bit more savvy about where I shopped in order to get the best deal, and Sainsbury’s rarely made the cut.

I generally no longer shop at Sainsbury’s unless I feel like treating myself, because Sainsbury’s do genuinely do some nice, what I consider ‘fancy’ products, and I felt bad neglecting a supermarket that had served me well for many years.

As I am long out of the habit of shopping regularly at Sainsbury’s I have gone for some old favourites and it is possible that Sainsbury’s has a much wider range of quality own brand products, this is just what I have chosen.

#1 Sainsbury’s Instant Vegetable Flavour Noodles

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I chose these for a few reasons. One, they were a large part of my student diet. Two, they, unlike so many instant noodles, are vegetarian and three, they use sustainable palm oil.

And they taste nice too.

RETAIL FACTS – 40p for a 90g pack

#2 Sainsbury’s Indian Style Poppadoms

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I am not fussy about poppadoms, so I chose these because they are the cheapest poppadoms I have seen. As you know from my weekly financial reviews the boy and I get through a lot of poppadoms!

RETAIL FACTS – 95p for an 8 pack (typically about 64g)

#3 Sainsbury’s Fruit/Herbal Teas

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Sainsbury’s have a great selection of herbal and fruit teas, there is really nothing wrong with any of them, but I chose these two as I love anything with apple or blueberry in it and these two flavours compliment each other well.

RETAIL FACTS – 75p for a 20 bag pack

#4 Sainsbury’s Free From Ginger Crunch Biscuits

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Aside from not eating meat, I will generally eat anything and everything and can only think of two things I don’t like – tinned macaroni cheese and lychee’s.

But, some of my friends aren’t as lucky. I have a lovely friend with coeliac’s disease, and another friend who is intolerant to dairy, wheat and gluten. Therefore due to my need to be the world’s best hostess, I always try to have some soya milk and a treat of some description in stock for when they come round.

I chose these as they have always been well received by my friends and are crucially free from the bad trinity of dairy, wheat and gluten.

Sainsbury’s are pretty good with free from products, and I think they have a wheat/dairy/gluten free lasagne, so go them.

RETAIL FACTS – £1.30 for 150g pack

#5 Sainsbury’s 5 Beans

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For when you are feeling a little decadent and normal beans on toast just won’t cut it.

RETAIL FACTS – 40p for a 390g tin

#6 Sainsbury’s  Spiced Squash and Red Pepper Soup

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We are now going to enter the convenience portion of this blog post. As a student I wasn’t a confident cook at all, I knew my way around a pasta dish and soup, but that was about it. I lived with someone who was an amazing cook, to the point he later quit his film degree to train at catering college. I remember being entranced by his array of spices, but now I have a collection to rival his.

I am generally happy to pay a little bit more for soup as long as it has some hint of being nicer then your bog standard vegetable soup. Yes, I could make my own for about 15p, but sometimes you are busy.

RETAIL FACTS – 50p for a 400g tin

#7 Sainsbury’s Vegetable Chilli

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Ok, so before you all come after me with pitchforks as vegetable chilli is the easiest thing in the world to make, let me explain.

I love a good bean chilli.

The boy hates all beans and pulses.

Therefore I rarely bother to make bean chilli as it would take up too much space in the freezer if I batch cooked it, and it would be just me eating it.

So sometimes a tin of the stuff is what you need.

RETAIL FACTS – £1 for a 400g tin

#8 Sainsbury’s Bombay Potatoes and #9 Sainsbury’s Vegetable Curry

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Sainsbury’s has a great range of tinned products, and I am saving my favourite for #10. The vegetable curry made up a large part of my diet during busy times, and the bombay potatoes are something I love but the boy doesn’t, therefore I rarely get to eat it.

RETAIL FACTS – Both £1, both 400g tins.

#10 Sainsbury’s Chickpea Dhal

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This is probably my favourite ready meal of all time. I love this so much that I frequently will enter a Sainsbury’s store to exclusively see if this is in stock.

Yes, again I could make this myself for about 7p, and most of the time I do, as you well know from my previous experiments with Dhal’s. But sometimes I need something like this in stock, particularly for Monday nights when I return from counselling emotionally wrought and need to make something quick for dinner, and having a tin like this in stock will stop me from buying a mega cheesey pizza (also usually from Sainsbury’s funnily enough).

And call me shallow but I like the purple labels on their Indian tins, they look regal and lovely.

RETAIL FACTS – £1 for a 395g tin

So there you have it, my favourite own brand products from Sainsbury’s.

Are there any supermarkets or stores you would like to see similar blog posts for? Let me know in the comments.

 

My Top 15 Own Brand Products From Tesco

Disclaimer: The prices I quote are based on the price I paid when I most recently bought the product, so they may have changed by now. Also this post was entirely made by me and is not affiliated with or endorsed by Tesco in any way. I just merely wish to share the love I have for these products with other people.

Hi Everyone,

As you all know I am a big fan of ‘own brand’ products. In fact I would go as far as to say I am an own brand snob in that if a cheap own brand version of a product is available I will nearly always buy that.

In celebration of the BBC TV Series ‘Eat Well For Less’ being back on our screens (although it does end this week) here are my top own brand products from Tesco.

#1 Tesco Chocolate (Various Types)

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Let’s start as all good things should start with chocolate.

Tesco have various different types of own brand chocolate bars available, including some fruit and nut versions of this type and also an economy brand which is even cheaper then these. But I choose this bar as it is supports the Rain Forest Alliance and also it gets big bonus points as unlike some cheap chocolate bars it doesn’t contain Palm Oil.

The milk chocolate is lovely, the white chocolate is very sweet, and the plain is perfect for a deep decadent hit and it is what I usually use in my chocolate recipes.

RETAIL FACTS – 75p for 150g

#2 and #3 Tesco Everyday Porridge Oats and Tesco Skimmed Milk Powder

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Why did I put these two together?

For the simple fact that in my house they are always together.

I got this tip from Jack Monroe’s second cookbook where they explained if you mix milk powder with porridge oats and then add boiling water to a bowl of the stuff then BAM – instant porridge (no need for those fancy ass ready made pots).

So I tip both the milk powder and the porridge oats into a cereal container, give a mix and BOOM – instant porridge. When I use porridge oats in my baking it is always from this pre-made mix so I get a creaminess from the milk powder as well.

There is simply no need to spend loads of money on porridge oats.

RETAIL FACTS – Porridge oats 75p for 1kg, Skimmed Milk Powder £2 for 340g.

#4 and #5 Tesco Anti Bacterial Wipes (Lemon) and Washing up Liquid (Lemon)

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Another dynamic duo. I chose these products as I have this belief that you should always buy cleaning products in a citrus scent as citrus fruits are usually used in old style cleaning methods, so I believe you get extra bang for your buck.

Speaking of bang for your buck, the prices of these are some of the best I have found.

RETAIL FACTS – Wipes 120 for £2.50 and Washing up liquid 740ml for 70p.

#6 Tesco Everyday Value Low Fat Cottage Cheese

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I chose this because I want to highlight the difference between marked up products.

There is a certain brand of ‘Healthy’ Cottage Cheese that is about £1.20 for something like 63 calories per half container.

This is admittedly more calories…it contains 64 calories per half container, but it is 64p.

I think I can live with the extra two calories per tub more then I can live with the near double mark up on the other product.

It is great in my Macaroni Cheese.

RETAIL FACTS – 64p for 300g.

#7 Tesco Healthy Living Tikka Masala Sauce

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One way to bring down the calories in our Indian ‘Fake Aways’.

RETAIL FACTS – 89p for 400g

#8 Tesco Everyday Mushy Peas

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Cheap and tasty, better than Morrison’s own brand equivalent. An easy way to one of your five a day.

RETAIL FACTS – 20p for a 300g tin

#9 Tesco Everyday Passata 

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The boy refuses to eat pasta if it is not drenched in a disgusting sugar and salt enhanced ready made pasta sauce, but I can sneak this past him. Another one of your five a day.

RETAIL FACTS – 35p for 400ml

#10 Tesco Tomato Puree

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Perfect for pasta.

RETAIL FACTS – 50p for 200ml

#11 Tesco Soya Mince

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This is another great product that is always on my monthly food shop. High in protein, tastes fantastic, the boy (who is a meat eater) will happily eat this without complaint, and a bargain price.

RETAIL FACTS – £1.75 for 454g (There are frequently multi buy offers though)

BONUS ITEM – Tesco Dried Soya Mince also is a staple in my cupboard, it’s something like 400g for £1.90, and the 400g makes up about 1200g, so bargain bargain bargain.

#12 Tesco Gold Coffee Refill Pack

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Despite the fact I drink something like 10 cups of coffee a day, I am not a snob with roasts and things like that.

This is lovely though. And it comes in a handy refill pack which not only is cheaper but cuts down on it’s carbon footprint in terms of less lorries and the road and all that.

RETAIL FACTS – £4.15 for 300g

#13 Tesco Cocoa Powder

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Perfect for baking, perfect for smoothies, I use it all the time.

RETAIL FACTS – £1.99 for 250g

#14 Tesco Healthy Living Mayonaise

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Love mayonaise but don’t want to turn into a human vat of it?

This is only slightly more calories per table spoon then a big brand ‘lighter then light’ mayonaise, but a darn sight cheaper.

RETAIL FACTS – 75p for 450ml

#15 Tesco Tinned Chilli Con Carne

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The boy, who has zero interest in cooking, needs simple things he can heat up when he has painting class (by the way, ‘the boy’ is how I refer to my boyfriend, but I realise I have made him sound like a 7 year old). This keeps him happy and out of trouble.

RETAILS FACTS – £1.50 for 400g

So there you have it, my favourite own brand products from Tesco. I plan on doing one for Morrisons as well as I am a supermarket slut and will shop nearly anywhere for the best deal.

Rustic* Festive** Fruity Parcels

  • *Rustic = A euphemism for ‘looks like they were assembled by a toddler’.
  • **Festive = I wanted to use the seasonal ‘C’ word but felt I might get beaten up by scrooges if I did.

Hi everybody.

I haven’t been feeling 100% all week. Each day brings on a new symptom and today at work was tough.

The boy was going to a gig. I wanted to go to the gig but couldn’t afford it. Normally I would use a night in without the boy as a good excuse to get my bake on, but I felt so shattered after work that all I could muster the energy to do was to put anchovies on my pizza.

Then I saw in the fridge was a packet of frozen puff pastry I had taken out to defrost on Sunday with the intention of using it on Monday.

And the packet recommended using within 24 hours of defrosting. Aye Aye Aye.

So after a quick energy boost (double shot of fake Baileys) I got to it.

INGREDIENTS

1 x 500g Block of puff pastry

4 Apples

1 x 400g Jar of mincemeat

Caster Sugar

RENEGADE SUGGESTIONS

My cooking often involves a random ingredient that caught my eye. So at step 2 I also threw in 4 apple & rosehip tea bags and a bit of orange juice. You don’t necessarily have to copy me.

  1. Defrost your puff pastry the night before according to packet instructions and then roll out into a large square/rectangle shape and cut into 4 equal shapes.
  2. Cut your apples into small pieces and place in a large pot with the sugar (I didn’t give a measurement because, well, I just threw it in. If you like to be exact I would say 75g is enough). Cover with boiling water and bring back to the boil.
  3. Cook until tender.
  4. Once cooked, drain, and mix in the jar of mincemeat (true story, mincemeat used to contain meat, but generally doesn’t now, but I thought it did and didn’t eat a mince pie until I was something like 17 because I thought it would compromise my at the time vegetarian beliefs).
  5. Divide the mix across the four puff pastry squares and then pull up the edges until you have little parcels (or you could be really neat and bring out a protractor or something and have something a bit more professional looking).
  6. BONUS STEP! I meant to do this, but then forgot. Lightly brush the parcels with a milk and/or egg wash.
  7. Bake in the oven on gas mark 4 for a very long time because you are watching the new episode of your favourite show ‘Eat Well For Less’ and don’t want to miss any of it (The episode was an hour long)
  8. BONUS STEP! Turn off the oven but leave the parcels in to stay warm and then go to the shops to get ice cream because the boy refused to do this for you earlier. What a d***.
  9. Watch today’s episode of Neighbours whilst eating the parcel. And then watch Eat Well For Less again.

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Batch Cooking My Work Lunches: Brown Lentil Dahl/Soup

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I call this Dahl/Soup as it was supposed to be a soup, and by some definitions still could be, but it could also resemble the texture of a Dahl. I will leave it to your own judgements to decide what side it falls on.

WARNING: If you use dried lentils like I did then bear in mind they may need soaking for up to 12 hours before hand. Do not attempt to skip this step. Always follow the instructions on whatever lentils you use.

INGREDIENTS

300g Dried Brown Lentils

Frozen Peas

Frozen Onion

Minced GingerGarlic (about 2 tablespoons worth)

Turmeric, Cinnamon, Pepper, Curry Powder, Rapeseed Oil, Tomato Puree

1 Litre of vegetable stock

1 x 400g tin of coconut milk

METHOD

Prep the lentils, begin soaking (if needed) the night before.

Cook the lentils in the stock for about 40 minutes or according to your packet instructions.

Once the lentils are cooked add the frozen peas and onions and coconut milk.

In a little pot or ramekin mix 1 teaspoon of rapeseed oil with the 2 tablespoons of minced gingergarlic, 1 teaspoon of turmeric (there ain’t no party like a turmeric party), 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree and 1 teaspoon of curry powder.

When the lentils, peas and onions are nearly all cooked and thickening up add the seasoning and mix in.

This makes 4 portions that will be fine for hearty stomachs, or you could make 3 decadent portions.

Marmite Chocolate Shortbread

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What What What!?! Marmite Chocolate Shortbread?!?

That’s right.

For Easter this year I bought the boy a Marmite Chocolate Easter Egg because I thought he would like it (this was based on his favourite breakfast which is Marmite on toast cut into soldiers which he dips into a hot chocolate).

This was his verdict on the Easter Egg.

The first taste is chocolate, which is nice. The second taste in marmite, which is nice. The third taste is a weird after taste, that is not nice.

Like me, the boy hates wasting food. So he begged me to come up with something to incorporate the leftover egg.

I figured because marmite goes well on buttery toast, then it would go well in all butter shortbread?

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The taste is, unusual, but not unpleasant. It is a lot nicer then the chocolate on its own.

It is sort of like a savoury scone, with just a tiny hint of sweetness. But you still get the creamy melted chocolate.

So if you happen to have marmite chocolate about the house give these a try.

Sexy Ass Protein Shake – My Recipe

Everyone has their own special protein shake recipe, I don’t claim that mine is anything special, it’s not even really a recipe but my mental health decline has seen me avoid making food so this is my way of easing back into that.

You will need a blender, and…

20-25g Protein powder (I use a vanilla whey protein from bargain store ‘Home Bargains, I have heard that milk protein is better, use what you like but I say for this ‘recipe’ vanilla works best)

1 Tea spoon of Cocoa Powder

1 Tea spoon of Chia Seeds

200ml milk

1 Table spoon of Molasses

1 Banana

Put all the stuff in a blender and blend your troubles away.

 

Molasses are great! I’ll admit it took me a while to get used to the taste, to the point I was thinking of putting my jar on OLIO, but now I love it. Molasses are full of iron, magnesium and anti oxidants (according to my Runner’s World Guide to Women’s Running)

I have this for breakfast if I have time, or maybe if I have had a very intensive work out I will have this. It’s yum.