Sunday, 28 September 2008

Credit Crunch Cookery

Times are hard (so the papers are telling us) and so it is time to look at ways of stretching our resources a little bit farther.

Effective cooking is one way we can do that. What do I mean by effective? Not wasting ingredients, and being careful about where we shop.

For example, today being Sunday we have just had our family Sunday dinner. Roast chicken, Yorkshire pudding, braised carrots, cabbage and creamed potatoes (yum yum!). It being Sunday we all had larger than usual portions, so we are effectively catering for four adults (rather than two adults and two children).

The first place to make some savings is when buying the ingredients. To keep the price down I bought a large chicken from a budget supermarket, which came to £3.49. This is compared with a medium chicken from one of the larger "name brand" supermarkets for £4.49.

The chicken provided us with enough meat for two meals. The potatoes I bought locally for around £1.50 for a 4kg bag. My wife bought a "stew pack" from our local grocers for £1, which contained half-a-dozen large carrots, three onions, half a large cabbage and a decent sized turnip (so again, more than enough for another meal or two).

So the total cost for our Sunday dinner is around £6. But remember, that doesn't give us just the one meal. Half the meat on the chicken was used for the meal (and we were serving up LARGE portions here). The other half is going to be used in a Sweet-and-Sour sauce for our main meal tomorrow.

But wait, there is more. We've still got vegetables left to use, and the chicken carcass. As I type this the carcass is simmering away nicely to make chicken stock, this is going to be used tomorrow in a cabbage and cheese soup (using the remainder of the cabbage from today).

As for the rest of the vegetables, they'll end up being used in a vegetable stew (or we might use it to go with some stewing steak). The potatoes will be used throughout the week as parts of various meals too.

So our £6 outlay is going to give us the best part of four meals.

Thinking of Sunday lunch, another good budget stretching ingredient you can use is Pork Shank (ask your butcher for this one). This is the shoulder bone, shoulder meat and a good portion of skin (which is just the thing for making a good amount of pork crackling). A shoulder from our local butcher costs around £1.75 and easily provides enough roast pork for the four of us. The only thing to remember with a shoulder is to slow cook it for a couple of hours on a medium to low heat to get the meat nice and tender (three to four hours should do it).

Remember, just because you want to save some money, doesn't mean you can't eat well.

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