One of my biggest bug bears is wasting food.
When you throw food out, or even put food in the bokashi, you are throwing your money away.
We have pineapple with our salads, and one tin does two meals for the five of us. When I open a tin, I take out the four slices we need, then tip the other slices and juice into a container and put it in the fridge until the next night.
The Aldi pineapple rings in juice are what we like. They are bought in bulk when I replenish the stockpile each year.
After I use the remaining pineapple slices, instead of drinking the juice, or worse, pouring it down the drain, I make a quick marinade with it.
I add a slurp of vegetbable oil, a dash of soy sauce and a pinch of garlic and give it all a shake.
Then I plan chicken for the next night, take it out of the freezer and pour the marinade over. Let it marinate overnight in the fridge and then it can be baked, fried or barbecued.
And nothing is wasted!
500g Nutrigrain (generic equivalent works just as well)
375g salted peanuts
375g pretzels (broken into small pieces)
100g pumpkin seeds
1 packet Cream of Chicken soup mix
1 packet French Onion soup mix (generic works just as well)
3 tsp curry powder
Pinch chilli powder
1/2 cup currants (or sultanas)
3/4 cup olive oil, heated
Combine all ingredients except oil in a large bowl. Mix well to make sure everything is coated with the seasonings. Warm the oil and stir through the dry ingredients, making sure they are all coated completely. Store in a large, air tight bowl. If you are going to jar it up for gifts, wait two days. Stir the mix completely each day then on the third day pour into jars and label. This mix looks great in nut dishes on the Christmas table too.
If you don't have all the ingredients, don't stress. Add what you have, and substitute the rest.
This makes a HUGE batch, so great for a few gifts, with plenty leftover for your Christmas snacks.
Package it in jars or cellophane bags to give.
I have been making these cup cakes for ages, and until last weekend no one knew they had sweet potato or flaxseed in them. They are so good, and so much like little mud cakes that unless you know they are packed with lots of goodness you really won't know.
If you want to get some extra nutrition into your family, without them knowing, and still give them a sweet treat, try these little cakes. The secrets are to make sure the sweet potato is very soft and very well mashed, almost a puree, so that it combines completely with the dry ingredients, and to beat the oil/egg/flaxseed mixture for at least 5 minutes, so that it is very thick and fluffy. Do not be tempted to skimp on the time or your cakes will be dry, hard little rocks.
1 cup of mashed sweet potato
1 ¼ cups of spelt flour
¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt
½ cup of buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup of olive oil
½ cup of raw sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal soaked
2 tablespoons of water
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare patty pans.
2. Prick one medium sweet potato with a fork (a lot) and cook in microwave for 5 minutes turning every minute.
3. Combine dry ingredients into a bowl (flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt
4. Combine buttermilk, vanilla and sweet potato until well blended. If you want to keep the sweet potato a secret, make sure you get rid of any sweet potato chunks no matter how small.
5. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium high, beat the oil while slowly adding the sugar. Add the egg, flaxseed meal and water – 1 at a time. Beat for 5 minutes. This is important, don't be tempted to skip this step or even shorten the time.
6. On low speed add the sweet potato mix, then the flour mix.
7. Use a 1/4 cup measure to fill patty pans and bake 15 – 20 minutes. Test after 15 minutes, as these cakes do not take well to being over-cooked.
8. Cool on a cake rack, then ice with your favourite chocolate icing.
I don't have strange ingredients in the back of the pantry. Or rather I don't have ingredients I don't use at the back of the pantry (some of the things I use may be a little strange to some folk).
I tend to buy the same basic groceries over and over and over and just rearrange them into different recipes. It means my grocery bill rarely varies from month to month and is predictable, unless of course there is a price rise (drat those price rises).
Wendy talked about using coconut milk in a recipe and finding it overpowering, so she gave it another go and that recipe failed the Family Approval Test too. In the end she donated the remaining can of coconut milk to a food drive.
I use coconut cream in curry and satay and to make custard. My family likes coconut so it is a pantry staple in our home. Wendy's family isn't so keen on it and so it is an extra ingredient. Those strange ingredients in a recipe will depend on your taste, your budget and your daring as a cook.
In the interests of keeping a happy family we try to have one new recipe a month. It may be a main meal or a side dish, it might be a cake or slice, sometimes it is a new jam, sauce or pickle. Everyone takes turns choosing the recipe from the dozens of recipe books on the shelf.
Sometimes a new recipe is a hit and goes onto the regular recipe rotation; sometimes it is a dud and we all vow to never, ever try it again (like the infamous SALMON DISH - and yes the kids talk about it in capitals, they shudder at the very mention of it).
If a new recipe uses an ingredient that's not in the pantry I try to find a substitute I already have. If I don't have a substitute and I really want to try the recipe I buy the smallest size I can to try it.
Then if we like it and it's an ingredient I can use in other things I'll look for the cheapest way to buy it.
Here's a list of substitutes you can use when you find you don't have all the ingredients you need for a recipe.
Haystacks are a family favourite and we enjoy them regularly. They're quick and easy to make and topped with lots of lovely fresh veggies they are the perfect easy meal all year round.
I've no idea where the name came from, I first started making them about 35 years ago when I was a cook for school camps. The kids loved them because they were "junk" food, we cooks loved them because it is a one-pot wonder recipe, that can be made ahead, and is easy to serve. Now my family loves them, this really is a recipe that has stood the test of time.
This recipe is one of the most requested from the Cheapskates Club Recipe File. Every time they are mentioned in a meal plan or a newsletter I get emails asking what they are and for the recipe.
2 tins baked beans in tomato sauce
1 tin red kidney beans (or dried equivalent, soaked and cooked)
3 tbsp MOO taco seasoning (or 1 packet)
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 tins diced tomatoes
Sauté onion, add taco seasoning and then beans and tomatoes. Heat through. Serve over corn chips or toasted pita bread or torn mountain bread (I've even put it over pappadums in a pinch) add salad to suit, top with salsa and sour cream.
I usually put the salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, salsa, sour cream) out and let them make their own.
This makes a double quantity, so half goes in the freezer for the next time. Freezes well and it makes a great filling for stuffed spuds too.