Friday, 9 June 2017

Making the Most of what you have

At the moment things are good for me on a financial footing (not brilliant but better than they have been for sometime)  and I have been buying one or two things that I have had my eye on after a long time without. In that respect I am very lucky at the moment but equally I know the tide can turn just like that. With a quick snap of the fingers.  I

t did a few years back when OH lost his job and was out of work for 4 1/2 years. That's when the way I keep the pantry came to the fore and saved us a lot of money and gave us meals not necessarily what we fancied but decent honest filling meals all the same.  That was a time of financial tightness but also of making the best of what we actually had.  We had a roof over our heads, food in our tummies and heat.  The only three things that really matter when you are up against it.  We did not get any help from benefits or anything like that because we were not married even though the rent was in his sole name.  As a result I rely on my own abilities to get through and believe you some of the things I have had to learn I was not very good at to start with, but practice and doing helps make you learn and get better.  You have to be sensible even when you don't feel like being sensible and want to kick up your heels

At that time and since I made meals go further by having two three vegetables at most on our plates (Sunday dinners are always different) and padding the meals out with Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, roast onion, roast potato, roast pumpkin and squash (I freeze this for use out of season) and lashings of gravy.

I always keep leftovers and turn potatoes and veggies into bubble and squeak which go very well with cold chicken and/or game birds. If I was not going to use them straight away I used to freeze this in patties and just get some out to go with a meal. 

I saved the trimmings from Chickens and made stock from the carcass after we had had about three meals out of the chicken. Gravies are used as a base for soups and often the leftover veggies are turned into Sunday Dinner soup.  Something my Nan used to do on a regular basis.  On a cold winter day there is nothing warmer  than a bowl of  steaming warming soup and chunk of bread and/or a stew.  Proper soul food that's cheap, tasty and it fills you up. 

I freeze the chicken carcass if I am not in a position to use it straight away and I always make sure that the carcass is picked.  You can make coronation chicken for sandwich spread from the left overs or use it in a salad or make chicken soup or cream of chicken soup.  Sometimes the cats get it though as a treat.  They don't get many but if there is chicken or meat scraps going spare then they do get this from time to time.

I keep things like dried peas in the pantry and turn them into home made pea and ham soup often utilising the trimmings left over from a cooked ham hock or gammon joint as well as using the stock from the gammon or ham as base for the soup.  Waste not want not. 

Equally those dried peas with the aid of some bicarbonate of soda can be turned into home made mushy peas with a little bit of preparation the night before.  Come spring and summer months you can always plant these dried peas in a planter/trough and end up with pea shoot salad for use in salads.  Home grown and quite fresh.  You can also set your own salad planters as well and then when you want salad you literally pick it from your own garden without wasting any and the bonus for doing this is that you get the salad at its freshest.

I don't buy eggs from the supermarket.  I buy a tray of eggs from the Greengrocers.  I use them for meals, baking, for custards as well as for breakfasts, with smoked fish poached on their own.  When you have a family a tray goes very quickly.  Even with two of us we use quite a few.

In the winter months I buy a sack of spuds.  Its cheaper than buying the bags from the supermarket.  I get the large sack from the Greengrocer and one of the men delivers it home for me.  In the summer months when you cannot get the bigger sacks I have been able to get the mini sacks from either the Asian shop or the Polish shop.

I made my own bread and buns for pack up.  There are recipes for Foccacia, and home made Tiger buns on the blog.  The buns went for the kiddies and OHs pack up and were made fresh every day.  I also made a loaf every couple of days.  This is still a cheaper option.  I am afraid I am a big fan of rustic type breads especially with a bowl of soup, but I am fond of the home made Tiger buns and the Foccacia.

I made my own yogurt and my own flavourings stewing fresh fruit and also using jams.  You get quite a lot of yogurt if you make it yourself and it is a lot cheaper than buying individual pots.

Brown bread can be turned into brown bread ice cream.  White bread into bread pudding, bread and butter pudding.  I have covered bread use before.  We spend so much on it why the heck should we waste it.

One thing we have always had a lot of is veggies of many different kinds.  I freeze my own for use during the working week and I always have fresh veggies in.  I buy mine from an old fashioned greengrocer shop that is plain and basic and does not cost the earth and I know their suppliers a lot of the time are local farmers who grow in the deep rich soil of the fens.  They also sell off things like cherry tomatoes when they are getting to their best before date  and tomatoes in bowls at £1 a bowl often there is about 1kg of produce in those bowls so they are a good bargain and you can do all sorts tomato passata, tomato chutney tomato and basil soup, tomato paste, dried tomatoes, roast tomato pasta sauce,  dried tomatoes in oil, tomato powder.  Equally you can use them fresh with a breakfast, in salads like onion and tomato salad which is chilled and dressed with vinegar and is lovely in sarnies, on their own.  There is always so much you can do.  They also sell off apricots, apples, beetroots anything that is getting towards its date but is still perfectly edible.  We have meat not as much as we used to have but

However equally I know that the things I have purchased will help me in the long run and also help me either on a recreational basis i.e. the Gazebo will give me shade and help me enjoy the summer months outside.  (The Doctors have advised that as I have a vitamin D deficiency that I should get out into the sunshine as much as possible). however I burn very easily and that is why I need some shade.  This in turn will enable me to do my craftwork outside instead of being cooped up in the house all the time.  My little stockpile of kits, fabric, embroidery threads etc. will give me something to do for the future and keep me occupied without having to spend an enormous amount and let the creativity within me out.  So that for me is and was how to make the best of what I actually have.  I have always plotted and planned things along the way stockpiling stuff until I am in a position to actually set to and do something with it.  This in turn enables me to take advantage of bargains, make things and introduce preloved items into my home to make a very individual home - not the same as other peoples but most of all save money. 

I never bought cake I always made it.  In fact if you search back through the blog there is a bulk Victoria sponge type recipe for making lots of fairy cakes or cupcakes or sponges.  Ideal for Sunday afternoon tea and also the pack ups during the week.   Tray bake recipes are ideal for packups.

So there is always something that you can do to eat well and save money in the long run.  A lot of the time all you need is the bare ingredients.

Doing for your family brings a lot of satisfaction or it did/does for me and it is making the most of what you have available food wise but it also stretches and improves your own skill set.  That truly is making the most of what you have.

Catch you soon.




  1. excellent post Patti a pleasure to read

    1. Thank you Dawn

      Glad you enjoyed it. Its something I feel pretty passionately about and being round my grandmother's feet and also my mums both were very practical sensible ladies who kept a good table and didn't waste a thing. My Nan was an expert at making something substantial out of hardly nothing but it was always tasty, filling and good for you. The old ways are often the best. Take care. Pattypanxx

  2. so much sensible advice.I make soup with the chicken carcass too, and make our own breads, scones, pancakes etc they are good and you know exactly what is in them , no preservatives .

  3. Couldn't agree more - bread is never wasted, chicken carcases always make stock, and leftover veg goes into bubble and squeak or soup. And it is so satisfying - and great fun to experiment too.

  4. I also think Angela it is something to do with the way that we have been brought up. Money was way tight back then tighter than now and there were not the supermarkets to pop out to. Most things were well out of peoples price ranges except for the lucky few and if you wanted something the cheapest way was to make do and mend or have a go yourself. I count myself very lucky to have been brought up this way. You too xx

    1. Hi Hettybaker

      That's the other reason I make so much myself is because I know exactly what has gone into them. They may not be as pretty as some of the posh bakeries produce but they still taste just as good if not better. Take care. Pattypanx


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Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)