Friday, 4 February 2011

Frugal eating challenge - continued

You may know that one of my projects this year is the Frugal Eating Challenge. It's been a few weeks since my slightly euphoric newbie post so I thought I'd check in with myself again (I don't have the time to think about this stuff unless I sit down and write about it) and see how it's going. Can I eat frugally and eat whatever I want, without compromising on quality or variety? So far, so yes.

I'm not going to regale you with every single meal I've had but there have been some interesting highlights. The definite number one newcomer is an extra-ordinary roasted cauliflower (stay with me, I know it sounds weird) which you serve with a super tangy gremolata style green sauce. I discovered this fantastic way of eating cauliflower on the mouth watering blog: Il Cavoletto di Bruxelles. Don't be put off buy the fact that it's written in Italian - the photography speak volumes. So that was a very satisfying dinner for about £3 and the cauliflower was organic.

There's a chicken in the fridge waiting to be jointed. I'm putting it off because I tell myself it's complicated but will face the fear and do it anyway. I often cook whole chicken s but I usually buy separate pre-cut pieces if that's what I need. However, doing the work myself means that I save somewhere in the region of £3 so this means more money for a quality, grass fed bird.

I was also very lucky that my good friends at Homa gave some superb olive oil in exchange for cakes. This a real economy as good olive oil is never cheap and I use loads of it. I used it to make some really good winey, hot, peppery lentils topped bit with little bits of crisp bacon and, of course, in the green sauce for the cauliflower. I've also used it to anoint some focaccia made with the precious help of the bread machine (no time to knead). The warm, soft pizza dipped in Homa's olive oil with a wedge of cheese, a few slices of salami and some olives made a very good brunch at the weekend. Next on the list of recipes to use the oil in is an olive oil cake.

I've also discovered the joys of home-made custard. It is utterly delicious for a start and it instantly turns everything it's poured onto into a pudding. Weather it's stewed plums (the ones I bought and that just weren't edible) or a bog standard chocolate loaf which is going a little dry, custard makes it special. A pot of organic cream is 85p or so and the cake and plums were saved from being chucked out so with a couple of eggs and a vanilla pod (the most expensive ingredient) it works out at about £1 per serving of pudding. It's so quick and easy to make we had it twice last week. And as usual, the more I have pudding, the less I want 'something sweet' after dinner and the less I spend on chocolate and sweets.

So I'm glad to report back that all in all we have been eating frugally and I've been eating what I want. I have more variety as I am forced to check out new recipes with better value ingredients and quality is not compromised either.

Do you eat frugally and how do you make it work for you?

Update: I've been asked a lot for the cauliflower recipe so here goes:

Roast cauliflower with green sauce

Step 1: drizzle liberally with olive oil & roast cauliflower on a sheet of baking parchment at 180 for 1hr or so until soft inside

Step 2: meanwhile a bunch of chopped parsley, a handful of rinsed capers, the zest of 1 and juice of 1/2 a lemon, a small clove of garlic and some salt in a pestle and mortar and grind till pulpy. Then add about 4tbsp of good olive oil and grind some more until you get a pesto. Alternatively, chuck everything in a gadget and whizz.

Step 3: eat cauliflower warm with tangy sauce cold from fridge


  1. Sounds like an excellent experiment and one that is making you look at food in a different and interesting way ... hope you continue to enjoy!

  2. Hats off to you for choosing one whole chicken. As the token veggie, I'd like to point out that only one chicken died for your food, rather than a bunch of chickens for separately bought pieces. Obviously I'm not fond of people buying and eating meat but if they are going to, I'd much rather they did it like that.

    Those lentils sound great - are you able to share the recipe? I would top mine with bits of fried halloumi cheese - a million times better than any fake bacon!

  3. I'm interested in an English version of the roasted cauli, we've got one in the veg box and are bored of cauli cheese!

  4. There's a recipe for roasted cauliflower on Jamie Oliver's website, but you hardly need a recipe - have the oven at about 200C (or your standard temperature for roasting veg) and get some olive oil nice & hot in it; blanch the cauli, dry it really thoroughly then toss it in the hot oil with some thinly sliced garlic and chilli flakes. It becomes a different vegetable!

  5. Oh yes, and roast for 20 minutes or so!

    I also recommend grating a little tonka bean into home-made custard. It's sublime...


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