Tag Archives: Organic food

Menu Plan

I almost forgot it was pancake day last week until I strolled down the baking aisle in Sainsbury’s and noticed the empty shelves and a lot of frantic shoppers wondering what they would do now the pancake mixes had all gone!

I always look forward to stuffed pancakes and I have made this recipe for Leek and Mushroom Pancakes a few times.  I use spring onions, celery and young leeks together with button mushrooms and for the batter I use buckwheat flour.

Pancake Day

Pancake Day

Pancake Day

Mushroom and Leek Pancakes

Once the filling is rolled into the pancake I cover them in a white or cheese sauce and sprinkle Parmesan over the top and bake until piping hot and golden brown.

Last weeks menu plan

Menu Plan 3rd to 9th March   

Monday -Pizza and Salad
Tuesday -Mushroom and Leek pancakes
Wednesday -Baked Potato, salad and cheese
Thursday -Samosas and Salad
Friday -Halloumi and Roasted Veg skewers with rice
Saturday -Eating out or Pasta
Sunday -Shepherds Pie with Lentils

On Friday we were both home late so we ended up with good old Egg and Chips with peas as hubby can rustle this up with no help from me.

This coming week I am trying to incorporate some of the ingredients already in my cupboards and fridge so I am making a casserole, omelette and soup so I can throw some of the use up items in.

Menu Plan 10th to 16th March

Monday – Leftover Lentil Shepherds Pie with Broccoli
Tuesday – Tuscan Tomato Casserole with Chickpeas
Wednesday – Omelette filled with courgette and peppers with side salad
 Thursday – Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake
 Friday – Homemade soup with whatever need using up
 Saturday – Cottage – possibly
 Sunday – Soup from Friday

Today is Monday and we are on track so far with the leftover Lentil Shepherds Pie.  I will be using any bits of salad still in the fridge rather than buying any fresh, I know I have a little gem lettuce, cucumber and radish as a base and also a few tomatoes so if I add some peas and buy a small tub of coleslaw I think I can call that a salad.   If we go to the cottage I don’t want heaps of salad items lying around uneaten over the weekend.

As the weather is becoming warmer we will soon be leaving the winter recipes behind and I will be looking at lighter fresher foods and hopefully I will be looking at a lighter fresher me as I believe from the scales that I have gained 3 lbs over the winter months!


Reducing the spending…week 40 days 1-5

Firstly a quick update on my September Challenge

If you have been following along you will know that my challenge for September was to use up the food in my store cupboard, spend a lot less on groceries and reach the end of the month without using any of my pay that was deposited into our bank account on the 20th September.

Well it is good news – my bank statement shows that I did manage to get to the end of the month with my pay intact and £30 to spare this is largely due to my efforts to plan our meals around the items in our store cupboard and freezer and only buy in necessities.

So far this week it has been very boring on the meal front though luckily everything up to today has been very quick and simple as time was a bit in short supply.

I planned the meals around all the ‘need to use up items’ lurking in the freezer – you know all those odds and ends that are often not a complete meal by themselves and by Thursday we sat down to a rather strange combination, which I decided was even too odd to photograph.  Hopefully from today the freezer is almost empty of the ‘bits’ and we can return to preparing something a little more exciting.

Cauldron Sausage

Menu Plan

  • Monday – Cauldron Lincolnshire Soya Sausages from freezer and served with little potatoes, sweet   potatoes,  a carrot and the remaining button mushrooms with gravy. (pictured above)
  • Tuesday – Higgedy Spinach and Feta pie from the freezer served with little potatoes the last of the packet frozen broad beans and the 2 remaining carrots.
  • Wednesday – Pizza base from the freezer, topped with last of the open jar of stir through tomato sauce that hubby had on his pasta last Friday evening, mushrooms, grated cheese from freezer, served with peas.
  • Thursday – Sainsbury’s frozen veg pie and a Pea and Mint rice cake –  both had half each as neither could decide which one to have!  – served with little potatoes and fresh French beans.
  • Friday – Mushroom Stroganof served with savoury frozen rice ( a free trial pack from Ocado months ago)
  • Saturday – Halloumi and salad
  • Sunday – Lasagne with green salad

The Weekly Shopping #40

It was decision time all the way around the supermarket and I was exhausted by the time I hit the tills because although I had planned to only buy exactly what we needed for the week and no more I hadn’t bargained for the bargains so to speak!

First of all I needed a pack of butter, however it was on offer so it seemed more cost-effective in the long run to buy the 2 for £5 saving £1.

This was repeated on the milk, the bread and the cheese.

Then I had to buy one or two items we had almost run out of that are expensive like the organic, cold pressed unfiltered virgin Olive Oil £3, a jar of organic Mayonnaise £2.50, a packet ground Flax seed £2.40 and a dozen organic mixed size eggs £3.60.

I also needed some items like frozen peas that we were completely out of but  I could not find an offer on these so had to pay full price.

 Grocery items


Fruit and Veg

Fresh Fruit and Veg



I spent £59.86 on the groceries  £14.64 of this was for those extra 2 for so much offers so you might say this week was £45.22 for the items we really needed.  My target is now £26.96 for the remaining weeks of this year so I am £18.26 over budget.

Sainsbury's non grocery items

The Extras

Yep this is where I fell down – mooching round the clothes (not a good idea) I saw they do the soft cord leggings I bought in Maroon a while ago in a Navy (not pictured) – so in the trolley they went – cost £14 (but out of my clothes account).  Then walking through the Housewares department (another bad idea) I noticed that plain white Egyptian pillowcases with a high thread count were on offer £6.66 for 2 cases – a bargain and much cheaper than the John Lewis ones sold singularly, maybe not quite the same quality but I only want them as a pillow protector under the proper ones.

Snack bags

The sandwich bags were on offer and don’t you just love these little patterned snack bags – obviously not a good seller as they are being discontinued for the knock down price of 75p.  I thought I might use them for my craft bits and bobs and freezing small amounts of herbs.

And did I mention the magazines?  They kind of leaped off the shelf and into my trolley.  The card making one had a free offer of clear rubber Christmas stamps, which I know I will use for cards etc even though I am not keen on the actual magazine – £4.99.  The other magazine ‘What doctors don’t tell you’ cost £3.95 and is my way of keeping up on any healthy foods and new research that might be of interest to keep us healthy into our old age!

Yes it was all going well until the extras – total spend £31.35

Did my cash spending for the week go any better?

I went to draw out my £10 for the week at Sainsbury’s cash point and like last week found that they no longer appear to be dispensing £10 notes – they start at £20.  Shame on you Sainsbury’s encouraging me to overspend!

  • Because we ate ready prepared foods this week there was no leftovers to take for lunch at work so I had soup and a breadcake from the local bakery, however I did think ahead to take my own buttered bread one day saving 55p.  Cost – £8.99
  • Extra groceries – Lactose Free Milk £3.11,  Mini Potatoes £1, semi skimmed milk £0.89
  • Birthday card for a colleague £1.99
  • Hot choc and custard treat before shopping at Sainsburys £2.65

Total cash spend £18.63 – cash allowance for the week £10 (major £8.63 overspend!)


Despite the overspends I am pleased to have used up some of the foods in the cupboard and freezer and will continue to do this.  Not doing a weekly shop last week certainly saved a lot of money and I might consider doing my bigger shop once a fortnight. I will keep you posted on this.


Join me in my next post when I will outline my October Challenge

Hard Facts…and figures

Six Month Update on my Reduce the Spending Challenge


All my household accounting is done in the Microsoft Money program which I have had installed on my computer since 2002 and it serves me very well.  Before that I was a pen and paper girl and my loft is home to about 9 large accounting books that hold the years from our marriage in 1976 to 2001.  Our life during these years in terms of our financial status with all its ups and downs are documented in these pages.

With Microsoft Money the big advantage is being able to customise a report so that I can see exactly how much I have spent in every category.  Looking at my Housekeeping – Food section for the first 8 months of this year it is no surprise to see that my grocery bill for each month during the Jan to June period is lower than the last 2 months of July and August when I appear to have lost the plot a little.  I know this will be because life had become a bit hectic around here with holidays and outings…oh and a bit of a do on my birthday which exceeded the budget by a mile.  However, despite everything, my efforts in keeping a closer watch on the food bill and what I buy have really paid off.

The figures below include all groceries, fruit and vegetables and cleaning products also soap powder, toilet rolls, tissue, kitchen roll, foil and freezer bags etc.  I have a separate category for toiletries (such as face creams, shampoo etc) and supplements and they are not included in these figures.

  • Jan  £294.92
  • Feb  £208.01
  • Mar  £242.05
  • April £232.94
  • May  £292.33
  • June  £175.14
  • Total £1445.39

A total of £1445.39  divided by 26 weeks = £55.59 per week which is £5.59 over my £50 a week budget or £145 over budget for the half year, but remember this is for mainly organic food which I do not want to give up so I have to be extra careful in what I buy to keep the prices down.  I am sure if I bought the basics of everything I would be well under budget.

Just as a guide the figures for the same period last year are £2252.73 for the first 6 months or a weekly spend of £86.64.  So I am already saving £31 a week.  Even though this is good I feel I must now take stock of where I am and look at how I can do even better in the next 6 months.

I will continue to buy as many of my purchases that I can when on offer and use all the coupons I can get my hands on and as you know one or two of these have come from empty trolleys and my mum bless her posts the Sainsbury’s ones down to me.  Some kind person left a £5 Boots voucher on my desk today – so the word is certainly getting around!

I have been and will continue to cook from fresh and use less processed foods and ready meals as I want to be healthier as well as wealthier!

I rarely buy cakes or biscuits now so when we went on holiday in July I made a Farmhouse Fruit Cake (see recipe section) to use up the eggs and this lasted us for the whole fortnight and was so much nicer than bought.  It is one of those all in one recipes which you can mix up in your Kenwood, however, I use my food processor and to avoid the fruit becoming ‘liquidised’ by the blade I fold it into the cake mixture at the end.


So what are my plans for the remaining 4 months of the year?

My aim is to reduce the weekly shop to £45 which would be another £1170 in total.  To do this I shall have to be even more careful with my choices and look for more bargains and offers.

I know I need to work on my menu planning – I do enjoy doing it but find it hard to set aside the time to do it and so I keep a small recipe book with me of our favourite recipes so I can plan meals whilst having my Hot Choc treat in Sainsbury’s cafe.  However, I often forget what we have in the cupboards at home.  So plan number 1 is…

  • Do an audit of everything in my cupboards and freezer
  • Plan for two to four weeks meals around the contents adding in items to purchase where necessary.  For instance if I have a box of lasagne sheets and some tins of tomatoes I might need to buy a red pepper and courgette to make a lasagne meal.  If I have a load of flour I will add dried fruit and make another fruit cake.
  • I challenge myself to use up and empty my cupboards over the next few weeks and only buy what we absolutely need unless there is a good offer on an item we use.

In addition to this I would like to try more of the recipes in my folders and get rid of those that we decide I wouldn’t make again.  It would be useful to mark some of them that are fast and easy to prepare as well as ones that will freeze well.  So plan number 2 is…

  • Look out for new easy to make nutritious recipes specifically for the nights when we are late making tea and can hardly be bothered.
  • Identify more meals for the freezer and make at least 1 meal to freeze each week.

As we are vegetarian I have to be creative with a number of foods that give us our protein.

  • Eggs
  • Cheeses
  • Soy / Tofu
  • Pulses and beans
  • Grains – Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat
  • Nuts

One food group for each day with the seventh being Pasta.

I have come to the conclusion that cooking from scratch every night on my working days is just too much so making one meal cover two nights is a good solution.  If I make a curry or a Nutloaf this lasts 2 days so I get a night off from cooking.

When I did my recent Detox Healthy Eating Weekend I tried and tested a whole host of new recipes and discovered that we like Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat both useful as a stuffing for peppers or tomatoes.

All I need to do now is get my pen and paper and go and look in my cupboards.