Saturday, 31 October 2015

#ExpressYourShelf Challenge Day 6 and 7


I've come to the end of my challenge...

Day 6

I was feeling pretty chuffed with my spending habits this week, so I treated myself to a toast and Nutella for breakfast (other nut based spreads are available).   I’d had enough of fruit and fibre by this point…

So chuffed by my week of savings, I went wild and bought a Boots sushi meal deal for lunch, totalling £3.25.  A rookie error some may say – I had a 12pm til 2pm meeting where food was on offer.  But didn’t know that until I got there.  

Last night’s dinner was a feast of epic proportions.   The Mexican party got going.  We made far too much food for 5 people, but the freezer was on hand to welcome unused portions to feed us into next week.  Top tip – buy Tupperware by the bucket load.  Any time friends come over and you make too much food, pop leftovers into a tub and into the freezer.  They make great standby dinners for one when you want good home cooked food in a hurry. 

I did make my own salsa last night using the contents of the fridge.  3 leftover tomatoes, ½ white onion, 1 jalapeno pepper, a handful coriander leaves, lime, salt and pepper.  Chop all the veg as small as you can add it to a bowl, season and mix.  An easy dip that tastes much more authentic than shop bought salsa.

Total spent today: £3.25
Total spent for the week: £36.29 (+£15.67 top up for the dinner party)


Day 7

Last day of the challenge and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being creative with leftovers and working to an even tighter budget than usual for the food shop.   It just goes to show how much food gets wasted in the UK.  Even for 2 very busy people, it only takes 5 minutes to scoop the extras out of the dish, into a tub and into the freezer… LEFTOVERS DON’T NEED TO GO IN THE BIN PEOPLE!

Today we had bacon sandwiches for brunch.  The bacon was bought earlier in the week and the bread was frozen from the weekly shop.   Just needed the help of the toaster to defrost it quickly.  Et voila, cafĂ© fresh bacon sarnies.  With lots of sauce (red preferably).

Tonight’s dinner – some more pasta from the cupboard, a sauce made from store cupboard flour, butter and milk and the Edam cheese (yep, the 23p block is still going).  Some smoky bacon lardons, fried til crisps added a meaty element to the dish and the 23p Edam sprinkled over the top made for a posh mac and cheese. 

Seeing as it’s Saturday, I went wild with a glass of Rioja from the wine rack.    Didn’t even have to buy it out of the budget!

Mission Complete.   I’m planning to continue saving the world one Tupperware portion at a time.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a £40 Tesco voucher to cover my food expenses during the week of the challenge.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

#ExpressYourShelf Challenge - Day 3, 4 and 5

Hello readers!  It's time for an update on my #ExpressYourShelf Blogger Challenge in conjunction with Tesco, Love Food Hate Waste and Hubbub

It's going well and I'm pleased to report, at the end of day 5, my total spend is £33.08.  With enough food for the end of the week, it looks like we're coming in on budget! 

Day 3 

We caved and went to do a food shop tonight.   The cupboard were getting bare and we had very few options left.  But good news, the yellow sticker struck again! 
I should probably start with breakfast - fruit and fibre cereal with milk and a bit of a cup of tea.  Nothing out of the ordinary there.

Lunch, I cheated and bought a sandwich meal deal as I was running between clients and needed to eat on the move.  £3.25 out of the day’s budget.  Sorry.

For dinner, back to the yellow sticker story!  We had a rake around the cheap sections in the fridges and yes… they came up with the goods.  A finest pasta bake at half price, some winter root vegetables and a cheese and garlic tear and share.  Two of us fed with a hearty dinner, for around £3.00 per head.  Not bad going.  
Here's to yellow stickers!

Usually I am a scratch cook, but given we’ve just got back from holiday and didn’t get home until 8pm, we cheated and had an oven dinner.

So now we’ve done a “big shop” (did anyone else’s mum call it that?!) I’m planning not to buy anything else for the rest of the week, but will chart what I’ve done with the food we’ve bought!

Also – note, we are having a dinner party on Friday which was planned before I knew about the challenge.  Although feeding us on £40 will be challenging, feeding 6 people at a dinner party is near on impossible for that, so, I put some pennies to our shopping last night, to cover the cost of the extra guests coming at the weekend.

Total spent at Tesco (excluding dinner party things): £24.43
Total spent for the week: £33.08

Day 4

It was a good feeling starting the day with a full fridge! I’ve still been boring and continued with my fruit and fibre, cup or tea breakfast combo (hey, if it aint broke…)

Lunch was more exciting.  I wired into my yellow sticker haul pasta and chicken bought the day before.  I had half and Mr What Claire Baked got fired into the other half.  Our total lunch only came to £0.98 for both of us.  Not bad at all.

Yesterday was a full on Italian day – I was kicked out the kitchen whilst a pasta bake was made.  Result, there was enough for 3.  So one portion has gone straight into the freezer for a dinner for one next week.    We had chicken (bought in bulk for Friday’s dinner party, so one portion came out of that) chorizo (also for the dinner party, used ¼) pasta from a £0.59 bag from our Tesco shop and made a tomato sauce from a tin of chopped tomatoes, olive oil and herbs, all found in the cupboard.
Leftovers ready for the freezer

Remember the 23p Edam from earlier in the week?  It was removed from the freezer and chucked on the top to make a cheesy crispy topping. 

Total spent today:  £0.00
Total spent for the week: £33.08

Day 5

You can guess what breakfast was, I won’t repeat it and bore you all. 

Lunch… I had a ham and cheese roll, using some of the cooked meat from earlier in the week, along with some of the Edam (it’s still going), a yoghurt from the fridge and another giant satsuma from earlier in the week.

Tonight’s dinner – the yellow sticker fishcakes (top tip, take them out the night before and let them defrost overnight in the fridge, so they are ready for you coming in).  Someone wanted a side of fries (also from the freezer) and I’ve done my bit towards the 5 a day. Got leftover veg?  Instead of soup, roughly chop it, mix it together with olive oil and sea salt and bake in the oven for around 35 mins at 180c (fan).  You’ll have delicious mixed veg, which can be expensive to buy in store, unless you’ve gone yellow stickering! We used 1 pepper, 1 courgette, 1 red onion and 2 tomatoes – all which were lying around unloved in the fridge.

Veggies in the oven and set to go!

Total spent today: £0.00
Total spent for the week: £33.04

Stay tuned for the next installment of how my week ended! 

Monday, 26 October 2015

#ExpressYourShelf Challenge - Day 1 and 2

Readers, it’s an interesting one this week.  I’ve just returned from two weeks at an adults only all inclusive resort in Mexico (more about that one later).  So this week it’s back down to earth with a bump after consuming my entire body weight in food and cocktails over the fortnight.

However, I agreed with Hubbub (a new charity which takes a fresh approach to communicating environmental and waste issues focussing on people's passions like food and fasion as a couple of examples) to take part in the #ExpressYourShelf challenge in association with Tesco and Love Food Hate Waste.   We’re being encouraged to think about food waste and how we can make better use of food leftovers – rather than just throwing things out.  This week, I have £40 to feed 2 of us and be as creative as I can.

Wish me luck!

Day 1 – Sunday

Ok, so it’s been a bit of a cheat day, I have to confess. We landed back from holiday at 6am and breakfast was served on the plane – so first meal of the day we didn’t have to pay for.   As we had nothing in the fridge (see my Facebook photo).  We had to survive on what was left in the house.  

Two tins of soup were last spotted hanging around at the back of the cupboard.  I blew the cobwebs off the top and fired up the microwave.  Lunch complete.  Dinner was also a cheat – we were fed by friends who took pity on us.  

Due to the lack of food in the house I donned the boots and winter jacket (I’m cold… don’t judge. It was 38c in Mexico yesterday) and popped down to Tesco to get a few things.

I arrived to bargain city.  The stars aligned.  There were YELLOW STICKER products to be found on the shelf.  A great start to my bargain week.

I started with three bags of mixed carrot & bean at 16p each.  Then I found two blocks of Edam for 23p each.  Then I found cod fishcakes for 82p.   YES!
Yellow sticker bargain haul!

So, I’ve come home and the slow cooker is on.  Soup is in production for tomorrow's lunch.  I added an onion for 20p, a handful of frozen veg to bulk it out which I already had and a stock cube for the cupboard.  Four hours on high and that’s lunches fixed for the next few days.

I picked up a few other things to take me through the week including milk, cooked ham slices and satsumas which I’ll work with later in the week.

The edam has now been grated and frozen – although it’s short dated, it can easily be taken out and defrosted, then used in cheese sauces, cheese on toast etc.  

Total spend so far - £5.00.

Day 2 – Monday

Alarm goes off, first day back to work.  I’m a fan of keeping my larder well stocked with dry goods and I said a silent prayer to the cereal gods when I found a half box of Fruit & Fibre in the cupboard.  Fresh milk was bought yesterday, so I had cereal, milk and a cup of tea before I left for the office.

I took my first tub of homemade soup to work today.  Went a bit wild with the chilli flakes though – adding some milk to tomorrow’s portion to take the heat out a little.  I took a slice of ham and some of my frozen cheese in a tub, which had defrosted by lunch and I bought a roll at the Tesco bakery.  I made my roll at my desk and finished off with a yoghurt and a satsuma from yesterday’s shop.   Lunch done.

Dinner was an easy affair tonight – the pork burgers were leftover in the freezer (top tip – if you are a household of two, buy a four pack of burgers when they are on offer – buy two and freeze two – that’s a standby meal for another night).
Freezer dinner!
I’d previously made a big batch of potato and chorizo tapas balls for a tapas night a few weeks ago and ended up with leftovers which I threw in a freezer bag.  Luckily, they’ve defrosted still ball shaped and seem to have oven cooked fairly well.

I had some more frozen veg in the freezer, so I added half a cup of frozen peas to my dinner to get a portion of fruit and veg in with my meal.  Again, top tip, buy frozen veg, it’s been proven to be rich in nutrients, is relatively cheap AND it doesn’t go off quickly.

End of day result – I’m not hungry and I’ve been fed by the freezer.  Tomorrow we need to do a rest of the week shop. We’ve no frozen meat and Mr What Claire Baked said a vegetarian week “wasn’t for him”.  To Tesco I go tomorrow…  

Total Spend Today: £0.40
Week spend so far: £5.40 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Reece’s Inspired Peanut Butter Chocolate Traybake

Readers, as well as my chocolate obsession, I also love peanut butter AND combining it with chocolate. I love Reece’s peanut butter cups.  Usually I’m not a huge fan of American chocolate but somehow, Reece’s peanut butter cups just work.  

I know my readers love a traybake recipe, so I’ve tried to create a Reece’s inspired traybake this week.  Again, this is super easy to make and the kids can get involved too.

The peanut butter and chocolate works well together and this recipe got a big thumbs up from the taste panel in the family.   Enjoy!
chocolate peanut butter traybake

Reece’s Inspired Peanut Butter Chocolate Traybake

Ingredients (makes 9 squares)

150g 35% milk chocolate (for topping)
1 Milky Bar (for topping)
2 cups puffed rice cereal
50g butter
2 heaped dessert spoons golden syrup
2 heaped dessert spoons crunchy peanut butter
100g milk chocolate


  1. Line an 8x8in silicone baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the milk chocolate, crunchy peanut butter, golden syrup and butter in a pan over a low heat.  Stir until all ingredients have melted and blended together.  Remove pan from heat.
    Add the ingredients to the pan

    Heat, then mix until smooth
  3. Add the puffed rice cereal to the pan and stir until combined.   The cereal should be lightly coated – add more cereal if necessary.
  4. Transfer the mix to the lined tin and smooth into the tin until flat and pushed into the corners.  Refrigerate for around an hour until the mix has set.
    Flatten into the tray
  5. Once set, melt the 35% milk chocolate in a microwave proof glass bowl for 60 seconds. If required, stir and melt for another 30 seconds until smooth.
  6. Pour the chocolate over the set mixture and smooth with a spatula.  Return to the fridge for 20 minutes.
  7. Melt the milky bar in a cup and drizzle over the topping, using a teaspoon.  Return to the fridge until set.
  8. Remove from the fridge, allow to return to room temperature, then cut into 9 squares.