Des and I have got into the habit of visiting our local supermarket at around 9-10pm to hunt for reduced bargains. As he is currently writing up his PhD and my business is still in it's early stages, our food budget is pretty tight.
Despite living well within our means, we have found that a varied and healthy diet is definitely possible if we are willing to keep waste to the minimum and be flexible with our ingredients.
Often in the reduced section there is a multitude of vegetables at ridiculously low prices, as they have usually reached their sell by date. With a little common sense involved in their storage, most vegetables usually keep for up to a week longer than stated on the packet, just check before use for any mould or rot.
The caveat here is - buying these items is all well and good, though only worth it if you intended to use them. It's not only a waste of money, but also a waste of resources if a week later they can be found stuck to the back of your fridge, destined to go straight into the bin. (I'll make allowances if you end up composting them, though it's an expensive way to generate it!)
Whilst you are never guaranteed the selection of your choice, this method of buying food has certainly added variety into our cooking routine. Soups are a great way of using up veg, as you can experiment with an unusual combination of things and freeze any leftovers for another day!
Earlier this week I was confronted with the question of what to do with bags of 10p kale, 2p basil and 1p potatoes.
The obvious answer was of course, soup! I was slightly hesitant about how this would turn out, as i have never made a soup with kale before, however the result was light, aromatic and delicious. The only thing I found was that the texture remained slightly chunky, as kale is pretty fibrous.
It may be pretty self evident, but this is also one hell of a healthy meal!
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp Rapeseed or Vegetable Oil
200g Kale (Spinach would also work wonderfully!)
30g Fresh Basil, finely chopped
300g Potatoes, chopped into small 2cm chunks
600 ml of made up Vegetable Stock (I use Bouillon powder)
Salt and pepper to taste
(I used a soup maker, however this can easily be made on the stove with a hand blender)
1. Heat up the oil in the bottom of your cooking vessel on a medium heat (on the hob I like to use a big stockpot to made huge vats of soup!)
2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes until they are beginning to become golden. Then add the potato chunks and fry together for another minute or two. This is a good point to make up the vegetable stock.
3. Add the stock to the onion/garlic/potato mixture and bring to a low simmer. Slowly start adding the kale, waiting for each handful to wilt before adding another. Salt and pepper the dish to taste. (I added 1tsp salt and a LOT of pepper)
4. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat with the lid on.
5. Blend after this time is up and serve! Alternatively, tub it all up, wait for it to cool and then freeze.
I hope you've enjoyed this little insight into my bargainous ways!
Does anyone else shop in the reduced sections? Maybe you have some top tips for getting a food bargain that you want to share! Or your go to recipe for using up leftover veg?