Well it IS a long while since we've had one of these posts, isn't it now! Lots of reasons - I think I've said before that when you are doing pretty frugal stuff ALL the time it just becomes a way of life, so you notice it less, so it becomes harder to write about. There is also a limited amount of things to discuss on the subject - and I absolutely don't want this blog to be one of those where the same thing gets endlessly rolled out time after time - just "posting for the sake of it" either - that's boring for me to write and for you to read!
As you know I have always enjoyed a bit of a frugal challenge - and that is something that hasn't changed. Prior to Christmas we did quite a lot of eating from the freezer to run down the stocks in there, but it now seems to be reasonably full again - not a bad thing of course, and especially as quite a lot of what it is full off is stuff that has been bought at bargain prices! I had nothing specific in mind as a challenge until I was making a stew last weekend - I went to automatically reach for a "stock pot" to throw into it for some added flavour and then remembered that in the larder were some sachets of "sausage casserole mix" that we'd been given free at the Good Food show a coup....few.....SEVERAL years ago. Now you don't want to know about the best before date, but it WAS "best before" so I opened a sachet, gave it a sniff - all smelt fine, so into the stew went the contents! However, while sorting through for the casserole flavouring, I realised that there were quite a lot of other oddments in the larder that really ought to be used, and as I KNOW that there are quite a lot of bits in the storecupboard, also, that have been lingering about for a long while, I decided that it was time for a "use it up" challenge!
This one is going to have only one aim - and that will be to use up as many of the random items that have been in the cupboards, fridge etc for a while as we can, which makes good use of the things that we have, and also should save us some money on shopping, too. I've already done a bit of thinking about the sort of things I have in mind, and have a starter list that looks a bit like this:
- the remaining sausage casserole mix sachets
- some sachets of stir fry sauce
- fajita seasoning
- Beetroot - bought yellow stickered for pennies
- a large red cabbage - bought in Aldi pre-christmas for a bargainous 19p
- garlic - I bought another pack of 4 heads without realising that I still had one in the larder
- Part used jars of various things in the fridge
- tubs of home grown gooseberries in the freezer
- individual portions of home grown redcurrants - in the freezer
There's lots more too - this is just - I suspect - the tip of a large iceberg! Although it was under three years ago we had the kitchen redone, because we ended up moving forward with the upheaval of that rather sooner than we had planned, we also ended up just boxing up quite a bit of stuff for the duration - telling ourselves that we would sort through it all when it came to unpacking again. However, by the time the job was finally completed, we were so fed up with the whole situation that what actually happened was that everything just got put back into the larder again, meaning we STILL have lots of old stuff. Then there were the bits that we did look at, but decided we couldn't justify throwing away because food waste blah blah blah... now though, it's time. I need to actively sort out what we have, and make a plan for using it.
Stir fries are never a chore, so those sauces will be a pleasure to use. The gooseberries and redcurrants can become the sweet element to go with rice pudding, or even ice cream or plain yogurt. And half the red cabbage and beetroot I have a fancy for finely slicing, combining with a red onion, also finely sliced, and turning into a winter coleslaw.The remainder of those will probably be roasted as a veggie side with a dinner at some stage.
I'm also going to continue this idea outside of the kitchen too - so focusing on reading books I already have, and that have been waiting to be read, and using the lovely array of toiletries I have as well. Books were already on my "2020 goals list" as I have accumulated a number that are now making me feel guilty - I have them because I feel I *should* read them - either they were given to me by someone who said "you must read this!" (Always a kiss of death for me!) or I have made a start on reading but failed to get engrossed - either way those are now making me feel guilty for not reading them, so they either get read, and then passed on, or simply passed on.
If you are feeling the pinch a bit after the financial excesses that often come with Christmas, this can be the perfect time of year to get stuck into a "use what we have" challenge - and let's face it, most of us have more than we realise, so taking the time to step back, evaluate, and make decisions around the things we've gathered can be really positive on more levels than the pure financial, too. If you've not done it for a while, why not have a quick check through your fridge, freezer and cupboards, and see what you might be able to use up - and maybe save a few pennies doing it?