Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nom Nom Nom

I apologize for the lack of pictures about the cooking part, but I was exhausted. I did it all in one day and due to a small cooker and lack of cooking pots, I pretty much had to do one dish at a time, so I needed 11 hrs. And that's just cooking dinner. I know some people also make breakfast things and lunch snacks on top, I can only say "wow"! But my freezer would be too small for that anyway, I just about managed to get it all in.

Things I have learned:
1) one can never have enough plasters
2) do not freeze in plastic bags - I have no idea how some of you manage to get these flat, mine are round, and they get stuck in the freezer and I had to defrost a whole drawer the other day, just to get one dish out.
3) I have to buy freezer boxes / containers - annoyingly they usually come as a set, and I only need 2 of the sizes. I already have 2 sets and I really don't need the large and small containers. I might try take-away containers and freeze single portions. This would also be easier for when my daughter has a friend over for dinner
4) Freezer cooking finally helps with my portion control - I have none. But as I only defrost one bag, there is a limited amount of food I can eat. So I finally stick to sensible portions and so far, so good. I have been left a bit hungry some days, so I will go down to the market tomorrow and see if I can get some salad bits.
5) It is lovely to come home from work and find that child has "cooked" dinner, ready on the table. I have put some simple instructions on the fridge what to do with each meal (I didn't want to have to write it on each bag) and we now have home-made dinner every night!

I am loving this and I am already thinking about things to make next month.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The shopping is done

Here comes the chaos - the shopping is done and I really struggled to get the meats and dairy things into the fridge. But the first couple of things have already been added to the freezer - yay, it feels nice to know, I can eat these in a couple of weeks now, rather than having to eat them immediately before they go off.

Total shopping costs for everything (and the couple of bits that jumped into my trolley and the bits that I had forgotten to add to the list): £132.83 - that's not bad at all for the amount of food there is, especially meat bits and the fact that this also includes my laundry powder, cat food and some kitchen cleaning sprays and even 2 bottles of wine - don't worry, not for drinking, they are for cooking. That stuff is related to paint stripper...

The calm before the storm

Here is what my kitchen looks like before the mayhem starts - just cleaned it (well I did a tidy round, there doesn't seem much point in doing a deep clean before I start cooking).

Oh, did I tell you, that I have a tiny kitchen? Hardly any storage, but less to clean....

Here is the new freezer - all clean and empty

And here is my kitchen, all tidy

I am back!!!

I am took a long while and sadly I have to say, that I am still smoking, although it is down to 10 cigarettes a day. I just can't seem to kick the habit.

I have started to sort out my life and my house and everything is falling into place and I love being so much more organized. I always knew it would be a time saver, but I just never had the energy to tackle it all, so now I am making small steps, one corner after another until it is all done. My bin-men have put me on the "most hated list", as my bin is always overflowing at the moment, while I de-clutter. There is just so much stuff that has been moved from house to house and never used. I guess I could give it to charity, but a lot of it is broken or of no use to anyone any more, so in the bin it goes. 

My biggest investment was a new freezer. I haven't had one since moving into this house 3 years ago, there isn't really any room for one and I had to put it in the dining room, where it doesn't look too great. But I am tired of cooking every day. I run out of ideas and shopping and cooking after a 12-hour-shift is just not very pleasant. Brain goes to mush and we end up eating pasta or chilli every other night, as I don't have to use my brain for cooking or shopping. And then there is the dishes to do.... So I decided to spend my birthday money (thanks dad!!) on a new freezer and a month's worth of food in one go. And tomorrow I will cook. 

This will be my first OAMC (once a month cooking) post, but I am hoping more people in the UK might get interested in this style of cooking and we can start some kind of recipe exchange. Most of the recipes I find online for OAMC or Freezer Cooking are US based, which is a pain in the neck, as they use ingredients we can't get or packet sizes which leave me completely stumped. (A stick of Butter anyone?) and I also don't like measuring in cups. It's just plain weird. (If you also cook a lot of american recipes, Ikea has a set of US measuring cups in metal which are perfect)

Now a lot of stuff I read online about OAMC is the cost saving. I didn't think it would be much, as we don't have coupons in the UK (I love that show about the coupon hoarders in the US and it always leaves me jealous) and the likes of Costco and Makro aren't really much cheaper than the supermarkets in the UK, just handy for buying bulk, as Tesco and Asda refuse to sell large amounts to individual shoppers. But I was surprised to see how much it adds up to. Normally I go shopping for 4 days worth of food, so it doesn't make sense to drive around 3 different supermarkets (4 if I include Lidl) just to save a couple of pennies on a can of chopped tomatoes. I hit them in rotation and figured it evens out that way - one gets kind of used to what is on special deal when and where. But making a shopping list for a whole month, it is shocking, how much can be saved and it is well worth it driving around and going to several different places and how much those 20p here and there add up. For example chopped tomatoes in a tin. 

I will need 8000g of tinned tomatoes for all the cooking I am going to do (scary amount, isn't it) - I figured that one out by counting the cans and it came to this amount (20cans of 400g). Yikes!!
But what I normally do, is empty them into a liquidizer and turn them into Passata. I assumed that was cheaper. Not so.... 

1 can of chopped tomatoes (400g) = £0.31 -> total price £6.20
1 pack of Passata (500g) = £0.29 -> total price £4.64

Before checking packet sizes, I never realized that Passata was packed in 500g packs and works out a LOT cheaper. And once recipe needs 2 packs of Passata as well, so I will be buying a total of 18 packs. 

Tesco Price for 18 packs of Passata - £5.22
Asda Price for 18 packs of Passata - £15.36!!

That was a shocker!! It doesn't work out a lot per meal, but over a month/year the savings are immense. So I am going to go to Marko, Asda and Tesco. The bulk will be bought at Tesco, as I will get 5p off a litre of fuel if I spend over £50 and so I am saving again. I think this freezer will pay for itself in 2 months at this rate! Once I am more used to the whole thing, I will add Lidl and Iceland to the list, but they are both a bit out of my way so I keep it simple for my first try of this. The total of my shopping bill should come to £133.76 (I love online shopping lists), but that includes next month's chicken breasts as well, as they are on BOGOF at Makro and it also includes washing powder (currently on half price at Tesco) and Cat Food for a month. We will see how it goes. 

This post is getting a bit long, so I will post photos and progress reports in a separate entry. 
Wish me luck - I am off to hit the shops (did you know, that I hate shopping? It's my definition of hell!!)