Make do and mend challenge: Day one

It’s deeply unfair on the vegetable race for me to say this, having brought two innocent courgette plants into the world this year under my own steam and watched DJ nurture his own, but today I don’t care if I never see another courgette again. I have courgette overload. Let’s just say I’ve overdone it with the little fellahs lately.

I’ve begun my new make do and mend challenge and during my first week my task is to stay away from the grocery shops and make use of items already in our kitchen cupboards, freezer and our back garden. Given that we are overloaded with courgettes at the moment, having foolishly grown three plants (two ‘all green bush’ and one ‘defender’) I thought I’d better make use of them. So lunch yesterday consisted of courgette fritters made with flour, egg and breadcrumbs from a leftover loaf alongside leftover courgette, potato, red onion and tomato bake made over the weekend. To be honest, the fritters were really good and, on its own, the potato bake thing is delicious and really easy to make too. You just throw sliced onion into the bottom of a lasagne dish, add layers of thinly sliced potato, tomato and courgette and top with grated cheddar/parmesan and throw in some herbs and tabasco. Bake for an hour at 190 degrees. But together it was all a bit too much. I felt a bit green– maybe I’m turning into a courgette now too, I’ve consumed so many.

Anyhow, in preparation for my task I’ve been going through our kitchen cupboards and making an inventory of some of the weird and wonderful ingredients there. Funny really – I had this notion that I kept a fairly frugal kitchen but I’ve been horrified to find out that there are plenty of things lurking around that DJ and I haven’t got around to using

Here are some of them:

Water chestnuts       


Lasagne sheets


Cocoa powder

Frozen blackcurrants

Pearl barley

Frozen prawns

Walnut halves

Ice cream

Sardine fillets

Frozen peas




Dried blueberries


Juniper berries

Sesame oil

Cannelini beans

Sundried tomatoes

Chicken legs

Mustard seeds

Saffron strands

Risotto rice

Puy lentils

Red kidney beans

From the garden: red onions, tomatoes, courgettes (eek), cucumbers

I am busy having a good think about what to do with my list of ingredients. A paella could be a possibility with the saffron, chicken and frozen prawns. Or I was also thinking of trying to make a cassoulet – a French dish with the beans, chicken and sausages. But then again, maybe this would be using up too many of the ingredients at once. I’m also tempted by some blueberry muffins or a jam roly-poly using the suet, but they might not be too good for the waistline. Also fancy doing something with the sardine fillets too or maybe a salad with the puy lentils. I usually eat them in a casserole and haven’t tried them cold. Green Gal my new pal on Twitter suggested I could make jam with the blackcurrants, which could be the way forward. Need to see if I have enough sugar.

Got any weird and wonderful recipe ideas using my ingredients? Let me know and I’ll try them out!

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10 Responses to Make do and mend challenge: Day one

  1. Christine says:

    Stir fry using the water chestnuts if you have a few herbs in the garden or in the cupboard? You can put almost anything in a stir fry. Either of the tins of beans would do as the protein in a stir fry. Why not just eat the defrosted blackcurrants with the ice cream? Saves a lot of cooking time and gets rid of two items in one go.That cassoulet is very extravagant unless you are entertaining. But you can do a sausage casserole – – it\’s good with tomatoes and red onions and some of those courgettes. You can never have too many courgettes!

  2. Christine says:

    You could grill the sardines after coating them with flour seasoned with cayenne, salt and pepper and serve them simply with any vegetables that you have to hand. A quick, cheap to make and cook meal with not a lot of washing up afterwards. I always work on the thesis that if you are going to do frugal meals, then you don\’t want to have to do a lot of washing up or use a lot of power in the cooking. But there speaks the lazy cook.

  3. Bill says:

    Frozen peas, covered in boiling water, 5 mins in microwave. Drain add beans to hot peas, also add course chopped onions & zuchini (courgettes), heat up as a risotto, add course chopped toms for final 2 minutes, followed by sadines. Finally stir in fresh chopped herbs, dill, parsley basilikum, sage & saffron. Would also make a fantastic lasagne.

  4. Gabrielle says:

    How about a veggie chilli made from the beans, onions, tomatoes and dreaded courgettes and pearl barley? I\’m not great on meal suggestions as hubbie does most of the cooking in our household. I\’m more of a baking, jam-making type of cook! Mrs Green at is doing a \’no spend\’ food challenge this week but she\’s allowing the purchase of fresh fruit and veg. I admire your hardcore stance on not getting a single thing from the shops but I think I\’m going to ease myself (and more importantly the hubbie) into this gently so will start off by trying to only buy fresh veg and everything else has to come out of the store cupboard. Looking forward to reading how you get on and will let you know how I\’m doing with my little challenge too! Don\’t forget you\’ll need jam sugar or else pectin to go with ordinary sugar for the jam…

  5. Emily says:

    I\’ve got the same problem being overrun with 4 courgette plants and only two of us in the house! We thought two hadn\’t germinated so planted 2 more but they all came up! Thinking about buying this book because it has such a great title "What Will I Do With All Those Courgettes" – At the weekend we made courgette and green tomato chutney from the River Cottage preserving book which we did last year and was delicious (we gave it away as christmas presents too which went down a treat) we also made courgette and carrot muffins which were surprisingly good! Used this recipe and vegetable oil worked just fine. Going to have a go at making the intriguing sounding marrow jam recipe i found online next weekend…I often make a "ready steady cook" dinner (as they\’re called in our house) but my rule is to use up things that go off first as the starting point before anything else. Failing that pick the thing that takes up the most room in your fridge/freezer/cupboard and use that.

  6. nicola says:

    Use the \’Love Food Hate Waste\’ website because you can put in ingredients that you have, and want to use up and it\’ll give you lots of recipe ideas.Hope that helps.

  7. piper says:

    Hey – thanks for all the brilliant suggestions, guys. Will get my apron on!

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