Make do and mend challenge: Day four

The last few days have been a flurry of baking and cooking as I continue my challenge to live off the contents of my kitchen cupboards – this week’s task in a month-long make do and mend challenge. Thanks very much for all the recipes you’ve suggested. It’s been good to get some inspiration.

On Tuesday I went out during the day and took a homemade cheese sandwich with me. By the time I got back I was too tired to rustle up anything inventive, so I opted for pasta with stir-fried courgette (yes, courgette again…), mushroom (we have zillions of them in the fridge after buying too many a week or so ago), onion, garlic, pine nuts and dotted with some leftover dolcelatte cheese and parmesan. Completely thrown together but very tasty nevertheless.

For lunch on Wednesday I experimented with Christine’s suggestion of draining off the tinned sardines I’d found languishing in the back of the cupboard (thankfully the sell-by date was 2010 so nothing to threaten the health…), dousing them with flour, paprika and salt and pepper and then frying them off. I hadn’t eaten sardines in years – can’t even remember why we bought this packet – but they were delicious. We toasted some bread, put on some slices of brandy wine beefsteak tomato from the garden and then served the sardines on top. With a salad of home grown cucumber and sliced boiled beetroot from the garden it was a real find. We’ll definitely be eating that again for lunch. Delicious. I found these other sardine recipes too.

Then, I know it’s greedy, but I couldn’t help myself but make some blueberry muffins. Getting the packet out of the cupboard of dried ones, it dawned on me that we have two blueberry plants in pots in the back garden. Unfortunately our cheeky chickens Lexi & Molly have demolished most of the fruits and I only managed to salvage five pathetic berries, but I threw them in anyway. Don’t ask me if they tasted better than the dried ones in the muffins, I have no idea! Dinner last night was a vegetarian chilli, as suggested by Gabrielle. This recipe I used was great and there is plenty leftover for lunch today. I’m also toying with the idea, following Bill’s mention of lasagne, of a seafood lasagne using up some of the frozen prawns in the freezer. I found a recipe in my ancient and battered Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

We continue, however, to live under courgette tyranny. DJ called me downstairs yesterday with a solemn look on his face, urging me to go outside and harvest some more of my courgettes, “before it’s too late”. I found another three waiting for me – one of which is a monster – three already on the kitchen counter harvested by DJ and another seven in the fridge. Time for Emily’s tomato and courgette pickle I think. DJ’s aunt has been making soup and freezing it too, which could be an option for us, although my neighbour took pity on me yesterday and took two off our hands. Perhaps it’s time to order that famous courgette book, Emily mentioned and I’ve been toying with getting for a while. I see on Amazon that it’s the 78th most popular book in the food and drink section. It might be a mystery to publishers but gardeners will know why! I love the cover especially.

Otherwise, milk supplies are getting dangerously low – which might prove a problem for the lasagne although we do have some dried skimmed milk in the cupboard – and we’ve run out of shop bought onions, so it’s a good thing that we have our own ready to eat in the vegetable plot.

Other frugalists out there in cybersphere are joining in the kitchen cupboard challenge too via Twitter, so feel free to do the same and report back! Jen Jensen in the US of A made this for dinner this week from her pantry.

Do you think it’s better to use up food items in your cupboards on a regular basis or keep some for emergencies? Leave a message and let me know your thoughts.

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4 Responses to Make do and mend challenge: Day four

  1. Christine says:

    I come from the school of using up the store cupboard before going shopping again. It does mean that you need to keep a good variety of dry stores that you WILL use regularly in hand. It also means that you have to put money aside to refill the cupboards when they run low and also that you have to be a bit inventive before you decide to go shopping to make the most of what you have. It\’s fairly frugal in that it keeps you out of the food shop on a regular basis so stops you being tempted by things that you fancy. I\’m also a great on-line shopper for the heavy staples which can save a lot of time and effort and carrying. Being a vegetarian going on vegan I can stack up on loads of vaired tinned beans and varied nuts in packets as protein which does save a lot of wanting to go and buy fresh goods. With gluts of things coming off the allotment, I blanch, freeze and pickle so that I have goodies that I can raid for some months ahead. I\’m just off to get another marrow to make a big batch of marrow chutney.

  2. Gabrielle says:

    Blueberry muffins, yum! Who\’d have thought on this frugal diet challenge you\’d be able to dine on muffins! Just goes to show what interesting things are lurking in our cupboards, just waiting to be discovered and consumed. For our dinner last night we had sausages and mash with onion gravy – I\’d never have thought of that if we weren\’t doing the challenge! The sausages (veggie and pork) had been in the freezer for a couple of weeks and a bag of potatoes (still waiting for mine to be ready) were beginning to look a bit green. And we always have onions and garlic in the house. I\’m going to attempt to heat up the leftovers for lunch at work today so we\’ll see how well they go down second time around!BTW My sole courgette plant got off to a slow start but now has lots of little courgette shoots growing. I\’ve a feeling I may have a glut of courgettes in a while, sound familiar?!

  3. piper says:

    Mmm…I love sausages and mash. Sounds like you\’ve done very well Gabrielle! I think it\’s good to have some items in the cupboards just in case you\’re ill and can\’t go shopping or there\’s a power outage or bad weather. But mostly we all tend to keep too much in there and forget to eat it. I enjoyed last week\’s task and the chance to be a bit more inventive with our meals.

  4. Bill says:

    In the Military, we always learn to live by numbers, we are a number, not a name, & we should always use the lowest no. first/next. For some unknown reason we should also kill the oldest first, presumably as the best source of clean, fresh protien. Or maybe, it is simply a means of economising on state pension, but I would hesitate to accuse the civil service of frugallity.This is certainly the best means of rotating stock, & we should also maintain a set emergency ration/stock. This emergency material should all be edible without any form of cooking as necessary, & should be packed totally immune to earthquake, wind, fire, frost, or flood.The rear cover of the annual issue of the Bundesposte/Deusches-Telekom \’phone directory always advises the best emergency rations to be kept in stock in every household, in case of any ABC alarm. Mostly cans, with some dried goods, but my memory is now slightly hazy. I doubt if it contains any fresh, or frozen, fruit or veg. I would also include fresh or dried home grown herbs. At least sage, parsley, dill, basilikum, rosemary & mint.

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