Student – How to eat cheaply!

I know better than anyone what it feels like to be a broke student. The amount of times I’ve hit the bottom of my overdraft is quite scary. Then the student loan comes in, and I think I’m rich – for about two weeks.

If you’re on this website, it’s probably because you’re looking for a new recipe to try out,  or you’re interested in how companies in your area give back to their communities. This article won’t help you with either of those things. However, if you’re looking for help on making delicious food with a small budget, you have come to the right place.

Let’s start with the obvious. Ready meals are not cheap. Even if they’re frozen! The price says 3 for £6 at ASDA so you think, what a bargain! But the portions are small, and that’s only going to last you three dinners! Also, if we’re being honest, cheap ready meals from ASDA do not taste good and definitely aren’t good for you, no matter what they put on the label. The salt and preservatives stuffed into one of them almost gives me a heart attack by looking at it, and I haven’t taken a bite yet! That’s not to say I’ve never eaten one. In my first year of uni I had more ready meals than I could count on four, maybe five hands! And how did I feel after eating them? Gross, undernourished and hungry! Ready meals are the easiest things to cook. It’d be pretty hard to do it wrong, but is it worth it?

As long as you have the basics in your fridge and cupboards, you can make a nutritious and delicious meal for just as cheap as a ready meal. When I say the basics, I’m talking flour, salt, pepper, stock cubes, garlic and tomato puree and milk etc. These are the basics for a lot of meals! The initial cost will be slightly higher to buy these items, but as soon as you have them they should last you a long time! I’m still on the same bag of flour I bought in September!

Soon, you’ll find that your weekly shop really goes down in price. Have a look at some of the recipes on this website for some cheap, and easy meals with bare minimum ingredients. Some that I would recommend would be Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chicken Curry and Lasagne. Imagine being able to say that you can cook these dishes from scratch! It’s a lot easier than it sounds, trust me.

Christmas Buffet – liven up your buffet table

A Christmas Buffet should look colourful and appetising. Whenever I plan a buffet I recall the adage “you eat with your eyes first” and try to make sure that the food is presented in an eye catching manner. I also experiment and try at least one new dish to keep my buffet exciting. Although mince pies are delicious how many of us get fed up with them before Christmas Day is here? I prefer to exclude the classic Christmas dishes from my buffets.  Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is a variety of foods – so not too much bread or pastry. Here are a few items taken from my latest Christmas buffet.

Christmas Fruit Tree

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Austerity Makes You Fat

Why am I writing about austerity on a food blog?  Aren’t food blogs for foodies and people who love cooking?  Shouldn’t I just stick to sharing recipes and giving culinary tips? Perhaps – but austerity affects a lot of people and eating healthily and exercising is something we all need to do.  According to new reports, almost half of Britons will be obese by 2045 if current trends are not halted. A record number of primary school children are leaving school severely obese – more than 22,000 children!  Is it possible that austerity is responsible for this trend?

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Plastic for Dinner Anyone? Your Choice!

Plastic waste is killing our oceans and could ultimately kill us too.  A Plastic Planet asked me on Twitter the other day “What do you do to help make the world plastic free?” I answered truthfully “not enough…”, but the tweet made me question myself on whether I should be doing more – both as a caterer and as an individual.

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Warm Lemon Meringue Pot

Warm Lemon Meringue Pot

Method

Lemon Meringue Pot

Preheat your oven to Moderately hot.

Combine the cornflour and 110g of sugar in a small pan. Gradually add the lemon juice and water, stir until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer for one minute, and continue stirring. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon rind, egg yolks, butter and cream.

2 tbsp Cornflour
110g Caster Sugar
60ml Lemon Juice
125ml Water
1 tsp Grated Lemon Rind
2 Eggs (Separated)
30g Butter
2 tbsp Whipping Cream
75g Caster Sugar

Total Cost:  £1.75

Cost per Portion:  44p

Divide the mixture between 4 (125ml) ovenproof cups/dishes. Place on a baking tray.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add the 75g of sugar to form the meringue.

Finally divide and spoon the meringue into the cups/dishes on top of the filling.

Place the cups into the oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

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How to eat Eggs with a Clear Conscience

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can buy and they are cheap.  Eggs are also one of nature’s most versatile ingredients – so many recipes contain them.  If you care about the welfare of hens, it’s okay to eat free range eggs, isn’t it?  The battery cage ban was introduced throughout Europe in January 2012, so why wouldn’t you want to eat eggs?

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Food Allergies & Intolerances: Are they fashionable obsessions?

“We are a kitchen, not a hospital” (Raymond Blanc).  On the BBC Good Food Show Raymond Blanc argued that it is now ‘fashionable’ to have a food intolerance. He is not the only chef to have complained about customers claiming to have food allergies and intolerances. In July this year an Australian chef vented his anger on Instagram with customers ‘who aren’t honest about what they can eat’.  He gave an example of a customer who had a ‘shellfish allergy but loves oyster sauce’. He said “you make it really damn hard for people with actual allergies and dietaries to go out to eat. Are they right?

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