Sunday 14 February 2010


I am practising household economy.

Mr Trefusis made an utterly delicious Five Hour Roasted Lamb for a supper party we had on Friday evening, and we've been eating what was left all weekend. This evening, in a fit of 'Make do and Mend', I made a proper shepherds pie with the leftover meat, and made enough soup for a week by liquidising the remaindered the vegetables and stock.

It's not simply that it all tasted incredibly good, thanks to Mr T's initial effort, but I can't begin to tell you what a lovely smug sense of satisfaction I got from recycling the left-overs. It made me feel like a cross between Mrs Miniver and Barbara Good- not only had I saved money by making a meal go an awful lot further, I'd used up food which might otherwise have been thrown away.

So now I'm all fired up by a personal war on waste, I'm keen to visit an exhibition that's just opened at the Imperial War Museum, The Ministry of Food, showing how the British public reacted to the stringent rationing that was introduced in 1940 and which continued for another nine years after the war had ended. My paternal grandfather worked for The Ministry of Food during the war, helping implement rationing in the north of England and so I've always known that wasting food in wartime wasn't just frowned upon, it was actually illegal. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have inherited a wartime talent for frugality.

Lately, however, some slightly more challenging economic circumstances encourage me to consider if I could be more thrifty when it comes to the weekly shop. I'm neither about to implement my own version of rationing, and nor am I ready for Lidl, but by heck, I can definitely do what my mother used to, and make the sunday roast do for more than just one meal.

I could probably do with extending my repertoire beyond Shepherds Pie, soups, risotto and chicken curry, though - any tips?


Squam Hill Design said...

I never realized how long rationing went on for in father tells me about my grammie's "Victory Garden" here in the States when he was a boy...wasn't long ago at all, on to tips...

dinner the first night:
Grilled Shrimp or Chicken with a side of Kale and squash saute

1 block frozen chopped kale
1 block frozen cooked squash
1/2 onion sauteed
2 garlic cloves sauteed
small amount of chorizo or bacon
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
splash of white wine or chicken stock or water

after the onion, garlic and sausage/bacon are soft, throw in the kale and squash and wine, cover and simmer till all defrosted and cooked a little bit, 10 min or so..add in feta...serve with your shrimp or chicken

second night's dinner
Kale and squash frittata (esque)

add 6 beaten eggs to the leftover kale and squash mixture, throw in a bit of cheese, pepper and pour into a greased pie plate and bake at 375 degrees for 45 mins or until set...serve with salad

She Wore It Well said...

I'm always disgusted when I throw out a bag of good food each week before I do a shop. I'm still learning.

Wildernesschic said...

It always frustrates me when I throw food out, even more so when it is usually salad and fruit, whilst the chocolate draw is empty :) I know.. I shouldn't buy them the crap but when your sons eat for Britain have grown to 6'3" in a mili second and you find it hard to fill them .. you just have to give in. Also Chocolate is a form of dairy isn't it??
Ps Seems we are all trying to be less wasteful, I believe this only has to be a good thing x

Style At Every Age said...

Grateful for the ideas. I have half a pig for dinner today, why did Sainsburys deliver such a big piece and then try and bowl me over with 2 bunches of roses and a £10 voucher for being over an hour late? I was such a sucker for the flowers I just accepted the subsitutes with a smile on my face, until I checked the bill later!

Anonymous said...

I was brought up by a father from a very hard up background and a mother who grew up in the war so wasting food is total anathema to me and I bitterly resent throwing food away. I also need to cook in a hurry most nights as I am starving when i get home from work I find it quick and easy to use left overs in a stir fry or some kind of stew - you can easily add extra veg to bulk it out and you never get the same thing twice.

Miss Welcome said...

Economy trickled down so slowly through the generations that it ran out by the time it got to me, leaving nothing but a vague sense of guilt.

However, we did buy a house with a large vegetable garden, fruit trees and a working well 20 mns outside of Paris, so .... I'm hoping to turn into something economical and organic and ..... green. (help!)

But as far as leftovers, the french always make just enough, and if it's not enough, there's always bread and cheese and salad and fruit. I have to learn that.

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

In Southern California we make tacos or burritos out of leftovers. Chicken? Check. Beef? You-betcha. Salmon? Sure. Lamb? It's not baa-aad. Oh hush. I can hear you groaning across the ocean.

Nene said...

My best frugality tip is to sit down every Sunday with the fresh recipes from the papers and my favourite cookery books and plan a week ahead and order it all online. I started doing that some months ago and I guess I'm saving at least 100£ a month. And throw a lot less away.

2nd best tip is to google the oddities in your fridge together. Like lamb + broccoli + feta or whatever. Interesting results!

Welsh Girl said...

Living in the back of beyond, where shops shut at five and are a very long way away, I never seem to throw any food away and I'm a big fan of the roast turning into several other meals afterwards.

Enchiladas and Burritos are good with leftover beef or chicken, Cornish Pasties too (use ready made puff pastry or Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall's rough puff pastry recipe for really easy to make puff pastry).

Or, there is a delicious ready made 'store cupboard' sauce from The Bay Tree company; Mustard and Tarragon, which, combined with leftover chicken makes a great pie.

On the dark side of 'recycling' I know someone whose mother used to put EVERYTHING leftover (yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, meat, veg) through a mincer and then heat it up and serve it on Monday nights. He didn't recommend it...

S said...

when Z and i have curry for dinner there is always the odd piece or two of chicken breast left, too small to have on its own and since i feel bad throwing it away, i just use my fingers to tear the meat into small pieces and add it to a salad for the next day- rucola, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, corn, and some chicken, if i am being extra healthy, i wont even add any olive oil, just a tsp or 2 of the leftover curry. that's how we make our curries stretch. x shayma

Rose said...

Good work! My grandparents all continued to grow vegetables until they passed away- they just couldn't see why you wouldn't. I wish I did- although I don't have a garden so might be tricky! One day. In the meantime I try not to waste but I either do or end up living off strange meals. Can be hard cooking for one- or you end up going out all the time and that's expensive.

Quiche is a good left over thing by the way- and good old omlettes!

On another note I am rather in love with that bra on the right- though would have to get the proper cup sizes one.

Unknown said...

Chicken stock out of roast chicken is the best ever frugal tip. It only needs one carrot, one onion and some celery if you have it. Pour cold water of carcass & the veg and boil for about an hour with black peppercorns and a little salt. Strain, let the liquid cool and skim any fat off. Freeze in bags. Makes soup on its own or bases for anything from risotto to curry.

Welcome to my new world, I'm also saving and scrimping wherever I can.

Helena xx

nappy valley girl said...

Chicken stock works really well in spaghetti bolognese -it may sound strange, but it's true. Use the stock and tomato puree instead of tinned tomatoes and it has a lovely, velvety consistency. I also used a veal stock recently (left over from a vile veal roast that we mistakenly bought) to make chilli con carne, and it was delicious.

Anonymous said...

I can't advise you on recipes because my husband does all the cooking in our house. At least, he does all the cooking for grown-ups, and the nanny does all the cooking for the pygmies. And I do... not a lot. Which is how I like it.

Fabhat said...

I've just been to this exhibition and it is lovely. Beautifully designed and really interesting - well worth a visit. I went through at rather a lick as I had a screaming babe with me, but the case histories with each exhibit looked very interesting.

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

I'm all for soup and risotto's like you and also have a minimal repertoire. Great post as ever. I've left you a blog award at mine xx

sanjeet said...

I'm always disgusted when I throw out a bag of good food each week before I do a shop. I'm still learning.
data entry work from home

Mars said...

Really enjoyed your post, economy at the dinnertable is relevant, no matter where we are located!

I'd recommend making chicken tikka sandwiches. Chop up the left over chicken and warm them in the pan with a pinch of oil. Once sizzling, sprinkle some chicken tikka masala and freshly chopped cilantro. After two minutes, scoop the mixture onto a slice of toast and enjoy! :)

ApprentieMaman said...

What's wrong with Lidl?