Value foods

So, first up in my series on budget foods, value ranges. I should say I shop at morissons, so everything I say is based on their range. I definitely buy a lot more value products than I used to, but I still wouldn’t buy just anything. So here is a list of all the value products I buy, and the reasons why I think they are ok.

Spaghetti- as in tinned. This is a new addition. 19p a ca. Same calorie content as normal, not much difference in flavour. Even Chris will eat them, and he can be fussy when value products have too much added onion powder. But this doesn’t. We don’t buy value baked beans though, unless they are to cook with
Pasta- spaghetti and penne, about 25-30p for 500g. We have value for normal meals, including spaghetti bolognese, but if I’m making a proper pasta dish I buy own brand as it is tastier
Kidney beans- no difference to other brands, confirmed in a good food magazine, which was when I started buying them
Tinned tomatoes- realised there’s no need to buy particularly good ones, as I add the flavour myself
Flour- plain and self raising. I buy own brand for bread flours, but only because value isn’t available
Salt- table salt. In theory I buy decent sea salt, but haven’t had any for ages!
Chocolate- plain and dark, 30p for 100g. Use it for everything and can’t see difference. Have often used it where recipe calls for the best you can buy. If I need chocolate chips I just snip along the bar with scissors
Weetabix- I don’t eat this anyway, nobody who does seems bothered!
Scotch pancakes and malt loaf- if we need extra, different, snacks
Rice- again, I add the flavour myself. But if I need anything other than long grain, I buy that. Although, that said, I have sopped buying basmati and just use long grain now. Think it’s 40p a kilo!
Pesto- green for fridge. I find if I’m careful not to use a dirty spoon in it it will last about 2 weeks, and I use this for cooking, or a speedy meal. I buy the good stuff too, exclusively to eat on its own with peso
Peanuts- dry roasted. Unless kp are on offer. To use in my Chinese fried rice
Pitta bread- I freeze this for when we need it, like the other day, for a sandwich. 19p for 6 and when frozen you can’t tell the difference. Also the calorie content is better, ie. lower
Mustard- all varieties. Tastes the same when cooked I think
Lemonade- if I want it as a mixer/ to make fizzy jelly
Salsa- unless its on offer
Digestives and rich tea- can’t tell difference really, we just eat them for a basic snack/ occasional breakfast if we are away or have runout of bread!
Breadsticks- the value range are thinner than ordinary, I buy both depending how I feel
Pasta sauce for pizzas- I buy this to spread on basic pizzas. We tend to make them on wraps nowadays
Burger rolls- the value ones are smaller and only 100 calories, loads better for me!
Frozen veg- can’t tell the difference when it’s cooked in stuff! I buy peas, sweetcorn and mixed
Tinned potatoes- very rarely, just occasionally if I fancy a Spanish omelette and can’t be be bothered to cook the potatoes for it!
Jam- for cooking. To have toast I buy own brand
Fromage frais- for panther. It’s half the price and my friend checked the ingredients and declared them to be same as for the better varieties. I took her word for it.
Natural yoghurt- although the own brand, at double the price, is tastier to eat

There you go, my guide to good value foods. Next up is my guide to what we wouldn’t buy value of!

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Great British budget menu

I’ve just been watching a programme on bbc called great British budget menu. It was about 3 families who can’t afford to put decent food on the table within their budget so are buying convenience foods, and how they can start buying and cooking fresh ingredients again. It was interesting although I felt the chefs really struggled to get grips with the central problem. They didn’t even mention the fact that the whole canon of Traditional British cooking comes from a history of rationing and food shortages and as such, so much of it can be produced on a budget. Nor did they make clear, although they definitely realised, that you need to shop longer-term rather than day to day in order to manage a small budget. They did realise that each house needed a store cupboard of basics to start them off, and they provided a decent list to get people started. They provided a list of basic recipes, some of which were great, but some of which didn’t consider that you can’t necessarily buy the correct quantities, and that if you have to buy a packet of something that’s bigger than you need, you then need the skill to use it up in another recipe. Can people do this? I have the impression they can’t. They were also about half veggie, which misses the point I think. Of course it’s cheaper to cook without meat, but we need it in our diets, or to properly substitute it. More useful would be recipes which don’t use much meat and pack in the veg. But a few of the chefs realised and did this.
Whilst searching for my link I found a review, admittedly not in a major paper(!!) but it does make a few of the same points I’m making here. Read it here (http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/columnists/wayne-s-world/couch-potato/couch-potato-great-british-budget-menu-james-martin-features-in-patronising-and-pointless-show-1-5854456) it’s the skills we need. We used to have them, now we don’t. So I’m going to do my own little series on budget cooking, and the relevant skills. Perhaps the bbc will pick it up and I’ll be invited to do my own version of the programme. But if not, at least I will have my tips all ready to teach Samantha, so she’ll be ready and armed to go out and cook in the big wide world!

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