For those of you who have not yet signed up to the fortnightly newsletter and menu plan, heres the news letter from 13th January. Get signed up this week and you will get next weeks news letter.
As we know, during the Second World War, rationing meant widespread shortages of both basic and luxury ingredients and hardworking housewives had to come up with all kinds of creative recipes for family dishes.
These shortages may have been imposed by wartime restrictions and the results were no doubt met with lots offake smiling faces praising the 'delicious' flavour of those sugar free cakes, but in these credit crunched times can we learn from the past?
In the same way these thrifty cooks learned to be more creative with traditional dishes, today you could consider adapting some recipes to use more frugal ingredients. Like those wartime cooks resolve to become better informed about ingredients and learn how to make sensible substitutions.
Fashionable ingredients tend to have a higher price tag, so try switching trendy products for cheaper substitutes. Try swapping Ricotta for Cottage Cheese, Pimento for Chili Flakes or Cayenne pepper. In most recipes the result is the same. Far from restricting your options, you will quickly learn the 'swaps' that you can make, to keep your weekly shop under control and along the way you will develop new flavours and twist on family favourites.
A word of caution. This approach won't work so well with baking, which is much more scientific in its approach, however chocolate chips can be replaced with small chunks of economy supermarket branded chocolate and you can safely use margarine instead of butter.
This month also sees two cooking calender highlights which are worth noting:-
Farmhouse breakfast week - 22-28th January
Try using this culinary milestone as an opportunity to review what you and your family eat for breakfast.
This time of year porridge is a lovely alternative in the morning. Mix in some fresh or tinned fruit and honey, and you will have a lovely change from chocolate cereal (when did it become acceptable to feed our kids chocolate for breakfast? Although I admit I do it too from time to time!)
For those of you watching the calories following the Christmas gluttony, think about grilled tomatoes and mushrooms with wilted spinach.
Try rye bread instead of standard wheat bread, it is much much better for you and fills you up for considerably longer.
We have an article about eggs on the front page of the website at present, rethink their use. At only 75 calories, a poached egg in the morning is an excellent way to start the day.
Breakfast is also an amazing meal for using up left overs. Try putting your poached egg on a Potato Rosti cake (see Tuesdays pie recipe - put blobs of the potato topping in a pan, pressing to flatten and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden). Sunday has the recipe for colcon - instead of mashing until smooth keep the potato and cabbage lumpy and fry off in a pan to make bubble and squeak. Or just slice left over boiled potato into rounds approximately the thickness of a pound coin and fry in a pan to make a great frugal filler for your breakfast.
Chinese New Year - 23rd January
Falling on a Monday this year, its the perfect time to try a family stir-fry, fast food, but really healthy.
Keep an eye on the website - there will be an article with lots of stir fry ideas along next week. Those of you with a keen eye will note that the Sachet Blue Dragon stir fry sauces are currently half price, just 30p in Tescos at present, with a long code, buy a few now, but don't forget they are in your cupboard!
In the meantime, also think about putting together some paper lanterns (perhaps make some with the kids?) and dig out your chopsticks!
What ever you do enjoy your food, and relish the fact that you made it and you know whats in it!