I sometimes wonder if things will ever be the way they were just a few short years ago. I remember when £40 would buy a whole weeks shop, and an extravagant one at that. We were both in full time employment which was secure, and at the end of the month there was always money left in our joint account. Now it is easy to spend £10 just getting bread and milk and eggs and the like on one of those popping-to-the-shop-to-top-up shops. Although Carl is thankfully in full time employment, I seem to be working twice as hard as I used to in part time hours for less money, and there is never money left over at the end of the month. Now I don't want to turn this into one of those moany blogs, I know that with a roof over our heads and not having to choose between eating or paying the bills we are luckier than a lot of people, but really, I can't imagine that there are many households who do not find that there seems to be less money, and it does not go as far.
I see it very much as my role to help make it go just as far as it will, and I know from experience that the food shop is capable of eating up as much money as it can, if you will pardon the pun! I have also found that the best way to keep it down is to make a menu plan, make a list, shop online, and stick to it. It is so easy to run out of milk or bread or whatever and decide to pop to the shop to pick some up, but I am going to really try and avoid doing that as it is so, so easy to spend more whilst you are there.
One of my favourite things to do when I am trying to make my pennies stretch is to turn out the freezer, the fridge and the food cupboards and make a list of exactly what I have got. This helps no end with menu planning, and it is surprising how many packets of pasta with just a little bit in you can accumulate. As well as useful for keeping an eye on how much you have of 'big ticket' items such as meat and fish, I find that keeping an eye on my herbs and spices is really useful. They cost a lot to replenish in one go, but adding a new one here, or topping up an old one there little and often and you hardly notice it at all.
So that is how I spent this morning, and I am pleased that all my cupboards are now well ordered and I know just what I have got. I am going to be making a chicken, sweet potato and spinach curry for dinner tonight, and hope to get an online shop done later on, for delivery tomorrow. I thought I would make the sweet potato and smoked mackerel fishcakes from Attic24 tomorrow, as they are so quick and easy to make, and really delicious too.
Whilst I was refilling the fridge, I noticed my recipe for lentil and egg kedgeree underneath a fridge magnet. That used to be a real favourite- it is cheap, filling, nutritious and tasty- so I will be making that again soon. There is no fish in it, like a traditional kedgeree, but if I have some leftovers from the mackerel fish cakes, I could throw them in I think.
What are your favourite end-of-the-month recipes?