‘No spend’ food challenge update

Filed in Blog by on August 13, 2009 9 Comments
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Mrs Green's spelt loaf; it looks like a car but is less chewy

Mrs Green's spelt loaf; it looks like a car but is less chewy

How is everyone doing with their ‘no spend’ food challenge this week?

I must admit I’m pretty impressed with myself so far!

I’ve noticed a shift in my shopping habits. First, I’m in and out of the store in a matter of moments. That’s because I’ve only allowed myself yogurt and fresh fruit and vegetables this week.

And secondly, I’m saving a fortune. So far I’ve bought 6 pots of yogurt and spent £7.50 in the organic farm shop today.

Breakfast yesterday was some spelt flake cereal and I found some old rice milk. Little Miss Green has re-discovered a love of the stuff and practically drank the whole carton throughout the day. We used up any fruit that looked like it was heading for the compost bin – 1/2 melon, some blackberries and an orange – and blitzed it into a smoothie.

For lunch, Little Miss Green went out with a group of friends and they took a picnic. She had marmite sandwiches, some cubes of cheese, a couple of carrots, some pepper strips and the last remaining blackberry muffin.

For dinner she asked for stew. We went into the garden to dig up potatoes and carrots, I added some diced chicken the remains of a jar of pasta sauce, some green beans and herbs. Then I took half of it out and added raisins and curry spices to the other half for Mr Green.

But I really surpassed myself on the baking front!

As you might remember, my two storecupboard challenge items were bags of bread flour and a packet of walnuts.

I found a recipe for spelt bread on the Doves farm website, which, for my first attempt, turned out pretty well! It rose ( a little), but most of all, my two loved it. It looked suspiciously like a car, so I created a couple of wheels from the lids of some herb pots; just because…

In addition, Kirsty sent me a recipe for banana and walnut loaf; which was a huge success – thank you Kirsty!

Now this is kinda weird.

I went into the farm shop yesterday and the woman said ‘Do you make banana cake by any chance? We have some brown bananas over there, which you can have for half price.” So I grabbed a bunch of organic, fairtrade bananas for a few pence and came home to bake.

Little Miss Green’s eyes nearly rolled into the back of her head when she ate the banana loaf. She skipped down the garden, shoving a huge wedge of it into her mouth with her thumb held up to her side and giving me a 12 out of 12 sign! By the time I went to bed, there was only half the loaf left.

So all in all a successful day! I used up some spelt flour, increased my confidence in my breadmaking skills and have found a new favourite recipe that will eventually get us through the bag of walnuts nobody would eat.

Today, breakfast is fruit – apples, bananas and pears with yogurt and oats.

Lunch will be left over stew, curry, soup and whatever else is in the fridge.

For tea I’m going to use up one of the copious tins of fish we have in the cupboard; sardines probably, with fried rice, broccoli and carrots from the end of last week’s veg box. Not exactly a ‘normal’ meal, but at least there will be no food waste and I”ll have used up a tin of fish.

My ‘what shall I do with’ items for today are brazil nuts, millet and I really fancy a go at making my own baked beans; Charity reminded me of this. Thanks Charity!
I think I have a tin of haricot beans somewhere, so I’ll dig those out and let you know how I get on. Any favourite baked beans recipes to share? And just how do you get millet to taste remotely edible? And what on earth do you do with brazils, except eat them covered in chocolate?

How is everyone else doing? Maisie has been knocking up some delicious sounding recipes; turkey stir fry and mince cobbler, John was last seen soaking some lentils to make into soup, Christine made an intriguing anchovy-garlic-bean spread, Kira has been preventing food waste by using things up – this week she made a bacon salad, while Rachel was making a yummy sounding veggie curry with her husband’s month’s-worth stash of food!

Kate, Sharon, The green gal, Sandy and Green lady – how are you all doing?

Do you have any mystery ingredients that need using up? Any new recipes to share? Any successes of failures to tell us about?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (9)

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  1. Ally says:

    If you can find a pretty box (or even if not!) why not cover the brazil nuts in chocolate- ready for a birthday/ Christmas/ general yummy snacking?
    Alternatively, you could make Brazilnut butter http://www.foodreference.com/html/nut-butter-910.html
    although that might be cheating, as it would go back into the cupboards, just in a different form…

  2. Greenlady says:

    I do have an “unbaked baked beans ” recipe that I made up knocking around on my LJ somewhere, I’ll look it up later and post it here, all I can remember is that it involves odds & sods and apple juice. Brazil nuts, well you could toss them in a little oil and spices and bake in the oven but I would proably use them in salads, with fairly cruncy solid ingredients – maybe a variation on Waldorf with apples, celery, raisins, dressing etc but with ( chopped up a bit ) brazils instead.

    Walnut and banana variations are great, I found an idiotproof banana walnut muffins recipe on the net that has worked very well for me, easy to make and lovely and moist. Millet, well the first word that springs to mind is ” budgie ” =P I am doing ok, back on track now after unwellness and subsequent indulgence in expensive and not very nutritional comfort food 🙂 The chicken provided very generous portions for 4 main meals for me and will provide four more generous portions in soup, with stock made from the carcase, veg trimming and herbs from the garden.

  3. Greenlady says:

    Ok this is the original post from my journal from nearly 2 years ago :

    “Unbaked beans

    I was having a jacket spud for dinner – I was going to open a tin of baked beans but then thought silly moo, you have those lefotver cannelini beans from yesterday so make your own ! so just sweated off half a chopped red onion in a little oil with a pinch of mixed herbs, added the cannelini beans, good glug of apple juice, pinch of Swiss Marigold bouillon powder, squeeze of tom puree, dollop of tomato ketchup and dash of worcestershire sauce – took about 15 mins to cook in all – they tasted great, best ” baked ” beans I’ve ever had I think ! ”

    Now, keep in mind I was using leftover beans, so adjust proportions accordingly. Haricot beans would work fine, as would soaked & cooked dried. You don’t have to use red onions, its just what I had at the time. I have made them since and used on various occasions also garlic, fresh herbs from the garden according to season & taste, bit of chopped celery, leeks, and chopped bacon ( for non veggies ) oddments of fresh or tinned tomatoes, ends of jars of pasta sauce/chutney etc. The apple juice is essential as a liquid and sweetener, I nicked that idea from the ingredients list of Whole Earth Baked beans ( which I used to love but now can’t stand ) If it takes your fancy I imagine it could be made in a slow cooker or oven.

  4. What an inspiring challenge. Nice work.

    On a slightly different note, it looks like Tesco could learn a bit from you guys about reducing their food waste. Instead of burning their waste meat, couldn’t they make it into pet food or something useful? That said, it’s great that they are going for zero waste.
    http://greenbiz.com/news/2009/08/11/tesco-gets-rid-garbage

  5. Charity says:

    Nice loaf! I dug out my breadmaker last week, as I had a flour mountain too, and remembered how much I like it. My husband is banned from using it though as he has previously forgotten the yeast (surpisingly edible result), forgotten the water, and used a tbsp instead of a tsp of salt. Irritatingly though, yesterday we misplaced the twiddly bit that stirs the mix. Have been though the bin, recycling boxes, drawers and cupboards with no luck :(.

    You reminded me that I have black bananas lurking in my freezer. Will add banana cake to my to-do list, although I don’t like walnuts so will do a different version. Am also going to try this http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8840/funky-flapjacks using my “fruity date porridge” – it might be more palatable that way. With muffin plans too, I shall be very busy on Saturday. Trouble is that nobody else in the house likes cakes, so I shall have to freeze everything again in one-person portions.

    You can use millet in place of rice. I have a pilaf recipe that is quite nice: boil it with pumpkin or squash, vegetable stock, raisins, allspice (or maybe nutmeg) and a bay leaf. Add fried onions, mushrooms. or whatever you have. Also, you can make it sweet like you would pudding rice. The recipe I have is to boil in in a mixture of milk and water then mix with stewed apricots to make a fool. I guess you could use goosebrries, rhubarb or suchlike.

  6. Poppy P says:

    We’ve failed miserably this week Mrs G. Mr P has taken most of the week off work to spend time with us. This has meant late meals and meals out or takeaways 🙁 One saving grace was bringing home the uneaten pizza yesterday and having it this evening. We’re out again tomorrow and taking a picnic with us, but Mater P is bringing a friend along and from past experience with his friends, I don’t hold out much hope for zero waste! When we get back though, there are several items in the fridge that MUST be used up, so hopefully we’ll manage that.

  7. Yesterday we had friends over for the day so I put a curry in the slow cooker first thing, using previously frozen sauce base, sweated off some onion and garlic, added chopped pepper from the veg box, then sealed and added some diced pork from the freezer, simmered it all until hot through, added in a handfull of sultanas, and diced an apple that had a bruise so wouldn’t be eaten as is.

    Left this in the slowcooker all day on low then served with basmati rice cooked through with a garlic and herb stock cube (kalo). Easy dinner after friends had left.

    This again was using everything we had in the house

    For lunch with friends I had some bread rolls in the freezer, so pulled them out and made an assortment, using items that were in the fridge, apart from a couple of eggs which I boiled up to make egg mayo buns.

  8. Sharon says:

    I’ve been to the mother in law’s for the last couple of days so I’ve been eating their food instead!!
    But tonight I cobbled together some nibbles to eat with champagne – it’s my wedding anniversary tomorrow. Yes, the champagne was already in the cupboard and needed “using up” by the way!!

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Oh that’s a bummer – I responded to all of these individually, but the system ate my comment.

    See, it happens to the best of us 😉

    Anyway, thanks everyone, loved reading through, but you’ll understand I am not going to type it all up again!

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