The munch crunch

Is it time to start sav­ing on food bills? You can still eat well, says Vic­to­ria Pr­e­ver

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

ONLY AN ostrich c o u l d h a v e failed to no­tice the in­creas­ingly gloomy cur­rent fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion. With mar­kets crash­ing around our ears, banks tum­bling and fi­nan­cial com­men­ta­tors pre­dict­ing a win­ter of dis­con­tent, me­dia cov­er­age is stir­ring up a fever pitch of in­se­cu­rity. It does not take a ge­nius to work out that it’s time to rein in those lux­u­ries and con­serve the pen­nies.

As a com­mu­nity of food lovers, we do not skimp on meals. Open any Jewish fridge and it is likely to be packed to the gills — of­ten with half the con­tents of Marks & Spencer’s food hall. No dan­ger of starv­ing.

An ob­vi­ous place to cut costs is on food. A ready meal is cheaper than eat­ing out, for ex­am­ple. But for real sav- ings you’ll need to cook from scratch.

So here are some tips to help the haimishe cook max­imise sav­ings on home cook­ing:

BUY SEA­SON­ALLY

Not only en­vi­ron­men­tally sound, but cheaper too. Do you re­ally need straw­ber­ries at Chanu­cah? Save the berries and cher­ries for sum­mer. If you do feel the need, frozen berries make good sub­sti­tutes in pud­dings and bak­ing.

BE A SCHNOR­RER

Cheaper cuts of meat (those bits of the an­i­mal that do more work and need a long, slow cook to ten­derise them) make fan­tas­tic stews. Lamb shoul­der is a bud­get cut. In­vest in a slow cooker to make warm­ing stews. Use the left­overs in pies.

LEFT­OVERS

Which Jewish cook makes just the right quan­tity for his/her guests? More of­ten than not there will be enough food to feed an army. Left­overs are the ba­sis of a sec­ond meal — Fri­day’s roast chicken can go into Satur­day’s risotto or curry. Use the car­cass and a few ex­tra pieces of chicken for next week’s soup. And the leftover moun­tain of veg­eta­bles will work beau­ti­fully in bub­ble and squeak or frit­tata.

NEVER THROW ANY­THING AWAY

You are gaz­ing into the fridge but all you can con­jure up are some ran­dom veg­eta­bles, slightly stale bread and brown ba­nanas. No need for the bin: whizz stale (not mouldy) bread to crumbs, which you can freeze in batches to coat fish or meat, or even use in a trea­cle-tart fill­ing. Grate and freeze leftover cheese for baked po­tato top­pings or to mix with those crumbs for a gratin top­ping.

Ripe ba­nanas and sum­mer berries can be frozen, used for smooth­ies or for cakes, muffins and crum­bles. Half-used bags of salad leaves can be whizzed and turned into soup. El­derly pota­toes and other root veg can be cooked and mashed then frozen. Onions can be caramelised for use in tarts and omelettes.

STOCK STANDBY IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

Keep some of th­ese in your kitchen and it’ll be easy to knock up quick, cheap meals.

Pasta, cous­cous and rice make an in­stant sup­per when com­bined with those ran­dom veg­eta­bles, cooked meats, fish. Tinned toma­toes will also turn left­overs into pasta sauces. Eggs, as omelettes and frit­tatas, are also per­fect part­ners to veg­eta­bles, cheese, meats and fish. Puff pas­try can turn left­overs into a smart main course or pud­ding.

Fri­day night’s leftover roast chicken can be teamed up with rice for a Satur­day evening sup­per

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