Monday, February 22, 2010

Destitute gourmet - not quite

I've been looking at destitute gourmet, as I've got a lot more time on my hands at the moment to cook and think about food and shopping. Plus I'm on annual leave at the moment, and will then be on maternity leave and then on Centrestink payments (ah - must call them to work out how much that might in fact be). So $$ is a little more steady but also a little tighter, and TheHusband and I need to get over our 20s mindset of "yummo food!" and more into "can't be bothered going out - what's to eat here?".

I've spoken earlier about default shopping and destitute gourmet sort of steps that out further. She recommends that you look at basic pantry essentials and then indulgences.

So building on her list, our basics would be something like:

  • Fresh fruit and veg – onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, apples, bananas, whatever is cheap and in season*
  • Staples – plain flour, vegetable oil, olive oil, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, milk, butter, butter-like spread, baking powder, salt, cheese, white rice, brown rice, pasta, pulses, dried beans
  • Baking stuff – coconut, vanilla, sultanas, cocoa, yeast (MUST BUY YEAST!)
  • Spreads – peanut butter, honey, jam, vegemite, promite
  • Cereals – Weetbix, muesli, rolled oats, steel cut oats
  • Canned food – tinned tomatoes, pasata, kidney beans, white beans, tuna, peaches, mango, apricot
  • Sauces – tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, kecap manis
  • Seasonings – all of them!
  • Frozen food – peas, corn, beans, spinach, pastry sheets, berries
  • Meat – mince, chunks of kangaroo and beef, boneless chicken breast, bacon bits
  • Cleaning products
  • Toiletries
  • Pet supplies
Which is not the most exciting list of course but it's not supposed to be. I could cook for approximately 2 months out of our pantry alone, as we have lots of carbohydrate staples (polenta, cous cous, flour, pasta, rice) and lots of proteins. In fact, the staples above are similar to that post though cream isn't.

Her 2nd piece of advice is to eat healthily, and eat in season. I had a craving for chocolate the other day (probably the first time in my life I've ever NEEDED chocolate!) and there was none in the house. Nada. No sweets either. It was horrible when I'm 36 weeks pregnant and so not wanting to walk in 41C heat to the servo to get some chocolate. So I settled for a hot cocoa instead. The only thing we deep fry is papadums when we have a curry. We don't over eat because the yummy things we make are leftovers destined for lunch the next day. We eat a lot of what is in season because it's cheaper, and if it's not in season or is quickly perishable we buy it frozen - such as spinach now that our silverbeet is done, and berries.

*Food that's in season in Australia

Our plan once Puggles arrives is to go to the Farmer's Market here in Adelaide each Sunday, and shop locally and in season. We'd like to eat to the 100 mile diet but it's a little harder to apply without effort, and the time to do it. The Farmer's Market is kind of this by default as it's local produce and in season produce. We do shop at the Central Markets here in Adelaide as well but being pregnant has put me in a bit of a mind set of "too much effort", and a small amount of trauma as I hate people touching me or bumping me and a busy market - not the best place for that.

Thirdly - and this is the one I like - is to know what to do with leftovers. My favourite ideas:
She has a great page on freezing things and I'm borrowing this list for future reference:
  • Fruits can be stored for 12 months,
  • Vegetables 6-12 months.
  • Roasts and whole poultry 6 - 12 months
  • Steaks and chops 4-6 months
  • Minced or ground meats or stewing meats 3-4 months
  • Cured and processed meats lose quality more rapidly than fresh meats because of the presence of salts so don’t store luncheon meats, franks, ham or sausage longer than 1 or 2 months. Thaw frozen meats in the fridge, thawing at room temperature gives surface bacteria a better chance to multiply.
  • Baked yeast bread, scones and rolls are best used within 3 months. Unbaked yeast bread dough within one month or less – Unbaked doughs may require more yeast than usual as freezing will damage some yeast cells.
  • Un-iced cakes also freeze well, but storage times vary. Store angel food, chiffon or sponge cake 2 months. Store cheesecake 2 to 3 months, chocolate 4 months, and fruit cake up to 12 months.
  • Nuts also freeze well; salted nuts from 6 to 8 months and unsalted from 9 to 12 months.
Her advice about having a whiteboard with an inventory - has been applied here and it is working well! We have for example a large amount of mince, but only one lot of chicken. I've also taken to sticking ads for butchers on there for reference for when we do the meat shopping. We have 3 bulk butchers around here - the gourmet butcher on Magill Road, Austral Meats on Main North Road and also the Gawler River Cattle Company. Lucky us!


aunty-del said...

Pappadums don't need to be deep fried either! Spray or brush them with oil on both sides, sandwich them between kitchen paper and put in the microwave for 45 - 60 seconds. The time may require a little experimentation depending on the brand, size and your microwave, and how many pappadums you've stacked up.

Emma Someone said...

Oooooer I think I'll have to try that again - I never really mastered it while living alone, when it was easier to do a few in the microwave than to use oil.

Jane1973 said...

I pinched this one from Simple Savings for you...I make up a batch with 1/4 of the dough and freeze the rest. Also works with Gluten Free Flour!

Make over 120 bickies for just $4.00! This fantastic basic bickie recipe is terrific value, makes loads and has lots of room for variations:

500g margarine
1 tin condensed milk
1 cup sugar
5 cups self-raising flour

Cream sugar and margarine. Add condensed milk and flour. Roll into teaspoon sized balls and press down with a fork. Place on greased trays and bake in moderate oven until golden brown (approximately 10-15 minutes).

Before baking I divide the mixture into five and add the following ingredients for different flavoured bickies:
1.Chocolate chips and glace cherries (chopped)
2.Cornflakes and sultanas
3.Hundreds and Thousands
4.Jam drops
5.Milo and coconut

You could add any number of other things like Rice Bubbles, Smarties, nuts, cinnamon and other spices and so on. The raw mixture can be frozen in balls, just thaw slightly before baking.

From this one batch we made 123 bickies and by my calculations using the cheapest possible ingredients the whole batch cost just over $4.00 to make!

Emma Someone said...

Oooooer thanks for that. It is something that I could whip up easily in my KitchenAid. I wonder if you could freeze it in a log and cut slices off it to bake that way... hmmm!

Jane1973 said...

That's what I do:) just roll the dough into a log, wrap in a couple of layers of cling wrap and pop in the freezer.