If you want to download the eBook version of this blog, so you can wander around with it on your phone or whatever, Amazon are now offering it for free from 30th December 2019 to 3rd January 2020. After that it will revert to its normal price of £1.99/$2.99 USD. Just click here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Austerity-Housekeeping-Sandra-Bradley-ebook/dp/B00ASDW1U6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396735758&sr=8-1&keywords=austerity+housekeeping
You can read the book on a Kindle, iPad, iPhone or PC just by downloading the Kindle App, which is free. If you do download the book, it would be great if you could leave a review on the Amazon site. Every review helps to build the Austerity community.
With a lot of sales starting today, it’s a good time to start thinking about next year’s birthday presents and parties and stocking up your supplies. This means you won’t end up spending more than you need to on a last minute present in a panic. Here are some gifts for under-fives that hopefully won’t duplicate existing toys and which only cost a couple of quid. Remember to stock up on wrapping paper and cheap cards at the same time!
One-year-olds – Card books, posting and stacking toys, balls, simple bucket and spade set for the local sandpit.
Two-year-olds – Colourful sports drinking bottles, fizzy bath tablets, character bubble bath or bath foam, flap books.
Three-year-olds – Small models of knights, princesses or animals, Lego minifigures, toy cars, bubble blowers.
Four-year-olds – Simple card games, stickers, colouring books and crayons, craft kits.
Five-year-olds – Novelty swimming goggles, fancy dress accessories, character mugs and socks.
Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Here are some ideas for using leftovers in a simple, imaginative way. For more, see http://tinyurl.com/zodf8st
Christmas pudding ice cream
Mix leftover custard with equal amount of double cream and stir in crumbled leftover Christmas pudding. Put in the freezer for 2 hours, then take out and stir before putting back into the freezer overnight. Take out an hour before serving. Tastes like rum and raisin ice cream, and great with a dash of Bailey’s over the top.
Boil turkey carcass in 2 litres of water with 2 sticks of celery, 2 peeled onions chopped in half, and 2 carrots, for about an hour. Strain into bowl and then pour into plastic containers for storage in fridge or freezing. Use for soup, stews or gravy.
Turkey and banana balls ( baby or toddler food)
Steam an unpeeled banana. Chop a few teaspoons of leftover turkey in a food processor and add the banana and a little butter. Remove the mixture and roll into little balls to make finger food for a baby or toddler.
Hot winter fruit salad
Boil satsuma or clementine slices in water, a little sugar and a bit of brandy or Cointreau if you have some to hand, along with anything to hand such as dates, grapes, and dried fruits. Serve with cream or ice cream.
Chestnut and coffee mousse
Mix together leftover chestnut puree, a small amount of instant coffee to taste, and double cream in a food processor or blender until the cream has thickened. Sweeten with vanilla sugar.
It’s pretty straightforward to decorate your house so it looks welcoming and festive without going mad in the artificial environment of the Christmas displays in department stores. Try these suggestions for cheap and cheerful displays.
- Popcorn chains – Follow an air-popped popcorn recipe and thread pieces onto a long red thread. These can be draped over Christmas trees or hung in windows.
- Gingerbread ornaments – Make up a batch of gingerbread dough and cut out using Christmas cutters, making a hole at the top before baking ready for a ribbon to be threaded through later on. You can also ice them with coloured writing icing once they are cooled.
- Paper chains – Cut strips of coloured paper so they are about 15-20cm long. Make a loop of the first one, and glue closed with Pritt stick. Thread a second strip through this, and close the loop with Pritt stick once again. Carry on until the chain is long enough to hang across a room. Several of them can be used for a more elaborate effect. Children often enjoy helping to make these.
- Cinammon sticks – Tie bundles of cinnamon sticks together with ribbon and use to adorn Christmas trees, by securing with craft wire.
- Snow – Using the cheapest cotton wool you can lay your hands on, stretch in the window to create the effect of snow. This also works for cobwebs around Halloween time.
- Snowflakes – This is another good project for children. Cut white or silver paper into squares about 15cmx15cm, and then fold into quarters. Cut an arc around the edge so you get a circle, and then snip out little pieces around the edge and on the folds so that when you open it out you get a snowflake pattern. These look good on the Christmas tree.
- Wreaths – Make a loop of chicken wire, and then tie evergreens and clusters of berries from the garden onto it, until the wire is obscured. You can also use florist’s wire or a hot glue gun to secure things like apples, nuts, oven dried slices of orange, and cinnamon sticks. Spray with hairspray to preserve the wreath (which will need keeping away from fire afterwards). Then add a wide tartan ribbon at the top to make a hanging loop.
It’s quite possible to spend so much on Christmas that you are still paying for it at Easter or even by the summer. This seems a bit pointless, as it’s quite possible to rein things in so that the meaning of Christmas is there without the financial hangover afterwards. Ideally you should have been putting away 1/12 of your spare income each month with the festive season in mind. We’ll start with planning for a good but economical Christmas dinner.
Turkey – Fresh is nice, and makes it easier to avoid food poisoning as it doesn’t need defrosting, but if funds are tight, choose a frozen bird but plan ahead carefully and allow it to defrost properly (See the British Turkey website at http://www.britishturkey.co.uk/cooking/cooking-calculators.html for a clever online tool to help you calculate the time required, but you should be allowing as long as 120-144 hours to defrost a 12 pound turkey in the fridge, for example, or 36-48 hours in a cool room or garage, and 24 hours at room temperature. If you are really struggling financially, turkey joints provide a tasty alternative, as do large chickens. If you are having a cheaper turkey, add flavour by putting an onion into the cavity, as well as strips of bacon over the breast, before covering with a double layer of foil and cooking.
Vegetables – Again, if you can’t afford fresh, or haven’t got a lot of time to prepare on the day, then go for frozen, as they have all of the vitamins and fibre and the family will hardly notice.
Stuffing – Try putting the following into a blender to make your own stuffing: a few pieces of stale bread, a handful of sage leaves out of the garden, a sliced onion, some salt and pepper, an egg, a little milk if it seems quite dry. Blend on high for a minute until it is all mixed up, and then take out and place in a loaf tin, use to stuff your bird, or roll into little balls and bake on a baking sheet covered with parchment.
Sausage and bacon rolls – The frozen ones are fairly indistinguishable from fresh once cooked, and can be bought from mid-Autumn onwards when there is a special offer.
Christmas pudding – The cheaper ones are surprisingly good, and I have it on good authority that some restaurants have been known to buy these from leading supermarkets and serve them as their own. Serve with cream for minimum effort, or Sweet white sauce (see recipe elsewhere on blog) or custard.
Cranberry sauce – Again, the cheaper brands are often perfectly acceptable. A dollop of red wine or port and a bit of orange zest will bring them to life.
In case you speak German, here’s a clip of me being interviewed for Radio Saarland recently about Brexit store cupboard preparations, during a small speaking tour of Germany.
Following on from the previous post, this is a straightforward plan of what you might need to have in stock to feed one person for two weeks, so that meals are reasonably varied and everyone stays as healthy as possible. Brace yourself, it’s quite a lot, particularly when you multiply the list by the number of people in your household. The list is adapted from the official emergency food supplies list – the ‘hamster purchase list’, as it is nicknamed – issued by the German Government for its own population (who are luckier than those of us in the UK as they normally have cellars to house all the stuff). You need to budget £55-£65 per person, depending on whether you can get economies of scale from buying for larger numbers together, and the quality of food you choose, so a family of four using some basic brands and a few more expensive favourites here and there could expect to pay £150-170 for a two-week supply, in normal supermarkets.
1kg long life brown bread (or bread mix so you can make it yourself)
This can be bought canned for 3.95 euros for 500g from https://shop.conserva.de/en/canned-bread/749-dosen-bistro-mixed-wheat-bread-320g-5060428432864.html
400g French toasts or Krisprolls
These can be bought in Tesco for £1.29 for 200g https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/266291362 or £1.49 for 225g https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/254592139 (Krisprolls)
1 kg crispbread or vacuum-packed bread
1 kg fresh or canned potatoes
800g canned beans
These can be baked or green beans
800g canned peas and/or carrots
700g each of red cabbage and sauerkraut in a jar
If you don’t like red cabbage, get extra beans, peas and carrots instead. But the cabbage has masses of vitamins.
400g asparagus in a jar
Cheaper in Germany, admittedly, but if you can afford it, this adds variety to meals
400g canned sweetcorn
400g canned mushrooms
400g gherkins in a jar
Again, a German favourite but very useful if you can acquire a taste for them. Otherwise choose another pickle you prefer.
400g cooked or pickled beetroot in a jar
500g fresh onions (because they keep well)
Fruit and nuts
700g canned cherries or fruit pie filling
250g canned pears
250g canned apricots
350g canned mandarins
350g canned pineapple
200g raisins or sultanas
200g shelled nuts or nut butter
250g dried prunes or figs
610g approximately of fresh applies, pears, bananas and oranges
28 litres of water or another way of preparing fresh drinking water if power supplies are interrupted at pumping stations.
You can buy 5l still water packs at Tesco for £1.10 https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/266291362
1 x Jif lemon juice or similar
Milk and milk products
3 litres long life milk or milk substitute
You can buy normal UHT-treated milk or alternatively powdered milk such as Marvel, or emergency milk for 8.85 euros from Convar https://shop.conserva.de/en/milk-products/774-ef-basic-organic-whole-milk-powder-350g-yields-3-liter-de-oeko-039–5060428433328.html
700g hard cheese
You can buy something like cheddar or parmesan, wrap it in greaseproof paper and put it somewhere cool, or you can buy canned cheese for 4.79 euros from Convar (it tastes good, I have tried it) https://shop.conserva.de/en/canned-cheese/592-dosen-bistro-gouda-250g-5060428432345.html
Meat, fish and eggs
150g canned tuna
100g canned sardines
100g herring fillets (more popular in Germany but still probably acceptable to the British palate)
250g canned corned beef or ham
300g canned or tinned hot dogs
300g sandwich paste or pate in tins or jars
360g canned stewing steak, chilli or similar
10 eggs, or alternatively you can buy egg powder from Convar for 6.58 euros https://shop.conserva.de/en/119-powdered-whole-eggs
Fat and oil
250g of butter or margarine. You can buy canned Ghee in most supermarkets, or powdered butter from Convar that will probably outlive most of us at 24.50 euros for 500g. https://shop.conserva.de/en/butter-powder/594-butter-powder-650g-4015753702015.html
300g sunflower, maize or light olive oil
To the above list you can add chocolate, cakes, children’s snacks etc as required, if you have the space. Convar do lots of canned cakes which are delicious (yes, we took another fall for the team and taste tested them for you!). It’s also possible to buy packets of jelly, dried rice pudding, semolina, custard power, jam, honey and so on, to add something sweet to the diet for morale-boosting purposes. Army 24 hour ration packs often have a muesli bar and boiled sweets in them for this purpose (and it is also a compact form of calories). I would also add a 500g bag of granulated sugar to the list, for the same reason.
Please note: All Convar prices are without VAT. They have not sponsored this post, we just like them because their products are excellent and for survival food the prices are competitive. At the moment they are manufactured in the UK. I know, irony, right?