Five tinned foods that punch above their weight

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I’ve been nosying around my winter survival cupboard today to see what needs topping up, and I am about to make a big trip to the cash and carry to stock up on tins. Interestingly enough, a lot of tinned foods have more vitamins in them than fresh food that things that have been lying around your kitchen for a week or so.  Here are some great additions to a store cupboard that I will be bringing home later.

Tinned tomatoes – these come in different forms but particularly useful are the ones with garlic and herbs already in the mix. Passata in large jars can go onto home made pizza bases with a big of grated cheese and some salami for a Saturday treat.

Pulses – try different kinds such as lentils, chickpeas, borlotti beans, butter beans, mixed spicy beans and canneloni beans. Great with mince, in salads, to bulk out a bolognaise or shepherd’s pie, or to make an instant vegetarian chili.

Stone fruits – cherries, plums and mirabelles make great crumbles and pies, can be served with cream or yoghurt for a quick dessert, and can even be added to smoothies or put on top of muesli.

Exotic fruits – pineapple, lychees, mangos are all wonderful to have around, and give you the makings of a very sophisticated winter fruit salad, but look for tins which state they are in their own juices rather than in syrup.

Fish – Sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna and even shrimps are all great for sandwiches, pasta dishes, fish pie, salads and little toasts to have as a nibble with a glass of wine.

Image: xedos4 /


Shopping list – Week 3

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  • 4 salmon steaks
  • 8-12 lamb chops or 4 lamb steaks
  • Ready-made lasagne or see recipe
  • Pork joint
  • 1 lb/500g cubed beef or braising steak
  • 4 oz/100g cooked ham
  • 4oz/100g cooked turkey


  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • 8 oz/200g vine tomatoes
  • 2 lbs/1kg new potatoes
  • 5lbs/2.5kg roasting potatoes
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 2 lbs/1 kg carrots
  • 6 apples
  • 4 pears
  • 6 bananas
  • 8oz/200g fresh berries (if not too expensive) or frozen
  • Kiwi fruit
  • ½ lb/250g broccoli


  • 2 bars dark chocolate
  • 2 loaves sliced bread
  • 3 litre cartons of apple juice
  • 3 litre cartons of orange juice
  • Chocolate chip biscuits
  • Honey
  • Apple sauce
  • Jam
  • 2 lbs/1 kg porridge oats
  • Small bottle white wine (picnic size)
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • Tin pineapple slices


  • Cheese slices for sandwiches
  • 6 oz cheddar cheese
  • 1 pint/500ml low fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 pint/500ml Greek yoghurt
  • ½ lb/500g vegetable spread
  • ½ lb/500g unsalted butter
  • Small tub marscapone
  • 12 eggs


  • 2 lbs/1kg frozen green beans
  • 2 lbs/1kg frozen peas


  • Washing powder for whites
  • Washing powder for coloureds
  • Fabric conditioner
  • Cream cleanser
  • Toilet cleaner or bleach
  • Spray polish
  • Lavender furniture polish (if you have dark wood furniture)
  • Cleaning dusters and sponges
  • Rubber gloves


Ten things that should always be in your kitchen

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Here are the top ten items you should make sure you always have in your kitchen, to produce easy lunches or suppers in super-quick time.

1. Eggs

2. Bacon or ham

3. Onions

4. Parmesan

5. Potatoes

6. Cream

7. Butter

8. Pasta or noodles

9.  Bread

10. Milk

Here are some dishes you can concoct in emergencies from these ingredients:

1+2+6+7 – Scrambled eggs and ham

2+3+5+7 – Fried potatoes with bacon

1+2+7+8 – Pasta with ham

1+2+6+8 – Spaghetti carbonara

1+2+9 – Fried egg and bacon sandwich

1+2+6 – Omelette

1+7+9+10+cinammon/sugar/Nutella/honey – French toast

4+5+6 – Potato gratin

1+10+flour+sugar – Pancakes


For more inspiration, check out this blog as well, which has wonderful quiches and a great one-pot carbonara recipe:

Clothes shopping masterclass

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Too many of us are encouraged to see shopping  as a leisure activity in its right, which when you think about it, is a very strange state of affairs indeed, and could even be seen as  somewhat spiritually improverished. While nobody wants to go back to the days of post-war queuing and jostling in order to buy the smallest items, if your only experience each week apart from the workplace and the home is trailing around a overheated, packed shopping centre with umpteen plastic bags in pursuit of the elusive, then it might be worth asking yourself if you really find this truly satisfying. That having been said, all of us need to acquire various things at regular intervals, and if you plan it carefully, as a military campaign, you will be able to carry out your errands a great deal more efficiently and cheaply than if you just wandered around with your credit card burning  a hole in your pocket.

So when out and about, given that money is tight and time a luxury, what should you be buying on the clothes and fashion front? First of all, before you even think about buying clothes, you should have done two things. You should always clear out your wardrobe of any redundant or unused  garments, on the ‘one in, one out’ principle. Secondly, while doing this, you need to carry out an audit of what remains, so you can judge any gaps in your wardrobe that might bring other outfits to life. The next rule is to make sure you have a few stylish items that you have spent a bit more money on. In this respect, less is more. This will probably include:

  • a good coat or jacket
  • a best dress that can work for day and evening
  • a couple of skirts
  • a couple of pairs of trousers
  • a couple of really stylish, fashionable tops that do you real justice.
  • If you can afford a good quality merino wool or even cheaper supermarket cashmere sweater or two, you will appreciate this as well.

These can be supplemented with well cut, long and short sleeved t-shirts (look for good quality jersey if you can, and double stitching), jeans (classic dark indigo ones tend to look flattering on most women, and try to pick a well fitting waist and boot leg if you are pear shaped), cheaper day-to-day blouses and tops in brighter colours, and accessories such as large beads, scarves and big rings that bring together the look. Do it right, and you will wear your clothes rather than them wearing you. That’s all you need.

Image: Carlos Porto /

Shopping list – Week 2

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This list should work out a bit cheaper than last week’s as there’s not quite so much stocking up of basics to be done.


3 lbs/1.5kg lean minced beef

12 best quality sausages

1 lb/500g turkey stir fry strips

4 frozen rainbow trout, sardines or mackerel

1lb/500g cubed lamb

A whole chicken

4 oz/100g cooked ham

4 oz/100g cooked beef


8 oz/200g fresh berries (if not too expensive) or frozen


3 courgettes or a marrow

6oz/150g broccoli

6 onions

2lbs/1kg Bramley cooking apples or rhubarb

6 eating apples

6 bananas

4 oz/100g grapes

Kiwi fruit

Red pepper

Green pepper

4 oz/100g sugar snap peas or mangetouts

4 oz/100g baby sweetcorn

Romaine lettuce


8 oz/200g vine tomatoes

1lb/500g carrots


2 loaves sliced bread


2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tin kidney beans

Tomato puree

Chocolate chip biscuits

2 lbs/1 kg porridge oats

Stir fry sauce

3 litre cartons value apple juice

3 litre cartons value orange juice

Salad dressing

Chocolate sauce or Mars bar (to be melted to make sauce)


Milk (daily consumption plus 2-3 pints for custard and rice pudding)

Cheese slices for sandwiches

1 lb/500g vegetable spread

12 eggs

5 fl oz/125 ml single cream

5 fl oz/125ml whipping cream

1 pint/500g low fat natural yoghurt

Garlic bread


White toilet rolls

White kitchen rolls





Image: Catherine Hadler /

Dinners for the home – Week 2

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The second week of my economy menu plans, linked to the Week 2 shopping list and dessert recipes.







Spaghetti bolognaise

Banana split yoghurts


Cottage pie


Mango fool



Mashed potatoes


Onion gravy

Fruit salad and single cream or yoghurt


Turkey stir fry and rice

Yoghurt with blueberry jam and elderflower cordial


Baked trout, herring or mackerel with boiled new potatoes and green beans

Rice pudding


Lamb curry and rice

Ice cream and chocolate sauce


Roast chicken with roast potatoes, green beans and broccoli

Fruit crumble and custard

Fruit salad and single cream

Image: Catherine Hadler /

Shopping list – Week 1 (stock up shop)

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  • 4 chicken portions
  • 4 pork chops or pork steaks
  • 1 lb/500g lean minced beef
  • 4 lean cut steaks or frying steaks
  • Lamb joint
  • 4 oz/ 100g cooked ham
  • 4 oz/100g cooked beef
  • 2 packets stuffed fresh pasta



  • 2 lbs/1kg new potatoes
  • 5 lbs/2.5kg potatoes
  • 2 lbs/1kg carrots
  • 8 oz/250g fresh berries (if price is OK) or frozen
  • 8 oz/250g fresh strawberries (if in season)
  • Romaine lettuce or similar lettuce
  • 1 lb/500g apples
  • 6 bananas
  • 1 melon (if price is OK)
  • 4 oz/100g grapes
  • 1 lb/500g pears (at least 4)
  • 8 oz/250g broccoli
  • 1 head garlic
  • Small stem fresh ginger
  • Bunch spring onions


  • 2 loaves sliced bread
  • Pasta sauce
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Tinned kidney beans
  • Flan glaze (see recipe for Fruit Torte)
  • Empty sponge flan base
  • Green’s Quick Jel jelly
  • Blueberry jam
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Salad dressing
  • Mint sauce
  • Honey
  • Jam
  • Rice
  • 2 lbs/1 kg porridge oats
  • Cream crackers or oatcakes
  • 1lb/500g short-grain pudding rice
  • 3 lbs/1.5kg plain flour
  • 3 lbs/1.5kg self-raising flour
  • 1 tin cocoa
  • 3 litre cartons value orange juice
  • 3 litre cartons value apple juice
  • Teabags
  • Instant coffee
  • Cafetiere or filter coffee
  • Chocolate chip biscuits
  • Bottle soy sauce



  • Milk (daily consumption plus 1-2 pints for rice pudding)
  • 1 lb/500g vegetable spread
  • ½ lb/500g unsalted butter
  • 1 packet fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 pint/500ml low fat natural yoghurt
  • ½ pt/250ml whipping cream
  • 4 oz/100g Brie
  • 4 oz/100g Red Leicester cheese
  • Cheese slices for sandwiches
  • 12 eggs
  • Garlic bread or baguette

Image: Suat Eman /