When I first moved to London and got a job my take home pay was just over £700 a month. This was over 20 years ago, but even so after my rent, tube pass, food and other essentials there was not a great deal left, and come the end of the month there was very little left at all and pay day was eagerly anticipated.
In all honestly I was never that broke, but did had to be careful. To get through the last few days of the month one of my friends would sometimes buy something in M&S by cheque (you could still use them in those days) knowing it would take three days to clear and then immediately take it back to Customer Services for a cash refund.
Even 15 years ago the City of London was a very different place, fairly devoid of shops – apart from sandwich bars and a few (mainly men’s) shirt shops – and it was desolate at weekends. Slowly the supermarkets started opening locals, which were closed at the weekends. On the Friday evenings that I was going back to the flat straight after work I would do a tour of 3 or 4 of the mini supermarkets which were chock full of bargains, massively reduced to sell before the shops shut for the weekend. With a little bit of planning and careful use of the freezer I could eat very cheaply and also very well.
For this month-end soup I’ve used an onion and potato left in the vegetable drawer, some peas and leftover puff pastry from the freezer and a lemon from the fruit bowl. I now use a cookie cutter to cut my scraps of puff pastry into interesting shapes before freezing them (top the last tiny bits with some grated cheese and bake the next time you have the oven on for some pre meal nibbles). If your supermarket shop brings you a reduced bag of lemons then zest them onto a piece of baking parchment, the juice and freeze in an ice cube tray before transferring both to Tupperware pots.
I try to make my own stock – freeze your chicken carcasses and once you have 2 or 3 put them into the slow cooker, cover with water add a carrot and stick of celery and leave on low over night. Strain and refreeze the stock. I have been known to take a chicken carcass away from a Sunday lunch party at a friend’s house on more than one occasion!
Recipe: Super Frugal Pea, Potato & Lemon Soup
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion – peeled and roughly chopped
- 500 ml stock – I used chicken but vegetable would work just fine
- 1 large potato – approx 250g – diced into 2cm pieces
- 150 g frozen peas
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- Knob of butter – optional
- Glug of milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Scraps of puff pastry
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, fry the onion until soft and translucent. Add the potato and the stock and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the peas, reserving a few for garnish, and the lemon. Season and then simmer until the potato is cooked.
- Use a stick blender to whizz the soup until it is smooth. Defrost the reserved peas by putting them in a mug of boiling water, then drain them.
- Cook your puff pastry scraps or shapes as per the packet instructions.
- If you wish add a knob of butter and some milk to make the soup richer and creamier and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve the soup garnished with the reserved peas and topped with the puff pastry shapes.
- Use vegetable stock and dairy free spread and milk to make this recipe vegan.
This is a recipe commission for Sainsbury’s for their Live Well for Less Campaign, I was asked to develop a recipe using staple items of by Sainsbury’s British garden peas, by Sainsbury’s potato, and by Sainsbury’s puff pastry. Fuss Free Flavours received ingredients and vouchers to cover time, cost and expertise in writing this post.
What would you make with the staples of peas, potatoes and pastry? I am sending this recipe to Credit Crunch Munch which I host with Camilla – this month’s linkie is here.
And to #ExtraVeg which I run with Michelle.