Thursday, 27 September 2012

Getting started

Fill those cupboards while you can.

We all get a big chunk of money each term, the tendancy is to spend it all as soon as possible. while this is ill advised, and budgeting should be incoraged , first term is the time to splurge. BUT....lets do it right, rather than meals out and pizzas, lets invest in out culinary future and get our store cupboard basics. These are things that will make meal by themselves, and with a few fresh ingredients will make AMAZING food, with little cost.

Also, if you're very very lucky your "parental units" are likely to be happy to stock you up with this kind of stuff when you first move in (and peridically thoughtout the year) just remind them Tesco, asda, and sainsbury offer online services!

So here are the essentials.

Herbs and Spices - Adding flavour to food without the cost

I will often refer to these in recipes, they may seem expensive (£1-3+ a jar) but the cost is minimal when you consider how little you use.

Essencial : SALT, pepper
Basic herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, corriander LEAF, mixed  herb blend (CHEAP)
Basic spices: cumin, corriander (seed), paprika, chilie, mustard powder, nutmeg, cinnamon
Frequently useable spice blends: chinese 5 spice, mild curry powder (great flavor base)
Other useful items: toasted sesame oil, fish sause, soy sause

Although making your own blends usually saves money, sometimes the ingredients are used so infrequently that it doesn't make sense to buy them individually; also some flavor palets are harder to get right than others. Don't feel like you're giving up when you buy thia curry or korma paste; cajun or jerk seasoning! these store well, and the pastes can even be frozen to preserve them longer. 

"Store cupboard" essentials 


Canned foods: Tomatoes, Tuna, baked beans, kidney beans, chick peas, coconut milk, condensed milk
Packaged foods: STOCK CUBES, rice, pasta,oats, nuts/seeds, quinoa, dried beans (pinto, black - for mexican),  instant noodles, lentles (red), creamed coconut (block or sachets), uht milk, skimmed milk poweder, couscous. 
Frozen foods
Vegetables (coliflower, brocolli, sweet corn, peas),Mince, chicken portions or breast, sausages 
Baking:  Plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, icing sugar, granulated/caster sugar, brown/raw/muscavado sugar, corn flour, vanilla extract/essence, COCO powder (not hot chocolate)

Storage and Cooking

These are often shared items, see what people have and buy whats left over. take it in turns to buy things. don't buy large items together...who gets it at the end of the year???

Storage: cling film, tin foil, freezer bags, grease proof/ wax paper, small food containers, 1 or 2 large containers. 

Cooking: Glass mixing bowl, plastic mixing bowl, mesuring jug, hand blender, hand mixer, digital scales, sieve,  1 or 2 smaller cooking dishes, 1 or 2 shallow trays, a cupcake pan (does great yorkshire puddings too), a roasting pan (get a square, reasonably deep one and it can double as a lasagne pan). a couple of cake tins. I also bought a piping bag this year (£5 from wilko's) as i couldn't be bothered to keep making them out of grease proof paper ( i will cover how to do that later in the term). 

Fresh essentials 

These are things i use most often, as i like to have a very varied diet. Don't by everything every week, or you'll have alot of waste, just pick and choose from week to week, and you'll have a varied nutrient content in your diet. 

This "varied nutrient content" as i've called it means you're body is going to get the essentials it needs to stay heathly. A healthy body, means a brain that can function at its best. 
You may not have tried some of these, or have decided you don't like them. No one has EVER disliked anything i've made, give them another go, you're body will love you for it, and you're brain will work harder for the benifit. 

You will notice i don't list much fresh fruit... it's not that i don't like it, i find it more expensive and  has a much shorter shelf life, and there is little you can do with it to preserve it. all in all that makes it far less cost effective than vegatables. 

Fridge - fresh meat such as bacon, eggs, Bagged salad, stir fry veg, Corgettes, Cabbage, Spinach, peppers, carrot sticks (make your own for dips), mushrooms, leeks, 
Non-fridge (cool, dry, dark cupboard) we all know fridge space is often limited
 - onions, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, celariac, parsnips, swede, avacados, 
 - apples, oranges/mandarines, bananas (store away from other fruit, unless you want it to ripen)

Tips for Frequent perishables. 

REMEMBER everything you throw away is more money you have to spend so...
  • Think about the use by dates, eat perishable foods first. 
  • If vegatables, meat or dairy are heading towards their use by date, think about how to use them up before they go off. 
  • perishables can be frozen from fresh or cooked into meals and frozen in portions. 
  • Does someone else in the house need what you have? milk is a common "throw away half the bottle" item, why not tell people yours has a couple days left, share, and suggest they share next time?
It's all about STARVING STUDENT SURVIVAL! - Mags, x

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