I do actually own a yoghurt maker, which was a gift from my parents. It’s a nice round contraption with cute little jars which make great individual serving sizes, and it keeps a constant temperature so a great guarantee of consistent results, and super-handy in winter time. The little jars are a bit of a faff to sterilise though, and at the moment I’m going through a lot of yoghurt because I like to use it as a salad dressing mixed with vinegar, smoked paprika, garlic and hot sauce, so I thought I’d try something new.
UHT soya milk is already sterile, so no need to scald it then wait for it to come down to temperature (110-115F), instead I got a large stock pot (also a gift from my folks!) and filled it 3/4 full of warm water. I got the temperature to around 120 degrees and then stood two sealed litre cartons of milk in the pot (one Value and one Organic one I had left over from when they were on offer for 59p!) and left them for 20 minutes to warm through. I then opened them up and tipped some of the milk into a glass for later (to make a bit of room in the cartons), and tipped a bit more into a measuring jug. I mixed about 6 heaped tablespoons of live plain soya yoghurt into the milk in the jug, and them poured half into each carton, sealed them well up and stood them up in the water bath, which came to just below the tops of the cartons.
The temperature had dropped to just below 110 degrees when I put them back in, but I just put the gas on a low heat underneath until they’d come up to 115, then draped a folded bath sheet over the top and sides. The volume of water kept a good heat (I think it being a warm day probably helped too), and after 7 hours I had yoghurt! It’s a bit lumpy, but I’m just going to be mixing it up with other stuff so I don’t care.
One concern I had (after I’d started making it) was that the cartons tell you to store them in a “cool, dry” place, which the stock pot most definitely was not! I started worrying that the plastic lining of the cartons wasn’t designed to be heated, and would leach harmful bits of itself into my yoghurt, and when I tried to find information on how safe Tetra Paks are to heat food in it was surprisingly difficult, however I did find something assuring consumers that they’re designed to withstand heat such as being left in a hot car, and a car’s interior can get well above yoghurt making temperature in the summer so it looks like it’ll be okay! 🙂
In my last entry I posted a recipe for sunflower-seed and chickpea spread. After I had finished my lunch I changed my mind about putting the spread away as it was, that amount of sunflower seeds made a very rich smooth spread, but I decided it was a bit too rich so added about 2/3 cup more chickpeas, more lemon juice, garlic and water, so there’s been plenty to keep me going over the past few days.
Some got turned into a sour-cream and onion dip for crisps and tortilla chips by adding in a few spoonfuls of Tesco plain soya yoghurt, along with dried onion powder, cider vinegar and nooch, but I still had a tub left. Since I was making bread today anyway it was no hassle to make a pizza base from some of the dough, chop up some onion, yellow pepper, a few mushrooms, a couple of cloves of garlic, add a couple of spoonfuls of chopped tomatoes and some dried mixed herbs, pinch of salt, mix that all up with a splash of oil, cover the base with the veg and then dollop a few spoonfuls of chickpea spread and smush it onto the top, along with a few halved olives. This went into the oven while it was pre-heating for the rest of the bread – I know conventional pizza-making wisdom says make sure your oven is smoking hot before putting your pizza in, but I defy convention :p
I am under no illusions that this is a pretty picture. Not bad for about 5 minutes of actual hands-on cooking though! 🙂
I wasn’t planning on going anywhere by car to buy food, I was going to get it all on foot, but I unexpectedly had the opportunity of a lift to Asda where they are selling 1.5kg (which worked out to 6) potatoes on special offer for 87p, so I’ve got my spuds after all. I even got half of them baked for me!
I took the rest of my daily portion of slaw and 2 pickled onions in a container with me to serve over a potato, but ended up just eating a half-potato as I have been strangely un-hungry this evening. I will eat the rest cold over the next couple of days, but I also saved the other 3 to boil/mash/add to soup.
Since I’ve got everything I planned to, pretty much, here’s my final list for the week:
- Tesco yellow split peas, 500g – 53p
- Tesco value cornflakes 500g – 31p
- Tesco value crunchy peanut butter 340g – 62p
- Tesco value silverskin pickled onions 440g – 30p
- Tesco value self-raising flour 1500g – 45p
- Tesco value mustard 190g – 25p
- Tesco value teabags (40) – 20p
- Tesco value salt 1000g – 25p
- Sainsburys tomato purée 142g – 20p
- Asda ‘Extra Special’ Rudolph potatoes 1500g – 87p
- Aldi red cabbage (weight not listed, but weighed by me at 1270g) – 45p
- Aldi carrots 500g – 27p
That leaves me 30p as I couldn’t decide between a jar of jam, a bulb of garlic, an orange or lemon, and I was even kind of tempted to buy some Love Hearts sweets, even though they probably have even less nutritional value than the jam.
I don’t know if there’s much point in my costing out each day’s worth of food (I did make a start but it got fiddly with all the components in each thing I made), but I will run through what is left at the end of the challenge and work out the total spend and average nutritional intakes that way.
I already know I have enough here to last the 5 days in terms of calories and protein and will do roughly okay with regard to some vitamins and minerals although I’ll be falling short on a few things e.g. essential fatty acids and B12 and won’t manage to make the 5-a-day fruit and veg goal unless I eat more dandelions and other freebies.
I’m lucky to have plenty of spare time to source the cheapest item from each store, cook from scratch, and to own the equipment and know-how to carry that out, and I know that has made my cash go a lot further.
Back from my journey to Aldi, followed by a walk into the city centre. The good news: I got a 1.27kg red cabbage (grown in the UK) for 45p! This is by far the cheapest I’ve seen red cabbage in a supermarket, they’re usually about 80p a kilo. The bad news was that there were no fresh potatoes available for less than £1. They had 500g bags of carrots for 27p, and I decided to buy one of those instead of a 1kg bag for 49p, even though it works out at 5p more a kilo, because I think 100g of carrots a day will probably be sufficient and it gave me a bit of extra cash to play with.
I left Aldi and walked into town via the medium-sized Sainsbury’s on Humberstone Gate. I was hoping for better potato luck there, but the only loose ones they had were bakers for £1.25 per kilo, so I didn’t get any, but what I did get was a special offer tin of tomato purée for 20p, which I think is going to make my split peas taste a whole lot better, so I’m really pleased with that! That means I have £1.17 left to spend.
I also dropped by one of the Tesco Express shops in town. They didn’t have any usefully-priced potatoes either, but what they did have (although I didn’t buy them) were 500g bags of oats for 68p:
Now, you can get 1kg bags of oats for 75p in Morrisons, larger Tesco stores and Aldi (they didn’t have any today though), so these aren’t the best value around, but if I end up being desperate for oats with less than 75p left it’s worth knowing about them, as until now I thought 75p was the lowest price available for oats.
The chickpea tofu and crustless quiche version of same got a second outing in baked form. I’d already baked the quiche-type-thing for a good 35 minutes previously, whereas I left the plain tofu to set in the fridge. In my opinion, twice baking is definitely the way to go. Cubed, tossed in a little soya sauce, cayenne and with a crafty squirt of liquid smoke, then baked for another 20 minutes or so, it was delightfully firm with a bit of chew and a hint of crunch, wheras the single baked stuff was more like baked polenta, where a thin layer of crisp gave way to a softer texture inside. Pleasant enough, especially maybe if served with a ratatouille-type sauce, but not a patch on the twice-baked for eating out of hand.
Just the rest of today and tomorrow to get through in the challenge! Yesterday I was called at lunchtime to see if I’d urgently cover for someone who was off sick at short notice, so I hadn’t bought a packed lunch, and didn’t have much time to get anything. I’d had grain-based cereal for breakfast, so peanuts and some fruit seemed a good choice for lunch, but I was shocked at the rise in price of peanuts! I’m sure the last time I looked they could be had for around 30p per 100g, whereas all but the largest bags I could see at Tesco yesterday were around 50p per 100g. They didn’t have any Basics ones for sale, so that may have been the reason (edited to add that I’ve just looked at their online shopping prices and the Everyday Value ones are actually still only 24p per 100g. Phew! Must just have been in a poorly-stocked or rip-off-y branch!) but in any case I ended up paying £1.86 for food, which left me with just over £2 for the month. When I visited Co-op to look for clothes washing stuff, they had ‘simply value’ fabric softener (which I never use) for 55p, but no equivalent value washing powder or liquid. The cheapest stuff was £2. Seemed odd.
Although I toyed with the idea of trying to just use fabric softener I didn’t think it was worth the risk to spend a quarter of my remaining funds, and I didn’t want to spend all of my money on the powder, so left it. Fortunately I had clean tights, so the no-clean-sock problem isn’t too urgent.
Nothing needed doing to my teeth, so although I’m £18 worse off for having someone peering into my gob for five minutes at least it means I stay on my decent NHS dentist’s books, when I know they’re not taking more NHS patients at the moment, and I don’t have agonising mouth pain, and hopefully won’t in the near future. Hurrah.
I’m doing extra work tomorrow, which will involve a walk through Victoria Park. Even with the cuts the council is having to make they still seem to be doing a good job maintaining public spaces for now, and even though it was raining yesterday when this picture was taken they still managed to get out to clear the fallen leaves off the pathways and stop them turning into a squelchy mess.
while I was waiting for my appointment today, I had a phone call from a site I’ve never worked at before, offering me an extra five and three quarters hours work on the weekend. I quite like working at lots of different venues, it makes a change, I get to meet new people, and I have a good excuse for not knowing what I’m doing! In light of this extra work but corresponding reduction in leisure time I may treat myself to a drink later at Pizza Express. For anyone who has a Tesco Clubcard and doesn’t already know this, you can get £10 worth of Pizza Express food vouchers for every £2.50 in clubcard points. B has £20 in vouchers so is going to treat me later, but drinks are not included in the vouchers so I was just going to have tapwater, but heck, I might just treat myself to a pink lemonade.