I’ve still got most of the kilo of salt I bought for 25p a month back for the challenge (this is not a surprise when you think about it, I would probably be dead if I’d eaten that much salt in so short a time period!). Now, I’m not exactly a salt snob, I’ve always owned a big plastic container of the next stuff up from Basics (I think it’s worth paying about 12p more for the convenience of not having to heft a large plastic bag of salt around, and being able to close it up easily so bits don’t accidentally fall in it or a huge avalanche come out if it’s picked up wrong), but I also like to buy bags of proper sea salt when I’m on holiday, particularly in places that specialise in salty treats, such as Lanzarote with their salty potatoes, and if I see some smoked salt, or fancy pink Himalayan salt cheap on sale you know I’m going to buy it, so I was already pretty well stocked up.
Meanwhile, I’ve been on a huge baked tofu jag recently. I can get about 600g for £1.30 from one of several places around Leicester (usually Asiana or The Farmlands) and I’ve been dicing that up and coating it in combinations of sesame oil, soya sauce, smoked paprika, pepper, liquid smoke, allspice, Herbamare, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, ginger and garlic. Sometimes I’ve made one batch, let it cool enough to scoff half and fridge the rest and then gone on to make another batch in the same Pyrex roasting dish. Consequently, the flavouring was really baked onto the dish as well as the tofu and despite soaking overnight I had a huge struggle trying to clean the dish today. Then I remembered the salt I’d decanted into an espresso cup to make it easier to use. There were about 3 tablespoons left, and I poured half onto the burnt pan and used the previously-ineffective scourer with the salt and a squirt of washing-up liquid to give the burnt-on grease a beating it won’t forget in a hurry!
I’m sorry I didn’t take before and after pictures now, it was a very satisfying transformation. I know salt isn’t news for dish cleaning (especially if you have a dishwasher. I don’t, but I’ve seen them in action), but I was happy to realise I had this low-cost and high impact way of tackling the problem. Now to go out, buy more tofu and begin the whole cycle again!
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.
Halfway through the month!
Since I was in credit, and I really fancied some tofu and a looksee at the market to try for cheap bananas, I headed across town after the morning at work. I popped into the Chinese grocery next to the market for calcium-set tofu, £1.30 for 600g, then headed across the road towards the market.
One of the stalls regularly sells organic pointy sweet peppers a few for a pound, and today the bowls were extra large. True, some of them were slightly wizened, so I may have to process them fairly quickly and freeze some, but they’ll add interest to lots of meals!
There’s a stall that sells sweets, crisps and snacks at knock-down prices and they had The Dormen mixed nuts (baked almonds, cashews, macadamias and pistachio nuts) in 130g foil bags, three bags for a pound! True, they were past the sell-by, so I bought a three bags and opened one. Seemed absolutely fine, so I bought another three bags, and will stick most of them in the freezer to be on the safe side. When I came home I checked the normal retail price and they seem to go for over two quid a bag, so I’m very pleased.
I also bought a savoy cabbage for 60p, and 20 clementines with leaves (showing freshness) for a pound, so that’s a total of £5.90, bringing the month’s spend to £44.17.