Sunday, 21 July 2013

Getting back on the (food) wagon

Off the wagon
Kat vs food has been absent for a while, busy living life and experimenting with writing in the third person. I don’t like it. Seriously though, I the last few months have been a never ending blur of driving lessons, attempts to recover from what now seems to be chronic ITB syndrome – including taking up yoga (regular and anti-gravity), hen do organisation, birthdays, holidays and general socialising that has left no time for either cooking or writing, a serious draining of the bank balance and a sharp increase in ready meal consumption – exactly what I had hoped to avoid when I started this blog. I saw an article recently about M&S food sales being up 1.8% in the quarter and had to wonder how much of it was down to my ‘Fuller Longer’ purchasing habits.

Last night I came very late to the story and read about this woman and her blog, heartbreakingly detailing how she had lost her job and had been feeding her small son on £10 a week, while selling off everything she owned but the bed. Not only did she manage but I daresay their diet was better than a lot of their peers. Happily the story was picked up by several national newspapers and she’s been given a cookbook deal. Having gone from a £27k a year job to unemployment though, she remains frugal in her habits and true to her ethos and I admit the whole thing was so moving it brought a tear to the eye.

What has all this got to do with me? I think it has forced me to admit what I have been denying to myself, which is that my food bill is astronomical. Forget £10 a week, I’ve been spending that a day on nights when I’ve been home, but goodness knows how much more in reality with all the eating out I’ve been doing. I have a cupboard and a freezer full of food. For a start when I have actually been bothered to do a weekly shop (rare these days) I’ve picked up my Pa's habit of stockpiling all kinds of red stickered (reduced) meat and flung it in the freezer. I also have one of the largest spice collections outside of India after deciding a while back I was going to master the cuisine. I can open an Indian cookbook now and the meat or veg is about the only ingredient I won’t have.

I’ve got pasta, pulses, jar upon jar of tomatoes, kidney beans, baked beans, sauces and random items from foodie penpals and never ending varieties of tea and yet the rare evening I spend on the sofa I’ll have paid a fiver for something nice I can stick in the microwave and I have no idea how it came to this. I do know I’ve been muttering excuses to people along the lines of just how busy I am, and how there is NO time to cook but I’m outing myself, it’s rubbish. If you want something enough you will find time. Not only this, but hopefully all the driving lessons will actually pay off at some point and the girl racer that has been exposed in me wants a car and the capitalist in me is growing discontent with her bijou flat and longs for a house to park that car outside. I wince when I think about how much I could save on food alone to put towards these goals.

So... what to do about it? Well for starters I am going to make a dent in some of the food I have stockpiled this last year. It’s nine on Sunday morning as I write this and I’m about to put a large joint of pork in the oven(£4.50 down from £9 – nice!) that should see me good for sandwiches and salads for an entire week. I’ve also found some lamb mince so I’m going to recreate Nigella’s yummy lamb ragu for which I even already own the redcurrant jelly, for when I get bored of the pork. Second I am going to commit to doing a proper shop at the weekend and some meal planning, trying to avoid supermarkets where I can and making more of the local shops I am blessed with. I could probably halve my food budget with no problem and still eat like a king. Thirdly, stop letting fruit and vegetables go to ruin without ever touching them. Fourthly buy some new Tupperware. My housemate has inexplicably worked his way through my entire collection, bar one item, my treasured Sistema lunchbox (with cutlery and pot for dressing, amazing!), that I now hide in my underwear drawer like a pensioner and her family jewels.

In the meantime here are some of the more random objects/meals I will be having in the near future!

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