Friday, July 24, 2009

frugal friday

Well, we managed to get through our holiday without spending up too hugely, and I must say that cooking dinner's at home was probably the key. Coming home I've also tried to base our meals around what we already had - only buying fresh meat and a few veg for our meals. Whenever I'm meal-planning for the week I like to check out what I already have in the pantry or fridge and go from there - with some basic staples you can create so much. I like to have the following on hand:
sweet potatoes
green veg
lemons or limes
tinned tomatoes
tomato paste
chicken and beef stock
arborio rice
fresh nuts: slivered almonds, pistachios, walnuts - all kept in the fridge for freshness
dried herbs
fresh thyme and rosemary
puff pastry

With these essentials you've got the base of almost any meal. I've also always got red wine, white wine, rosé, champagne and beer in the fridge to make any sauce special. If I find any of these items on special, I'll stock up, they don't sit in the pantry for long. This way I can always stretch a meal too - adding an extra side dish or a baguette if we have an unexpected guest or two for dinner.

Nibbles with drinks are also easy to whip up - a hot spicy nut mix is easy made by popping nuts on a baking tray, dotting with butter and brown sugar and a bit of cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Baked in a hot oven for 5 minutes, it's delish. Or I'll sauté up some slices of chorizo, deglazing the pan with a little red wine and pepper to pour over the top. A little more time and I'll caramelise some onions and thyme and make teeny puff pastry tarts.

A well-stocked pantry is a frugal-foodies best friend, as Liss from can attest with her latest challenge! What are your pantry staples?

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