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Economy Schizoid Chef

When you've cut back on and denied yourself everything else, the last target must be food. I try going without as much as possible and regard every meal I miss as 'one more in the bank', but I can only miss so many! Then it is Sainsburys 'economy' beans, soup, mushrooms, white bread, potatoes, and bulk purchases of anything on a 'two for the price of one' special offer that I can keep for months in the freezer! It took a while to make a dent in the forty eight meat free burgers I once couldn't resist the reduced price of. One per meal with peas and chips . . took a while!!

Cooking in the winter has the added advantage of heating up the place and means you can save money and go without turning on the central heating!

Yayyy . . 'FREE' food!!! Well . . almost. There is a small price to be paid in stings and scratches from the hedgerow brambles, but blackberrying is a tradition often overlooked by the fast food generation, which means the pickings can be plentiful. I obviously avoid any growing near a road because of the likely high lead and pollutants content! When you get fed up with just eating bowls full of stewed blackberries with sugar - the following gem of a recipe is SO quick and simple, even 'I' can manage to force myself to put in the ten minutes or so effort it takes (an not much washing up). A delicious sweet, spongey, buttery, fruity affair which seems to work just as well (or maybe better) if you use tinned fruit in syrup instead of the blackberries . . or maybe add some apples . . or, . . and, . . or, etc.
Serves six if you push it, but more like four . . or less if it worked out well and you just couldn't resist. :o)
'Cobbler' (Blackberry)
400g blackberries (or a tin of fruit of choice in syrup),
half a cup of sugar, half a cup of water or less.

One and a half cups of self raising flour
One and a half cups of sugar
One and a half cups of milk
125g butter
Blackberry CobblerWash and cook the blackberries with the sugar in as little water as possible. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer.

Melt the butter in a large shallow ovenproof dish at gas Mk.4 whilst mixing the flour, sugar and milk into a batter.
Pour the melted butter into the batter and mix, before pouring the batter into the oven dish.
Evenly pour the blackberries over the batter.
Cook in the oven at gas mark 4 for around 45minutes or less, until brown on top.
The inevitable 'pad it out with pasta' meal - but actually not that bad. Only tried this the once so far. Would probably benefit from onion and garlic?
Tuna Pasta Bake
225g of economy pasta shapes
One 200g can of tuna...drained
One 425g can of cream of mushroom soup
One can of peas or an equal volume of frozen
One cup grated cheese
One packet of (cheese and onion) crisps
Cook the pasta (and frozen peas if used) in a large pan until 'al dente'.
Drain then add the tuna, soup, peas and three quarters of the grated
cheese and mix.
Pour the mixture into an oven dish and sprinkle the top with the crushed
crisps and the remainder of the cheese.
Cover and bake on gas mark 4 for around 30 minutes until bubbling.
Uncover during cooking or flash under a grill to brown.
Not particularly cheap unless you can find some packs of bacon on a 'two for the price of one' special offer. If you don't overcook the bacon, you can get away with one rasher of bacon per sandwhich. VERY cheap if you skip the bacon, or maybe substitute for a slice of economy corned beef! If you are feeling particularly decadent, add more ingredients such as grated cheese, onion, mayonaise, etc, etc. I find three will usually guarantee that contented, full stomach, I want to sleep, feeling.
2 slices of buttered bread
1 tomatoe, sliced
Iceburg lettuce leaves
Two rashers of bacon
'Just' a sandwhich, but OH what a delicious feast.
Buy a nice large chicken and roast it - good for SO many meals if you eek it out, it has to be one of the cheapest ways to eat well.
Roast Chicken
1 chicken
boiled veg of choice
The trick is all in the 'carving'. Use your finger nails to
tear off every last morcel from the bones!
Even then, boil the bones for soup stock!!
The following much enjoyed recipe for chilli was one I luckily tried in a brave, rare moment of culinary experimentation. I found it in 'The Classic 1000 Vegetarian Recipes' by Carolyn Humphries.
For economy I use cheap vegetable oil rather than olive oil. I sometimes leave out the expensive yeast extract. I 'bulk' it out with a tin of the cheapest baked beans and extra cheap mushrooms and onions.
I'm not overkeen on hot, spicey foods so a little can go a long way. If I'm lucky I can make up seven small bowls full which I store in the freezer.
Rice is cheap and filling so I will boil a mugfull of rice in four or more mugs of water with a Pilau rice cube until very fluffy and then mix in a bowl of the chilli. Eaten with four slices of the cheapest bread covered in margarine there is usually enough left over for a microwave reheat lunch the next day! Serves 14 ?!!!!!!!
Chilli Con Quorni
15 ml/1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
5 ml/1 tsp chilli powder
225g/8oz/2 cups minced (ground) quorn
400g/14oz/1 large can tomatoes
30 ml/2tbsp tomato puree (paste)
100g/4oz mushrooms, sliced
425g/15oz/1 large can red kidney beans, drained
1 vegetable stock cube
15ml/1tbsp yeast extract
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boiled rice
Garlic bread
Heat the oil and fry (saute) the garlic, onion and chilli powder for 3 minutes until soft.
Add the remaining ingredients except the rice and bread with any left over wine you may have.
Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 45 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture becomes too dry.
Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Serve with rice and garlic bread
This one isn't particularly cheap or vegetarian but it is rich and I love it, and if I fall asleep straight after eating, it does encourage dreaming!
Cheese & Onion On Toast
1 onion, chopped
4 slices of bread
Thinly sliced or grated mature cheddar cheese
Butter (Flora margarine)
Lightly toast the bread on both sides.
Fry or microwave the chopped onion in a little butter until soft.
Lightly butter the toast and then spread the onion over it.
Cover with the cheese and grill until a golden crust develops.
I used to hate salad but my vegetarian sister 'made' me like it! Salad can be real cheap but it doesn't keep so when I do it I end up eating it every meal for three or four days!! The raddishes seem unreasonably expensive and I often do without, but enjoy it just as much. The sandwhiches are a particular favourite where the chilled (a must!) salad seems to be complimented by the Marmite. Six pieces of bread and butter made into sandwhiches like this, for lunch on a hot summers day, provides a jolly pleasant feed!
'Janette' Salad
2 onions, chopped
1 Iceburg lettuce, chopped
2 Carrots grated
1 Small bag of raddishes chopped
Yeast extract (Marmite)
Grated Cheddar cheese
Salt & Vinegar
Bread and butter
Chop and grate everything into a large container and mix together thoroughly before cooling in the fridge.

Serve sprinkled with cheese and doused in salt and vinegar with liberally salted chips.
Use as a sandwhich filler together with a spread of yeast extract and salt.
I eat the following whilst mindful of apologies and thanks to the chickens.
Onion Omlette Sandwhiches
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Eggs
4 Pieces of bread and butter
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk vigorously.
Mix in the onion.
Fry/grill until firm then cut into appropriate pieces and serve as a sandwhich filler with salt and tomato ketchup.
The cheapest most watery soup can be made into a much more filling and pleasant meal by adding some cheap potatoe. Particularly good for this of course, is leek and potatoe soup but the vegetable soup is cheaper!
400g tin of the cheapest vegetable soup
potatoes, diced
4 Pieces of bread and butter
Peel, dice and boil or microwave the potatoes until cooked.
Heat the soup and mix in the potatoe.
Serve with bread and butter.
Really rather excellent value for money and so simple to do, I went through a phase of making scones all the time which resulted in a friend's daughter calling me Mr. Sconey! I experimented with adding sultanas and even cheese on one occasion, and they were always quite satisfying.
Basic Scones
225g/8oz self raising flour
2.5ml/0.5 tsp salt
5ml/1 tsp sugar
25g/1oz butter
75ml/3 fl.oz milk
30ml/2 tbsp water
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the sugar.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Pour in the liquid and beat until a soft dough is formed. Knead gently for 3 minutes.
Pat the dough out until it is about 2cm/0.75 inch thick.
Cut into 5cm/2in circles with a pastry cutter.
Transfer the circles to a well greased baking sheet.
Lightly brush the tops with a little milk or beaten egg.
Put into the oven preheated to very hot (230 degrees C/450 degrees F or Gas Mark 8).
Bake for ten to fifteen minutes, or until golden brown.
Breakfast is of course the most important meal of the day, and I wouldn't dream of ever starting the day without mine!
Schizoid Breakfast
1 head, neck, back ache
2 paracetamol
2 mugs of strong coffee
20 hand rolled cigarettes
1 television
1 mail delivery
1 broken heart
1 feeling of paranoia
1 hopeless outlook
Wake up extremely early still tired and in pain.
Chew the paracetamol to speed the pain deadening effect.
Wash away nasty taste and get back feeling in tongue by slowly sipping cold coffee .
Substitute feelings of hunger for chain smoking the cigarettes.
Increase feelings of hopelessness by watching the TV news and reading teletext horoscopes.
Open the junk mail and unexpectedly big bills.
Continually mull over and re-enact ALL past negative experiences and rejections.
Imagine yet another day full of similar experiences.
Sit right where you are and make breakfast last for as long as possible.

As often as possible don't wear any!


Not because you want to, not because you can. Because - how else can you afford to?!!!

You got feet? Use em! Just beware the price of shoes.


Comments on this page last updated on 10th April 2014


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