Friday, 24 January 2014

Menu Swaps and Subs

end of the month stocks

Confession - I am a bit of a lazy cook. Probably because I'm not a massive fan of the process, but it's part of my job so it's good to be not too bad at it. In the spirit of spending and wasting less I've had a proper look in the pantry - something I have got out of the habit of doing before writing a menu plan. I got into the very bad habit of assuming I knew ever single thing in there, but of course I don't. The menu plan has been jiggled ever so slightly in order to use thing we already have in rather than continue to push them to the back to make room for new things. Not that I keep a ton of stuff in, probably enough to keep us alive for a few weeks if all else failed but certainly not the jars, boxes and shelves of stuff some folk manage to store at any one time. 

the gloomy narrow end for books, bags of lentils and nice coffee pots

I love having a proper pantry, in fact is was one of the many things that attracted me to this place when we were looking around. It has to work quite hard, ideally I wouldn't keep any bunny stuff in there, or henry hoover or the mop, or the dustpan and brush or all of my cook books, but I do so that's that. 


We'll be having peri peri mushrooms instead of berbere. I love berbere, it's hot and spicy with loads of flavour but not too much in the way of a clove taste. I love it so much that's probably why we don't have any ready made. I don't have everything in to make it, so I'm making a different meal. 

I thought that instead of buying curry paste I'd stop being lazy and make a very very basic curry powder with cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli and add some Bombay Masala - it's very sweet smelling and great for lentil or veg curries. Turns out I have a small amount of ready made curry powder and a jar of paste. The paste had kind of been abandoned because we bought two jars (different types of curry) and the first one had no flavour at all so I assumed the socond one wouldn't either. And yet I didn't chuck it! I justify buying curry paste because a jar lasts us such a long time, but it won't harm me in future to do it the way that takes about 10 seconds longer should this second jar of paste fail. 

The chilli will be a smoky one as I have some whole, dried chipotles in the pantry. There are still some good old red chillies in the freezer, we bought or were given, I can't remember, a lot in the autumn so I chopped and froze them. Still going strong and really convenient. 

It turns out I don't have any Ras-el-Hanout or harissa so the tagine-type-thing will be cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper and the scrapings from a jar of tomato and herb paste I bought on Tuesday. My cooking would never pass as authentic!

I may or may not make the spice mix for the enchiladas, it depends whether I can get a cheap kit from somewhere or if I just buy the wraps on their own. It's a mix of the various herbs and spices used for the other recipes made a bit more exciting with a squeeze of lime juice, again from the freezer. 

the life saving pouches!

Whether it will save any money this month I can't yet say as I have to buy a few packets of dried herbs, but it will be cheaper in the long run as the individual packets last for ages. Having a poke through the pantry has already saved me a bit as I swore to myself I'd used up the ground coriander but sure enough, there's about a quarter of a jar left. A very stern lesson in not taking things for granted for me today!

12 comments:

  1. I love your pantry. I've always wanted one. Maybe one day. It must be nice to see everything you have in one place, dried and tinned things that is. You have some very interesting items in there. No wonder your menu plan always sounds so good.

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    1. Thanks, I'm trying to think of different combinations of things to eat as I don't want to look back at posts here and think we just ate the same thing all the time.

      It is nice to see everything in one place, meals sort of suggest themselves because I can see the butterbeans and mustard or tofu and Thai spice at the same time, rather than having to poke around in different cupboards.

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  2. I've listed all the food items in the cupboards in the hopes that I will use them up and I intend to cross each one off my list as I use it. I stress the words 'in the hopes'. I can see me finding a jar or tin from this year still in my cupboard next year!
    Love from Mum
    xx

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    1. Good luck Mum. I have an unopened tin of treacle taunting me every time I look at the shelves. Had it for over a year already with no clue what I'm going to use it for!

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  3. I used to have a pantry! Sadly now live in a 35 year old modern box with a few quirks but sadly no pantry and hardly any storage space. Your shelves look very organised, mind are very haphazard. I love those pouches and I have one but I just can't remember where I bought it from.

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    1. It's one of the many great things about living in a 1960's house, the idea of "living" was taken into consideration.

      I can assure you the fuller it is the less tidy it looks!

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  4. I love your pantry! Plus it looks so organised too. A pantry is something I've never had, but dream about (clearly I have simple dreams!) At the moment I'm using a tall, yet narrow shelved cupboard behind the door in our downstairs bathroom. We don't have much so I can squeeze everything in, and it's makes use of a random and not the easiest to get to space.

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    1. Nothing wrong with simple! I'd always wanted one too and it lives up to expectation, it was a lifesaver when we had no fridge, kept everything just cool enough. Every home should have one.

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  5. Like everyone else on here, I love your pantry! A couple of my friends have them, and they are much more organised than me. I rummage around in cupboards - hence why I discovered 2 years supply of oregano at the back of one recently!

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    1. Hi, thanks for dropping in. Wouldn't you just know that oregano is on my shopping list for next month as I've run out!

      I think having the pantry rather than "just" cupboards in a weird way makes me keep it tidier, as though it should look like that as that's the proper purpose.

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  6. A pantry is on my wish-list for our 'forever house' - you're lucky to have one, and I love to see you're putting it to good use!
    Sarah x

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    1. Thanks. It's a great thing to have, a great comfort blanket.

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