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Cooking frugally

Sat, 23 May, 2020

The beautiful weather is a curse and a blessing in current times, depending on the old chestnut: how affluent you are. Those with a house and garden in a nice part of the world can’t believe their luck – the kids are happy in the paddling pool in the backyard, there are barbecues socially distancing with neighbours over the fence and the teenagers sprawl illicitly close to one another on the grass in parks.

Much more of us are stuck in small apartments on the seventh floor where talking the lift is a health hazard and Tesco won’t carry your shopping up – if you could afford to spend the required online minimum on grocery shop. The laid off, the furloughed and the ones whose dream business finally opened, only to shut down and go bust together with all you invested. With those of us in mind I’ll shout out to keep cooking and baking, to cheer ourselves up and to think about something pleasant for a diversion.

Cooking frugally matters whether you can afford pricier ingredients or not because it minimises waste and makes resources go further. Any roast leftovers should be made into – sometimes tastier – another day’s meal, like rissoles, pastillas or salads. Use more minced meat – as meatballs, stuffed vegetables or chilis. Or skip meat altogether and cook rice dishes with vegetables: like crispy tomato rice or Persian rice with broad beans.

Instead of roasting a whole chicken for one meal try to be inventive: Milanese from breast fillet, thighs under the skillet, burgers from the drumsticks and offcuts and those mini fillets aka chicken tenders can be saved up in the freezer for a later feast of nuggets.

Don’t forget potatoes: spuds and cheese are the essential ingredients to make such divine dishes as hasselback gratin or leek and potato bake. And fish is better and cheaper bought frozen – it will also often be better quality than so called fresh, or supermarkets’ fave, ‘previously frozen’. Sticky mackerel fillets, fish pie or fishcakes are all gorgeous and don’t cost a fortune.

For dessert, as long as you have sugar, flour, eggs and butter or oil, you’re sorted: apricot crumble loaf or banana bread are everyone’s top favourites. Splash only on fresh seasonal fruit and pile it on halves of classic scones maybe with homemade clotted cream? Stay safe and cook delicious!