"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Frugal food

I don't know if anyone else battles with deciding what to cook for their evening meal.  Don't get me wrong, I love cooking - when I'm inspired.  And when I have the time.

But, sometimes it is a terrible chore...

Frequently, I can't find the inspiration / be bothered to think at 7 - 8 in the morning what I should take out of the freezer for our dinner roughly 11 - 12 hours later.  It's not as though everything that I take out can immediately be cooked when it is defrosted - sometimes it's easy, but too often it's the main ingredient of a recipe - which requires quite a bit of further attention / preparation in order to prepare the meal.

So, I often wish that I had some ready meals on hand.

Bulk cooking - to save  time and give me

Last week I got stuck in and made some homemade ready meals.

Instead of just cooking enough mince for a spag bol (plus the inevitable remnants which hang around the fridge until I can hide them some way so that RMan eats the left-overs) I made 4 times the quantity (roughly 450 gms of ostrich mince).

Spaghetti Bolognaise - plus two portions in the freezer
big enough for a lasagne or two :)
That night we had our spag bol...
2 - 3 ready made cannelloni meals
The next day I took some of the remaining mince and stuffed some cannelloni tubes.

They went into the freezer as they are - and all it will take is opening a jar or two of my homemade tomato sauce, making a quick Bechamel sauce, putting the lot together in a baking dish with a sprinkling of grated cheese, and placing in the oven of the Rosie, and there you have it - an instant meal :)
My kale plants are producing madly...

...so I picked a bunch...
... and shoved them in my steamer.
Some of the mince Dolmades I made
When they were soft and pliable, they got filled with mince and rice - à la Dolmades or stuffed cabbage leaves style.
Whilst the leaves were steaming, I used the base of the pot to cook also steam some gem squash and carrots for our diner that night.  Why waste energy heating another pot - plus it's one less pot to wash lol

So, out of a normal four portions of mince I now had / have:

a  The portion of Spag bol which we ate for dinner
b  2 - 3 future Cannelloni meals
c  2 X future meals of Dani's Dolmades (which will be placed on a bed of kale and sliced carrots and just covered with hot chicken stock and baked for 3/4 - 1 hour, and served with an Avgolemono sauce)
d  2 X future portions of mince which I'll use for lasagnes.  (All I will need to do again is grab some lasagna sheets, open a jar or two of my homemade tomato sauce, whip up a quick Bechamel sauce - layer the lot in a baking dish, sprinkle some grated cheese and place in Rosie's oven.)

8 meals out of an amount of mince which would normally provide only 4.
This pot stand creates a perfect "keep
warm" spot on the Rosie and ensures
that the contents of the pot will not burn
at the bottom.
By the way, I'm loving having the Rosie fired up again, and, although the Rosie has a warming shelf, it is quite narrow height-wise.  Purchasing a simple pot stand, it now doubles up as a keep warm area on the Rosie - and it works perfectly :)


  1. I hate deciding what to cook. But our freezerbos always so full it makes it difficult to stote meals. Sometimes with mince we have spaghetti one nice and yhen I dress it up as chilli the next!

    1. Kev - I found that problem with a box freezer also. The food at the bottom of the chest always lingered longer with new food piled on top. That's exactly why I'm LOVING my side-by-side fridge / freezer :)

  2. I am such a sad sack I have just googled what can I make with mince for dinner. Seriously.

    Do you add rice to your dolmades? I am eying my grape vines and hope to be able to get some leaves from them later on. I make stuffed cabbage in the winter, with tomato sauce. I have thought about using cous cous, shh dont tell my mum that! lol nutmeg or no nutmeg?

    1. Sol - That's my point exactly. We all KNOW what can be made with ingredients, but it's having to think up different meals with the same item (mince) to keep it "fresh" and "new" that stumps me.

      Cous cous would work. And Berchamel sauce always has nutmeg added in my house :)

  3. the extra portions from our meals get put in the freezer then hubby takes them back with him to eat through the week, like you I hate having to decide what to have for dinner :-)

    1. Dawn - Lucky you to have a husband who'll eat "leftovers" as they are :)

      I'm constantly asking RMan; "what would you like for dinner tonight?" His reply is standard: "Steak" Firstly, I don't eat red meat, and secondly, steak every night is an immense extravagance / indulgence / unnecessary lol

  4. I'm so fortunate that hubby loves simple foods and doesn't mind eating them often.
    I have a meal plan for the whole month.......and can repeat that for eternity if I like--he's that easy. The ONLY stipulation he has ever made is PIZZA--once a week. Good man!

    1. Sue - The only meal I repeat is fish - every week on a Friday. That's not because we're Catholic (we're not), but because fish is such an easy meal and Friday is such a convenient day to have it on - I can bring back fresh fish from the store when we go for our weekly shop.

  5. The joy of cooking has somewhat left me since losing my husband 29 months ago. I need to do more bulk cooking and freezing so that I can just pull things out of the freezer.

    I would love to try ostrich mince.

    Homemade pizza is a favorite here. I used to make it a lot for Sunday supper.

    Your post has inspired me. Thank you ~ FlowerLady

    1. Lorraine - Oh, I can imagine that cooking for one would be even worse than trying to think up meals for RMan and I. I might even be tempted to (shudder) buy ready made...

      I'm so glad that I gave you some idea's - that's all we're all in need of - some inspiration :)

  6. Those meals look soooo good! I need to start planning some make-ahead meals, with a new baby, I just can't keep up with all the madness these days!

    Anyhoo, I found your blog on a Sustainable Blogger Link Up page, and I just thought I would stop by and say hi! It would totally make my day if you stopped by my blog sometime, or kept in touch! <3 - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

    1. Gingi - Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Your blog looks fascinating - you're obviously a goat lover... ;)

      I'm sure that your baby daughter is seriously filling every moment of your day :D

  7. Success! It's so satisfying to save time, fuel, money, and the brainpower of trying to plan more meals on more days!
    I've been following your blog for so long, sometimes I forget that you don't live just down the road, Dani. Then you say something like "ostrich mince" - HAH! :)

    1. Quinn - ROFL - Ostrich mince is a healthier alternative to beef as it contains much less fat. It doesn't taste as "gamey" as ostrich steak though. I do prefer chicken though, or turkey - when I can get some...

  8. We make double the amount of bolognaise, one day for spaghetti the next use the remainder for lasagne. Works well for us. Love your other ideas of using it. Can see your Rosie stove providing much warm and comfort in your autumnal evenings. Thank you for sharing

    1. Shirley - Oh, the Rosie is a treat :) Mince, like chicken, is such a versatile food. But, mince can take time to prepare from scratch for every meal...


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