Archive | Cheap Eats RSS feed for this section

Cheap Eats: The rise of the Farmers’ Market

24 Sep

Good Evening!

Cheap Eats is today looking at the often overlooked Farmers’ Market.   A great place to save money and to support local communities as well as picking up unbeatable fresh fruit and vegetables.  It wasn’t long ago that supermarkets weren’t the giants they have become and it was much more routine to grab your fresh produce from markets and greengrocers.  The rise of the supermarket chain has done well to put a lot of these places out of business but still some survive,  and most notably Community Farmers’ Markets are becoming more popular and popping up all over the UK.

These Markets are one of CSM’s favourite things because the produce you can buy at the markets is so fresh and so tasty.   You will never be able to eat watery supermarket strawberries again once you compare them with a punnet of fresh flavoursome strawberries grown a few miles from your house with none of the excess chemicals and a tiny carbon footprint!

Not only does the food taste amazing,  it is a much more economical way of buying your produce,  it invariably lasts longer and the stall holder is usually up for a bit of good old fashioned haggling on the price.   You can pick the fruit and vegetables up, there is no excess packaging and definitely no shrink-wrap plastic!  You’ll also be surprised at how fun it is to wander around a sunny market on a Saturday morning – the produce stalls aren’t all that’s on offer, you’ll find people selling fresh local meat, dairy products, homemade bread, local wines and sometimes stall holders may be local jewellery makers or other craftsmen.

These markets are definitely a good way to pick up some well priced food that is really good quality.   Our tip would be to head near the end of the day when stall holders will be wanting to get rid of the produce they have left, an even better time to put your bartering skills to the test!

Look out for farmers’ markets in your town or city in local newspapers and community boards.   Ask around, local knowledge is gold!   You can also search online for markets in your areas, they may be weekly, fortnightly or even monthly and it’s worth noting the dates in your diary so you don’t forget!   Don’t forget to take a strong bag to cart your purchases home!

Some Students’ Unions are now setting up their own Fruit and Vegetable Co-Operatives, like this one at Cardiff University.   For a few pounds a week, you can take home a massive bag of local hand-picked fruit and veg.  A bargain, and your shopping done for you? Bonus!

Let us know how you get on, and where the markets are in your city – we would like to create a list to share where the best markets are around the UK.

Most Universities have started Freshers’ Week now,  so if you have just moved to University or are returning for yet another year – good luck!! Enjoy,  and take advantage of the great student deals that are bound to be on at the moment.

Love

CSM

Advertisements

Cheap Eats: Chilli Con Carne CSM style!

17 Sep

Evenin’ all!

It’s been a busy Friday for Clever Student Money but don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you lovely lot!

It’s Cheap Eats time:

This week we are talking about cooking big!  One of the best ways we save both time and money is by cooking more than one portion at a time.   Sound counter productive?  Let us explain…

We think the best thing when you get home from a long day of lectures is being able to throw a meal in the microwave and have it ready in minutes, but we hate ready-meals and takeaway food with a passion.   As well as being seriously nutritionally unhealthy they aren’t a good way to keep your finances looking healthy either!  So our simple solution is tupperware…if you think that sounds like something your Mum would like then bear with us and keep reading!

All it takes is a little planning, a little time and a few single portion sized tupperware boxes!   When you are at the supermarket, a great way of saving money in the long run is by looking out for ‘family’ or ‘big value’ packs of meat.  You can also get great value by buying frozen mince in large bags.  You can then get home, cook up a storm and freeze individual portions in those notorious tupperware boxes ready for whacking in the microwave for a couple of minutes when you get peckish.   This principle works for casseroles, stews, most sauces and savoury mince.   In fact, it applies to most dishes!

Here is one of our favourite recipes that is filling, cheap and relatively quick to make.  It’s also uber healthy, low fat, low salt and high in protein!

Clever Student Money’s yummy Chilli Con Carne:

Ingredients:

500g Beef or Lamb mince (try to pick up a lean variety), for even lower fat try Turkey mince.

2 onions

4 mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

1 can kidney beans

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

2 beef OXO cubes

Chilli Powder (choose your heat!)

A good splash of Lea and Perrins.

Chop the onion and mushroom up, crush or chop the garlic cloves as finely as you can.

Get your wok or frying pan on the heat, you can use a drop of oil if it isn’t non-stick.

Chuck in the mince meat and sprinkle the OXO cubes over it, add a generous sprinkle of chilli powder – give it a good stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom (nb. If it’s pre-frozen you can cook it from frozen), after a minute or so get the onions and garlic in there as well.

Once the meat has mostly browned off and the onions are softening, add the tomatoes, kidney beans and mushrooms. Keep stirring!

If it is looking a bit dry; then depending on your tastes add either another can of tomatoes or a cup of water. Both will work but it depends how rich you like your sauce!

Now is the time to add a good slug of Lea and Perrins, stir and then taste the sauce.  Need more chilli?  A little bit of sugar? Get creative!

You now want to leave the chilli to simmer for at least another 10 minutes – not boiling, just simmering.

Keep popping back to stir it and make sure the heat isn’t too high under the pan as you don’t want it to burn at the bottom.

Done?  That wasn’t that hard now was it?

Depending on your appetite this will do about 4 portions.  If it’s dinnertime then serve a portion with a Jacket Potato, Rice or Pasta and leave the rest in the pan to cool down.

If you don’t want to eat any of it straight away then you can either switch the heat off and leave the Chilli in the pan to cool down, or you can pour it into the individual plastic pots ready to go into the freezer.   You can even just pop one portion in the fridge for tomorrow!   Once the chilli has cooled down then put the lids on the tupperware tightly and stack them in the freezer.  If you haven’t got any spare tupperware then you can use freezer bags – just be sure to seal them tightly to avoid leaks!

When you are ready to enjoy your self-made ready meals then simply grab one of the pots out of the freezer and bung it in the microwave! Chuck the Chilli over some rice, pasta or a comforting jacket potato. If you have used freezer bags then you’ll need to take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge in the morning before you head out of the door.

Follow these defrosting guidelines if you’re not sure of the safest way to do it.   We don’t want any of you getting food poisoning! Always make sure the food is piping hot before you eat it.

To adapt this recipe:

Throw in a handful of frozen veg such as peas or peppers.

Take out the kidney beans and chilli to leave a basic spaghetti bolognese recipe.

Serve with Tacos, Sour cream, Guacomole and some grated cheese for a good meal to share with friends.

We hope you enjoy this yummy recipe…see you back here soon!

Love

CSM

Cheap Eats: Student Recipes

10 Sep

Good Morning all!

It’s Friday, which can only mean one thing – Cheap Eats time!

We have had some really positive feedback so far from students just desperate to learn how to eat cheaply but on a budget!

Today we are introducing you to another really good website to help inspire you into putting on that apron and getting stuck in.

It is called Student Recipes and has a huge selection of recipes for different tastes, budgets and occasions!

What makes this website a little bit different is that the recipes are all submitted by students so we know they are tried and tested!  It also means that it won’t cost you a  bomb to cook.  There is even a section for when you are cooking to impress…everyone knows the way to a man’s heart is his stomach.  And a hint for the boys out there…girls love a man who can cook!!

Check it out, have a practice and let us know what you think.  We are developing this section into somewhere you can come for recipes that we like to use, useful websites for inspiration and we will also be discussing food shopping over the next few weeks.

We hope that you all have a lovely weekend – why not test out one of these recipes on your parents?

Love

CSM

Introducing: Cheap Eats

3 Sep

Here at Clever Student Money we love our food.  We don’t just love food, we love cooking food.  Mainly because we’ve discovered how much cheaper it is to cook properly rather than rely on the microwave and local takeaway.

However, we also know how scary it can be trying to cook for yourself if you have never done so before.  It’s alright scraping together a meal at home when the food is in the fridge and you have a full store cupboard to raid.  Even if you are a competent cook, it’s suddenly a bit different when you have an empty fridge, just a bit of mouldy bread in the cupboard and no fresh vegetables to speak of (and no that green ‘thing’ growing in your cereal bowl definitely isn’t a fresh vegetable).

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to stocking your cupboards and filling your fridge.  Our ‘Cheap Eats’ series is going to be a weekly blog post that aims to gently educate you in how to keep yourself happily and healthily fed at University.  It will guide you through how to stock your cupboard with the essentials, show you the best places to do your fresh produce shopping and suggest some yummy, simple and quick recipes that will keep you happy.

As we mentioned in ‘Ahh! It’s time to pack!’, there are some great student cookbooks out there.  We recommend The Virgin Student Cookbook.  It’s easy to read, full of great advice and fantastic recipes.  It even has a section devoted to hangover cures…that’s got to be a good book!

So now we have introduced this series, it is time to introduce a website that is brand new to us but already top on our list of money saving sites!

It was pointed out a few days ago by Miss Thrifty over at her blog.  We’ve had a good look at it and are very excited!  (You can see her original blog post about the site here).

The website is The  Resourceful Cook and is a great way to plan a weeks meals in just a few minutes.  You can select 1, 2 or 4-person menus and even adjust the menus according to your tastes and budgets.  There are several low-cost menus in their frugal eats menus.  The menu planner pulls out 7 recipes for dinner that week and then if you approve, creates a shopping list with a total estimated spend.

For example:

Meals for 1 Person.  Menu plan: ‘Frugal Favourites 1’.

Meals suggested:

Cottage Pie, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Sweet Chilli Chicken Kebabs, Chicken Curry, Creamy Mushroom Crumble, Cashew Curry, Sweet and Sour Pork.

Sounds yummy to us!!

It assumes you have a basic store cupboard (really basic, don’t worry!).  It quotes an estimated cost of £11per person for the weeks food, the ingredients are listed as a shopping list with the quantities required.   It also gathers all the recipes into one place as well.

It’s a great idea, and a great way to meal plan without having to sit down and work it out yourself.  We are going to trial the site and it’s recommendations to see how accurate it is with ingredient prices.  Of course, we shall report back to you all with our opinions.

From experience, once you have done a few shops and start getting your store cupboard stocked up, it becomes easy to cook from scratch with just a few fresh groceries needed to be bought.

Don’t forget to invite us to dinner when you feel ready to debut your cooking skills!

Be back here, same time next week for the next installment in Cheap Eats!

Love

CSM

%d bloggers like this: