Changing the Focus of the Blog

As I'm not trying (though maybe I should be!) to lose weight as much as I was, I'm wondering whether to change the focus of the blog a little.  
There's a lot of debate/discussion/angst going on at the moment about the cost of living and families having to budget more. And to be honest, although Mr FD and I have cut down a little on our spending, I think we both still sometimes forget that we're no longer in the 40,000 pounds-a-year salary bracket (shared) that we were, but rather in the 15,000€-a-year salary bracket. A big jump downwards! Admittedly, we no longer have a mortgage, our taxes are lower, and we're not paying for Mr FD's season ticket. But I'm driving a lot to get to work which eats quite a lot of money. Our supermarket bills (for two of us!) are equal to (or sometimes quite a lot bigger) than that of my friend who shops for four, and although I don't think we waste too much food, there is definitely some wastage because I buy the wrong things, or we don't eat them and they go off. For example, there are five wrinkly oranges sitting in the fruit bowl. I don't eat oranges much - TBH I don't eat that much fruit - and Mr FD hasn't eaten them, he's not been here for 5 days and they've just sat there and got smaller, drier and wrinklier. I've not been bothered to do something with them.

That "being bothered" is part of my problem too. I work fairly long hours (but not prohibitively long) and so quite often can't be bothered to try to do extra money saving cooking/preserving stuff. Evenings are for relaxing in front of the TV, not trying to cook up a batch of whatever uses up 5 wrinkly oranges and a piece of fish. But I'm thinking I ned to try to change my outlook a little and make more of an effort to be bothered. Mr FD works from home, and doesn't have too much spare time, but he could be utilised a little more (!) Also, when I do get home early, maybe I shouldn't come straight to the computer, but try to "be bothered " to do something more productive!

Going back to the cost of our supermarket shop, I rarely have a budget particularly in mind. I have my list, I buy the stuff we need (and maybe the odd treat), I get to the checkout and, while I may gulp a bit at the cost, I get out the debit card and pay. And we don't hesitate, if we need to (or want to!) to pop out into the village and buy something we fancy. I've started shopping in Aldi or Lidl for stuff, but then go across the road to Carrefour to get the other things (the more "fancy" ingredients/food) that they don't have in Aldi.I certainly don't have the time to trail around Clermont to find other shops where you can buy lentils and oats en vrac, but I reckon that Aldi/Lidl are a reasonable compromise.  However, we've not really changed our eating habits since moving here and dropping our income. I still buy more expensive cuts of meat, still "need" more expensive ingredients, still cook more extravagant meals. While I don't want to go on a diet of lentils (they have an unfortunate effect on Mr FD) I think I need to reconsider our food intake.

Certain things - however extravagant they may seem - still remain: Mr FD loves his morning fruit salad of pineapple, mango and grapefruit. I like a meusli with lots of fruit and nuts, so I'll add extra.  I won't buy chicken or eggs that aren't at least outdoor reared. If I get the choice, all my meat would be of high animal welfare standards, but in France it's more difficult to know from the labels about the welfare standards. BUT there's a new shop opening in the village in September, selling locally farm reared meat and charcuterie. In these tough economic times I guess opening a shop is a brave thing, and we ought to support local I think one of Mr FD's jobs can be meat buying at "Le Panier d'Urfé" It might be a little more expensive than Carrefour/Lidl but it will be helping a new shop.

I have recipe books and folders stuffed with recipes that we enjoy and some of them are labelled "budget". While others are certainly much less than budget! Every week I flick through trying to find something I "fancy" cooking...I vaguely plan the meat content, pasta vs rice vs potatoes, and TRY to not choose anything too pricy, but it's not terribly organised. And I don't think of how I can use one ingredient from one recipe in another - so I'm left, for example, with half a pot of ricotta, and  half a chorizo sausage. Now, I can quite happily use those up, by throwing them in another dish, BUT they're not needed in that other dish, it's just to "use them up" - so instead of becoming the focus of the meal, they are, if not exactly wasted and thrown away, at best used up.

I find sorting out meals quite tedious too, so I often rush the job. Maybe I should, once a month, spend a couple of hours planning for the month ahead, so it's not such a tedious job each week before I go shopping. has meal planners and advice about planning meals - aimed more at busy mums with children to feed than at busy Fat Dormice with husbands to feed, but still valuable advice nonteheless.

(I'm not sure how many meals I'd get out of that shopping list!)

So, as well as trying to be more organised, more frugal and more sensible with our food shopping and consumption, I'm going to make a bit more effort with this blog. I don't know whether anyone's really reading this, or interested in it, but I'm going to use it, partly at least, to post my menu plans and shopping costs. If nothing else, seeing it in print might help me to pull my shopping socks up a bit more!

At the moment, I'm planning from Wednesday to Wednesday, as that's when I'll be in Roanne to do a big shop. It will change once I'm back working in Clermont, probably to a Monday to Monday shop.
Lunch: Bacon sandwich (Mr FD is bringing home the bacon - literally! - from the UK today)
Dinner: Pommes de terre avec chorizo, cooked with spinach and roasted peppers
Lunch: Roast veg (cooked yesterday in the oven) with home made houmous & feta cheese
Dinner:Stuffed peppers (using rice, chorizo, chickpeas & chopped tomatoes)
Lunch: Houmous & salad
Dinner:Hot harissa lamb, green salad and cous-cous with chickpeas
Lunch: Merguez & onion jam (we need a hearty lunch on Saturday, because of cycling in the afternoon)
Dinner: Puttanesca pasta, & garlic bread
Lunch: Pork terrine (cooked on Saturday in the oven with the garlic bread)
Dinner: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, ratatouile (already in freezer), carrots
Lunch: Coronation chicken mix (from yesterday's chicken)
Dinner: Vegetable risotto (but made with chicken stock from yesterday's chicken) - leeks, courgettes, peppers
Lunch: Pork terrine (& the rest goes in the freezer)
Dinner: Chicken pasties (from Sunday's chicken) baked beans & courgettes
Lunch: Smoked salmon paté (made with bits) - & the rest goes in the freezer.
Dinner: Spicy bacon pasta (made with tomato sauce, already in freezer)

I have actually planned three week's worth of food, but I'm not sure how interesting that will be all posted at one time! I'll try to remember to post it each week, plus one of the recipes.
We'll be going "off piste" as it were, now and then, as we have friends coming to stay. Gary's wheat intolerant, so I'll have to think about lunches more carefully as ours are always based around bread.

I love this recipe, because it's really, really easy. For 4 people
800g potatoes           200g chorizo              1 red pepper               frozen spinach, preferably in creme fraiche
1 onion                      4 eggs                       seasoning                

Peel & cut the potatoes into quarters (ish)       
Peel and chop the chorizo into 1/4 (ish) inch slices
Chop the pepper & onion into good sized chunks.
Mix all together with a tbsp of olive oil - if you have chilli oil, so much the better. Season to taste. Put in an oven proof dish. This needs to be quite deep.
Stick in the oven at about 180°C for about 30 minutes until everything is cooked.
Defrost spinach (as much as you fancy) in microwave. When potato mix is cooked, mix the spinach with this.
Make 4 hollows in the mix, and break the eggs into the hollows.
Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes until the eggs have set.
Serve with crusty bread, if desired.

I hope people will comment, or ask for recipes, if they've got this far. Sometimes it gets lonely here in Blogland!!

images taken from Google images


  1. Good luck with your new challenge.
    A ear ago I started to shange how much we spent. I now take out 300€ at the begining of the month to feed 4 of us. This is normally successful, but I have started the dukan diet and it is a bit more expensive.
    I do all my shopping in LIDL and buy just the odd things from one of the other supermarkets.
    Lidl very often reduce their meat by 30% - today I bought 3 packs of chicken escalopes for the freezer.
    I plan my meals for the week and try and use leftovers all the time and for lunch.
    Look forward to hearing about your changes

  2. I'm fortunate in that we grow so much of our food, and we both love salads and vegeatbles. We eat very little red meat. I do buy plein air chicken, and some fish which is always expensive.
    It isnt easy being on a pension, especially with the exchange rate being so poor.

  3. It sounds like you're already pretty good a planing ahead - using up chicken leftovers for stock, pasties, etc. I cannot recomend the blog enough - he is all about easy, cheap food, but he also loves food and wants flavour and variety, too! It's full of tips about how to manage your time in the kitchen better, and how to shop more efficiently, too.

    My advice? Switch the TV off! Or save it until the cooking's done. When I get home from work the first thing I do (apart from drop bag, put slippers on, make a cup of tea!) is to cook dinner. Once that's done, then I can sit down and relax and put the telly on. TV is such a time vampire, but I know from experience that once you get out of the habit of automatically switching it on when you get home, you will find SO much more time to get other things done!


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