My morning oats

In my last post, it was a dinner meal that was being altered to fit the new season. But this time, I’m turning my attention to breakfast. I’ve always been a breakfast type of person, I’m definitely a fan. You know you get people who just aren’t breakfast people? Yeah, that’s not me. Ever since coming to University, my standard breakfast has been porridge, that good ol’ fashioned standby. I would say 80% of my breakfasts are porridge with some sort of fruit (strawberries/bananas/mixed berries). It’s a cheap, filling bowl of goodness – perfect.

But since the weather has taken a turn for the better, standing over the hob stirring hot milk isn’t appealing right now. But neither is paying out extortionate amounts for gluten-free cereal. The solution is simple; make the oats the star of the cereal bowl. Cold porridge doesn’t sound appetizing, but how about bircher muesli, overnight oats or oat cereal instead? Whatever label you want to give it, it tastes good.

IMG_0153

IMG_0155

Add 4og of oats to 150ml milk (whatever kind of milk you choose) and place in the fridge for a good half hour, to forty minutes. This can be done overnight, but this was just how I prepared mine.

IMG_0156

Take out of the fridge, stir through fruit of your choice and serve. I’ve only tried it with strawberries so far (in season and oh so tasty) but I think it would work well with all summer berries.

IMG_0157

Cool, refreshing and yet still economical and satisfying. And it tastes even better when you sit outside in the sunshine listening to the birdsong. After all, that’s what summer is all about.

 

Advertisements

Chicken alla Frugal

When I think of stew, I think of beef stew, enriched with red wine and lots of parsnips. Casserole however, conjures up a different dinner, something lighter with more greenery. Am I wrong? Quite possibly, but I had a lone chicken thigh left in the freezer so casserole it was to be.

IMG_0136

Into my lovely crockpot went a chopped onion, a parsnip, four carrots and the ends of the asparagus that I bought last week. It’s absolutely delicious steamed, but the bottom part is a bit woody. So I tailed the stalks and threw the ends into the casserole. I ate steamed asparagus yesterday with sausages, and I saved the water leftover. This was the basis of my stock.

IMG_0138

The chicken thigh was nestled in the middle and the pot went into the oven at 150 degrees for an hour and a half. Then it was whisked out, the chicken was pulled away from the bones, the flour paste was stirred through and I added some kale to boot.

IMG_0140

After a final half an hour in the oven, my casserole was ready. It was truly delicious. Such a simple supper, it made three lunchtime-sized portions. Yes, there is very little meat, but when the vegetables are so fresh and tasty, it doesn’t make much of a difference to me. I’m looking forward to my lunch tomorrow already.

IMG_0143

PS The British strawberries I bought in Sainsbury’s this week are perfect. Ripe and sweet and delicious in porridge. Just thought I’d pass on the seasonal food love 🙂

Pretend like there’s no world outside

IMG_0119

There’s nothing I like more than a glut of bananas. I arrived home after a visit to the Chap to find four lovely, blemished bananas waiting patiently in my fruit bowl. Their brown spots told me that action was required sooner rather than later. My first thought, naturally, was Happy Dance muffins, but alas, my store cupboard holds no eggs. As I’m still sticking with a slim budget this month, I would have to use what I already had in stock. Cue a rifle through the kitchen cupboards. No eggs, no problem.

I know bananas can be used as an egg substitute in vegan cookery, so I decided if it was good enough for vegans, it would be good enough for me. I did slightly contradict this by adding cows’ milk, but there you go. I also added protein powder because I’ve started running regularly again and my body needs all the protein it can get.

IMG_0120

IMG_0121

 

Banana Protein Pancakes

(Makes around 15 small pancakes)

1 very ripe banana, mashed

75g Doves gluten free flour

25g pea protein isolate

1/2 tsp Doves gluten free baking powder

200ml organic skimmed milk

 

Mash the banana in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, protein powder and baking powder and combine with the banana. Add milk and whisk with a fork to make a thick batter. Add spoonfulls of the mixture to a hot pancake pan. They are ready to flip when there is no longer any liquid on the surface.

IMG_0123

IMG_0124

 

I ate them all and it was glorious! I served mine with a little (read: a lot) of honey drizzled on top and a large mug of tea on the side. It was a perfect Sunday lunch for me. Do let me know if you like the recipe or if you give them a go.

 

PS Who knows the song that my title is derived from? It’s not a tricky one 🙂

IMG_0125

 

Adaptation

Whenever the inevitable time comes that you have to leave a job, house, or anything that you’ve spent a long time with, you have to commemorate the occasion with some form of party. The thing with leaving University is that one celebration is not enough.

I’ve been invited out to so many events over the next fortnight, it’s almost like a Fresher’s week. Bar visits and coffee catch ups and parties and get-togethers; all in the next two weeks. The thing is, I don’t want to miss a second of it. I’ve made such strong friendships over the past three years at University that I want to take every opportunity for the last laughs and posing for photos. But, as previously mentioned, I have money earmarked for the next stage in my life.

This is where I think being frugal meets its dividing force. There are some who reject social occasions in order to save money. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, in fact, I think it shows amazing dedication. But on a personal level, seeing people and doing things are what I cut down in other areas for. I would rather eat lentils for a month than miss out on the end of term party.

However, there are things I can do to still save money, even when I’m socialising. First thing, drinks. Alcohol costs money, one of the sad facts of life. But I genuinely can take it or leave it. And I have discovered lime and soda! Especially at this time of year, a cool glass of lime and soda is a real treat on a hot day. I delightfully discovered this week that they only charge 10p a glass at my SU! I couldn’t believe it! Secondly, food. Most students are in the same boat in that they can’t afford to eat out in proper establishments. So taking your own lunch or snacks isn’t out of the ordinary in this group. Thirdly, entry fees. Well, there might be a few ticket prices I have to shell out for, but I will be attending several free events being held at the Uni, including several plays. I’ll get a night out with my friends for free – no travel costs (walking), no refreshment costs (take my own) and no charge for entry (as part of their exam, the drama group offers a free performance).

Cutting back doesn’t mean cutting out important aspects of your life. Balance and priorities, those are the biggest lessons I’ve learnt during my University life.

A new frugal challenge

Oh boy, I’m excited about this one! It feels great to have a distinct purpose, a tangible goal to work towards. This is much preferable to my previous state of anxiety about the future.

Leaving University will be cutting the final string. My balloon will float away and it terrified me that I had no control over its path. But then I spoke to some friends. And then I cried my heart out to my family. And then I had a little chat with myself. I now have something to aim at, the anchor I’ve been looking for.

I have applied for my dream job. I hesitate to expand on the details, in case it all falls through. But this job would help all other areas in my life slot into place. It would be close to The Chap, which would allow us to spend more time in each other’s company. I could start looking for a suitable apartment to set up home. This is the career that would make me happy, which is what everyone keeps telling me to do.

But, if I do get this job, it will incur unavoidable expenses. Not just big things like rent deposits and furniture, but commuting costs from Winchester before I am able to move closer. Yes, I will be earning, but there will be a void between starting work and my first pay day. The bottom line is simple; I’m going to need money, for this year, and beyond. There is talk of more travelling and a whisper about Asia. For me, this is worth being thrifty for.

So, for the month of May, hopefully my last month in limbo, I will be spending as little as possible. No extras or treats, just the basics for healthy living. I learnt my lesson on my last attempt at a budget lifestyle that cutting fresh fruit and vegetables is not an option. They are essential. But I can purchase cheaper options, such as frozen berries and loose carrots. I want all my meals to be as healthy and as cost efficient as today’s lunch.

IMG_0098

Salad sandwich; two slices of GF bread (reduced bargain!), spread with red pepper houmous (currently on offer for £1), carrots, cucumber and spinach.

            Since the start of the challenge, I have spent only £9.60 on food. I was lucky enough to come back with a few supplies from Glastonbury, so the stocks are good at the moment. You can bet I’ll be stretching every last penny because I’ve got a major incentive for doing so. My future happiness depends on budgeting successfully, and I don’t believe that’s an over exaggeration.