Generally, I’m pretty good at managing our finances – I’m constantly checking the balance in our joint account and I keep tabs on how much all our Direct Debits are and when they come out. Tom and I both pay a fixed amount into the joint account every month which pays all our bills and is also supposed to pay for our food shops and any dinners out we might have over the month. I say supposed to because on Monday, with five days left of the month and some bare-looking cupboards I discovered there was only £20 in the joint account. Considering we actually pay more than we need to into the account in an effort to save for any house/DIY related bits, this was a bit concerning. Looking in our account I could see that we’d spent £360 on food shops in the three and a half weeks prior, which is definitely more than we need to. We’ve been trying to cut out processed foods and eat lots of fresh foods, and when you’ve loaded up the trolley with fruit and veg, and lots of beef and gammon joints, chicken breasts and mince, you can quickly find the cost of your food shop creeping up. We plan all of our meals but we also tend to do the odd impulse buying; a new bubble bath for me, an Arnold Schwarzenegger biography for Tom, a bottle of wine here, a crate of beers there. It all adds up.
Whilst I was getting ready to go to the supermarket on Monday I asked Tom if he could see if there was anything kicking around in the cupboards/fridge/freezer that we could make meals with given a few extra ingredients. I was super impressed when he came upstairs a few minutes later having planned all of our lunches and dinners for the week, and having worked out that with just a few ingredients we could use up what we already had and eat just fine until payday. In Asda our shop for the week only cost £13 and Tom whipped up a delicious pea soup when we got home.
Impressed with Tom’s ‘storecupboard lunch’ I decided I wanted to whip up a little Bank Holiday afternoon treat, and right at this moment Amanda from amandauniquely tweeted me to tell me about A Girl Called Jack – an amazing blog by Jack Monroe, specialising in thrifty cooking; yummy, nutritious food, on a budget. I was significantly wowed by her blog – her 9p carrot, cumin and kidney beanburgers in particular sound amazing. She’s recently been given a book deal by Penguin after she gained popularity blogging about her efforts to feed herself and her son on £10 a week (makes what we spend feel very, very wrong!). I can’t wait to try more of her recipes and start being more sensible about our supermarket bills.
When I came across her 18p chocolate tea bread, and then discovered I had all of the ingredients in my baking cupboard I knew it was meant to be. After some stirring, kneading and letting it prove in the Bank Holiday sunshine, my chocolate tea bread was ready. We enjoyed it in the garden with butter and a glass of wine.
I wholeheartedly recommend Jack’s recipe for Chocolate Tea Bread, and her blog as a whole. I will definitely be putting her book on my wishlist when it comes out!