A few money-saving ideas (will be added to as more ideas are discovered!)
- When you have the oven on, think what else you can cook at the same time. For instance, when you're cooking the roast dinner on a Sunday, make a pudding, perhaps some scones or cakes, and even a casserole for another day.
- Make your own tonic wine/cough mixture with elderberries. One of the most prolific wild berries, elders grow in country woodland, on field margins and vacant areas. The berries are juicy, tart and packed with vitamin C. Boil about 2 lbs of berries together with cloves, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and some finely chopped fresh ginger. Simmer about 10 mins, strain and when cool mix in a glass of brandy for every pint of liquid. Bottle and keep in a dark cupboard. It lasts for ever and is a soothing tonic for coughs and sore throats.
- Mushroom essence. Slice mushrooms, layer with salt and leave overnight. Wash off the salt and simmer for an hour with red wine vinegar, finely chopped garlic and plenty of black pepper. When almost black, strain through a muslin, then bottle it. (Must try this)
- Invest in a pressure cooker - brilliant for making soup and, indeed, for reducing the cooking time for anything.
- Also slow cooker; cheap cuts of meat, such as neck or brisket taste like the choicest fillets after a few hours' slow cooking. Also good for creamy rice pudding. And it's lovely to sit down immediately to a freshly cooked hot meal!
- In early spring, harvest sorrel (above) from woodland walks - it makes a delicious lemony soup. Boil potatoes in stock first then add sorrel leaves. Simmer for no more than two minutes, mix in some yogurt or creme fraiche for a richer, silky texture. Yum yum!
- Whenever we have a meal and there are spare vegetables, if there are lots of them they're whizzed up to make delicious home-made soup. Or if there aren't many, they're immediately put into the freezer to be added to soup, when next I make some.
- Put lights off when not in a room, ditto heating and machines like microwave, cd player, computer.