It’s time for me to construct the family weekly meal plan and as social media would lead me to believe, today is blue Monday.
First thing this morning the boiler was as dead as a dodo. PANIC. After a few minutes of both Mr Vista and I standing there, pressing buttons and scratching our heads we realised something vital… the washing powder box had the pressed the boiler switch on the wall to off.
We may be dummies but the point that I’m making is this: things aren’t always as bad as they first seem. When faced with certain peril, stop. Take a deep breath and like the kids of ‘Bear Hunt’ figure out a way to go through it. There is always a way – sometime it is as simple as turning the switch to on.
It’s blue Monday. It’s wet. The toddler has a snotty nose and we’re skint. But I will SMILE. We have a lot to be grateful for. Read more
I like cooking and these days I would much rather entertain than go out for a meal, for a few reasons:
1. It’s cheaper 2. You can take as long as you like to eat 3. You can add and remove as much fat as you like 4. Home cooked food is less likely to make my gallstones angry
This evening I have my Dad, both of my brothers, Mr Vista, Little Miss Vista and myself to cook for. We’ve all got big appetites and we’re all looking after ourselves at the moment in anticipation of my brother’s wedding in October.
Any great baker (and by this I mean my grandmother) would tell you that it is a waste of time and money buying baking and cooking products in packets.
I am here to tell you as an avid lover of baking, busy wife and mummy that there is absolutely no shame in buying things in packets.
Up until recently (when I didn’t have a tiny bossy person making all kinds of demands) I would have been one of the above packet snobs, but now, after actually buying and using packet goods I find then both time and cost effective.
I tend to do most of my shopping at Tesco, Sainsburys and Aldi. I shop around quite a bit now that I have the opportunity to get out with Little Miss in the pram and go for a mooch. Exercise for me, fresh air and a nap (well, sometimes) for little miss.
Yorkshire Pudding Batter (also pancake mix): 15 p in both Sainsburys and Tesco
Now, I know that Yorkshire puddings are made out of flour, eggs and milk. No rocket science required. But all you need to do to this mix is beat in an egg and a dash of cold water. Done. 15 p is a small price to pay to not have to mess about getting the kitchen scales out to weigh the flour and then wash the tray.
This tiny little budget item is also, I feel, so underrated, add in sausages and bake to make toad in the hole. A cheap and cheerful family meal with minimal effort.
Sponge Cake mix: 22 p in both Sainsburys and Tesco
22 p to make 12 fairy cakes (provided you already have the cases). Enough said I think. Again, add one egg and some water. No messing about creaming sugar and butter and adding flour in just the right amount and not having to worry about knocking the air out of the mix.
Great value and easy, because lets face it, all the kids want to do is lick the spoon. And one other point, washing at the end = one bowl, one spoon and one baking tray.
Crumble Mix: 40 p in Sainsburys (22 p in Aldi if you are going that way)
I think 40 p is a small price to pay to not have to get your hands dirty rubbing sugar, flour and butter together. If there is one I thing I hate most in this world, its having things stuck under my nails!
Instant Custard: 15 p for a packet in most supermarkets
I make crumble surprises consisting of whatever fruit needs to be eaten on that day. Apple, peach, plum, banana, strawberry, raspberry. The list is endless.
I always serve with custard. Out. Of. The. Packet. The only reason I would make custard from scratch is if I were a contestant on come dine with me, and even then it would be an effort.
You needn’t be worried about the sugar content here either, as instant custards comes in sugar free too!
Dumplings Mix: 44 p in Tesco
Just add water and mix. Depending on how you make your dumplings, the packet can save you a considerable amount of money and CALORIES!
I usually grate butter into flour and water with the herb of my choice. Given that a block of decent butter sets you back about £1.50 these days, using just half the block would be dearer than buying the packet.
Just spoon into your stew/ casserole/ day before pay day concoction and enjoy.
Worth noting: One packet of dumpling mix makes six good size dumplings or as many as twenty mini ones for party food! Just a thought…
Scone Mix: 70 p in Tesco
Scones are one of my most favourite things in the world!! They take me back to shopping with my Mum as a child and going to the Country Larder in our local town for a fruit scone and a glass of milk. These are some of my favourite childhood memories.
To be able to just literally, stir in milk, I feel is the bees knees. The packet option isn’t necessarily cheaper than making the scone batter yourself, but its so easy.
I would agree with the packet mix snobs here, that the real deal home made scone is much tastier, but 70 p for six freshly baked, warm from the oven in the comfort of your own home, scones is a bargain! Plus you get the option of adding what every you like. My weapon of choice is chocolate chips with clotted cream to serve!
An argument is that a lot of people just don’t eat processed foods these days. Processed, yes. Full of additives, no. I was surprised to see how little ingredients there were on the back of each these packets. Its nice to see that we, as a consumer, are paying for the ‘convenience’ rather than a money making scheme for lower quality products.
I know that some people would say that the packet options are just not as tasty as the DIY choice, and I am not disagreeing. However, for a working Mum who comes home from work and would rather spend time with her significant other and children, around the table eating and chatting, rather than cooking, I think packet mixes are invaluable and a family can do with a little less flavour on the plate if the home environment is safe, loving and secure.
What do you think? What packets do you buy if any?
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Thanks so much for reading: My Kitchen and I Are Waiting for Pay Day: My Kitchen in Packets,