Monday 2 September 2013

Make the Most of What You Have and Know Your Savings


Living simply, growing your own foods, even buying bargain foods at a good price or whilst on offer is the best way to really cut down that housekeeping bill.  To make every purchase, every pick of homegrown goodies and every buy of a 'yellow stickered' bargain count is the real challenge and one that I love. 
It's no good buying the bargain, picking the fruit or snapping up every stickered pack on the shelves if you get home and simply stick it all in the fridge or toss it into a freezer where it could lie not seen again until you open the lid to throw the next bargain on top.

With this firmly in mind yesterday afternoon as soon as I had drank a cup of coffee and had something to eat after the car boot sale, I washed all the blackberries that Lovely Hubby had picked in my absence.  After being strained through a colander they were left to dry off in a thin layer on a couple of tea towels protected from any marauding flies in the kitchen by yet another towel placed on top.  Later they were tipped onto greaseproof paper lined freezer trays and stacked and placed in the freezer.
I left them overnight to open freeze and then first thing this morning they were tipped into zip lock bags, I tend to use bags for fruit or other small things rather than boxes, as when you take a handful out you can squish the bag down to exclude the air and then reseal it.  Air is the enemy of small frozen things and this is why they get freezer burn and the flavour diminishes, so exclude the air and keep the flavour.
I labelled them with the month of picking just in case they last long enough for me to forget when I acquired them.
Before they went back into the freezer I weighed the two bags and in total, as you can see we have just over 2kgs.
My next thought was "what would these have cost me to buy this week if I went to any of the supermarkets, so I went on to which I use for any price comparisons or checks that I want to make and found out.
To buy 2kgs of British Blackberries would have cost me £16.
Then while I was there I found out how much it would cost me to buy an Apple and Blackberry Crumble, because I have had eating one on my mind since yesterday, if I hadn't been so tired I would have knocked one up last night, instead it will be on the menu tonight.
To buy one would cost me £2.50 in Sainsb*ry's, to make one myself with my free Apples, and Blackberries and the Oaty Crumble Mix that I bought from Approved Foods last month (see HERE) is going to cost me just under 15p!!
So making the most of what you have, storing it well and knowing where it is and what it's worth are brilliant ways to keep you motivated and living on as little money as possible.  If you know how much your hard work in picking, baking, or making has saved you it keeps you on track and inspires you to do even more.
All through Simple September I will try and give you one of my TOP TIPS at the end of each post.  I don't know if I have 30 but I'll do my best.
Sue xx
Simple September TOP TIP #1
When freezing foods think how it is when you buy it frozen from the shops. 
 In the case of most bagged and boxed foods you get them free flowing.  So freeze them yourself this way, on any tray you have.  I have the blue trays you see in a lot of my photos (bought by my Mum and Dad from Lakeland many years ago), but before they gave me them I used to use my ordinary baking sheets.  Lining them with greaseproof paper makes things less likely to stick but if you haven't any simply return to the freezer about an hour or so after placing your trays in, and move everything around slightly to stop things from sticking.
Free flowing frozen food makes it so much more easy and cost effective to remove exactly the amount of food from the freezer when you need it.  For example sausages .... if you get a pack of six on special offer, freeze them individually don't just put the pack in the freezer as it is.  True you may want to eat all six in one go in a large casserole or breakfast for three people, but there's always the chance that you will simply fancy a sausage butty and only need two!!


  1. I try to open freeze all vegetables and fruit if possible, makes it so much simpler to get a handful when you need to!

    1. It does make it so much easier AND economical doesn't it :-)

  2. Another one here won over to the idea of freezing fruit and veg loose like that. You can do it with breadcrumbs too - I tip mine into a plastic box and pop them in to freeze, then after an couple of hours take it out again and give it a good shake about - this stops them freezing into a solid lump and means you can just sprinkle out the amount you want each time!

    1. Something I ALWAYS have in the freezer are tubs of breadcrumbs and grated cheeses (Parmesan style and Cheddar usually), they can all be used from frozen and it means that nothing can go off by being forgotten in the fridge.

      I also have a bag of cheese rinds, that I pop into the freezer once the full wedge of Parmesan has been grated, these get added to soups and stews for additional depth of flavour and seasoning.

  3. If I am freezing bread I pop a slip of greaseproof paper between every 4-6 slices so I can take out what I need and not a whole loaf.

    Also I pack my blackberries (and any chopped fruit/veg) into 2 litre pop bottles in the freezer after open freezing them, you can pour out just enough to use each time and see how much of something is left.

    x xx

    1. I don't bother with the greaseproof paper bit, I simply open the new loaf and loosen the slices before resealing the bag a bit looser and then pop it in the freezer, once it is completely frozen I refasten the bag a bit tighter, by then all the slices have individually frozen and can be used one at a time.

      I've never thought to freeze berries in a bottle, but saying that most of my empty bottles get used by Lovely Hubby for his juices and cider, so my freezer still contains lots of bottles!!

  4. Great tips and i especially love the bottle one. :D

  5. I try to open freeze as much as possible too, I like to use zip lok bags for grated cheese and breadcrumbs, it makes it so easy to take out just what you need. Never thought of using bottles for berries, I have seen them used for freezing soups, especially the milk bottles with a wider neck.

  6. I'm looking forward to all the September you know, I need them lol! :)

  7. I also freeze my home made bread. I slice it with the electric slice and then put the slices on a tray in the top of the freezer for about 30 minutes, then bag it and put the next slices in and so on until the whole loaf is frozen, I can then take out the number of slices I need about 10 minutes before I want to use them, prop them up for and then use as usual.

  8. You prepare and freeze your blackberries almost exactly as I do except I soak mine in water for an hour first to drown any maggots, then go through them a handful at a time checking for more creatures before rinsing them again and leaving them to drain in the colander. I then place them on silicone sheets on baking trays in the freezer overnight and put them into bags in the morning. There have been so many blackberries around here this year that we've not had to stray far to do our picking and have at least 10lbs of them in the freezer now. I make my own crumble because its so easy and I like to use wholemeal flour and add a few oats to the mix. I also have a lovely recipe for blackberry and apple crumble loaf cake if you'd like it.

  9. It is bonkers when people buy blackberries from the supermarket isn't it?

    Sft x

  10. Great tips. I've had some lovely blackberries from the hedge at the bottom of my allotment this year, and I've frozen some for winter crumbles. In fact my freezer is rapidly filling up with allotment produce - it does make me happy!

  11. I love this post - I already have blackberries in the freezer, and I can't wait to have my first crumble - I think I need a colder day and a long brisk walk before I eat it for added effect!

  12. Well at least I have done one thing right LOL yep I froze my blackberries the correct way , they are free flowing :-) .. I have hundreds of them and I did not even plant the bushes, have had to ask my friends to pick some too.

  13. Sorry, late again (we managed to use up our internet allowance early) but am loving Stretch it out September. We were in Wiltshire at the weekend and on my return I helped Mum to harvest some things from her garden, and came home with a bag of blackberries and a few windfall apples from her neighbour's garden (and here at the campsite) Unfortunately I cannot freeze them here as I only have an ice box, but made a nice crumble and the remainder was turned into three lovely pots of jam/jelly. One of these I shall give to Dad as Mum had some from my last batch but my cupboard is now stocked with another two jars. Have also stewed other apples and am eating it with cheap porridge oats for breakfast. It seems we are all doing really well so far!

  14. hi sue
    i try to open freeze as much as possible,too.i use zip lok bags for my fruits,too. that makes it so much simpler.
    wish you a nice weekend,


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