Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Day 58: Minimising Meat

In the past two months, and with the exception of the bacon bits (still on the same packet), I have cooked meat precisely three times.  The first was the bolognaise sauce I made from a pound of minced beef, a couple of portions of which are still in the freezer.  The second was the sausages I cooked for Friend Claire last week.  The third was a chicken pie cooked this evening.  Going past Lidl on the bus two days ago, I spotted that they had a special offer on chicken this weekend: two chopped chicken breasts for £1.49.  Turned into a pie with a load of mushrooms and some sweetcorn, and I've made 5 portions out of it.

As a young student I shared all my cooking with Friend Kim, who was a committed vegetarian.  Mostly we just ate the same thing, and the same thing was mostly the same thing: spaghetti with tomato sauce.  At least 3 times a week.  Sometimes I would ring the changes by adding a small tin of tuna.  Then, about twice a term, I would get cravings, usually for white fish or for bacon, and would cook up my own little feast.  I suspect that there was not quite enough iron or protein or something in my diet.  But despite such lapses, there is no doubt that living vegetarian saved me a tonne of money back then.

Being a farmer's daughter, I have never been tempted to go all the way down the vegetarian route.  Contemplating the conversation was just too painful: Sorry, Dad, but I reject your entire life's work as morally unsustainable.  Besides, while I respect those who make that decision, I don't think vegetarianism actually works logically: if I were convinced by the moral arguments, I would have to go entirely vegan.  My compromise has always been to try to by from local (i.e, Scottish)  producers, where the animal has at least had a good and fairly free-range life.  With beef, pork, and lamb, this isn't too difficult - I know firsthand how these are farmed in this country, and cows, pigs, and sheep all have a pretty nice life.  I also know that the regulations governing their treatment are very stringent.  Chicken is trickier though, I admit it, and the real free-range organic ones are horribly expensive, which puts them out of my reach no matter how much more ethical they are and how much nicer they taste.

Anyhow, necessity requires that whatever meat I buy will be in very small quantities, and will be made to go a long way.  The chicken pie whose recipe I have posted is one example of this.  But the truth is, it will be mainly vegetables for me.  Not so much for ethical reasons, but for sheer practicality.

Small savoy cabbages were on sale for 37p.  I bought one.

Total Expenditure: £12.15


Sharon said...

On the question of chicken (or mock whale as we now refer to it in our house so that the delicate sensibilities of our girls are not offended and they continue to lay eggs for our benefit)....like you we only like to eat things that have had as nice a life as possible and we only consume the free range kind. A possible chicken treat might come from free range chicken leg portions generally sold in packs of 2 for about £2.40 or so. A chicken leg roasted in the oven with some cubes of chopped potato and some seasoning makes a heavenly roast dinner for one person. I do realise this is still quite indulgent on your super frugal budget - but as a special treat and winter warmer it takes some beating. The heavenly roast chicken smell will permeate your kitchen with the promise of good things. You can either freeze the other leg for another indulgence later or turn it into a pot of soup with plenty leek/carrot/potato or rice (with such a little bone a stock cube or good seasoning will also be needed). It will go a long way like that. Just a thought!!

Sharon said...

Oops - and another thought...

Best way to cook savoy cabbage:

Shred very finely
Melt a little butter in a large frying pan.
Add the cabbage and toss well.
Add a tiny drizzle of water and grate over the zest of half a lemon.
Cook over a high to moderate heat for about 4 or 5 minutes.
Should be quite crisp, buttery and lemony and not slithery cabbage-y at all!

Good luck!