Tried and tested online recipes using store cupboard essentials

One thing I have learnt during this pandemic is that I was a secret stockpiler before it was cool. I've been quite pleasantly surprised and a little shocked at how much I have squirrelled away in my cupboards. My store cupboard may look a little different to yours as I have a habit of always picking up random ingredients. But hopefully you might have some of the same ingredients and will be able to give these a go. One thing I have been enjoying recently is being a bit more creative in the kitchen as I usually only get the chance over the weekends. Here is a round up of some recipes I have sampled and ones I'm definitely adding to my regular rotation. I have made a note of things you can sub or what I have used instead.


Mushroom and lentil pearl barley risotto from Jack Monroe
If you're looking to cook on a budget or you have lots of random tins to be used up then you need to head to Jack's blog pronto. I love how inventive the recipes are and really think outside the box. I have no idea where the bag of pearl barley came from but I'm not complaining! Tinned lentils are a great lifesaver. They're already soaked and cooked so are really easy to chuck into vegetarian dishes. Add them to salads, use the instead of mince in a lasagne or pop them in a rice dish to bulk it out a bit. I used frozen spinach as my greenery option and it turned out great. Scattered with a generous helping of parmesan cheese, we really enjoyed this for lunches throughout the week. I can imagine myself making it again during this lockdown!


Seeded wholemeal soda bread from BBC Food
Soda bread is a great option if you're struggling to source yeast from the supermarket. It's best eaten on the day of baking with a generous slab of butter. I used all pumpkin seeds because that was what I had in the cupboard and it came out delicious! This is a great option if you need a quick bread as it's so simple to make. There is no need to wait for it to prove, you stick it straight into the oven once it has been tied. Try not to make the dough too flat as it doesn't rise much.


Brown butter rum banana bread by Milli Taylor
If you haven't seen Milli's BBBB doing the rounds on Instagram then you must be living under a rock. You can find the recipe in her highlights on her Instagram page. I didn't have any rum as it's not something I drink but I found a non-alcoholic version which I had been gifted in a Holland & Barrett goodie bag. Milli suggests using tea as a substitute to soak the fruit. Once again I had to make a few substitutions as times are strange. I used currants as my fruit and dark brown sugar. The substitutions worked perfectly and it is the best banana cake recipe I've tried. I absolutely loved it! I have plans to make it over the weekend again.


Pizza dough from BBC Good Food
Pizza is my all-time favourite food. I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I had the choice. But for some reason I'd never attempted my own dough. I always felt a bit intimidated but decided lockdown was as good a reason as any to pop my cherry. This recipe asks you to grill it outside but I whacked my oven up to the highest temperature. I let it warm up for 30 minutes and then cooked each pizza for 15 minutes. I managed to get four pizzas from this recipe. I'd love to try lots of different toppings and not be restricted by my lockdown fridge. So many ideas!


Chocolate and oat cookies from Thida Bevington
Yet another recipe I had seen popping up all over my Instagram feed. I finally had some time to try it out! The recipe can be found in Thida's highlights on her grid. I dropped off a few care packages on friend's doorsteps and they said these were the best cookies I've made. I loved them and can't wait to experiment with different flavoured chocolate. I have some Reeces Pieces chocolate chips in the cupboard which I think will work perfectly.


Grilled potato salad from Bon Appetit magazine
I am obsessed with Bon Appetit's Test Kitchen on Youtube as well as the website. I tend to stick to their savoury recipes as working in cups whilst baking is not the one for me. It seems to be a reoccurrence in my kitchen where I keep finding random pieces of veg to use up before it goes completely bad. I came across this recipe when I was looking for an idea for potatoes to have with some pork kebabs I had found in the freezer left over from a BBQ last summer! It had a great Asian vibe going on thanks to the rice wine and fish sauce. It made a lovely change from the traditional potato salad I make with mayo and vinegar. I used a white onion instead of a red, scattered a standard red chilli over it and vetoed the fresh basil as I didn''t have any.
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Five of my favourite food documentaries on Netflix


I am obsessed with making food, watching food and thinking about food. In short, I am always thinking about my stomach. I'm really interested to hear the about different cultures and thought process about food. I love how it has the ability to evoke certain emotions and bring people together. My favourite type of documentaries are the ones which pair food and travel together. Two of my ultimate passions! Netflix has some great food documentaries if you're on my wavelength. Here are five of my favourites on Netflix.

1. Ugly Delicious
Consisting of eight different episodes, Ugly Delicious focuses on iconic dishes sties into American culture. Presented by restauranteur David Chang, the show dives into the history of each food which defines the United States. You have pizza, fried chicken, Shrimp, tacos, home cooking, BBQ, fried rice and anything stuffed. It takes a step back into time and analyses the different waves of immigration over the years, detailing how it shaped existing dishes and what extras they bought to Americas with them. It absolutely fascinates me how closely food is tied to politics and this delves straight into it! Make sure you watch his second documentary series called Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner too.

2.  Street Food
If this show doesn't make you want to jump on a plane straight out of the UK then I am afraid there just might be something wrong with you... Since coming back from Malaysia last Feb I have become obsessed with street food and feel extremely sad it's not really much of a thing in Europe. Trying the different types of street food was the highlight of our trip to Malaysia. This series visit nine different cities all over Asia and focuses on one particular stall who is unbelievable at the dish they make. It informs you of the origin of their story and all their trials and tribulations. I love how it offers you an insight into the culture and history of each city, explaining why food is so important.

3. Salt Fat Acid Heat
This cooking documentary series is hosted by chef and food writer Samin Nosrat. Samin learnt her trade at Californian restaurant Chez Panisse before branching out and working in Italy before writing her own cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat. Consisting of four different episodes, each named after one of the most important principles of cooking which help make it taste delicious. She goes to Italy to see how they work with olive oil and create the most delicious looking focaccia. Mexico is also on her list of places to visit as she learns about how they work with acid in their dishes. One episode takes her back to her roots as she heads to Chez Panisse. My favourite episode was when she headed to Japan to see how they cooked with miso which is now one of my favourite ingredients.


4. Rotten
Now two series in, Rotten focuses on the problems on supplying food. It looks at popular and on-trend food and investigates on how the popularity is affecting the world around us in terms of corruption, fraud and consequences. Each episode focuses one on type of food and interviews people who work in the trade, manufacturers and distributors. It really does make you think about the food you're consuming and encourages you to make better choices.

5. Chef's Table
If eating out is one of your passions then you will love this programme. Each episode does a profile on some of the most renowned chefs in the world. There are six series so lots of get stuck into, making it perfect for a lazy weekend at home. I loved hearing about what inspired their culinary journey and where their influences came from. My list of restaurants to try has grown even longer since watching their programme!
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#52recipes: recipes 42 - 46


Alison Roman's baked eggs with chickpeas and chorizo from Dining In
Chickpeas are my boyfriends nemesis so obviously I try to cook them in lots of different ways to try and make him come to his senses. I hit the jackpot with this recipe! Connor told me this was his favourite way of eating them. I think the crispness really helped, it gave them a lot of texture. We enjoyed it for dinner with lots of crusty bread. Baked eggs just aren't for breakfast!


Ottolenghi's aubergine and lamb koftas
These made me feel like a pro! It tasted just like a dinner I'd pay for in a restaurant. The end result of the koftas was juicy and flavoursome. The aubergine salsa was a fantastic finishing touch and really bought the dish together. I'd definitely make this again if I was looking to impress anyone!


Meera Sodha's Gardener's World pilau from Fresh India
We ended up just having this on it's own without any curries to accompaniment it. It was really filling and works just as well as a main meal as it would as a side. It tasted really fresh and was the perfect dish for a balmy summer's evening. The leftovers made a great packed lunch for the next day.


Ottolenghi's tahini and halva brownies
I cannot say enough about how delicious these were! They are up there as my favourite brownies I have ever made. Halva and chocolate are a match made in heaven. They were perfectly gooey and I loved the double nutty taste of the halva and tahini together. Why isn't tahini used more in baking? It's a revelation! 


Ottolenghi's chilli fish from Simple
It's not often I come across what I would class as a dud from the world of Ottolenghi but this chilli fish was disappointingly average. There was hardly any heat to it and it was just a bit bland. The overriding taste was of tomato and it just wasn't what I was expecting from this dish. Definitely not one I'll be in any rush to make again.
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Restaurant review: My Neighbours the Dumplings, Clapton, east London


Connor first heard of this restaurant from the Off Menu podcast with Ed Gamble and James Acastor. We've been trying to build up a list of restaurants in London to try with the view to having a day out, just us two, once a month. First on our list was My Neighbours The Dumplings. We chose it because it's based in Clapton and we wanted to scout some wedding locations. It's all getting real now!

My Neighbours The Dumplings is a Chinese dumpling house and sake bar based in east London. They have a separate menu for lunch and for dinner, we opted to visit for lunch this time. We arrived about 12.30 and it was pretty empty but within 30 minutes it really started to fill up and created a buzzing atmosphere. Keen to try as much as we could, we decided to order every dumpling on the menu. Our best decision of the day!





Keep in mind the food doesn't arrive all at once so expect it to be staggered. So what did we order? Juicy lamb and coriander dumplings, fragrant wonton soup with pork and prawn, tasty veggie dumplings and steamed squid and cod dumplings. The lamb and coriander dumplings won the taste test hands down. I could have ordered three more portions! Although we could have eaten more, we left lunch feeling satisfied but not over stuffed which made a nice change! I would recommend ordering a couple more dishes if you're particularly hungry as four portions won't be enough.

My Neighbours The Dumplings was delicious and I'm so glad we finally got to tick it off the list. I thought the prices were a little high but this is hipster land! Service was pretty attentive and we didn't feel like we were being rushed. I don't think I would rush back especially to visit but if I found myself in Clapton again then I would definitely hit it up. I want to try the dinner menu as the crispy pork belly sounds absolutely delicious.



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Restaurant review: Palatino, Old Street, east London


A couple of weeks ago my favourite internet pals and I popped along to Palatino for Hannah's birthday. The reason she picked that place? The £25 deal for unlimited pasta for two hours on a Saturday. She didn't have to ask us twice to attend!

Within walking distance from the Barbican and not as close to Old Street station as it says on the website, the restaurant is in a rather obscure location in the city. It's not hard to find but it's not really surrounded by much so it feels like you have to to hunt it down. You can have the option of choosing to add unlimited prosecco for £14 per person for 90 minutes. We decided to give this a miss this time.




So what pasta can you choose from? Anything from the Primo section of the menu. This includes cacio e pepe, ravioli di zucca, bombolotti romanesco, anchovy and breadcrumbs, spaghetti alla vongole, veal rigatoni and a pasta of the day. They are more than willing to veganise any dish. My favourites included the carbonara which was the special and the delicious rigatoni. The portions looked small but in reality were great sizes for sharing. We all tucked in quite happily!




Service was a bit slow and they wasn't too forthcoming in offering you the chance to order more pasta dishes. It took quite a while before someone even took our drinks order. Luckily we were starting to get a bit full so we didn't mind the waiting. But I can imagine it will get annoying really  quick if you're still hungry. I loved the vibe of the restaurant, it had a great mix of people and lovely floor to ceiling windows, letting the winter sun in. I'm not sure I'd go back but I do think it's a great deal for £25 and I felt like I completely got my money's worth. There are just so many other different places to try in London!

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Five ways I'm trying to cut down on food waste


1. Freeze vegetables/fruit in portions
I have every intention of using up my vegetable box but things get in the way and it turns out I'm only home twice that week. As a result my vegetables are left languishing in the back of the fridge. I have now gotten into the habit once a week to look through my fridge and decide which veg is looking a bit sad. I make sure to chop them up and freeze them in useable bags to be used at a later date. I always bag them up in portions so I can use them in one go.  Root vegetables tend to go a bit watery but they last longer in the fridge so I don't tend to freeze these. I always freeze slices of lemons and limes as they work great for G&T's when you have guests over. Butter, milk and bread are always great to be frozen and I do this regularly.

2. Make stale bread into breadcrumbs
We tend to treat ourselves a nice loaf of bread for the weekend as our go-to breakfast is poached eggs on toast. But as we never eat bread during the week it starts to go mouldy. Now I either freeze it in slicers or I pop it in the food processor to make it into breadcrumbs. I freeze these and use them as toppings for various things such as gratins and cauliflower cheese. My New Years resolution next year is to start getting into making my own bread so I never have to buy a loaf from the supermarket again.

3. Freeze sauces in ice cube trays
We always have a jar of pesto or curry paste in the larder but it doesn't always get used up in time before it went off. In a household of two, unless you use it everyday you're never going to use up a whole jar within three days. So I started freezing it in ice cube trays as soon as I opened it. I find three cubes of each tends to be enough when I am using them for dinner. This also works well with fresh herbs - just make sure you add some water. If you freeze rosemary this makes a good gin garnish.


4. Don't follow best before dates
Before I moved out from home I was a stickler for best before dates. I would throw something away on the day it had printed because I didn't think it could be consumed anymore. Not only is this incredibly wasteful but also very expensive! Now I go by looks and smell. Most food have at least a couple more days left on them past the best-before-date. You just have to use your common sense. Most veg which looks a little sorry for itself perks up in a soup or roasted.

5. Batch cook for the week and freeze
If I know I'm going to have a busy week but got a full fridge, I make sure I cook up quite a few different meals to use up all the food when I have the time. Mostly on a Sunday afternoon. I either pop them in the fridge for lunches throughout the week or freeze them for dinner for the rest of the week.

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#52recipes: 22-26


Ottolenghi's Feta and oregano chips from Simple
For something so simple, these were absolutely delicious. They made a nice change from having my normal salt and pepper wedges. I loved the combination of the salt feta cheese on the crispy fries. They were down a treat at a lunch I hosted. You could eat a whole tray of these on their own- and some more!


Hoisin jackfruit tacos from @Todaywecooked
I am obsessed with this Instagram yet this is the first thing I've cooked. Despite having saved so among of her recipes. All vegetarian, the account specialises in easy-to-make, family-friendly recipes. Everything just looks so delicious! I picked up two cans of jackfruit from Aldi without having a clue what to make with them.


Alison Roman's vinegar roasted beetroot with spring onion and yogurt from Dining In
This was a bit of a faff and the beetroot didn't end up cooking in the time specified so I had to leave it in for two more hours. We ended up having it the day after because it wasn't ready by the time our roast chicken was. It was really tasty but I don't think I'll make it again due to how long it seemed to take. I have found some of the timings for Alison's vegetable side dishes to be a little off.


Alison Roman's chocolate chip cookies from Dining In
These cookies are internet famous and I know I had to try them for myself as soon as this book arrived. They remind me of more of a shortbread rather than a traditional American cookie. I loved the crunch from the sugar and the chunks of chocolate was absolutely delicious. I think these are the best cookies I've made and know I'll make these time and time again!


Diana Henry's roasted Harissa carrots with cannelloni beans and yogurt from Simple
Harissa is my new favourite paste and it was absolutely delicious on carrots. I'm really loving carrots at the minute. I was never a fan until I started getting my Abel & Cole box and now I'm obsessed. I usually just roast them in honey so this makes a nice change. Yogurt is a great shout to help cool them down if you get a bit too liberal with the Harissa.
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Why I've become a mid-week vegetarian - and how I'm finding it


I made the decision back in January to try and be a vegetarian at home Monday to Friday. Part of the reason was because I was becoming more conscious on what we are doing to the world but the biggest part if I'm honest was to try and save some money on our shopping bill. Connor and I love to travel and do things but we don't have an endless pot of money to do that. So I'm always looking at ways to keep our bills down so we have more money to have a social life. I chose to sacrifice food.

We've always shopped in Aldi ever since we moved out so our food bill is never really too high. But since we've been going veggie our food bill has gotten even lower. I do buy a Abel & Cole British veg box every fortnight which works out about £6.50 a week. Our weekly shop at Aldi usually comes in around £30 so we spend £36.50 on a non-meat weekly shop. That includes dinners and lunches because I always cook for four in the evening so we can have leftovers. Not too shabby!

I do like eating meat but I think I was just buying it out of habit. I grew up in a meat eating household  and eating meat was just the done thing.  At the weekend we sometimes treat ourselves to a nice piece of meat from the butchers but now we even go without it at the weekend too. I find eating a mostly vegetarian diet at home really pushes me in the kitchen. I'm on a mission to help my boyfriend forget about meat! I'm much more adventurous in my cooking as it's so easy to just serve meat with some veg every evening. My favourite cuisines are probably Indian and Persian which are quite vegetarian heavy anyway. We eat a hell of a lot of curries now!


I'm becoming more and more aware of what we're all doing to the environment and trying to make little changes to help cut down on my carbon footprint. I invested in some bamboo make ups remover pads, bamboo cotton wool buds, washable freezer bags and a bamboo toothbrush. Eating more vegetables and staying away from meat is yet another way I'm trying to do my bit. If all of us make even the littlest of changes then it all makes a difference.

A few weeks ago I ended up eating meat every single day for a week because we had a BBQ at our house and had some leftover meat. By the end of the seven days I felt awful, I was so sluggish, gelt a bit gross and my skin really flared up. It really shocked me how much of an impact it had on me. I couldn't wait to get back to eating a vegetarian diet again. At the moment I do tend to go for meat dishes when I go out for dinner but over the next few months I'm going to try and ween myself off that and only opt for vegetarian dishes. I'm finding if I do it slowly then it's a lot easier for me to make the change. I'm not sure I'll become a full time veggie any time soon but I'm definitely looking to keep up being 80% veggie forever!

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#52 recipes: 17-21


Otolenghi's harissa and confit garlic potatoes from Simple
I mentioned the roasted cauliflower dish I made for my blogger girls in the previous #52recipes instalment and the next three dishes are part of the same spread. Oh my gosh these are one of my favourite things in the whole book. I'm obsessed with Harissa at the moment. It seems to make everything taste so much better, giving it a fantastic spicy, garlicky kick. The potatoes could have been crispier which was my fault for being too impatient but were absolutely fine as they were!

Ottolenghi's two bean and two lime salad from Simple
I served this with roast chicken and the zesty lime really went well with the citrusy chicken. I made a boo boo and used freeze dried kaffir lime leaves which Ottolenghi said not to do. It was still tasty but I think it would be even more delicious with fresh. Ottolenghi just does side dishes so well and they're always my favourite recipes from his books. I seem to have misplaced so many of my pictures as couldn't find this one!


Ottolenghi's crushed courgettes from Simple
I love a courgette and especially loved them like this. It tasted very summery, so fresh and light. I think it was the mixture of mint, dill and thyme. The portion wasn't very big though for four people so I would double it to make sure everyone can enjoy it! Picture taken from Michelle's blog.


Rachel Allen's date and banana loaf from Home Baking
I'm always in the market for a new banana loaf recipe and the stars aligned when I had some brown bananas in my fruit bowl and half a packet of dates leftover in the larder. The dates help to give the cake a subtle caramelised flavour. A great upgrade on a banana cake recipe.


Diana Henry's greens on toast with chilli, feta, sunflower seeds and a poached egg from Simple
At the weekend I like to make more of an effort for breakfast rather than my normal every day cereal. We had some feta and kale left over in the fridge so this was the perfect brunch to use them up. While it was a little effort, it was well worth it. I loved the saltiness of the feta paired with the kale. Who knew kale on toast would be so delicious!
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#52recipes: 11-16


If you want to keep up with my recipe challenge on Instagram, check out my highlights where I've been posting everything I've been trying. I'd love to know what you've been cooking recently for some inspiration! You can see that from what I'm posting about, just how obsessed I am with Diana Henry's cookbook Simple. It is such an incredible book and I've loved everything I've made. It's definitely become my go-to book in the kitchen.


Diana Henry's chicken, cauliflower and parmesan bake from Simple
The first thing I cooked from Diana Henry's Simple was this traybake. For something so simple, it was unbelievably delicious. Definitely one for a weekday meal as it's nice and quick. You simply bung everything in a roasting dish then leave it alone in the oven to cook. I'm rarely make the same thing twice but this is good enough that I'm going to add it my monthly rotation!


Ottolenghi's honey, thyme and yogurt cheese cake from Simple
Loved the combination of thyme and honey but feel it needed a bit longer in the fridge to set. I'd recommend to leave it overnight if you make it. The hobnob biscuit base was a game changer and I'm going to use it in my future cheesecakes. So much nicer than the normal digestive biscuit.


Diana Henry's spiced Turkish chicken from Simple
Another Diana recipe that I LOVED. If I'm going to cook meat at home, chicken thighs are one of my favourite pieces to cook. They taste so flavoursome and are really the best part of the chicken in my opinion. The spice blend of this dish was so delicious. I served it with my signature salt and pepper wedges along with the salsa Diana recommends.


Gouda, spring onion and spinach quiche (loosely based on a Mary Berry recipe)
Quiche is one of my favourite ways to use up veg. It's the ideal summer dish in my opinion. I base it on a Mary Berry recipe which allows for lots of chopping and changing depending on what you have on hand. I had some gouda in the fridge and I think it might have become my favourite cheese to use in a quiche. It was fab! I suppose using basically a whole block helped...



Diana Henry's Huevos Roots from Simple
Gosh I'm still so obsessed with this book and can't wait until her next one comes out. This is a dish we've made quite a few times now when we don't want to go shopping. All you need is paprika, eggs and potatoes - three staples we always have in the house at any time. It's a dish that will work well for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A true all-rounder!

Ottolenghi's whole roasted cauliflower with green Tahini sauce from Simple
I did this dish when I hosted a Sunday roast for my blogger girls. Who knew a simple green tahini sauce could be so addictive! This was absolutely delicious and the whole cauliflower was a great showpiece for the middle of the table. It's one I'm going to keep on making for when I'm entertaining.
(Picture taken from Michelle's blog)
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Four ways to budget your weekly food shop


When you're looking to save money, one of the easiest ways to cut back is on your shopping list. But cutting back doesn't mean you have to cut back on the quality of food you eat. You just have to be savvy! I've become obsessed with trying to lower the price of my food shop each week. Anyone else play that game at the checkout where you try to guess the final total? No? Just us weirdos then! We do treat ourselves to an Abel & Cole box delivered every fortnight which works out around $6.60 each week on top of our food bill. When we buy meet every so often we try to make sure to go to the local butchers to ensure it's free range. We buy cheap cuts of meat like chicken thighs but often find they're the most flavoursome. Here are my four money-saving tips that I swear by when I'm scanning the aisles of Aldi each week...

1. Shop around
It's so convenient to go to one supermarket and get all your shopping completely done in one go. But the supermarkets you visit might not always be the cheapest. We've discovered that Aldi for the bulk of our shop, Home Bargains for cleaning/washing products and specialist cuisine shops for our spices, herbs and ingredients a little out of the ordinary works out to be the cheapest for us. It can be a bit of pain having to go to three different shops but I like to think of it as a little adventure!


2. Go veggie during the week
Since January we've been trying to make a conscious decision to become 'mid-week' vegetarians. Part of it was because I'm trying to do my bit to be more sustainable and the other was because we are trying to cut down on our weekly food bill. We average on around £30 for a veggie food shop compared to around £50 for a food shop including meat. We buy a lots of pulses in the form of tinned beans and lentils to help keep our protein up. Meat is kept for the odd day at the weekend where we'll go to the butchers or a treat if we have dinner out. I haven't really found myself missing it and I'm loving how much more adventurous its making me with my cooking. It's so easy to fall into the trap of always cooking meat and veg without giving it too much thought. I'm determined to create meals where meat isn't missed and think I'm succeeding 75% of the time.

3. Meal plan
The day before we do our shop I'll go through our larder, grab my cookbooks and meal plan for the upcoming week. I tend to choose dinners for four people so I can cook enough for us to have lunch the following day. I only do five days as we always have one day where we're both out and another where we're home alone - that night it is toast of some sort. My favourite comfort food! I don't always cook the meal on the day planned but it will be cooked sometime that week. I find this stops me panic buying and spending unnecessary money. I try to only buy produce that I will use that week to minimise food waste.


4. Stock your cupboard with tins
I love tins. In fact I can't rave about tinned food enough! It's amazing how versatile they are. And cheap! I always make sure I have tinned tomatoes, fish and different types of beans to ensure that even when the cupboards feel bare there is always something to be able to made into a meal. You can easily put off shopping for a few days if you have a well stocked cupboard.
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