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Big Budget Round Up, my grocery staples & Spinach, Barley and White Bean Soup

Posted Oct 13 2011 9:52am

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My Big Budget Challenge has been going quite well this week, although we don’t have much left in the grocery budget for next week, I’m going to have to get very creative! I have no ‘pocket money’ budget left either, but at least its only just over a week till pay day! Last weekend I got stocked up with trips to the green grocer, Lidl and Sainsbury’s. During the week I’ve been hitting the Aldi and Lidl stores I have right near my work and I got this great little haul:

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Spinach, savoy cabbage, mushrooms, milk , pears, lemons, apples and two huge kabocha squash! These two cost about £5 and to be honest I didn’t need to get them considering I still have 3 left from my squash box. However, I have two rules in life, when you see vegan cake: eat it, and when you see kabocha squash: buy it! Both are rarities that have to be enjoyed when you can get your hands on them!

I also thought it might be good to re visit my list of grocery staples. I’ve blogged about these before and find it so interesting how the list has changed over the months! I’ve been looking at my receipts to identify the common items I buy week in week out:

  • Apples
  • Lemons
  • Salad Greens – romaine and spinach usually
  • Cucumber & celery – for green juice on a weekend
  • Cabbage greens – kale, spring greens or green cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Courgettes
  • Mushrooms
  • Selection of other in season fruit and veg which right now seems to include cauliflower, beetroot, pears, figs
  • Crushed ice – for smoothies and protein ice cream
  • Porridge oats
  • Tomato passata sauce
  • Milk
  • Cooked ham
  • Eggs (free range)
  • Cheese
  • Quorn products
  • Tinned tuna

Obviously the stuff towards the end of the list are more for James. On a monthly basis I could also add a few things to this list such as tofu, nuts, nut butter, beans etc, but in the past I have bought things in bulk so have a lot stashed in my cupboards! I think its useful to know exactly what you regularly buy so you can figure out the cheapest place to buy it – for me its fresh produce and my green grocers and the discount stores are very hard to beat!

Other Big Budgeters joining in so far:

Sarah @ Every Day’s a Picnic , check out her update and method for roasting squash seeds

Deise Gal @ Witty Blog Name Pending…

Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes , check out her update here

True Penny @ Cool Beans

Danielle @ Love Life Eat Laugh

Alissa @ Not Just Apples , check out her update and recipe for a lovely sounding chickpea and marrow torte

Sarah @ Sweet Potato Sarah

Sharon@ Bit of the good stuff

Emma @ Coming up easy

Al@ Al’s Food and Fitness

Thanks to everyone for taking part. Check out all of these great bloggers for more healthy living on a budget! 

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I have another cheap and cheerful vegan recipe for you! At the weekend I came up with this quick, easy and comforting soup:

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Spinach, Barley and White Bean Soup (vegan, makes 4 large servings, adapted from recipe in Sophie Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights )

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of cooked pearl barley (or one cup uncooked)
  • 2 cups or tins of cooked white beans (I used cannellini)
  • 2-3 large bunches of spinach or 2 bags of spinach (I used the tougher mature spinach with stems, chopped)
  • Hot veg stock (I use hot water with 2-3 tsp of marigold vegan bouillon powder added)

Begin by frying off the onion over a medium heat in a little olive oil. If your using uncooked pearl barley, add it to the pan and cover with plenty of the hot veg stock. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes before reducing to a simmer until the barley is fluffy and tender. If your using cooked barley, add it to the pan along with the spinach and white beans then cover with the veg stock and simmer until the spinach has wilted down. You can either serve chunky as it is or semi blend it which I did using a hand blender. Serve!

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I topped mine with a bunch of nutrient dense home sprouted alfalfa seeds. It was delicious!

If your trying to stick to a budget at the moment how are you doing? What are your grocery staples and where is the best value place to purchase them?

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