You’ll probably remember that back in the summer, The Organic Trade Board challenged us to take the #thriftyorganic challenge and switch our usual weekly shop for a 100% organic one, all for £83, the average grocery shopping budget for a UK family of four. We ate really well AND stayed on budget, and it made me really think about what we eat, and made me plan our meals properly as well. Eating organic on a budget really is possible!
Last time, we used Ocado, but this time my challenge was to do the same thing with a Sainsbury’s online shop, and with a more Christmassy theme. Now obviously, I’m not going to include an actual Christmas dinner, because a turkey would definitely blow the budget, but I’ve included lots of lovely meals that use leftovers, and other thrifty tips, to help you eat really well over the Christmas period, plus I managed to get most of the ingredients for my easy organic Christmas cake. I still really want to share my sprout slaw recipe, which I will do as soon as I get my hands on some organic sprouts.
As with last time, we were given a box of organic store cupboard staples: Mr Organic tomato purée and chopped tomatoes, Doves Farm flour, gluten free pasta and biscuits, Clearspring gluten free rice noodles, Udon noodles and soy sauce, raw cane sugar, Fresh and Wild Olive Oil, basmati rice and mustard, and Crazy Jack’s mixed herbs and spices. I also have quite a lot of other organic stuff in my cupboards
Here’s what I bought:
Sainsbury’s British Chicken Breast Fillets, SO Organic (approx. 360g) £6.84
Sainsbury’s Cabernet Sauvignon, SO Organic 75cl £6.001
Kallo Organic Chicken Gravy Granules Gluten Free 35g £1.00 (as I couldn’t get chicken stock)
Sainsbury’s Lamb Steaks, SO Organic (approx. 400g) 6.60
Sainsbury’s Red Leicester, SO Organic 270g £2.50
Sainsbury’s Mozzarella, SO Organic 125g £1.20
Sainsbury’s Cooked Ham, SO Organic 100g £2.50
Sainsbury’s British Semi Skimmed Milk, SO Organic 1.13L (2 pint) £1.10
Sainsbury’s British Butter Slightly Salted, SO Organic 250g £3.20
Sainsbury’s Clear Honey, SO Organic 340g £2.80
Doves Farm Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour 1.5kg £2.00
Doves Farm Organic Strong White Flour 1.5kg £2.00
Doves Farm Gluten Free Quick Yeast 125g £1.25
Sainsbury’s Porridge Oats, SO Organic 750g £1.60
4 x Sainsbury’s 6 Free Range Woodland Medium Eggs, SO Organic £7.60
Sainsbury’s Blanched Almonds SO Organic 100g £1.65
Sainsbury’s SO Cranberries, Organic 100g £2.20
Sainsbury’s Sultanas, SO Organic 500g £2.50
2 x Helen Browning’s Organic Smoked Streaky Bacon 184g £6.00
Sainsbury’s White Wine Vinegar, SO Organic 500ml £1.50
Sainsbury’s Sweetheart Cabbage, SO Organic £1.40
Sainsbury’s Oranges, SO Organic x5 £2.00Kallo Stock Cubes Vegetable Gluten Free 88g £1.30
Crazy Jack’s Organic Red Split Lentils 250g £1.00
Sainsbury’s Sweet Potatoes, SO Organic 750g £2.00
Sainsbury’s Lady Balfour Baking Potatoes, SO Organic 2kg £3.00
Sainsbury’s Vine Tomatoes, SO Organic 400g £1.85
2 x Sainsbury’s Broccoli, SO Organic 300g £2.80
Sainsbury’s Red Onions, SO Organic 500g £1.00
Sainsbury’s Carrots, SO Organic 750g £1.00
Sainsbury’s Beef Mince 15% Fat, SO Organic 500g £3.50
What we ate:
I have porridge with honey and frozen berries (I didn’t include these as they’re from my Dad’s garden) or bananas (which weren’t organic and were left over from last week’s shop). The boys have eggs on toast, or bacon sandwiches (or a massive fry up brunch at the weekends!).
I’m generally on my own and I’ll either have egg or avocado (which I forgot to buy but had one left over – woohoo!) on toast, or maybe make myself a sandwich. I challenged myself to bake my own bread for a whole week and actually really enjoyed the process. I’m an early riser anyway, so I just made my easy quick rise no knead bread in the morning, with 400g organic strong white bread flour and 50g organic wholemeal.
Snacks and treats
I made a delicious organic chocolate orange cake which served as dessert on Sunday and lasted a couple more days too.
The temperature dropped to -2 degrees, and I made a lovely, warming organic lamb and sweet potato casserole with herby dumplings, big piles of creamy mashed potato and buttered broccoli. Again, you could do this with leftover turkey (cut the initial cooking time to 20 minutes).
Lamb casserole with herby dumplings
1 pack lamb (I could only get lamb steaks but lamb neck or shoulder is actually better for slow cooking)
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 large onion
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
500m lamb or vegetable stock
For the dumplings:
100g plain flour
50g cold butter, grated
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped herbs
Preheat the oven to 180/gas 4.
Season the flour with a good grinding of salt and pepper
Add a glug of oil to a heavy based casserole dish and fry the sliced onion with a pinch of salt until softened, then remove and set aside. Toss the lamb chunks in the flour, then fry in small batches until golden brown. Add back the onion, stir through the tomato purée and pour over the stock. Stir, cover and cook for about an hour.
To make the dumplings, season the flour and add in your chopped herbs – I used thyme and rosemary. I usually use suet but I didn’t have organic so I used butter instead. Grate in the cold butter and, using a fork, bring together very gently with about 5 tbsp cold water – add it bit by bit, you might not need it all. Break the dough up into about 8 balls, rolling them around in your palms, then drop them into the hot liquid. Put the lid back on and put the casserole back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
I always make loads of gravy on Sundays because I often use it in soup on a Monday. When it’s made from the meat juices it has loads of flavour. I made the soup with the leftover lamb casserole, some vegetable stock, lentils, and sweet potatoes and served it with home made bread rolls (the boys, ever starving, ate it with rolls stuffed with huge amounts of cheese and ham). If I’m making soup from scratch, I usually use the following proportions:
1 onion (sautéed in a little butter or oil)
1 cereal bowl full of chopped veg (leftovers, or carrots/swede/sweet potatoes/leeks/whatever)
2 tsp mixed spice
2 litres stock
Then all you have to do is just bubble it away until the vegetables and lentils are soft. Whizz with a stick blender if you like it smooth and season to taste.
I made an easy cottage pie with the beef mince and topped it with mash made from the last of the potatoes, mixed with the last of the sweet potatoes.
As is the way with online shopping, I didn’t actually realise how much chicken was in the pack that I ordered. It turned out to be two chicken breasts, so my original plan for an epic pie along the lines of my Boxing Day pie had to be scrapped. Instead, I challenged myself to make the two chicken breasts do two meals and I think I managed it. On Wednesday, we had a delicious rice dish with the organic mixed spice, based on my kedgeree recipe, but I roasted the two chicken breasts and used one shredded instead of the usual fish. SO GOOD, and so thrifty too. This is another one that would be fab with leftover turkey after Christmas Day, and obviously the kedgeree makes a lovely Christmas morning breakfast (or brunch if you’re eating the main event later).
I made my chilli chicken noodle soup, but changed the recipe so I started with the stock and added in the second shredded chicken breast at the end. Another absolute winner. The Udon noodles are delicious too and very filling. 200g was plenty for the four of us. I added shredded cabbage, sliced red onion and broccoli and used dried chilli from the cupboard. Yum.
I made the gooey tomato and mozzarella pasta dish from my five easy pasta recipes post here (above) and served it with steamed broccoli.
On Saturday night, we made home made pizzas. My easy pizza (below) recipe serves 2 but because we’re greedy I usually double up:
300g white bread flour
1 sachet of yeast (7g)
Heaped tsp sea salt
200ml warm water
Slug of olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until they come together. Knead for five mins or just long enough to give a smooth dough. No need to rest if you want thin crust, but if you like it a bit puffier, give it 30 minutes in a warm place.
Roll the dough out with plenty of flour, spread over some tomato sauce (either just plain tinned chopped tomato or make an easy tomato sauce by frying a large chopped onion in a little oil with a sprinkle of salt, adding a tin of tomatoes, a teaspoon of sugar or honey and a little freshly ground pepper and cooking until you’re happy with the consistency). Add grated cheese, ham… whatever you like, and bake in a hot oven until golden and bubbly.
I feel I did even better than last time, especially on the Sunday lunch which was much cheaper than buying an organic chicken or joint of meat (although I could have done with a different cut of lamb). I was frustrated that a lot of the things I wanted weren’t available. I couldn’t get organic yeast (I got Doves Farm, which is great quality, but doesn’t say organic on it), chicken stock, sprouts, double cream (!), chestnuts, smoked fish (I wanted to make proper kedgeree) or clementines, but I’m pretty sure that will change now we’re nearer Christmas.