The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Review of our 2009 challenges

Photo: Supermarket bargains

Photo: Supermarket bargains

I am remiss. I haven’t reported back on our three challenges this year. Last year it was to cut our over the counter spending by 25%. We found that in the end we were regularly cutting the weekly outgoings by 50%. So that challenge continues for this year, plus not buying cut flowers (flowers from the garden ) and a new challenge – developing a collection of recipes designed around food that we have found for 50% or less.

This last challenge is worthwhile when it comes to expanding the taste buds. We can now sample food that would be out of the question to buy full price on a save 50% budget.

Danny found Pecorino cheese last week, reduced from £5.19 to £1.79. I had never tasted this delicacy and imagined that it would be a mild/medium flavoured cheese. I was delighted to discover that it had the sort of strength that would make a little go a long way. Perfect shaved on a salad or a plate of steaming spinach.

The downside is that the freezers house a lot of ingredients waiting for that final essential ingredient to appear. This Sunday I decided to make a batch of fish pies. I thought that we had finally found a good balance of fish. But when I delved into the icy domains I discovered that we had loads of smoked fish, some salmon but no white unsmoked fish to balance the melange.

“Look out for cut price cod, Danny. When you find it we’ll have fish pie.”

This evening I was planning to tweak a Guinness, beef and oxtail pie filling. And make a batch of cauliflower, bacon and tomato cheese as D had finally found some blue cheese for the sauce. There was a warble from my mobile.
“I’m at the CFC in Tesco. There’s a large piece of Coley (white fish) for £1. Shall I buy it?”

So this evening I’m making three dishes. This means that the gaps in the freezer will be filled with ready made homemade meals and equates to several evenings playing out late in the garden so it’s well worth the hassle tonight.

If you are willing to duck and dive, not stick slavishly to a recipe plan and take a few chances with unfamiliar ingredients, you can knock pounds off your weekly shopping bill by buying offers and Condemned Price Food. Shopping does take longer but I’ve discovered that it’s much more fun and we are eating better than we have for years.

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  1. jabblog

    Ignorant here and fed up with acronyms because trying to read a ‘derring-do’ real-life story (though guilty of using acronyms sometimes)- what does CFC stand for? Combined Forces Cadets? Cholesterol-Free Chicken? Cheap Forms of Calories? Not being facetious – just curious.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Jabblog

      CFC means condemned food counter. Most UK supermarkets have these nowadays. If the food is not sold it goes into landfill.

  2. Domestic Executive

    What a great idea, an alternative to seasonal shopping which is a thing of the past in the UK since you can get pretty much what you want whenever you want courtesy of global trade. Here in New Zealand things are still very seasonal and you have to make the most of the current seasonal crops. I stocked up yesterday on reduced meat in the supermarket for the freezer. I do have to remember however to keep emptying the freezer of my cut price stock rather than just keep buying as I think of recipes.

  3. Michelle in NZ

    Really great savings. Som pleased you’ve discoverd pecorino cheeses. I prefer a pecorino (here can get true Pecorino Romano) to a parmesan.

    Rather than saving have had a mini splurge myself – a locally made sheep’s milk halloumi is resting in the fridge. Do love it gently fried in olive oil and butter until crisp on the outside, meltingly yummo in the middle, then with a squeeze of lemon juice over the top.

    Enjoy your wonderful bargains, and the fish pies.

  4. The store I use is a “one off” called The Company Shop in South Yorkshire. You have to have a card, and they are pretty strict who they dish these out to. You can only get one if you work for a food manufacturing company, or if you work for the emergency services. It is really good though. You get ridiculous bargains like a box of 48 KitKats(4 fingered ones) for 90p. The Waitrose Fruit and Veg is a favorite.

  5. The generousity of the Waitrose CFC is variable. Sometimes I think they’re not reducing as much as they used to (only, say, 20% off), then suddenly it’s bumper week again.

    Last Sun there was £6 Dover Sole going for £1, but sadly I could not take up that particular offer…

  6. Debbie

    How I wish that Turkish supermarkets had the same reductions. There is a small shelf of packaged dry goods that have been reduced but never anything fresh like fruit, veg or meat and fish! I know that I benefit from the abundance of fresh fruit and veg that is cheap when in season, but I miss the excitement of shopping and finding unexpected bargains.

  7. Ruthdigs

    I’m really jealous of your Waitrose, we don’t have one here in Exeter. My sister lives near one and I always make a beeline for the condemned counter when visiting.
    Diane – your shop sounds pretty great, what store is that?
    Hope you enjoy your fish pie, one of my favourites!

  8. I have always been amazed at the great CFC bargains you get, there just does not seem to be that much going on at our local Tesco a few pence off here and there. So this weekend we took a trip to the nearest Waitrose – wow, they have so much more CFC bargains, really worthwhile price reductions. We picked up 2 shoulders of lamb (perfect for Easter) at less than half price. Will definately be taking that trip more often

  9. I love challenges like this. I am lucky because I have access to a shop that sells Waitrose (and other supermarkets) foods that are coming up to their sell by dates/on the sell by date really really chaply (ie massive box of organic veg for 99p, brad for 10p etc). Most of my shopping and cooking is now done “on the hoof” and I love the challenge (I know what you mean about waiting for the 1 ingredient though!). It also adds “excitement” to the shopping too (sad, but true!!)

  10. Amanda

    I would like to live near your Waitrose. They seem much kinder and nicer when it comes to reducing things…

    Enjoy your extra hours in the garden after your hard work prepping ready meals for the freezer.

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