This weeks word of the week is
I think a lot of us feel the pinch and much more so in January, it is a long month with most of us getting paid before Christmas and despite what we say we all dip into the Christmas wage for a "few last bits".
So what is a Food Membership Club?
A food membership club is for families and individuals living in a particular catchment area which helps to reduce food bills. Food in the Storehouse will vary weekly but will always include fresh and frozen produce and other essentials.
So how does it work?
Members join the co-operative model food club, pay a small weekly fee and in return can visit the Storehouse once a week for a weekly shop.
Who can join?
Individuals and families who have a low income, are unemployed or facing financial challenges can join.
This Club has made a massive difference to me, and to be honest I am not sure we would be managing to eat three times a day without it. Some people may see it as charity and feel there is a stigma attached but as you actually buy the food then I don't feel it is charity, but a win win.
We pay £3.50 a week, this buys us ten items which I choose for yourself a maximum of two items out of the freezer, you can choose one item off of the luxury shelf, that is things like a box of cereals or a tin of biscuits or sometimes a cake and make up to the ten with a variety of tins, packets, jars, rice, pasta, stock cubes. They also have a fridge the content of which varies wildly, some weeks there is cold meat, eggs, gammon steaks, sausages, bacon and you can add these items as part of your ten as well if you wish to. They generally have some sort of dairy free milk in the fridges as well. Most of it is UHT milk so keeps for a long time, but if I can I pick up two a week to make my fridge porridge with, most of these are over a pound each if you are buying them. I try if possible to buy items I can use for main meals as I feel it is a good help towards eeking out a limited budget.
I pick my ten items first and pay for them and pack them in my bag. Then I go and see what they have in the line of fruit and vegetables as these items are add ons and you can take as much or as little as you feel you need. I like to stock up on both as I cook fruit before I can eat it it does not matter to me if it is a bit soft, once it is cooked sometimes along with a can of white label fruit that I have in the cupboard I bag it and freeze it so that if some weeks they don't have any I can use it from my freezer. I have bought some reusable freezer bags instead of using these single use ones.
|cooked and frozen fruit|
I do the same with the vegetables. It can require a half morning in the kitchen time I peel, prepare and bag, but a small price to pay for the saving I make. I slice veg in my processor, makes them all a uniform size and then they all cook at the same rate and in a lot less time than left whole, again cutting down on power.
|vegetables waiting on being prepped.|
|food processor and veg peeler|
|a bowl full of peelings|
|sliced and ready for the freezer. Trying some tie handle bags that I hoping will wash and reuse.|
While I was preparing vegetables last week I made a pot of soup to which I added a tin of black eyed beans for extra protein.
|vegetable and black eye bean soup.|
I also made a slow cooker full of corn beef hash that I picked up as a tinned item. The next night I made these into corn beef hash pasty and serves them with some extra hash on the side. The pastry was in the freezer as I had picked it up in the reduced section before Christmas. No extra veg needed as plenty in the hash.
|corn beef hash pasty|
While I had vegetables on the go I also prepped oven cooked veg, sprinkled with some oil, seasoned, and covered lightly with tin foil and served with roast chicken and roast potatoes, means I am not using the hob to cook veg when I have the oven on already. A great time to pop a cake or a rice pudding in as well.
The oven cooked vegetables could alternatively be served with a tin of green lentils that are drained and added ten minutes before the end of the cooking time.
|oven cooked seasoned veg|
Once I have collected the fruit and veg I then go and pick up bakery items. Again these vary week to week, I quite like the M&S loaves, these come in various sweet loaves, the cranberry and pecan nut is a favourite of mine and the sultana, raisin and cinnamon is very delicious as well..
I also pick up normal bread as well. If it is slightly stale you can make it into bread crumbs and freeze it.
|bread crumbs and grated cheese ready for the freezer.|
Or why not butter one side and use it to line a casserole dish and add your meat and veg and top with some more buttered bread always making sure the butter ( or oil or margarine) is to the outside and it makes an acceptable alternative to pastry. There is of course the traditional desserts like bread and butter pudding or a bread pudding. This one is great as well and you use older bread instead of dough. The fruity loaves are great for this sort of thing. Then there is always eggy fried bread that could have some cheese added if you want to make a main meal with it, or why not just plain toast and beans? The still fresh bread can also be frozen until you need it.
|macaroni cheese topped with sliced tomatoes and a crispy top of cheese and bread crumbs|
They also have bunches of flowers every week that have past their sell by date bit often live for a week or so when you get them home. Nice to have a bit of luxury.
Why not look for something the same in your area. I am sure Social Work or maybe a benefit adviser will know if there is something you can tap into.