Seeing how the impact of the spread of the Covid-19 Corona virus pandemic has emptied our supermarket shelves, and temporarily changed how we need to shop and feed ourselves and our families, here are a few suggestions to help;
- ease anxiety,
- eat on a tighter budget,
- deal with preparing all meals at home,
- buy enough provisions to ensure there’s enough to go around for everyone.
Preserving Fresh Herbs and Spice Ingredients.
You can make fresh herbs and other ingredients last by preserving in jars, in the fridge, or freezing. Using a small amount at a time can ensure you make some ingredients last longer while still getting the benefit of the taste they bring to your cooked dishes.
Fresh herbs can be chopped and added to salt, citrus, or oil to be kept in a cool dark place or fridge. They can also be chopped and stored in a sealed bag in the freezer – taken out only for a required measure/spoonful before being immediately returned (they quickly defrost and discolour if exposed to the air and room temperature).
MAKING A BATCH OF GINGER & GARLIC PASTE
This is a smart way to ensure you have a ready lasting supply of these ingredients. You can freeze or keep in a sealed glass jar (fridge).
Ingredients: Fresh root ginger (peeled), garlic cloves (de-skinned), fresh coriander stalks (optional), salt (to preserve).
Quantities: Roughly by mass – ginger:garlic, 2:1 or 2:2. I’ve used approx a thick 8-inch root and 2 whole bulbs of garlic. 1 heaped teaspoon of sea salt (and coriander stalks – cut the bottom 2in off a bunch).
Then mince or blend together. If using a blender, add some water, blitz and shake to help break down. Spoon into a plastic sealed container to freeze, or glass jar to refrigerate (Note: this container will become permeated with garlic smell, so only use for this purpose).
Use: One heaped teaspoon when making a curry dish for 4 people (add to the onions once they’ve turned golden) 1/2 teaspoon for stir fry for 1 or 2 should suffice.
This should help you as we eat smart and carefully manage our home food supplies. This batch can last me easily 1-2 months +. Probably covers 15-20 meals feeding approx 40-60 adult portions/servings. Hope this helps with your smart eating as we fightback against corona virus, and self-isolate.
Feeding your Bread Need
Very often we buy bread on ‘autopilot’, zoning in on our usual loaf at the shops – a wholemeal, a split tin, a ciabatta, or a pack of ready-sliced. However, there are breads we can easily overlook that can be a great alternative to our usual loaves, and are easy to store. Flatbreads and wraps are widely available at supermarkets and independent grocers. They don’t take up too much space, can last when refrigerated, and can introduce a new dimension to your mealtimes or making a snack.
To make a light tasty lunch/snack with wraps/flatbreads place halved flatbreads on a baking tray. Thinly slice some cheese and tomato. Layer the cheese then tomato on the flatbread. Sprinkle some mixed herbs/marjoram/oregano, add salt & pepper, and a very light drizzle of olive oil (esp. across the tomatoes). Place tray under a medium heat grill for 3-5mins until cheese is nicely bubbling. Then serve quartered on a wooden board with some chilli oil (condiment on the side).
The flat bread will be almost crispy and light, tasty yet surprisingly filling using very few ingredients. 3 x 7in flatbreads easily can feed 2 people with 12 tasty quarters. Nice with a beer or cuppa.
Protein on Standby
Beans, Pulses, and Lentils – a great source of nourishing protein that can be stored easily for weeks or months, and go a long way in feeding your family cheaply.
Dried lentils, beans and pulses sometimes need soaking overnight. Tinned can be used straight away and need little cooking. Recommend using a selection of herbs and spices to create many tasty dishes, and can be complemented with rice, breads, and vegetables.
Check out Indian recipes for curries and dahls – YouTube has some great step-by-step videos so you can cook along. Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, Afro-Caribbean also have some fabulous recipes using beans and pulses. Chickpeas can be mashed with garlic, lemon juice, tahini and olive oil to make hummus – the possibilities to create colourful dishes with these versatile foods is endless.
(Shown – Toor dahl, adzuki beans, black-eyed beans, yellow split peas, chick peas, borlotti beans.)
Serving suggestion: A black-eyed beans curry, served with basmati rice, cucumber and carrot raita, and a wholemeal pitta bread.
Rediscovering the Value of Independent Food Shops
It’s a good time to support your local independent butchers, green grocers and fishmongers. They can be well stocked at the moment when supermarkets are finding it hard to meet demand. The personal service, quality, and range of produce is worth revisiting – you might be amazed and enjoy the value and shopping experience. They are often stocked with locally sourced produce, so you can also be supporting local farmers, growers and fisherman while reducing your carbon footprint and boosting the local economy.
A great time to experiment in the kitchen and try some new dishes. Today, I picked up some lamb mince, potatoes and aubergine to rustle up moussaka served with a mixed dressed salad.
MOUSSAKA – To make: To serve 4 use 450g of lamb mince. I fry thin slices of 1 x large potato in a little olive oil until softened and golden then set aside on kitchen paper. Then slice 1 x aubergine into 1cm thick slices and rub in a little olive oil and brown both sides under a hot grill, then set aside on kitchen paper. Meanwhile, give the lamb sauce an hour to simmer and thicken – containing onion, garlic, white wine, tin of pureed chopped tomatoes, cinnamon, thyme, bay leaf and a little milk with salt and ground black pepper. Then whip up a bechamel sauce adding a teaspoon of nutmeg, some Parmesan cheese (or Greek Kefalotyri if you have it) + 1 beaten egg to solidify the sauce when oven baking. Layer up your dish with potatoes covering the bottom, then the lamb sauce, then cover with aubergines. Finally, spread the bechamel across the top and dust with nutmeg. Place in oven at 200C for 25-35mins, then remove from oven and allow to cool 10mins before serving (easier to cut and portion). Nice served with mixed dressed salad and glass of red wine.
How This Helps You and Others
- Instead of excessive buying of your usual groceries, think about how you can buy what you need and what measures you can take to make your provisions last. This will help ensure there is enough for everyone, and you don’t deprive others who may be vulnerable or have health and mobility issues that prevent them from accessing provisions easily, while self-isolation, self-distancing, and ‘lockdown’ restrictions are in place.
- Reduce waste and repurpose leftovers to make other tasty dishes. Avoid letting food rot or throwing it out – either cook, securely store, preserve, refrigerate or freeze.
- Try not to be phased by not being able to buy your usual ingredients. Use what’s available and meet the challenge of being creative or trying something new.
- Reduce pressure on supply chains and retailers. Avoid bulk-buying, to help maintain a steady flow of goods to stores and customers. It also ensures that key workers especially health workers are able to access food and provisions, so they can be fed, nourished and recuperate between their hectic shifts throughout this pandemic emergency.
- Revitalize independent food shops, instead of overly relying on the large supermarkets. Fresh and varied produce is available through independents, and the flexibility and service is so much more personal, and can be cheaper and better value-for-money. Your spending also helps the independents and their families toughen it out against these challenging times.