Back to basics on the food front

As I am in the middle of a major cook fest for tomorrow’s yard sale at St Gemme, I am using the time waiting for my cakes to cook wisely. I am thinking.

It all started at Hyper U in Parthenay yesterday.

My daughter was attending her oral exam in Spanish in Parthenay, and as luck should have it, there was a large supermarket next door, so I decided to go shopping during the hour I was hanging around.

I freely and openly admit to shopping in budget supermarkets, local farmers’ markets,local artisan bakers and food producers, speciality shops (Chinese, Moroccan), and only cross the threshold of the supermarket giants when I can’t get it elsewhere.

My reasoning is simple: They are all vastly overpriced. I naïvely thought I could get some stocks of things that the budget boys don’t sell and that I wouldn’t find too much off a difference if I shopped carefully. How wrong I was.

I felt at one point, after forking out 3.15 euros for a tub of marscapone, that I was assisting the supermarket by subsidising their rather fancy shelving in the Fromagerie section of the store.

I made a quick getaway with as little as possible, and comforted myself lf that I had been able to buy my daughter some British biscuits (excellent study fodder) and vowed never to go there again.

I had hovered over a modest piece of beef for 18 euros, after deciding it would barely feed 4 people, and there were countless other items there that were, in my opinion, vastly overpriced for what they are.

On reflection, I realised that supermarkets play on one fact: Busy people want a one stop shop AT ANY PRICE.

Working families have precious little time to go baking their own bread or knocking up half a dozen sausage rolls for the Scout’s Jamboree – Supermarkets sell an abundance of food that we feel we ought to be giving our families, but time evades us and we feel guilty and compensate by buying something at the supermarket during our frenetic weekly dash that is a poor second.

There is really a way around this: Shed the guilt, and adopt the mantra “Less is more”.

Even if you only managed to make something home-made once a week, the introduction of real home cooked food will compensate for any short cuts you are forced to make when you are busy.

Take home-made pesto as an example.

If you make a batch of this, it will keep for months in the fridge, and a dollop added to an after work pasta dish, is by far superior to anything you buy in a supermarket. It will do for several meals and at a stroke, you have introduced the real thing into the family diet for 30 minutes of your time.

Home made peanut butter can be made in about 10 minutes, and can be used for toast, sandwiches in lunch boxes, and a wonderful base for a satay sauce. Again, at a fraction of the cost of the shop bought equivalent.

I will post up these recipes and others, with suggestions as to how to use them at meal times. Money saved, time efficient, and a contented family. What more could you ask?

I agree Helen - don’t forget pesto freezes really well too, I freeze in ice-cube trays, then bag them up it is so easy to take out one or two and add them to anything from pasta dishes, soups or mixed with natural yoghurt it makes a great tuna mayo (without the mayo!).

Totally agree!

Ooh ooh yes yes show us the recipe for peanut butter!

Well said Helen!