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A ‘Thrifty Organic’ Dinner with Deliciously Ella

I’ve come across a number of fantastic blogs that focus on being thrifty and I’m always so inspired by what they can achieve with such little spend. I was always fairly thrifty when I was younger and I’m still happy to buy my clothes from somewhere cheaper rather than splashing out on designer numbers. When it comes to food, I don’t think that it always has to be expensive to be good, but I’m very conscious of quality, especially with regards to meat. For this reason, I’ve found that food seems to be the one area in my life where I do spend more.

I was recently invited to a very exciting event at Whole Foods Market in Kensington, hosted by The Organic Trade Board and the lovely Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella. In case you’re not aware of her (but if not, where have you BEEN?!) Ella started blogging back in 2011 after being diagnosed with the rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. She was able to take control of this illness (which was causing chronic pain, heart palpitations, headaches – she was often bedridden!) by completely transforming her diet. You can read more about her on her website here, she really was the ideal spokesperson for an event like this, given her own experience.

The theme behind the event was ‘Thrifty Organic’ – being thrifty while still using organic food sounded like a great combination to me! I remember when I lived in Yorkshire as a child in the late 90’s, a friend’s family started growing organic vegetables on their farm and it seemed so unusual and pioneering at the time! When organic food first started appearing in supermarkets, it was more expensive to buy because it was obviously more expensive to produce. For that reason, I think people always assume that organic food is going to be expensive, so I was keen to see what would be served at the event, and how it could be thrifty.

Ella gave an introduction and there were cooking demonstrations of parts of some of the meals – all of which seemed very quick and easy to do.

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We were then served the following:

Infused Water (£0.10 per person)

Cucumber, Pear & Mint Juice (£1.50 per person)

Sauteed Potato, Kale and Hummus Salad (£0.50 per person)

Courgette Noodles with Avocado Pesto (£1.49 per person)

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto (£1.12 per person)

Chewy Sultana Cookies (£0.12 each)

Raspberry & Coconut Mousse (£2.10 per person)

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All of it was incredibly tasty and just goes to show how cheaply you can make an organic meal, and it still be really enjoyable. My biggest obstacle with cooking and eating like this, is that I really miss my meat. I couldn’t do it all the time, but I’d consider doing it once a week at least.

I was a bit startled to see that Ella had been seated next to me at dinner and I hoped I wouldn’t clam up and have nothing to say (that tends to happen with me and celebrities!) but she was really friendly and down to earth.

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And she even posed for a photo with me and Ceri, who joined me for the event.

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To tie in with this event, The Organic Trade Board is setting a #ThriftyOrganic Challenge! All you need to do is switch your normal weekly shop for organic produce – sticking to your usual budget (£59 per week for a couple and £83 per week for a family of four, excluding alcohol, according to the Office of National Statistics average weekly shopping spend data from 2014) – and let them know how you get on! Share your thrifty and organic creations at @organicukfood or facebook.com/organicuk using #ThriftyOrganic. The best tagged posts will be entered into a monthly prize draw to win fantastic organic goodies. They’ve kindly provided some helpful hints and tips to get you started:

1. Plan ahead. With a bit of forward planning of your week’s meals you will be able to
make full use of your shopping basket, making food go further and avoiding waste. For
example, buy a whole chicken and use for different meals throughout the week – a
Sunday roast for family and friends, chicken pasta bake for a mid-week meal and make
stock for a soup or risotto.

2. Eat the season. By eating what’s in season you’ll be buying organic fresh produce
when it’s in abundance so it will be at the best price and best quality.

3. Bulk out your Bolognese. When you buy organic mince for a Bolognese, chuck in a
few handfuls of lentils or extra veg to make it go further, add chickpeas to spicy
chicken dishes or haricot beans to a chorizo stew. Be inventive with your
combinations!

4. Order an organic veg box. Organic vegetable box schemes have prices that compete
really well with organic supermarket produce. Not only will you have a selection of
fruit and vegetables perfect for creating meals but the boxes get delivered right to
your door.

5. Buy in bulk. Save money and buy in bulk with friends and family from a wholesaler.
By clubbing together, you can stock up on organic staples at wholesale prices.

Let me know in the comments if you cook ‘thriftily’ and if you have any of your own tips to share!

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I was invited to the event by Haygarth and The Organic Trade Board , but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.

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