So I went to the butchers…

My task last week was to go to the butchers and you would not believe how ridiculously nervous I was about going in! I think this is all because no one likes to appear the fool or not to know something and I really had no idea what I was asking for. Chicken –yes but do you ask for a weight? How many people it needs to feed? I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know so just confidently asked for ‘a large chicken please!’ The butcher wandered off to the back and then came back with a ‘large chicken’ and after weighing it said it was just over 5lbs and he looked at me for some sort of acknowledgment that that was okay. I paused and said ‘great!’ (In a rather too cheerful tone). The large chicken and I went home in the car and it sat in the fridge until the Sunday…

When I got it out of the fridge I followed my recipe and soon lovely smells were wafting through the cottage. A mixture of garlic and chicken and the boys all started fussing about ‘when is lunch going to be?’ Hubbie carved and we noticed that there was still quite a lot of meat left after we had had our fill. We cleared up he stripped the chicken off ready for me to make the curry in the morning. There was the most enormous amount of meat in the bowl and we were really pleased. I made the curry but forgot you couldn’t re-freeze meat that had been cooked twice so I had another meal left over that really went to waste as the boys aren’t yet into cold curry even if it is cheerfully called ‘coronation chicken’. This was thrown away and I was a bit disappointed but I am learning and know not to do this again.

What have I learned this week? That £13 is a lot to pay for a chicken but if it does 3 meals for 5 people then I can’t really complain. Sometimes the initial expense is worth it because it lasts longer; cheap alternatives are sometime, not always though, a false economy. I’ve learned that butchers don’t pump their meat full of water so the meat you see is really just that –meat. I don’t feel hoodwinked as I feel that I’ve paid for a chicken that hasn’t been mucked about with and I like that. I’ve also learned that buying food everyday/every 2 days means I don’t have a fridge full of food that when plans change I’m left with leftover food at the end of the week. By buying every other day I could just what we needed and adapt more easily when plans changed and I saved money.

Did I achieve my objective of having a bit of money left over for the little essentials for the boys? Yes. There’s £40 to go in the pot and I truly believe this is because we really kept a tight rein on our finances. Hen needed new socks and these were bought out of the left over money which is what I used to do so I’m smiling. What am I going to do with the left over £30ish? I’m going to save £10 per week for Christmas so I’m not facing a heavy food bill like we did this year. 10 people for 6 days (with 7 people either side for a couple of days) to feed 3 meals a day plus Christmas treats is a lot to pay for and I think this will help next year if we have that many again.

What’s next weeks’ challenge?

To investigate more interesting teas as after planning meals for 2 weeks now, I’m really very boring!

Week 2 Meal Planner


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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7 Responses to So I went to the butchers…

  1. Oh bless, honestly butchers are lovely you can ask for help and advice, they won’t mind and in fact they will be very pleased to do so. I’ll share my funny chicken butcher story!

    We were staying in an apartment in Sicily, I do not speak anything other than Aussie English! I wanted to buy chicken breasts and in this tiny village the only place is a butchers, they don’t have supermarkets.

    So I walked into the butchers, there was a large, jolly looking man behind the counter. The shop was full, mainly of older ladies in black. Any I asked for “pollo” (chicken) but completely forgot the word for breast.

    So he’s eliminating what bit of chicken I want with sign language. “flap flap” of the arms, no not wings. Lifting his legs in the air – no not drumsticks. Making a sign for whole. Then “ding” he flashed his chest, much to the chagrin of the elderly women, and this butcher had boobs bigger than mine (no mean feat I can tell you!) We were both in fits of laughter!

    Any way I asked for two and out he came with these bits of chicken that looked like they had been cut off a pterodactyl, he proceeded to sliced them into skinny little escalopes. I baked them stuffed with ricotta insalata and other goodies, and it was the most delicious chicken ever.

  2. Angela Harrison says:

    I loved reading this Emma. I am so pleased to see your challenge as I truely believe everyone should cook from scratch, not waste and be as economical as possible. 99% of the time I cook completely from scratch and hate it when I use ‘packet food’ . The only exception to this is Patak’s Balti Sauce but I do make make own curries too. I use the butcher, the local farm shop and the fishmonger. I still spend too much money so I am trying to plan more as my goal this year is to save £100 per month which is another holiday. Like you I am putting money away for Christmas food too. We have a budget plan, which icludes Christmas presents but I always kid myself I can accommodate the huge food bill, which I never do!

    I was lucky enough to get an ipad for Christmas and have downloaded a menu planner which seems fabulous, but we will see.

    Please keep posting.


  3. Angela Harrison says:

    I just wanted to add that butchers are so helpful and will give you lots of advice. Shin beef is so cheap and cooked long and slow is fabulous, as is oxtail and belly pork. Shoulder of lamb goes along way and adding pulses such as cannellinni beans to stews bulk it out and even the children won’t notice as the sort of collapse into the sauce.

    Worth investing in is Swiss Marigold Boullion stock granules as they are the best for vegetable based sauces.

    Flipping heck, must shut up as I could go on for ages as it is my soapbox subject.

  4. Margot says:

    Like you I was a little ‘afraid’ of the butchers and could not cook a roast of beef for ‘love or money’!
    I plucked up the courage (! I’m 41!) and went into the butchers and quite openly told them I could cook it. He was lovely, went through the different cuts of meat, how many people did I want to feed etc. Then very cleverly the receipts they give you itemise what you have bought and how to cook it, so rare cook for x mins, medium xx mins well done xxx mins etc, plus he gave me invaluable advice like don’t open the oven door, seal the meat etc.
    I know quite often have a chat with them if I’ve had a disaster or trying something new and like you said I pay a fair price for the meat, but it hardly ever ‘shrinks’ and I feel I have value for money.
    Love your blog, I run Slimming World groups and my biggest piece of advice to my members is to Plan. I tell them I know it sounds a bit dull and boring, but that it will keep them on Plan and plus they will probably save money – and too use their freezer as an extension of their food cupboard (a tip from the lovely Nigella).


    • Margot says:

      Apologies for the bad spelling/grammar in about reply … was being slightly hampered by a cat trying to get on my lap!

  5. Silvia says:

    I love reading your cooking experience. I only cook from scratch(Diet ) What you could also have done with the Chicken carcass is make stock from it and freeze it in Ice cube trays…no more need to buy stock cubes!

  6. Annie Crow says:

    My butcher is fantastic and always very helpful as I never know what weight/size I need! Where we live there’s a campaign called Fife Diet which aims to get people to buy 80% of the food they eat locally and they have fantastic cooking days. We normally manage around 40% of our weekly shop-but it’s a good start! The children love going to farmers markets and getting samples from different stalls, it’s a great way of getting them to try different foods

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