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Living in Cheater’s Paradise

I don’t know about you, but for me, finding shortcuts with food whilst keeping prices down and output of energy to a minimum is the way to go.

Yes, I hold my hands up and say that I use processed foods, although I try to keep it to a minimum. But four chicken pies (with the most amazing pastry) for £2, well I can’t make it for that, and certainly don’t have the time (or inclination) to either! At the moment, it is (sadly) the cheaper and easier option.

Same goes for vegetables – why watch fresh vegetables rot away in the fridge when you can just use what you need from the freezer, keeping waste to a minimum? (Not to mention all the energy in preparing fresh vegetables.)

However, in almost all the foods I buy that are processed, I tend to ‘tweak’ them by adding some herbs or spices, and a touch of this and a hint of that, and voila! An instant hit!

I try to always have a fresh salad made up that lasts through the week. I just make one huge salad, and keep all the chopped veggies at the bottom and top with lettuce to keep it all fresh.

My most favourite ‘cheat’ find this year has got to be frozen mashed potatoes. They are fab! We get ours for 79p a bag – and it gives us at least six servings of really good mash – no fuss, no muss, no boiling water to contend with or mashing the potatoes. And guess what? With a wee bit of tweaking, they taste really rather yummy

So here are just a few ideas for you for making something that is ‘normal’ into something special:

Frozen Mashed Potatoes – place the amount you require in a saucepan, and add a touch of garlic powder, salt, pepper and butter. Stir until hot, and just before serving add a dollop of crème fraîche and stir in until potatoes are silky smooth.

Frozen Breaded Chicken Fillets – bake according to directions. When cooked top with a tablespoon of good mango chutney (or even apricot jam), and a few slices of brie cheese. Place under grill to melt.

Frozen Breaded Mushrooms – bake according to directions. Meanwhile, put a jar of your favourite spaghetti sauce in a saucepan and heat, adding garlic, oregano, Italian seasonings, maybe a touch of wine, and get it nice and hot. Place baked mushrooms on a plate, top with the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese – so they become Mushroom Parmesan. Serve with green salad and garlic bread.

By Alyssa Savage

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