Living in a shared household can be loads of fun but sharing the fridge can be a complete nightmare, one that has the potential to ruin and even end friendships.
This week, Claridge’s chef Chris Ark is hoping to quell any feuds with some handy tips and help bring the household together “through our stomachs and the love for good food”.
He’s also got those essential ingredients that won’t break the bank and shares his favourite spaghetti bolognaise recipe for the perfect spag-bol, lasagne or meat-filled toasty.
In the fridge
- Yes, it’s ok to divide the fridge space up.
- Leave the crisper/bottom box free to create a communal fruit and vegetable store for everyone to use.
- There are loads of street markets and stores around London selling £1 bowls of fruit and veg. Grab a couple, add them to the chest and look like a hero to your housemates.
- Think about how much food you actually throw out . Going out to eat a couple of times a week may mean the old fruit ad veg suffers. Why not share it with your mates!
- Keep the shelves free and fill them with flavoured oils, curry paste and marinades. Why not introduce some Thai and Malaysian curry pastes which cost nothing at all. Up the spice factor and the food will not only taste great but last longer!
- The average share house, with 4-5 people, has equally the same number of tubes of butter in the fridge. These take up room and leave no space for the tasty stuff. Why not set up a weekly share shop and save on space and cash.
- Invest in a juicer. Using those cheap bowls of fruit you bought, get together and start juicing.
- Get a tear-off notepad to place on the front of the fridge and leave notes to advertise what is available from your shelf to eat. Don’t let your food go off, there’s always a roommate who has been eyeing off what’s on your shelf! And make sure you do this before you go on holiday.
- Let’s not forget the freezer! Don’t let it build up to form an iceberg of leftovers. Asian stores and major supermarkets have a large range of snap frozen prawns/scallops. Buy a bag and then all you need to do for a quick and easy dinner is to reach in, grab 4-5 pieces, defrost them while making a tasty tomato basil sauce and within 15 mins you will have a fresh tasty prawn pasta sauce for under a fiver!
- Have mystery cook offs! Best held on Sunday nights after a big weekend. Clear the fridge and come up with a 2 or 3-course meal to remove any leftovers in preparation for the big shop, early in the week.
In my kitchen we run a strict ordering system so we only ever have fresh produce on hand. Each day the fridge is cleared and stock rotated. This is something we all can get into to ensure we are eating well and staying healthy.
- Red and green chillies — cheap and keep forever in the freezer.
- Thai/Asian spices and pastes- inexpensive and great for rubbing on veggies and meats for the BBQ.
- Fresh fruits and veg — don’t over look the £1 bowls.
- Flavoured oils — Chilli, garlic, classic French, lemongrass, basil oil. Splash on a salad or pasta and look the bomb.
- Bags of snap frozen prawns and scallops — look for the bags with resalable packaging. Cheapest and best investment to tasty stir fry’s and pasta’s
- Garlic, garlic and more garlic! Nothing adds flavour to a dish like throwing in a clove or two.
- Hard herbs — lemon grass, rosemary, bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves… Keep the leaves in the freezer and they will out live religion!
This week’s recipe:
What you need
1 kg of good quality beef mince
2 cloves of garlic
1 small white onion finely diced
1 carrot also finely diced or grated
½ stick of celery finely diced or grated
3 small tins of crushed Italian tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Pinch of dried chillies
Pinch of dried oregano
What to do
Take a heavy based pot that will be large enough to hold all the ingredients.
Splash in some cooking oil and bring to a warm temperature.
Add the mince and allow the mince to brown off – adjust the heat if it goes crazy. The mince will release all it’s juices and moisture – allow this to cook out until it becomes dry looking.
Add the carrot, onion, garlic, chilli, celery and bay leaves.
Cook off for two mins and then add the tomatoes and stir.
Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and allow the mince to cook for an hour or two. If the liquid is running low top it up with a little water to keep a sauce consistency.
The sauce will be ready when it takes on a brown saucy colour.
It should not be bright red but rich and aromatic.
Sprinkle in the oregano and season with salt and pepper.