the skinflint philosopher

Attempting to thrift our way to a better life, with a toddler in tow!


Shriven me timbers!

As it is now the first day of Lent, the skinflint philosopher is pondering the whole pancake debate. As we know, whether with religious intent or not, pretty much the whole of the British Isles (and quite a bit of the wider world) will have chowed down on a batter full of delight yesterday (unless you were the poor muggins stood at the hob waiting for the rest of the family to get through their fill before you can take the weight off and sit down and eat one yourself). Any experienced pancake chef will tell you however that the first pancake cooked in a frying pan never works properly (is there some weird oil related physics going on?), so it is always advisable to have a ravenous Digger to hand to polish off the tatty or stuck together version before the beautifully circular ones start appearing thick and fast from your pan.

Of course, the logic of eating up the eggs and fats before the forty days of fasting in the run up to Easter meant the seemingly humble pancake was a perfect choice. Should sugar have been widely available back in the day (physically, and in terms of price) I’m pretty sure the great British public would now be having a long established annual celebration of Cake-and-Muffin Tuesday instead.
A good and prudent homemaker would not want any food to go to waste, so ‘using up the bits’ in a pancake made financial, as well as spiritual sense. Nowadays of course, for most of us, it wouldn’t be right without lemon or sugar, or cinnamon, or nutella and bananas- we in our times of plenty will push even the eggy/fatty treat over the edge of a calorific precipice. For some of us, it may well signify fasting, or another food-related forty days of change (I’m trying gluten-free, again, this year). I’ve suggested to Digger he stops looking at power tools on the internet as a positive thing (from my point of view) to give up (just really, I can’t get my head round it- it surely cannot engage anyone for that length of time. Seriously. Its not like they are performing a sitcom or the collected works of Shakespeare. Its just tools. Pictures of them).

In reality through, yesterday got me thinking more along the lines of preventing waste by eating things up. Our food bill is probably not large in comparison to many other families (see earlier blog post here)- we eat between us very little meat, we try and eat seasonally, we cook from scratch as much as time allows. But still, I think we probably over eat. I also like to have plenty of food ‘in store’ in case of random emergencies thankfully never yet to be seen, although to be fair, plenty of people on our little rock panic buy as soon as the ferry gets cancelled for 24 hours and shelves in the supermarkets are emptied out in fear of mass-starvation. Fear not my friends, I think we might just be able to hold it together till the next boat.
What is extremely rare in our house though is for any food to be thrown away. I’ve read plenty of blogs where people suggest careful meal planning and food purchasing prevents waste (and good on you if that works for you), but I find just the opposite to be true. By never having a set meal planned, we cook and eat what needs to be eaten first. Our meals may be on occasion slightly eclectic, but certainly never dull. Digger is always happy with leftovers in a lunch box for the following day, and Tiddler has clearly picked up on the vibe and has even been known to deny herself pudding on occasions until she has emptied her plate. I’m not holding out hope that that is going to be true for ever, but long may it last in the meantime. I suppose this means that a food skinflinter is in a sort of semi-permanent state of lent, if such a thing is possible, which by default may mean we are having a jolly good shriven. As long as it is motivational, rather than flagellation, it has got to be good.

My final thoughts are with Tiddler, as too little to toss the pancake, or take part in a Shrove Tuesday race or football game as tradition demands, we set to with some of her pals in order to get a little bit creative with our food luxuries. Pancake pictures feature monkeys, a cat, and Digger. I’ll let you figure it out.


Any particular things you are giving up, or starting, or doing differently for the next 40 days?