Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Wartime Vegetable and Oatmeal Goulash

I meant to post this recipe last night but I think I'm fighting off the cold that DS2 has brought into the house and I was in bed really early. I've been headachy and sniffly for a couple of days and have felt quite dizzy at times, and then other times I've felt fine. Fingers crossed I don't get the full works; there's too much on next week for me to be ill, with DH going to Wales for the funeral and staying overnight on Tues/Weds, and DS2's graduation ceremony on Friday.

As I did a couple of more expensive meals last week I've decided to do some really frugal ones this week and was checking out Carolyn Ekins marvellous blog, www.1940sexperiment.wordpress.com.

If you've never come across Carolyn before she is a real inspiration, having struggled with her weight for years, lost 100lb, regained chunks of it, trying again to lose, not giving up...sounds a lot like me except that I've never had quite that much to lose, but have lost nearly 70lbs. 

Carolyn has been featured in the papers because her weight loss involves eating a WW2 ration book diet, including puddings and cakes. Her site is a wealth of information about this fascinating period of history, something I've been interested in for a very long time. As a mother and homemaker I've always wondered how I would have coped with the food restrictions. Would my cooking and budgeting skills have managed to keep my family well-fed with limited supplies? There are over 140 recipes on Carolyn's site and having eaten a lot of meat last week I chose a vegetarian one using foods I had in the house. 

This is Carolyn's recipe for the Wartime Vegetable and Oatmeal Goulash as it appears on her site, and my changes are in the explanation at the end:-

Vegetable and Oatmeal Goulash

  • 1 lb of mixed root vegetables ( I used 1 large potato, 2 parsnips, 2 large carrots)
  • knob of dripping (I used a vegan shortening)
  • 2 oz of coarse oatmeal (porridge oats will do)
  • 1 tsp of meat extract (I used Marmite)
  • 1 pt of vegetable stock
  • mixed herbs, salt and pepper


  1. Prepare and dice the vegetables
  2. Fry in dripping until slightly cooked
  3. Add oatmeal and keep stirring until fat is absorbed
  4. Cover with vegetable stock until covered and simmer until vegetables are soft and mixture is real thick (about 45 mins)
  5. Mix in meat extract when cooking
  6. Mix in herbs, salt and pepper to taste when cooking
Serve with a nice big chunk of fresh bread. 

I made 1 1/2 times the recipe using a 500g pack of  diced carrots and swede I bought yellow-stickered for 29p, some diced parnips I had in the freezer from when they were on offer in Aldi before Xmas (about 25p), an onion (10p), a baking potato (4 for 50p in Asda so 13p), 3 oz of oatmeal (I had medium, not coarse, and I'm not sure of the price per packet, but about 15p for 3 oz), 2 tablespoons veg oil (approx 5p), some leftover gravy from the fridge (3p), 2 veg stock cubes (10p) herbs, pepper, salt (10p). 

I fried the veg in the oil for about 5 minutes, then added the oatmeal and fried another couple of minutes before adding everything else, heating through and transferring to my slow cooker to cook on low for about 4 hours. 

It made 5 large portions (4 dinners and one lunch) which I served with jacket spuds instead of bread. Total cost approx £1.20 or 24p per serving, plus a 13p jacket potato (Asda, 4 for 50p), so 37p per serving. Now that's what I call a frugal meal. 

It doesn't look all that appetising but was quite tasty, although as someone who loves spicy food I did find it a little bland. DH and my boys enjoyed it, but next time I will probably add some more herbs or a little paprika or something. I do realise that at the beginning of the war onions were in short supply, but I have that enormous sack of onions to use so that's what went in it.

I did make it to my slimming club this morning, just to get weighed as I didn't feel up to staying for an hour and a half, and I had lost 1/2 lb this week. I'm slowly getting back to my goal weight and I'm now only 1.5 lbs over it. I'm not too worried if I stick where I am, I just panic when a couple of lbs go on and I get too close to the top of my weight range so I would like to reduce by another 2-3 lbs. 

I've heard now that DD3's leg operation is due on 17th March unless there's a cancellation when it might be earlier. And DD2 has to have a week long heart monitor fitted on 6th Feb as a prelude to her possibly needing an op to close a hole in her heart. What with DH's auntie passing away, this year has certainly started with a bang. Let's hope when all these things are out of the way that things quieten down for a while, especially on the health front.  

Really cold here today, but bright and no snow. Tomorrow should be a little warmer (if 4 degrees can be called warmer) but Friday might be wet. 

Another frugal meal tomorrow. Hopefully I'll remember to take pics.

It's nearly 10.30pm so I'm going to take a couple of paracetamol and then get myself off to bed with my 2 hot water bottles. Sleep well, love Helen xx


  1. Its surprising what can be cobbled together, working my way through our freezer and cupboards as we speak, not through choice but necessity as money is tight this week, il be happy with spaghetti on toast tonight, its all food at the end of the day, we bought and paid for it so shall eat it, that meal looks very tummy warming :) x

    1. I agree, Sammie. I hate throwing away food, it's like chucking money in the bin.

  2. That sounds surprisngly tasty. I think I too would be inclined to heat it up a bit with some chilli and paprika. In fact I think that could be on the cards for tea tomorrow now that I have seen it.

    1. It wasn't bad, Cherie, but I would definitely add some spices next time. I think the average wartime palate might have been used to less spicy foods than we eat today, but then with the restrictions spices might simply have been unavailable.