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I’ve decided that I’m going to host a weekly money or time (or both) saving tip on the blog starting today, in the hope that it might be of some use to hardworking folk out there who need to knock up week day meals quickly, and on a budget. I am relatively lucky at present as I am usually around during the day time to organise the dinner, although with various after school activities and the like ever increasing, we do sometimes need a quick and easy supper.

We tend to plan our menu for the next five days on a Sunday morning, this is then proceeded by a weekly shop by the husband. I get the feeling that he doesn’t entirely trust me alone in Tesco with a debit card. I guess it’s fair enough really – I’m a sucker for a bargain and I seldom stick to a set list, usually returning home with a bunch of random items that no one really needs! Then follows an afternoon of preparatory cookery (mainly by Dan, but only because he won’t let me get a look in – he does, however, often enlist the help of the kids, resulting in treble the necessary mess – for me clear up of course).

Today he made a huge load of pizza dough. This was divided up, rolled out then partially cooked and frozen, ready to be whipped out at a moments notice during the week, and topped with anything that takes your fancy. I’m already compiling mine in my head, and it involves an egg (naturally) and some spinach thus far. The possibilities are endless, and the beauty of it is…if you can get to the shops on the day you intend to eat them, you can decide on your topping of choice to suit your mood.

This idea, plus the actual pizza dough recipe/method we follow, both originate from Jamie Oliver. In his first book ‘The Naked Chef’ (p194) he talks about making a batch of pizza bases, then half cooking the ones he didn’t intend to eat immediately for five minutes (gas mark nine) without a topping, before freezing. Dan did this today using our preferred dough recipe (using semolina flour) that can be found in his book ‘Jamie’s Italy’ and online here. He also made up a large helping of Jamie’s tomato base sauce that can be viewed on the same link – which was simply portioned up into meal sized tubs, cooled and put into the freezer. The pizza bases should also be cooled, laid flat and separately wrapped in foil before freezing.

The hardest thing about creating homemade pizzas (if you pre-cook beforehand) is remembering to get the tomato sauce out to defrost in the morning, as the bases can simply be taken out, topped and cooked for fifteen minutes (ten minutes on gas mark nine and the remaining five minutes on gas mark seven) from frozen. I often stop by the deli late afternoon and pick up 150g of chorizo and the same of Milano salami, a ball or two (if you like it cheesy) of mozzarella and a bag of fresh herbs (ripped up basil works perfectly) and this amply feeds four people. And there you have it…a bespoke, cost effective, swift and tasty week day treat – and a reason to never buy pre-packed pizzas ever again!

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