Why today is the best day of the year to buy hot rolls

Think of the store closet as the frugal home superhero. This is my hero cabinet.

I buy the same basic items week after week. The reason is that I tend to narrow down my shopping list to get the most out of my budget. This is where spices, herbs and storage tips come into play and turn a standard simple meal into something memorable.

It’s also where I turn if I’m out of fresh ingredients or trying to cut back on my expenses in any given week. You can be assured that I will get at least one carb, one protein option, and plenty of snacks from the press.

Costs vary, but when your budget is limited, use own brand jars and refill pouches. Prices vary from 39c to 1.20€ depending on the supermarket but I keep these items on rotation in my weekly shop. My most common dried herbs are oregano and thyme, then for spices I rely on paprika (regular and smoked), garlic granules, ground cumin, coriander and curry powder. These are great basics to keep in your press for dinner emergencies.

There’s a trend right now to decant all your herbs, spices, and dried goods into pretty jars and label them. Remember that the packaging your food comes in is designed to make your food last. There’s nothing wrong with leaving food in the packaging you bought it in, in fact, it’s more likely to stay fresh longer, even if it doesn’t look as attractive on the shelf.

If you open a package, there’s nothing wrong with using a food clip or (in my case) a clothespin to keep it sealed until next time. Necessity is the mother of all invention and will save you money!

As the weather begins to improve, I’m going to sow seeds for the sweeter herbs on the windowsill so I can brighten up meals from my own stash. Herbs bought in jars from the supermarket are beautiful but expensive and unfortunately they rarely last.

For the price of a few seeds in a pot of yogurt, I can sow, grow, cut and re-grow my own basil, mint, chives, parsley and more.

Offers of the week

I’ll be tracking the cost of a basket of groceries in supermarkets over the next few weeks, you’ll see this week’s results below along with my picks for the best value deals on the shelf this week.

Supermarket sweep

This week, Aldi continues to be the cheapest of Irish supermarkets for the Irish Examiner’s sample basket. However, that changes on Monday when their specials expire, at which point Dunnes Stores becomes the cheapest, followed closely by Lidl. It just goes to show how big of a difference special offers can make to your shopping every week.

Hot buns

From today, keep an eye out for discounted hot rolls as Good Friday has passed. They should be marked with yellow stickers in any supermarket and they will keep well in the freezer if you don’t want to eat them right away.

Spring cleaning

With the Easter holidays underway and this long weekend, it’s the perfect opportunity to do some spring cleaning. Supervalu is well aware of this trend with many name brand cleaning sprays and laundry items being cut to half price this week.

Gin and tonic lemon cake

I love this revisited version of a classic. Feel free to skip the gin – sour cream makes for a super moist cake that keeps well for days.

Gin and tonic lemon cake

Preparation time

20 minutes

Total time



  • 75g unsalted butter, softened

  • 250g sour cream or fresh cream

  • 250g caster sugar

  • 3 medium eggs

  • 500 g plain flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 lemon (must be untreated)

  • 2 limes (must be unwaxed)

  • 100g icing sugar (for the icing)

  • 1 shot of gin (optional)


  1. Line a 2 lb cake pan with parchment paper. Preheat your oven (convection heat) to 170°C.

  2. Beat together the butter and 175 g (you must therefore leave some for the icing) of fresh cream until a homogeneous mixture is obtained, incorporate the caster sugar, then the eggs and beat again until it starts to dissolve. This mixture will be liquid, do not worry!

  3. Sift the flour and baking power and beat again until you have a thick batter. Using a fine grater, grate the zest of half a lemon and a lime. Squeeze the grated lime and half a lemon into the batter and add the gin here if you want to add it to the cake. Mix well.

  4. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. After 45 minutes, stick a skewer in the middle to see if the cake is cooked. If clean, remove cake and let cool completely on wire rack. If not, return the loaf pan to the oven for another 10 minutes before testing again.

  5. When the cake is completely cold, grate the second lime zest and the other half of the lemon zest onto a saucer and set aside. Make the glaze by beating the rest of the fresh cream with the juice of the second lime and lemon half and the icing sugar. While the cake is still in the loaf pan, pour the glaze over it then sprinkle with lemon zest and grated lime.

  6. Put the loaf pan in the refrigerator to cool for at least two hours before removing the cake and slicing it – this will prevent it from crumbling when you cut it.

  7. This cake will freeze extremely well, provided you don’t frost it, the cake will last up to three months in the freezer. Make sure it is well packaged.

Chinese dough

recipe from:Caitriona Redmond

When cooking your Easter roast lamb this year, double up on your vegetables. This way, you can use the leftovers for a second low-energy meal the next day.

Chinese dough

Preparation time

10 minutes


  • Leftover roast lamb, shredded

  • Cooked carrots and cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • Any other cooked vegetables you have on hand or, failing that, handfuls of frozen peas and corn

  • 400ml sauce

  • 8 mashed potatoes


  1. Take a large roasting pan and place the lamb in the bottom with the chopped vegetables. Pour the sauce over and stir well to coat.

  2. Pour the foamy puree over the mixture and spread it to the edges. Use a fork to fluff the surface. For maximum crispy pieces, sprinkle with knobs of butter before roasting in the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes (until cooked through).

    To note: If you assemble this meal, it will keep in the freezer for up to two months if properly wrapped. It’s a no-kitchen night in the future.

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