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Store Cupboard Challenge


MarkN
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38 minutes ago, HarryBizzle said:

November 30th? December?! How big is your store cupboard? Won’t you need any fresh veg? How many tins of tomatoes and pot noodles are we talking here?
 

I’d be dead or eating nothing but plain rice in a week. We just don’t stock up on canned stuff. 


Yeah but he does stock up on canned stuff, so that’s why he’s set that target!

 

Still it is ambitious, I’ll be interesting to see how you fare.

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2 hours ago, HarryBizzle said:

November 30th? December?! How big is your store cupboard? Won’t you need any fresh veg? How many tins of tomatoes and pot noodles are we talking here?
 

I’d be dead or eating nothing but plain rice in a week. We just don’t stock up on canned stuff. 

I started stocking up for Brexit, and it kind of became a thing that I stuck with. I have too much, and that's part of why I'm doing this - to pare it back a bit, but it's also super-reassuring knowing you're sorted for a long while if need be (so in some ways I'm loath to do it, and may well stock up again a bit afterwards). My "store cupboard" includes the large cupboard under the sink, and a big stack on one of those nice chrome shelves that they have in the Masterchef kitchen that I bought when I had more cash. I also have a couple of large plastic airtight storage boxes for things like pasta and flour that might get attacked by bugs.  I'll have a quick rough audit...

Maybe 40 tins of asorted pulses - black, kidney, butter, and borlotti mainly. I'd guess approaching 30 tins of tomatoes. This stuff will keep far ages, so why not buy it early when it's as cheap as it ever will be? Those tins of beans would cost me a fair few quid more now than they did when I bought them. Maybe five kilos of pasta in various shapes (mostly spaghetti for easy storage). Noodles - I have loads - approaching 30 packs of various types - shin cup, Kolee Hot and Spicy (cheap as chips), a few other brands, and also maybe half a dozen actual pot noodle (all chow mein flavour). Again, much of this stuff is more expensive now than when I bought it, yet will last for yonks. It's just filling cupboard space that would otherwise be empty. I'd like to use some of it up though to replace it with stuff that's a little fresher.

 

Also, one of the other ideas is to empty my freezer by Christmas. If this year is like the previous few, then fresh veg will be super cheap everywhere as a loss leader. I plan to buy a daft amount, partly for meals over christmas and beyond, but also to cook a hell of a lot of stews, soups and curries, to stock the thing up for as long as I can as cheaply as possible.

 

Edit: To address another question - the fresh veg. I'm not sure. I think I'll be OK. I lived off my home-made bean chilli for about a year when I was forty and trying to lose weight - I will have chucked random veg in it throughout, but I think it was pretty good nutritionally without. The reason for what I bought today was: onions keep for ages if you know what you're doing, and they go in everything (also really good for you). Frozen peppers will add vitamins and a bit of pizzazz to stuff. Frozen peas - protein, probably other stuff.

 

Edit 2: I will run out of these long before the end, but I think I have enough good stuff to remain healthy. I will drop out if I think I'm mistaken (at university I once looked in the mirror and realised I was a shade of very pale blue, due to living on tea and ginger nut biscuits for far too long. I'm pretty good at nutrition now, I think.)


I didn't buy the potato croquettes in the end - would have needed the oven on for half an hour each time - not worth it, so the only spuds I have going forward is a few tins of new potatoes bought for emergencies.  I wish I'd grabbed a bag of frozen spinach instead with hindsight, but I have some tins of Callaloo, which I can use instead (that's got curry written all over it).

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Interesting challenge, fascinated to see how you get on.

 

We could do a month I think with no great hardships, I've got a double height standing freezer wedged with pre prepared soups, meals and bits on top of a normal single size one in the kitchen. Run a stock list on a wipe board on the front of it and there are 15 portions of lasagne alone in there along with various curries & stews !

 

Always keep a good assortment of tins, pasta and pulses in as well on top of a stacked spice cupboard.

 

The only concern I'd have immediately is milk for tea, but then again I always keep a few emergency pints in the freezer so even that would last a while.

 

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9 hours ago, MarkN said:

oodles - I have loads - approaching 30 packs of various types - shin cup, Kolee Hot and Spicy (cheap as chips), a few other brands, and also maybe half a dozen actual pot noodle (all chow mein flavour). Again, much of this stuff is more expensive now than when I bought it, yet will last for yonks.

 

FYI pot noodles definitely go off. I tried one that was about 6 months out of date and it tasted weird and musty. I suspect you don't always get a perfect seal between pot and lid.

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3 hours ago, Exidor said:

 

FYI pot noodles definitely go off. I tried one that was about 6 months out of date and it tasted weird and musty. I suspect you don't always get a perfect seal between pot and lid.

Ta for the heads-up. My actual pot noodles are all fairly recent I think. The others are so spicy I probably won't notice any degradation of flavour hopefully (some of them must be years old). Will report back when I get around to scoffing some - I'll try finding the oldest first. I did enjoy the fact that your quote missed the N off noodles and still works as a sentence, just lacking context. :)

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Tweaking the rules just a tad, but I think you'll see why. I've signed up to get Nectar deals, whereby you get Nectar points for buying stuff you would anyway. If you get loose veg, you can make a profit. It would be daft not to. This week I can get 40 points (20 pence) on both loose mushrooms and loose spuds, and 10 points on loose onions. It's just possible I can find a small enough onion to get it essentially for free, but one small mushroom will definitely only cost me 4p or 5p, and get me 20p in points in return. I may well be able to find a small enough spud to make a small profit. I'll keep a tally of my net Nectar point gains across the period - see what I can make from this. So yes - it's no longer zero spend, it's making sure I come out even or better.

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I managed to get a mushoom for 5p, and the tiniest baking potato I've seen for 4p, earning 80 Nectar points (40p). 31p ahead - that's almost halfway to a white cabbage. :)

 

I'm going to stick the silly potato in the microwave and zap it until it is completely dehydrated. (Needs to be done in short bursts, because it's easy to overdo, and burn the end result). Should end up with a super-brittle spud that's kinda tricky to eat, but tastes of maximum potato. (Give it a go if you like the taste of spuds - it's not right, but it tastes really good).

 

I rarely go in the canteen at work, but found out today that Sainsbury's have set up a corner full of free food for staff to help with the cost of living crisis. There's cereal, a load of breads (croissants, bagels, loaves), all sorts of jams and spreads, a fruit bowl, loads of snacks and treats, and the fridges have milk and cans of drink etc. A nice gesture, and will help with my challenge - will bag a banana or satsuma from time to time, and snag a few cheeky snack bars and sweets whilst I'm at it. Should have blagged a bagel today, thinking back - not my favourite bread, but would have gone well with a tin of soup. Will check back tomorrow...

 

18 hours ago, Orion said:

@MarkN be interested in what an average days meals for you are? I don't mean a running diary for us as that would be a pain in the neck for you but what meals you are having and are enjoying or even ones that didn't work.

Will do - I'll post when I think it's interesting. I only ever eat lunch and dinner, and at the moment dinner has been finishing up an odd but tasty stew I made a while back (all sorts of veg, a tin of chickpeas and a tin of borlotti beans, but mostly it tasted of the tin of tomatoes and a big hit of smoked paprika, which hides a multitude of sins, backed up with a hit of miso and marmite to provide body).

 

I've just taken a portion of something reddish-brown out of the freezer for tomorrow's, but had to lift the lid to discover it's mixed bean chilli (it was coming out regardless, it's just nice to know what to expect...)

 

Lunch has been "picky bits" for ages - a big plate of raw veg and loads of things to dip them in, maybe some pickled chillis or olives, and then some "hero" ingredients - cubes of cheese, hard-boiled egg, veggie nuggets etc. I tend to pick at it whilst doing the crossword for about an hour - my favourite bit of the day. Today I ran out of lots of the components though. This is the bit that's going to be hardest. I may look at improvising a store cupboard version (although I've not got much that will work). But if I can blag a bagel from work each day then maybe move to using up some of my tins of soup for the next couple of days would be a better plan...

 

 

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1 hour ago, Rog said:

Just to check, and I won’t be troubling sainsbury’s with this since mushrooms are the devil’s food, but they’re giving 40 nectar points for a single fungi?

It's "loose mushrooms" (or loose carrots, potatoes etc.) Most people will buy enough to cook a stroganoff or something, I just buy one small one and have it sliced raw with my lunch. It still counts. Only applies for the first purchase on a given week, but it definitely works. Can be done with many loose veg if you can find a small enough specimen.

 

I'd started buying one raw sprout occasionally when they came into season to try to get it to offer me bonus points on them, but it hasn't taken the bait, sadly.

 

Edit:

 

For a long while it would occasionally give me 100 points for buying jams and spreads - because I bought marmite and peanut butter. If I didn't need anything I'd buy their basics jam at 28p, stick it in the foodbank (I've not got a sweet tooth), and just claim the 50p of Nectar points. Sadly this one has stopped turning up.

 

Edit 2: FWIW - whilst I am a bit short of cash, I genuinely usually do this more because it amuses me more than anything else.

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Quick update.

 

Managed to find a very small onion that cost 3p, so another tuppence up on my Nectar points. Hehe. Just got this week's offers through - can get points on loose carrots, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Might get 20p or so out of it if I'm lucky (I'll use the 5p of points for carrots to buy enough carrot to last several days as part of my lunch, then a small floret of broccoli, and hopefully a very small sweet potato to earn credit).

 

Cooked a simple dish last night for dinners for a couple of days, and a couple to go in the freezer. Tin of plum tomatoes in a pan on the hob, smooshed up with a wooden spoon, onion granules (I'm saving the real thing), good slug of garlic paste, good teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a little veg stock powder. Boiled some water in the kettle then added a fair bit along with some tomato puree and stirred it in. Then threw in a handful or so of dried red lentils, a tin of white kidney beans, and enough of my bag of frozen peppers so that they'd be a presence. Let it come together, then added a teaspoon of miso paste to add body, a little chilli sauce to pep it up a bit, and a pinch of salt to add flavour, and one of sugar to take the tartness out of the tomatoes. Cooked it out until it had thickened up enough. Tastes great. At least 2 of my 5 a day (tomatoes and beans, with a bit of pepper, and the lentils too counting to a smaller extent), and cost about a quid for four smallish portions that will be fine bulked out with rice, or some of the packs of grains I've accumulated. I've cooked similar dozens of times before, so well within my comfort zone, but was feeling lazy - I've made a mental note to do something new and different next time (hopefully).

 

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If you ever get bored of hunting out miniature vegetables at Sainsburys and if you have a Lidl nearby, they have started leaving a box of mixed loose vegetables (full size) beyond the checkouts*, which are seemingly free to anyone who wants a few. 

 

*Might be that's just the store near to us, rather than nationwide company policy.

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3 hours ago, multi said:

If you ever get bored of hunting out miniature vegetables at Sainsburys and if you have a Lidl nearby, they have started leaving a box of mixed loose vegetables (full size) beyond the checkouts*, which are seemingly free to anyone who wants a few. 

 

*Might be that's just the store near to us, rather than nationwide company policy.

Oh - will check that out ASAP, Thanks.  Got a Lidl in easy walking distance, just never had a reason to visit other than their fresh bakery pretzels - nommo! - (but I'm avoiding bread as much as I can right now to try to lose my belly).

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On 02/11/2022 at 17:22, Stopharage said:

@MarkN, if you're desperate for some herbs and spices, I've probably got a load spare I can send your way which I won't use. Not sure if that's in the spirit of this endeavour...

Cheers for the offer - super appreciated. I will bear it in mind going forward. I think I should be fine. I will run out of stuff, and that's OK. It will be nice when I get it back again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that... I'm going to run out of cheese within a week. That's going to be a big old hurdle to get over...

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On 25/10/2022 at 23:08, MarkN said:

I lived off my home-made bean chilli

 

 

Is this the one with a lentil base that I remember seeing you posting the recipe of and which I made a mental note to try (I'm trying to eat much less meat)?

 

If so, I can't recall where you posted it? but would love to have a go at making it.

 

 

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On 04/11/2022 at 13:32, Mike S said:

 

 

Is this the one with a lentil base that I remember seeing you posting the recipe of and which I made a mental note to try (I'm trying to eat much less meat)?

 

If so, I can't recall where you posted it? but would love to have a go at making it.

 

 

Just realised I forgot to get back to you on this: It's the first post in this thread!

 

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Bit of an update. Made 15p in Nectar points last week on the carrot and broccoli. Just got this week's offers in, and they're not great - might make a little if I can find another small spud, could get a free onion, maybe, but they're offering me 10 points for loose mushrooms, which is derisory. I will not take them up on it until they up their offer (they will).

 

I've mostly kept to the same lunch of "picky bits" but I think my salt levels have gone through the roof, because I've replaced fresh raw veg with things like pickled beetroot, jars of slaw, and tinned sweetcorn. Still really enjoyed it, but I'm moving on to home-made soup today, which will be much healthier. Recipe below.

 

Also ran out of cheese yesterday (apart from a tiny bit of soft French stuff, which is nice, but not full-on CHEESE). This I'm going to miss.

 

Store cupboard minestrone:

 

Tin of basic whole plum tomatoes (28p - Sainsbury's)

Tin of basic peas (20p-ish)

Tin of white kidney beans (was 35p when I bought them, now probably 45p)

Handful of frozen leeks (15p maybe)  - would normally have used fresh onions, but I'm saving them for later

Handful of frozen peppers (15p perhaps)

Handful of frozen basics peas) (5p)

2 handfuls of small pasta shells (20p tops) (You can use any pasta you like, but adjust cooking time accordingly - small lengths of broken spaghetti are ideal)

Really big squeeze of tommy puree (10p maybe)

Big shake of mixed herbs (pennies)

Two big teaspoons of garlic puree (bought from the world food aisle - 5p tops)

Couple of bay leaves (pennies - bought in a bag from the world food aisle)

Loads of boling water

 

Chuck a tin of tomatoes in a pan on the hob, then add a load of boiling water from the kettle (you can do this in bits - so start with half a litre, and add more later when needed). Also, use the kettle water to rinse out the tomato tin, and add that to the pan so you don't waste any flavour, and also clean your recycling to boot. Cut up or smoosh up the tomatoes in the pan, so they're nice and small, then throw in the rest of the ingredients. Wait for it to get up to temperature, then cook until the pasta is done. Add more water if it's looking dry, add more tommy puree if it's a bit bland (and/or more herbs or garlic). Season, and maybe add a little sugar if it's a bit tart (tinned tomatoes vary, and a little sugar can make all the difference). Fish out the bay leaves and discard - they've done their job.

 

This made 4 decent portions for me, at well under 50p a pop. Minestrone is brilliant - you can chuck whatever you like in it. Better if you have fresh stuff to hand, but actually this one has turned out brilliantly (really pushed the garlic and herbs).

 

I will make this again during this challenge, but after a comment from @ScouserInExile in the Income Squeeze thread, I'm going to try doing it in the microwave. The ingredients just need heating up and a bit of time to get to know each other, and the pasta just needs a little time to soften. I reckon it's perfectly doable and cheaper in the microwave. Will report back next time.

 

I've got some bread on the go in my bread machine to accompany it - first loaf in ages, because I've been trying lose my belly, but that soup is not going to trouble the waistline at all, so something to mop it up is fair game.

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On 28/10/2022 at 19:22, MarkN said:

I managed to get a mushoom for 5p, and the tiniest baking potato I've seen for 4p, earning 80 Nectar points (40p). 31p ahead - that's almost halfway to a white cabbage. :)

 

I'm going to stick the silly potato in the microwave and zap it until it is completely dehydrated. (Needs to be done in short bursts, because it's easy to overdo, and burn the end result). Should end up with a super-brittle spud that's kinda tricky to eat, but tastes of maximum potato. (Give it a go if you like the taste of spuds - it's not right, but it tastes really good).

 

This Nectar point hack is amazing. 

 

This microwave potato 'hack' sounds insane.

 

I think you are right on the border of mental and genius. I love it.

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On 10/11/2022 at 17:31, stephen129 said:

 

This microwave potato 'hack' sounds insane.

 

It came from a genuine mistake, where I overdid a small spud, and the bottom half just became this intense shard of potato brittle that tasted fantastic. So I've had a few goes at trying to perfect it.

 

Managed to pick up a small spud today that cost 10p (so I'm up on Nectar points again). Sliced it in half because it was a lot bigger than the last one, sprinkled a little salt on the cut ends, then gave it the same treatment. Awful photo:

IMG_20221111_190801.jpg.0a1e49d6012d6c358b1242675dc460d3.jpg

It weighs a fraction of what it did before I started, because there's very little water left in it. Tastes like a massive handful of kettle chips eaten at the same time, only harder to eat cause most of it is damn-near solid. Great fun!

 

Edit: The one on the right is spot on surprisingly. The one on the left is a tad over. The flesh inside has just gone a bit too far (possibly after the blitzing it kept cooking). I think I'll judge these by weight rather than appearance from now on. Maybe try quartering it next time to reduce cooking time, and allow more surface area for salting.

 

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My quarterly Tesco clubcard voucher came through - only £4, but it's something. Whilst this is nominally a store cupboard challenge it's basically about spending nothing on food, so I figured this was fair game. The problem is it needed spending in one go, so I spaffed most of it away on three frozen pizzas - one adequate 4-cheese job (£1.55), and two cheap-as-chips budget ones (69p each). But even bad pizza is good (I'll throw olives, capers, and sliced jalapenos at them - they'll be fine). I did consider a block of cheese, but it's expensive stuff, and I'm trying to lean towards making it an occasional treat, rather than a constant presence in the fridge. The remainder I spent on a decent-sized white cabbage (70p), and a very carefully judged onion/three loose carrots (they have no scales, so it was guesswork). £3.98 in total. Sorted.

 

The carrots and cabbage and onion (along with those I still have left) will go towards getting me back on to a fresh lunch of "picky bits" when my soup runs out, and should last maybe ten days (so a good way to December). I need to get creative to get accompaniments that are healthier than endless pickles though...

 

I do also have almost a tenner's worth of Nectar points which I guess are also free money, but I still plan on saving those for Christmas treats. I am keeping a tally of my net gain on things I've bought to gain more value in Nectar points than they cost, and so far I'm up 60p (actually probably a tad more, I'd forgotten to factor in my staff discount).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Made 24p on Nectar this week - 4p on a tiny carrot, 12p on a floret of broccoli, and 8p on a small sweet potato. I am so petty. :)

 

Going well so far, will easily make the end of the month. After that we'll see.

 

Cooked a new meal - turned out pretty well. I wanted to use an ingredient I'd bought on a whim from Morrison's a while back - ground egusi. It's ground-up dried melon seeds. From the internet it seems to be mainly used to make a Nigerian soup. I was expecting it to act like quinoa, or cous-cous from the images, but its a bit finer, and whilst there's a little texture, it's probably acted more like a thickener.

 

Added a tin of plum tomatoes to a pan, rinsed the can out with boiling water from the kettle and poured that in, then added maybe half a pint of water. Bit of veg stock, a good heaped teaspoon of garlic puree, a heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a good smattering of crushed chilli flakes. Once it was up to heat I chucked in a handful of frozen leeks, and another of frozen peppers. Also a shake of onion granules, a shake of mixed herbs, and a teaspoon of miso paste. Then a tin of white kidney beans and a squirt of tomato puree. Finally a tin of Kallaloo (found in the word food aisles - you could use spinach instead).

Once that had come together, I chucked in the pack of egusi (80 grams). It immediately went from a rich red to a mellower orange colour, showing that it had been absorbed to a degree, rather than staying as separate grains. Gave it the ten minutes recommended, and ended up with a thick smoky spicy vegetable stew. It's pretty good. Five portions if I put a little something alongside it - maybe some couscous or rice. A couple for the freezer, the rest during the next week.

 

I've got another pack of the egusi to use, but I'm not sure I'd buy it again. Quinoa would have added more texture, and been cheaper, and if the egusi tastes of anything it's being masked by the other flavours. Meant to be quite good for protein if you care about that sort of thing though.

 

May well cook something else tonight to intersperse, and also chuck in the freezer so I can have a lazy week in the future. Maybe a storecupboard veggie stew.

(I have actually bought some food, but it's for Christmas so it doesn't count - some nice cheese and interesting chocolates were on offer, and I was on 15% staff discount due to pay day, so it was as cheap as it ever would be) Also some Matcha Mochi from the world food aisle, which I'd not seen before, and am dying to try, but I can't because rules are rules, and it will be (hopefully) a christmas treat).
_____matcha.jpg.6ba5a4d7157d0a93745a1a1d82611db3.jpg

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Just realised it's a full month since I started this challenge. I'm going to hit the first target - end of November - easily. I've only spent money on stuff I got more Nectar points back on (IIRC, I'm up £1.16 right now :D ).

 

(I've spent about a tenner on stuff for Christmas that was as cheap as it ever will be (cheese mostly, and it's sitting in the fridge taunting me), and I've spaffed my Tesco voucher on some pizza, basically, but those don't count - no cash has been spent on the food I've eaten for the duration.)

 

A while ago I was thinking of allowing myself a couple of quid as a top-up spend at the first target, but I'm not sure I need it. I've got no fresh veg left but a few onions, but I've still got all manner of tins, and half a bag each of frozen peppers, leeks and peas.

 

I'm just about to pop off and do some late-night drunken cookery, whilst listening to something very noisy - one of my favourite ways to spend the night before a day off (might try and do something ricey, once I've researched the safety of cooling/reheating once again (I so rarely cook the stuff, but I want to make something that'll last for days without getting terrible food-poisoning, ideally)).

 

 

 

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Just found a pack of breaded mozzarella sticks in my freezer that I'd forgotten about that I bought well before this challenge. I hoped they might be veggie sossies at first (same pack shape). But no. It's got a sticker from past-me saying "For Xmas, probably." Nah! (I've bought plenty of cheese for Crimbo - I need to scoff it all before Veganuary, so there will likely be an epic pizza on New Year's Eve), but these will not be needed then. I have cheese! Mild cheese, but cheese nonetheless. I'm going in! :D

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Finally got around to using the pressure cooker I've owned for at least ten years (had to wash dusty grease off the top of it - it's been sat unused in my kitchen for so long).

 

Only used it to make pea soup with split yellow peas, but it worked, where doing it old-school on the hob for three times as long a couple of days ago didn't (the peas were still hard as hell, whereas these have given up the ghost entirely). I've got a couple of bowls of very tasty slop for lunch for tomorrow and the next day. I was hoping for more, but I've got a sighter in now. I can proceed with a little hands-on data to help inform decisions.

Will continue with this now I think. I have loads of bags of dried pulses bought when I bought the cooker. Old, but probably still OK (a bit like me, I like to think). There's a cracking multi-bean chilli on the horizon, I think - if I can get the timing right.

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