How to have your Pie – and eat it too, with Sally Prosser
It’s Pack Your Lunch Monday and we are so excited to introduce today’s Ambassador to you. Sally Prosser might be better known to you as the warm, friendly voice behind My Custard Pie, one of the most well-known UAE-based foodie blogs and an instantly-bookmarked page on our Favourites list! Sally’s mantra has always been about honest, good food and simple ingredients – so who better to guide us when we’re looking for a little packed lunch inspiration?
We do hope you’ll enjoy reading this profile as much as we enjoyed writing it – Sally has such a wealth of great, practical advice to offer and her site alone is chock-full of great recipes – and we’re fortunate enough to have gleaned a few from her archive to inspire you here at cashy.me. So without further introduction, meet Sally and her recipe for savings success!
Sally, we're delighted to have you as our Ambassador for Pack Your Lunch Monday. We adore reading through your blog, My Custard Pie, for delicious new recipes and our fix of foodie heaven. We'd love to know - what makes UAE Saves Week important to you? For many, the outside impression of the UAE is a land of unlimited wealth, of opulence and excess. As a resident for 13 years I want to help explode that myth. There are residents from all walks of life and all financial backgrounds.
You've lived in Dubai for some time. Have you felt a shift towards a less money-conscious lifestyle? The ostentatious side of Dubai still exists in all its glory but the diversity of the city means there have always been people here with their feet on the ground.
When did you start blogging? How did My Custard Pie come about? I started blogging in 2010 with a blog about training for a charity trek (http://walkingonsunshine.me/) and around that time started discovering food blogs. I set up My Custard Pie on a whim, discovered my writing voice when food was the topic and now can't imagine life without blogging! It's a wonderful creative outlet and it has enriched my life in many ways.
Where do you find inspiration from when you cook? Do you ever find yourself getting (excuse the pun!) 'stale' in the kitchen? My inspiration comes from the ingredients. Throughout the growing season I buy my vegetables, once a week, at the Farmers' Market. This then dictates the menu for my family meals. I have well over 100 cookbooks and I read several blog posts every day too. Getting stale is not an issue, I think the trend for constant invention and novelty in food is misguided. I prefer to keep trying to perfect a core range of simple recipes.
We often find ourselves caught up in the 'scene' of eating out in Dubai, going to lunch meetings, Friday brunches and so on. How do you make the time (and effort!) to cook at home? It's just part of the daily routine - the evening meal is at the heart of our family life and cooking gives me a break from work and my computer. Stirring a risotto at the end of a busy day, for instance, can be quite zen-like!
Can you give our community any tips and tricks on how to make food preparation and cooking any easier? Any great time management or organization short-cuts for meal planning? A good meal doesn't have to be complicated. The better the ingredients, the less they need doing to them. Some people find meal planners useful and it's certainly a good idea to plan your shopping for the week - there is nothing more demoralising than coming home after a day's work feeling ravenous and trying to think of a 5 minute meal. If you are cooking something like a chilli, curry or stew, always make double quantities so you can freeze the other half. Bread also freezes well so it's worth making a few loaves at a time, not just one. Chop fresh herbs and keep them in zip-lock bags in the fridge. Keep a folder of 'go to' recipes for when time is tight.
Grocery shopping can become very costly in the UAE. Are there any budgeting tricks you've picked up? Do you shop for different grocery items in different places? Shopping from the market (Sally loves the Farmer’s Market on the Terrace next to Jumeirah Emirates Towers, every Friday from around November to May – Ed.) has reduced my food bills dramatically (as well as providing fresher, tastier produce). Different supermarkets are good for different things but you can spend a huge amount of time shopping around. Eating less meat and knowing good butchers has saved us money. Buying meat in one piece and then butchering it yourself is an excellent way of saving money.
I often buy pulses like lentils and chickpeas in bulk, cook them and freeze in individual portions. This saves money on fuel used for cooking as well as time and being cheaper due to bulk buying. I'm considering investing in a pressure cooker for this to save fuel costs further.
What advice would you give to those in full time work who don't feel they have time to make their own lunches during the working week? Write down everything you spend on food at work during two weeks, then calculate how much you spend per year. Try making your own packed lunch for a week and work out how much it has cost you. Plan what you would do with the extra money (a holiday, a new handbag etc.) Put a picture of it on the fridge so you can see it every time you feel you are too tired to make a sandwich or put a few pieces of fruit into your bag.
Was there ever a time when you had to really budget? With two children to put through school and the cost of living in Dubai, we are always budgeting. The best thing we ever did was to clear all credit card bills and we pay them off in full each month.
When in times of financial stress, what are the first steps you take? Go out less, and economize on food bills!
What's the best piece of money advice you've ever received? Make paying off your mortgage a priority - that way you will always have somewhere to live.
Why not make one of Sally’s delicious recipes for Pack Your Lunch Monday, take a picture and upload it to our UAE Saves Week gallery today! If you don't have a chance to cook, why not pap a snap of the bill you had to pay instead...
We'll be putting a shoutout to you inviting you to join us for lunch today and every day of UAE Saves Week!