This weekend I was selected by Morrisons and Britmums to be a #MorrisonsMum and given £80 to spend on weekend meals for the family. We planned our shopping to include a meal "a deux" to celebrate the start of the bank holiday on Friday evening, something quick for us to eat on Sunday night (I was off to a blogging event in the day and didn't want to cook when I got home) and a large family meal on the bank holiday Monday. We also planned to buy some more general meals for the rest of the weekend, including breakfast items and some household items as well.
Our local Morrisons store in Congleton, Cheshire, is a Safeway legacy store situated in the town centre and does not stock the same level of groceries as some of the larger stores. It also has the unfortunate luck of having the original Safeway layout inside and so the aisles were rather narrow - this took us some time to negotiate our way around the other shoppers - dosey doe with a trolley anyone? Undeterred by this we were pleased to find a smaller version of Market Street (no fancy veg cooling system like some of my fellow instagrammers had pictured during their visits for example) although the quality of the items seemed to be as good as, if not better in some cases, as our usual supermarket. I took DH with me as he usually does our supermarket shopping and has the uncanny knack of being able to remember which prices are cheapest/best value on all our every day shopping.
We started our shopping at the wrong end of the store. DH's theory is that by starting with the less perishable items first then chilled items spend less time un-refridgerated before returning home. So, predictably this meant starting with the wine aisle ;)
We found the white wine we needed easily and I spotted the spirits at this point and headed for the gin. Unfortunately for me, the store didn't stock Greenalls which is my gin of choice, but I decided to try some of their own brand London Dry Gin as a compromise. We had tonic water at home, but noticed that tonic water and other mixers were all lowered in price as well as being on a multi-buy. It was actually easy to see where all the price drops were as there were very large, yellow labels everywhere which declared "I'm cheaper".
At Market Street we dithered a bit, firstly looking at the half price rump steak piled high on the butchers counter and then we decided to grab some of Morrisons excellent Indian ready meals. We've had these before when they have been on offer and then always been really disappointed that the price has gone back up again. The individual curries are usually priced at £3.50 which is not extortionate but I was delighted to see that they had been permanently lowered to £3.25 each, thus fuelling my need for a curry in front of the telly night even further - hooray!
By the time we got back to the steak again it had all but vanished! I could hardly believe it but they did look good so we grabbed a couple for Saturday evening before they all went! We also stopped at the fish counter for a bag of mussels. DH selected a bag that was right at the back packed in ice, and the attention to detail by the member of staff serving us couldn't be faulted. The fishmonger sealed the fish in a plastic bag, but because the mussels are live she left a corner of the bag open and told us to be careful with them.
All the staff that we encountered were so polite and even the checkout staff chatted to us (rather than each other!) as we packed our shopping - it was such a breath of fresh air.
We managed to get all our shopping for a grand total of £89.84. Having seen what good value everything was we were a little worried that we wouldn't spend all of our budget and so DH told me to go and get a bargain bottle of prosecco that I'd seen earlier to make up the total - I was one happy mum and our trolley was full of wonderful treats for the bank holiday weekend!
Briefly on the subject of trolleys, I was also really pleased to see that all the trolleys at Morrisons have two child seats in them. Our other local supermarkets also have these but only 8 or 10 per store at the most. This is a massive annoyance of mine as when my twins were smaller I couldn't take them shopping at my usual supermarket at all and was forced on one occasion to leave as there was no way I could do my shopping with them both. Well done Morrisons - lovely to see that you think of those of us with more than one small child :)
So, what did we do with all that food? Well, without boring you with the gory details of feeding five children all weekend long, we did manage to feed everybody comfortably on our budget. We still have lots of things left in the freezer too. I'm going to share with you my absolute favourite of the weekend's meals - Moules Marinere which my DH made for me on Friday night, while I languished on the sofa with a (more than acceptable) Morrisons London Dry Gin and Tonic ;)
Moules Marinere (Serves 2)
A bag of live mussels from Morrisons Fish Counter - £3.47
3 cloves of garlic - 6p (quarter of a bulb costing 25p)
A small bunch of parsley - 39p (half a bunch costing 79p)
50g butter 20p (250g costs £1)
A teaspoon of oil - 2p (750ml olive oil is £2.19)
1 glass of white wine - £1.02 (based on Chardonnay costing £4.79)
1 glass of water
A small pot of double cream - 60p
Total cost of ingredients we used was £5.76 making the cost per person £2.88
Wash and de-beard the mussels. Ours were a little open and so to check that they were still alive we tapped them until they closed tightly. You need to rinse and closely inspect each one under a tap. The mussels we used were quite clean and mainly beard free but if yours have beards you can pull these off. Any that remain open or have broken shells need to be discarded as they are more than likely dead. We only discarded one of ours because they were really fresh!
Chop up the garlic and also the parsley (we use a teacup and kitchen scissors to snip the parsley as its easier and less messy!)
Put a large lidded saucepan on a high heat and add the butter and oil. Big tip from DH: Get the wine and water ready too as this next bit is quick!
Add the garlic to the hot pan and stir it around until it is sizzling but do not let it catch and burn. Add the wine and water quickly and stir until it bubbles.
Tip the mussels into the pan and give them a quick stir then put the lid on the pan. After a minute check the mussels and give them a shake and a stir. Put the lid back on and cook for a further minute.
Check the mussels and if they are more or less open remove them to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. If they are still closed then keep cooking for another minute and check again. Once removed keep the mussels to one side while you finish the sauce.
Back in the pan add the cream and parsley to the remaining liquor and let it bubble for a minute.
Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve.
You could serve in individual bowls but we prefer to put the dish in the centre of the table and pile in. We served ours with some Morrisons french fries (£1.15 a bag) and some of their excellent french bread (50p a stick) to mop up the juices once the mussels were all gone. They didn't last long.
So that was the start of my weekend as a #MorrisonsMum. The quality of the mussels was amazing and happily they were also lowered in price from the last time we had bought them. I will be shopping at Morrisons again, not necessarily for all my everyday items but for the fish and meat counters (the rump steak we bought was also delicious!) as well as the wonderful Prosecco which was half price too and made a lovely afternoon treat in the garden once the sun decided to show its face.
We were sent £80 of Morrisons vouchers in order to take part in the #MorrisonsMum challenge. All words and opinions are our own.