The case of the missing spinach…
Well, after much deliberation, this is what I ended up with. It actually came in at £20 on the nose, because the bananas were 2p cheaper than I expected. When I explained what I was doing, the lovely man at ASDA who brought my shopping out very kindly offered to add in a couple of items. I thanked him but turned them down, because I really want to stick to The List as closely as possible. Also, as generous as the offer was, I doubt that it would would have been forthcoming if I was a ‘normal’ customer on a low income.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fruit and veg – especially the mushrooms, which is lucky because they form the basis of a good third of my meals for the week. Slight panic when I saw that they’d substituted my spinach, which is another core ingredient for me. Instead I was given a smaller pack (300g rather than 500g) of methi, which Google tells me is fenugreek leaves. It looks very much like spinach, so I’m going to use it in the same way and see how I get on. However, I definitely wouldn’t have bought it if I’d been doing my shopping in the store – mainly because of the smaller quantity. In fact, if I’d known I’d probably have gone for that ruddy broccoli I was wittering on about in yesterday’s post.
Breakfast: Banana and apple porridge (25.4p per portion)*
I cracked open my giant bag of oats and made what something (i.e. The List) tells me is going to be the first of many bowls of porridge over the next few days. I’d quickly discounted other breakfast cereals when doing my shopping as too sugary or too expensive, and my beloved marmite was totally out of the question, budget-wise.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love porridge, which is a subject of some controversy in our family. My 19 year old son (pictured above, taking my marmite away for safekeeping) won’t touch the stuff with a barge pole. Same goes for my eldest sister, still haunted by memories of our granny who made vats full of the stuff, with lots of salt added for good measure. Me, I love it. Not every day though. If porridge was all I could afford, I think it’d start to get pretty old pretty fast. With half a banana and half an apple sliced on top though, this morning’s porridge tasted pretty good. I was pretty surprised at how expensive it was though – might have to go for either apple or banana next time…
Lunch: Smoky chickpea, potato and mushroom soup with yoghurt scone (34.6 p per portion)
Paprika is my favourite spice, just pipping turmeric to the post – so it was one luxury I allowed myself this week. Familiar smells and flavours might, I reasoned, go some way to compensating for the shortcuts I’d inevitably have to take. This improvised soup was surprisingly good; rich, thick and smoky (if a little sharp) and kept me full for a good while. It was also cheap and made two portions, so it will do a second lunch. If I’d been hungrier, I’d have been tempted to scarf down the lot.
I’ve made the yoghurt scones many times before (although usually I’ve included butter in the recipe), and think they’re a great alternative to bread. I didn’t fancy making my own bread this week, mainly due to time constraints. These are cheap (at only 1.86p per scone), quick, easy to throw together and taste good. Of course, they’d taste even better with some cheese in them…
Eight came out of the oven, one went with lunch and one went to the Marmite thief. The other six should last me a couple more days, and I’ll make a fresh batch later in the week.
Dinner: Beetroot, potato and apple hash with peas (76.3p per portion with egg, 62.2p without)
Fresh beetroot (another favourite, and a great source of fibre amongst other things) was clearly going to be way beyond my budget. So, I hunted around online and the best deal I found was a big pack of lightly pickled, slightly smoked beetroot from the Polish range. It came already shredded, which was a great time (and mess) saver. Rinsed under the tap to get rid of most of the vinegar, it tasted pretty good too – plus there was lots left to make a soup later in the week. I put it together with half an apple left from breakfast, half an onion left from making the soup, and a couple of diced potatoes, then roasted in the oven for about 40 minutes to make a hash.
By mid afternoon, I was craving something a bit fatty/oily, so I added a fried egg on top. This made a lovely sauce for the hash too, but you could easily make it without. Best bit though? Little bits of beautifully sweet roasted apple hidden amongst the potato, onions and beetroot. A definite hit, and something I’ll be making again after the challenge is finished.
Porridge again tomorrow, then?
So far, so good. I’ve been drinking plenty of water and haven’t felt too hungry. There have been a few times where I’ve thought ‘I wish I just had a bit of…’, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve eaten so far. How long this’ll last, I don’t know – just ask me about that porridge again on Thursday!
*These are approximate costs – it gets pretty fiddly trying to calculate the costs of one mushroom, unless you weigh it before you cook it, which I’m not going to do!