Yesterday was a bit of a busy one, with catering for an event at Food Matters Live (ferrying brownies across London on the DLR) so we didn’t have time to write our usual daily Breadline Challenge blog (days 3 & 4 will be covered in this evening’s post).
Instead, we have a brilliant guest post from Jane aka Foodologist Girl, on her top tips for budget eating. Take a look at her blog (info below) and follow her on Twitter @foodologistgirl for some great ideas. We’re definitely trying that pasta frittata!
Over to Jane…
I started this journey into low cost eating to find out how difficult it would be to only have £1 a day to spend on all of your food. This figure of a £1 a day was set by the charity ‘Live Below the Line’ to challenge individuals to exists on for 5 days to raise awareness of people living in poverty around the world. This challenge is similar to the Breadline Challenge that runs from 21st – 27th November, although that allows you £2.50 so could easily include a few drinks and snacks. I first did this challenge this summer so the prices could have gone up a bit, but with the extra money it should still be achievable.
I decided to give it a go, after my friend who helps out at our local food bank told me about people living on very little money and trying to feed their families. This could be for a variety of reasons, and everyone’s story is different.
I decided with my family to join our one pounds together and try to devise a shopping list that would feed us with a varied and healthy diet, trying to include our 5 a day of fruit and vegetables. I also decided to write a blog about our adventures so that if other people wanted to copy it they could, and since I put it online I’ve had people from all around the world looking at it, who knew?
This first menu plan led on to people asking me to try a vegetarian week, a 2 person week and a vegan week. I’m always up for a challenge so over the last year I’ve put my family through lots of £1 weeks. I guess I’m a bit obsessed about it now, although they too are keen to try new dishes.
I also decided to only use free range eggs even though they cost a little more, so although these meals may look expensive, If you check the ingredients in the budget it shows you don’t have to spend a lot to eat well.
I know in London we are very lucky to have a wide variety of supermarkets and I have used the cheapest to one of the premium ones and still managed to provide a healthy and interesting menus on one pound a day.
This blog isn’t intended to patronize anyone and everybody’s food needs are different. So none of the recipes should be too complicated, they just take a bit of effort. I myself couldn’t cook until a few years ago so I have tried to make them as simple as I can. I also work full time so I try to do as much prep work for the week ahead at the weekends as possible to save time midweek.
These recipes are ones I’ve collected from my favourite cookbooks or online over the years and a few new ones I’ve researched for the vegetarian and vegan weeks. There should be something for everyone to help you to save money whether you’re a poor student, struggling to feed a large family, or even if you are just trying to save some money towards a holiday there should be something for everyone here. If you don’t need to save money, how about giving the money you would have spent to a charity like FoodCycle.
If you want to take on one of the other £1 food challenges or make one of my leftover cakes, my blog is called eatnotspend.wordpress.com
Speaking to work colleagues about my £1 food blog, a lot of them say that although it’s a great idea, they feel they can’t give it a go as they are only a couple and wouldn’t need to have that much food. Therefore a lot of it would go to waste, which is exactly the opposite of what I’m trying to promote.
This £1 challenge is ideal for some of my friends that live in a shared house with other people so therefore can’t have a big surplus of food hanging around. Its also great for students or older retired couples.
I am aware that 4 people can eat cheaper than 2 so this budget does go a little bit above the £1 a day by 9p. But at only £15.35 for a weeks food for 2 people, that’s still cheaper than a round of drinks in my local pub.
As before I will give you a list of usual stock cupboard ingredients for the weeks meals to check before you go shopping that they haven’t run out.
The list of extra stock cupboard items to check on are, Ketchup, Mayonnaise, Olive Oil, salt, pepper, fresh Parmesan, Olives, Cumin, Tomato purée, Balsamic vinegar, Lemon juice, capers, gherkins, dried oregano, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, plain flour, tea, coffee and sugar. If there are any ingredients here you don’t like just leave them out.
We did this dish first on the ASDA £1 challenge, and liked it so much I decided to half it and add it to the 2 people £1 menu. I also had enough ingredients to make a Greek salad and some home made tzatziki.
Toast or Porridge
Potatoes Yiachni with Greek salad and tzatziki
(Adapted from Jamie Oliver)
Makes 2 Servings
A small onion’s size of sliced pack onion
2 Cloves of garlic
250g baby potatoes
1 Tin of tomatoes
Handful of olives (optional)
4 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 teaspoon dried oregano, plus extra to serve
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Peel and finely slice the garlic and quarter the potatoes.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion, oregano and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Season generously.
Add the potatoes, tomatoes, bay leaves and tomato purée to the pan and stir well. Add enough water to just cover the mixture and then simmer, covered, over a low heat for 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the lid, add the olives and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the potatoes are tender.
Serve hot with a slab of feta and a sprinkling of oregano and a drizzle of oil.
serve with Tzatziki and a Greek salad.
3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 tablespoon olive oil
Few drops of lemon juice
Handful of fresh mint leaves from the garden, finely chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper
Cut the cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds and discard.
Grate the cucumber and pat the excess water off with a paper towel, then mix into the yogurt with the rest of the Ingredients.
Season to taste.
This salad is one of our favourites which we often have it as it’s so quick and easy to make after you get in from work. Although as you’re preparing the vegetables, it may not look like much, as you start adding all the ingredients together, it really starts piling up. With the potatoes and croutons it’s also very filling.
You can also add other ingredients to this salad, like crispy bacon, Cheese, green beans, shredded chicken, we often make Turkey Schnitzels and slice these on top.
Toast or Porridge
Cheese on toast
Tuna Salad Nicoise
Tuna Salad Nicoise
Handful of baby potatoes
2 inches of cucumber sliced into chunks
1/2 tin of tuna
(Save the other half for sandwiches for lunch)
1 1/2 tomatoes diced
Handful of red onion
A few olives
The crusts from your loaf of bread
1/4 iceberg lettuce sliced
Boil your potatoes until soft but not mushy then cool in cold water, pat dry then slice them and arrange at the bottom of two plates.
While the potatoes are boiling, pop in the eggs to hard boil too.
Cut up your bread crusts and fry in a little olive oil and salt to make the croutons.
Built up your salad by piling the chopped lettuce on the potatoes then scatter the cucumber, onion and tomatoes, then the olives, tuna and eggs, lastly the croutons all drizzled with the homemade Caesar style dressing and some fresh pepper.
Caesar style dressing
1 clove of garlic
75g low-fat natural yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
A handful of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ A teaspoon of lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
To make the dressing, peel and finely chop the garlic. Whisk the yoghurt, olive oil, grated Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and lemon juice together in a bowl.
This is a delicious easy pasta dish that is so simple yet so tasty. Cook all the pasta from the packet, as this will be used for another recipe later in the week. If you don’t like olives or capers, just leave them out, It’ll still be lovely.
Egg on Toast
Cheese salad sandwich
Tuna and tomato spaghetti
Tuna and Tomato Spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 tin of tuna
Half the packet of spaghetti, but cook it all for a later recipe
Tin of tomatoes
Handful of olives (optional)
Few capers (optional)
Get a large pan of salted water on to boil.
Pour a few drizzles of olive oil into a separate little pan and put it on a medium heat. Add the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs and fry.
Then add the tin of tomatoes and heat gently.
Add the spaghetti to the pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
When the dried spaghetti is nearly cooked add the tuna to the pasta sauce and some chopped olives and capers if using.
Drain the spaghetti and using half serve with the sauce as shown.
Today we made one of our regular meals, Veggie Burgers with potato wedges and a side salad. Although you’re saving money and eating on a tight budget, it doesn’t mean you have to do without your favourite takeaways dishes. Even if you have to make them at home.
Although the burger is non-meat, with all the extras, you won’t feel deprived. I have yet to have a veggie burger as nice as this in a restaurant.
Toast or Porridge
Veggie burger with chips and salad or peas
Ultimate Veggie Burgers
This recipe is courtesy of a mix of Jamie Oliver’s ultimate burger
and Jack Monroe’s Veggie burger
400g tin of kidney beans
1 smallish onion peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Small bunch of parsley
1 tablespoon oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the burgers
1 heaped teaspoon flour, plus another to shape the burger
Burger Sauce Ingredients
Slice of Iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons of ketchup and mayonnaise
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
Plus Extra burger Ingredients
1/2 a small red onion
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Handful of grated Cheddar
2 burger buns
Drain the kidney beans and rinse in cold water. Put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to soften.
Put the onion, carrot, cumin and parsley into a medium frying pan. Add the splash of oil and cook on a low heat to soften. When the kidney beans have softened, drain well and add to the carrots and onion. Remove from the heat and mash together until you have a smooth puree, like a mashed potato. Stir in the flour to stiffen.
While the burger mix is cooling enough to handle, make the finishing touches to the burgers by finely slicing the red onion and putting it into a small bowl with a pinch of salt and some white wine vinegar. Leave this for about 10 minutes.
Next mix the ketchup and mayonnaise with a dash of Worcestershire sauce together. Then take a small slice of the iceberg lettuce and mix this in too.
Divide the burger mixture into 4 and roll in to balls, Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan on a medium heat, then place them in the pan and flatten gently to make the burger shape.
Cook for a few minutes on one side, before turning. The burgers need to be handled with care as they can be quite fragile before they’re done! When cooked and slightly crisp on both sides, put a little of the cheese on top of each one and carefully splash a tiny bit of water in the pan to create steam to melt the cheese. Quickly put a lid on the frying pan for 30 seconds.
Meanwhile prepare the buns by slicing them in half and lightly toasting the insides. Then start building the burgers by putting a layer of the mayonnaise lettuce on the bottom, then the burger, followed by the drained onions and then the bun top. They are now ready to eat.
Serve with some rosemary potato wedges and salad or peas.
The 2 extra cooked burgers can be saved as either hot or cold lunch for later in the week
This dish is the reason that we cooked the whole packet of spaghetti earlier in the week. It sounds crazy to make a frittata with pasta, but it’s really tasty, and if you have any left after dinner, it’s great cold the next day for your lunch. We added peas this time we made it, but that’s optional.
Toast or Porridge
Pasta Frittata and salad
Salt and Pepper
Half the packet of leftover cooked pasta
defrosted peas (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200°C or Gas Mark 6.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the grated cheese. Season with a little salt and a good twist of pepper. Whisk well, then stir in your pasta and/or peas.
To cook the frittata, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a small non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the frittata mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, or until crisp underneath, then place in the oven for another 5 minutes, or until firm.
Carefully flip the frittata onto a large plate, then slide it back into the pan and return it to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until crisp underneath. Serve with a salad.
You can also add peas or similar vegetables to the mixture before you cook if you want to be a bit more healthy.
Today as I get in late from an after work event. We’ve decided on a simple jacket potato with baked beans and cheese. This is a lovely comforting food that’s easy to make so I won’t need to give you a recipe. We often have simple dishes if we’re in late. I normally factor them in the weekly meal plan. Egg, chips and beans, or a simple fish finger sandwich is a favourite too.
A great way to save money and food wastage on your shopping, is to lightly plan the meals around your activities in the following week. that way you should only buy what you’ll need. Also never ever go shopping when you’re hungry or hungover. You’ll end up buying rubbish.
Last day of the 1 week challenge today, and we have run out of most of the shopping now, although we still have plenty of carrots left. Instead of salad with this tortilla as we’ve run out of tomatoes and cucumber, I cook some of the frozen peas. As I have a little of the lettuce left over I decide to add it to the tortilla with some extra peas to help bulk it out.
It’s not been too bad surviving on just over £1 a day each, but it has been difficult, and without some of the common stock items in the larder and some herbs from the garden, it would have been a lot harder. I wouldn’t want to have to live like this day in day out, but to try it every once in a while to save money is a good idea. Just thinking about the fact that people spend more than this buying a round of drinks in a pub really puts it in perspective.
Toast or Porridge
Spanish Tortilla with Peas or Salad
Spanish Tortilla with peas or salad
200g baby new potatoes
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 free-range eggs
peas, Cooked cabbage or wilted lettuce (optional)
Chop the potatoes into 1cm chunks, and put them into the medium ovenproof frying pan with a glug of olive oil and toss.
Once the potatoes have a good colour, add the red onion to the pan along with the fennel seeds and mix well.
Once the potatoes are golden crush 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic into the pan.
Pick most of the rosemary leaves and toss into the pan and stir. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
This is when you can add the peas, cooked cabbage or lettuce.
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add to the potatoes. Turn the heat up to medium. Once the eggs start to set around the sides, scatter the rest of the rosemary leaves on top and put under the grill on the top shelf for 3 to 5 minutes, or until set, golden and fluffy.