Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Challenge Eight - The £19.25 One Shop Challenge - The Food and Menu Plan

I always find that preparing for a Challenge is the most difficult part once I get going I'm fine, but knowing what I'm doing and when I'm doing it is important to me if I want things to run smoothly, so I always try to make sure I set up the basics properly.  After all I would hate to use up all the food too quickly and leave myself eating really poorly for the last couple of days.

And with only 24p left in the kitty there's not much money for dashing out to the shops for a top up shop!!

This is the slightly revised weekly menu plan. 

 Sorry if it's a bit hard to read but my other clearer menu pad is obviously at home in Wales as I can't find it in my 'office bag' here at the Van.  I might even find the time to colour in my heading and borders this week if the weather stays so cold. You can click on any photos on this blog to make them enlarge and then scroll through them for a closer look.

First thing this morning after writing out the revised menu, I photographed all the food that I have for the week.

In the fridge:

dairy free spread
11 onions
orange juice
almond milk

In the freezer:

Loaf of bread (14 slices and 2 crusts)
6 Linda McCartney Lincolnshire Sausages

Out on the worktop and shelf for easy access all week, and so that I can see what I have left available to use:

1kg porridge oats
22 Weetabix
500g brown penne pasta
1 tin baked beans
2 tins chickpeas
1 tin peach slices
3 tins tomatoes
1 box Ryvita thin crackers
2 bananas

The 5 Item Store Cupboard items:

olive oil
salt and pepper
mixed herbs
chilli flakes

In the cupboard are 7 potatoes ...

… and 10 cloves of garlic.

The first day of any Challenge should always be spent working out exactly what you have to use.

So after counting out my garlic cloves and putting them back into the dark, cool cupboard with the potatoes, I sliced up and open froze the lemon.

So now I have seven slices of lemon ready to be used for my hot lemon water drink each morning.  Once used with hot water the slice of lemon is then put into a jug of fresh water to flavour my drinks throughout the day.

That's it, now I'm all ready to start with the three meals a day and snacks if I need them, although there's not a lot of snacky type food really, a couple of spare slices of toast, the bananas and there will be the crackers and hummus ... once it's made.

Day one meals, recipes and chat coming tomorrow.

Sue xx

Monday, 18 November 2019

Challenge Eight - The £19.25 One Shop Challenge - Shopping Sainsbury's

So ... I set off with £3.04 in my pocket and a shopping list that read ...


They had no vegan cheese whatsoever!!

Well it's only a little Sainsbury's I suppose, but I was disappointed.  I had to think on my feet as I wandered the aisles for inspiration for something that would replace cheese in the meals I had planned.  I decided that the  thing I needed it most in was the two days of cheese and salad sandwiches, so I then thought 'aha ...hummus'.

I was about to pick up a tub of hummus for £1.40 ... then I came to my senses, put it back and instead went to the tinned food aisle and got myself another tin of chickpeas for 55p, much more sensible.  I mean I already have oil and seasonings in the larder and garlic in my shop from home food.  I can make my own hummus ... and a lot more of it for almost a third of the money.

The dairy free spread was on offer at just £1 as were the little cracker thins.  I thought the spread would go nicely with the jacket potato I had planned, and on toast if I got peckish and the crackers, also reduced to £1 a box, would be ideal to have with a little bit of the hummus as a snack.

So I went out for two things and came home with four that actually could give me better options for my meals and definitely give me a bit more food for my money.


As you can see from the receipt above I came in under budget with change to spare.  So my weeks worth of food has been bought with just £19.01.  I'll be back tomorrow with a complete look at the food I have for the next seven days and a properly written out menu for the week.  This will get me one day ahead so that I will be able to photograph my meals and write out the recipes after I have had them and then compose a blog post.

And if I'm out and about at all I'll definitely be looking for something I can invest my 24p in!!  What would you spend 24p on?

Sue xx

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Challenge Eight - The £19.25 One Shop Challenge - Shopping Aldi

I called to Aldi with my £6.69 clutched firmly in my sticky little mitts and perused the aisles.

It's surprising how cheap some of Aldi's things are, not so may recognisable brands but their own versions of most things are just as tasty.

On my 'I Need' list were:

1 tin of tomatoes
1 banana
almond milk
3 potatoes

Yes as you can see I went a little off piste !!

The four potatoes are easily explainable as they come in packs of four for 49p or it's 22p each for single potatoes ... and I needed three.  So it was easier and cheaper to buy four than it would have been to buy three.  There's absolutely no harm in having an extra potato.

The pepper was reduced to just 42p, the cheapest I've seen peppers so I thought it would be a nice addition to the tomato pasta sauce I intend making.  As for the cucumber, again at 54p it was the cheapest cucumber I've seen for a while and it tempted me.  So even with so little money to spend it's easy to get tempted to buy something you hadn't intended too!!

Never mind it will be a nice little addition to my salad sandwiches and my side salads.

I have no idea at all why I have an extra banana but at just 14p each it's not the end of the world ... hopefully.

The proof of my spending.

So I have spent £12.56 from my cupboards, fridge and freezer, and then £3.65 in Aldi, leaving me with just £3.04 to buy the missing item from my list - cheese.  Oh and I have forgotten to buy a lemon for my morning drinks so I need to get a lemon too!!

Sue xx

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Challenge Eight - The £19.25 One Shop Challenge - Shopping the Cupboards

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had most of the food that I needed for my menu plans in my cupboard and fridge here at the Van.  

I was a bit dismayed though to see that the only baked beans I had were Heinz.  At 85p per can as opposed to the 22p that a tin of Tesco beans would have cost me, it was going to be a chunk out of my £19.25 budget.  But I'm playing fair, that's what I had so that's what I had to 'buy'.

I weighed out 500g of penne pasta from my big jar and decanted it into another one.  This pasta was bought from Tesco and is the same as the one on the website now so that works well.

At first I was in a dilemma with the tomatoes, a pack of six tomatoes is 69p and I only had four of them left, but I did have some cherry tomatoes, so I decided to weigh out the smallest and largest of the remaining salad tomatoes, to get an average weight and use that to top up the pack with some of the cherry tomatoes.

It sort of balances out, I ate the other cherry tomatoes as I was faffing about so I couldn't see if I had one that weighed the missing nine grams … oh well serves me right for nibbling 😉 

The Weetabix was easy to sort out as these are already the Stockwell Wheat Biscuits from Tesco in my jar, at just 75p I actually prefer them to proper Weetabix.   I always decant them into a jar when I get a new pack as I hate the daily mess of bits falling everywhere if you don't.  I think at the most there are only two or four biscuits missing from this pack and as I only need eight for my breakfasts and perhaps a couple for a snack or supper this will be fine.  I'll give myself a bit of leeway somewhere else if it is needed.

The only other thing that was annoying was that I only have two brown onions and the majority are red onions, which at 62p a kilo are 12p more expensive that the brown ones I would have bought, but again I'm playing fair.  

I'm a bit down on carrots, I really needed six and I only have four but the ones I have are a decent size so I think I'll be able to manage.  The mayonnaise is actually only half a jar but I think that will be enough for what I need it for.  I think I'll allow myself to dip into my little sachet stash if I run out.

I have three potatoes and actually need six so that's an easy buy to top up.  Everything else is pretty self explanatory I think from the photo.

It's strange isn't it how quickly you start to think in pennies rather than pounds, I mean I've lost out on 75p because of my beans and onions … and that is why I think a Challenge like this every now and then is a really good idea, especially at this time of year when the constant bombardment with adverts can get you loosening the purse strings without even realising it.

So the food I have 'bought' from my cupboards and fridge, along with these Linda McCartney Sausages from the freezer have cost me (according to mysupermarket.co.uk) a grand total of £12.56.

Leaving me with £6.69 to spend on the other items I need.  I'm off out to Aldi now to see what I can pick up.

Sue xx

Friday, 15 November 2019

Gearing Up for the New Challenge

It occurred to me today that I have never really shown you how I gear up to a Challenge.  If I'm lucky, as I have been this week with the cold, wet, short days we are having at the moment, I can cosy on down in the Van and immerse myself in plans.

Sometimes of course a Challenge creeps up on me and I wing it a bit, but I always get the most satisfaction from seeing a Challenge well thought through.  And of course it makes it SO much easier if I actually know what I'm supposed to be doing on any given day.

So after a dash into town to post a birthday card in the sorting office (so it gets there as quickly as possible), and a quick walk through the park for Suky, I came home and started doodling out lists and ideas for menus for next week.

I finally settled on an outline of how I would eat for the seven days of the Challenge.

I didn't really think about what I had in or what I would need, I concentrated instead on some favourite meals and linked most of the evening ones with a single pack of Linda McCartney sausages that I have in the freezer.  This gave me a base to start with and stopped me going off on wild and wacky tangents that would cost too much money.

Then I turned this into a seven day menu, covering breakfast, dinner and tea.

 I wrote myself the basic recipes I would use for each of the component parts of some of the meals.  The soups, salads and pasta sauce for instance.

Filling both sides of the paper.  Now I just need to keep this to hand, or perhaps transfer it to a notebook for safe keeping, I'm notorious for losing sheets of paper!!

Next I wrote out a list of the ingredients and how much of each I would need to make up the dishes from my menu.

And then finally I shopped the cupboards and the fridge for the things on the menu that I already had.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a large proportion of the items I needed.  Which goes to show that I am already starting to whittle down the foods I keep in my cupboards to things that I eat regularly, something I have been working on for a while.  It's hard to ignore some recipes that sound brilliant, but when you realise that they have lots of ingredients that you wouldn't perhaps use again for a while it makes it easier to do so … and that's exactly what I have been doing for the last few months.

So now I have the Challenge firmly sorted in my head, I know what foods I have in already, what foods I need to go out and buy.  Now it's time to go onto mysupermarket.co.uk and put in the foods I have and work out how much they would cost me to buy this week, and then use the remaining money to buy the things I don't have.

It's starting to look a lot like a Challenge!!

Sue xx

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Well I Guess That's That Sorted Then ....

Wow … well that's that sorted then … another Challenge it is then!!

I was surprised that there was not a single 'Oh no .. not again!!', which I guess could just be due to all those that are sick to the back teeth of my reduced spending foodie Challenges buggering off to plan spending hundreds of pounds for Christmas. 

So I guess now it's time to plan out how to spend the £19.25 that I could spend on a lovely cup of filter coffee at mine and Suky's favourite little garden centre on food to see me through a seven day Challenge week.   

To make it more interesting to me and hopefully you too, this time I'm approaching things differently.  I am going to menu plan the full week and then go shopping.  I have already decided that to keep costs down I will give myself a choice of two breakfasts, alternating each day.  Porridge every day for the last Challenge proved just too boring for words, no matter how filling, warming and healthy it is.  I will also vary the lunches slightly between sandwiches and soups.

I have also learned a very important lesson after the last few Challenges … this time I will mostly be making things in one portion amounts.  I do not want to be making a large pan of dhal for instance and living off it all week, that would be cheap yes, and also very easy, but boring both for you reading along and for me doing the actual eating.  And of course that doesn't fulfil the need for a balanced and interesting diet.  It also means that I might end up putting more food into the freezer, something I really don't want to do as we are winding down stocks of all food at the caravan.  Also with this in mind once I have planned out a menu I will shop first from my cupboards and fridge for full packs of any food that I would otherwise be buying at the supermarket.  I will of course charge myself the price it would have cost me to purchase on the day I decide to shop for the rest of the food by checking prices on mysupermarket.co.uk

To keep things interesting I think I will also try to make a different evening meal each and every day, sometimes using very similar ingredients ... because to be fair I'm not going to be able to buy that many different things ... but I should be able to buy enough to be able to vary the meals in some way.

So my first job tomorrow is to sit and write out a menu, next I will shop the cupboards and then on Friday I will go shopping ready for a Monday start at the Challenge.  There's something very brain emptying about starting with a blank sheet of paper ... fingers crossed I get some inspiration in the morning!!

Sue xx

Monday, 11 November 2019

Let's Do a Bit of a Poll

After an email I received this morning I thought I'd do a little poll.  

Here in the UK we'll all be voting again soon, so I thought I could get a different sort of vote up and running before you all go elsewhere to put your little X in the box.

Basically the email asked if I would consider doing a second run at Challenge Six  'For the Price of a Coffee'.  This time doing all the shopping in one go at the start of the week, buying different foods and making different meals.  So instead of £2.75 a day each and every day, a one off amount of £19.25 to spend on the first day.

I was informed I could start with the same 'storecupboard'.  You are generous Emily  😊

Is there any interest in this?  It would seem a bit strange to do it for my own entertainment if there wasn't … although I guess I would be making Emily happy!!

You can vote by commenting either YES or NO, or if you want a bit of a waffle about anything feel free 😃

Sue xx