Monday 8 June 2020

Living on a Box - The Preparation

My box is due to arrive today, Monday.

But over the weekend I decided I needed to get ahead of the game if I am really going to make the contents of this Vegan Food Box last the full fourteen days.  To do well you do need to plan, otherwise I would be chomping away quite happily for the first week and then unhappily living on remnants for the second.

So armed with a pad and a pencil I started planning.  

Firstly, sorry for the blotches on all my photos, they only show up on predominantly white photos.  The marks are on the lens of my camera and I love my camera so I'm not getting rid of it just because of a few marks.  When it dies a real death then it will be replaced!!

Using the list of food that are supposed to be in the box I started by dividing the items into Tins/Jars, Packets, Fresh Items and Fridge Items.  Then I set to seeing if I could get to the required 42 meals needed for the 2 weeks.

To be honest it was a struggle.

To try and work it out I then menu planned for each week.  This is just my first ideas draft so nothing is written in stone ...

... but as you can see at the moment I have three days with no evening meals, and no food left to make any!!

I had already worked out what I would use as my store-cupboard, because obviously when you order a box you do have some food at home, even if it is just the basics.  I have some potatoes in the fridge that need using up, two large and I think three small, so these were added.  As were the two bananas that I have that Alan doesn't want to eat.

I also have a four item shopping list of:

4 bread buns
1 Iceberg lettuce
6 salad tomatoes
1 cucumber.

There is a valid reason for this.

I had added together the combined weights of all the fruit and vegetable items in the box, and also the pulses which also count as one of your five a day and found that I was only at an average of just over four a day.  Although this is a Challenge I want it to be a healthy two weeks for me, so adding just the items on the shopping list will bring it up to the minimum I want of five a day.  I may also add the small bag of frozen peas I have just found while we were sorting out what shopping we need to get for Alan this week, as much for the pop of colour they will bring as for the health benefits.  This takes my daily allowance to just over five a day ... yay!! 😃

The potatoes although not classed as one of your five a day are a vegetable and will help out in the 'health stakes'.

So that's where I am at the moment.  Hopefully when the box arrives it will contain what it is supposed to contain and I can quickly write up the actual menu plan for the next two weeks.

Sue (on a box) xx


  1. That sounds funny! I have my doubts as potatoes not being vegetables... Why (white) sweet potatoes are counted, or cucumbers? Oh well. I do count potatoes on my five a day, if they are home grown. So fries and crisps from bag do not count ;-)

    I kind of envy you because you do these things so easily - I can't even wrap my head around to empty my freezer cahllence...
    Ok, not kind of envy, I DO envy you.

    1. No, ordinary white potatoes have never been included as one of the recommended five a day. They are a high starch vegetable so are classed as the carbohydrate part of any meal rather than the vegetable part.

      I'm looking forward to getting stuck in now, and have just realised how many chickpeas I will have, so I can add a Chickpea Curry to the menu plan 😃

    2. I thought that potatoes were high in vitamin C? Perhaps they are not counted because of the fibre content, I'm not sure but I think that potatoes are pretty healthy. Looking forward to seeing your Chickpea Curry recipe as I have 3 tins to use up.

    3. Potatoes ARE really high in vitamins, minerals AND antioxidants, they are just not counted in the five a day total as they are a starchy vegetable. They are still very good for you as part of a meal.


      Do potatoes count towards my 5 A Day?

      No. Potatoes are a starchy food and a great source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium.

      In the UK, we get a lot of our vitamin C from potatoes. Although they typically only contain around 11 to 16mg of vitamin C per 100g of potatoes, we generally eat a lot of them.

      When eaten as part of a meal, potatoes are generally used in place of other sources of starch, such as bread, pasta or rice. Because of this, they don't count towards your 5 A Day. Other vegetables that don't count towards your 5 A Day are yams, cassava and plantain. They're also usually eaten as starchy foods.

      Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count towards your 5 A Day because they're usually eaten in addition to the starchy food part of the meal.

      Potatoes play an important role in your diet, even if they don't count towards your 5 A Day. It's best to eat them without any added salt or fat. They're also a good source of fibre, so leave the skins on where possible to keep in more of the fibre and vitamins. For example, if you're having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, make sure you eat the skin, too.

  2. It all looks great - you are an amazing planner!

    1. It was good to sit and do a basic menu plan with the list of foods I had available as it now means I have had some time to think more about the menu and in my head it's already changing a bit.

      The box has just arrived ... so it might change even more :-)

  3. Your challenge has come at a good time to inspire me as I had already decided last week to cut down on food spending (I need to save up quickly for something big in a few weeks time). I now do a regular stock take of both fridge/freezers and cupboards and write down what is in each tray. Sounds very boring but it makes it easier to find certain foods rather than rummaging through the contents every time. So this afternoon's task is to do another stock take as I've been adding yellow sticker items recently and do a one month menu plan. I need to come up with some recipes using chickpeas, kidney beans and hot dog sausages (one of the family has gone off these so I'm left with several tins). Today I need to think up something to use half of a bag of fresh spinach. We had saag aloo last night with a curry but only used half of the enormous bag. Any ideas appreciated anyone? Looking forward to your challenge x

    1. Spinach freezes really well. Whenever I buy a bag of fresh spinach and know I'm going to use it in my cooking I just chuck it into the freezer. I only keep it in the fridge if I am going to be using it as a salad leaf.

      Chickpeas are great added to curries, roasted with a drizzle of oil and paprika and sprinkled on salads, or use them to make my favourite ... hummus (which also freezes really well in portion sized tubs).

      I don't like kidney beans but when they came in my ration pack last year I made them into a simple kidney bean pate and it was delicious.

      Hot dog sausages can be cut into chunks and added to tomato based pasta dishes. As they are already cooked just add them to the pasta cooking water for the last few minutes, saves on washing up!!

      As this Challenge has cost me £35 for the box of food, plus the extras I have added it is one of my more costly Challenges at around £20 a week. I'll need to go back to basics for the next Challenge ;-)

    2. Thanks for the ideas. Do you just freeze spinach as it is or does it need frozen spread out on a tray as you would with berries? Also, how long do the chickpeas need to cook in the curry? Is that just a heat through too or do they need cooking time to soften? Sorry to keep asking for advice! I've seen recipes for burgers using kidney beans so I might try that. I'm not eating as much meat these days (I don't digest it well and also going off the idea of eating meat so I would like to cook with less of it; the rest of the family still want to eat it though). I tend to cook a family meal such as risotto or curry and serve most of mine minus the meat. Many thanks. Your box looks good! x

    3. I just make sure the spinach isn't all clumped up in the bag and then put it in the freezer a bit flattish. Then if I remember go back in half an hour or so and give it a shake to loosen everything up. There's no need to open freeze unless it's very wet.

      If your chickpeas are tinned it depends on how firm you like them in the curry, 20 minutes if you don't mind them a bit crunchier or for the full length of cooking time if you like them very soft. I've been experimenting recently and I've found I actually prefer them very soft so they go in right at the beginning now for me.

      Kidney bean burgers are nice and simple and very tasty if you get the seasoning just right. Keep tasting the mix and make them a bit spicier than you normally would. Jack Monroe's recipe is one of the best:

    4. Oh I meant to add, if your chickpeas are dried you have to soak them overnight and then cook them until soft and THEN use them in the curry.

    5. Brilliant, thank you. I'm off to freeze the remainder of the spinach now. My chickpeas are tinned and I would prefer them soft so will add them at the start.

  4. Planning is the key to success and being versatile. I'm looking forward to seeing the meals. It would be interesting to know how Morrisons advisors worked out the meal plan.

    1. It really would wouldn't it, I wonder if they have one anywhere? It does average out at 4 of your 5 a day with no other foods added, so they have made it pretty balanced.

  5. Gosh, Sue, your planning skills put me to shame. I need to cut down on food spending for a week or two so I ordered a meat essentials box for delivery next week. I'll have to do a meal plan soon. The meat is for G so I need to make it last 2 weeks too, not one! I'm looking forward to your exciting posts ;)

    1. The planning can be quite enjoyable really, if you sit down with a pencil, paper and a big mug of coffee.

      So you'll be doing something similar with G's meat to make it last two weeks instead of one. Portion control is the key there I think, and freezing away enough for the second week. If Alan knew how little meat I put in some of his pasties and pies he would be shocked, but he's never commented!!

  6. Another clever and thought-provoking challenge Sue, I shall enjoy seeing how you get on.
    My problem with most of these boxers is the incredibly high volume of carbs they provide. Ignoring the fibre content, generally the body metabolises all that yummy starch directly into sugar, which is lethal for my blood sugar levels 😔 😞

    1. Yes, you do have to be careful. But I chose this box as much for being vegan, and do no wastage, as for the mixed vegetable and fruit content. It seems to be a very well balanced box of food.

  7. I know that you will be able to do this challenge. Just a bit of thinking and you will have it.

    Looking forward to seeing what exactly is in the box and then seeing your lovely meals.

    God bless.

    1. I'm going to redo the menu plan now, after seeing and handling the actual food it's given me more ideas 😃


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