Friday 14 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 a Week Challenge - The End of Challenge Round Up ... and What I Did With the Leftovers


Well it's the end of Challenge week and here are my leftovers.

One slice of Bread
Half a can of Peaches
One portion of Carrot Soup
About 2/3 of a jar of Marmalade

I guess at a pinch another day when you wouldn't starve.  Peaches for breakfast, soup for lunch and then marmalade on toast for tea.  Not a good day, but at least it's food.

Or, you could roll this forward and have a starting point for another week on £3.50.  One where you wouldn't be starting with absolutely nothing like on the first one ... and this is how a store cupboard is built up.

I had printed out my Sainsbury's supermarket basket, then neatened and edited it to make sense, changing the price of the onions as they had cost me more in the shop than the online basket had said they would.

These are my notes for the week. 

Using the rough notes that you saw the other day as a starting point and to keep me on track, I filled in each days meals on the righthand page as I ate them, and added up the ingredients as I used them.  Seeing it in black and white on paper helps me make sense of things and saves me having to keep going on the computer to fill in a spreadsheet.  I'm old school ... forever. 😀

I didn't actually eat the leftovers as I suggested that on an extra day they might be used. 

 I had the final slice of bread as toast and marmalade for my breakfast, I ate the soup with a lovely fresh crusty roll from the freezer for my dinner and then I had a pizza for my tea ... a celebratory whole Falafel pizza bought from Sainsbury's, and yes I ate it all in one go, something I rarely do.

And then for breakfast this morning I finished off the peaches.

With a peach crumble and yoghurt ... well it was breakfast time, and a little bit early for ice-cream.  😄

So what are my thoughts after living on just £3.50's worth of food for a week?

1.  It shouldn't have to be done by anyone in this day and age.

2.  It is possible with lots of planning and imagination, and you can do it it many ways.

3.  The same ingredients can be used to make lots of different meals.

4.  It was more interesting than I expected it to be.

5.  It's weird how making smaller meals seems to make for more washing up.

My favourite meal, and one that stood out head and shoulders above all the others, was the roasted carrots and mashed potato lunch.  

Next time you have your oven on for something else, just wash and halve a carrot or two and put them in a baking dish with a drizzle of oil and some mixed herbs and any spice that you love, oh and maybe a wedge of onion or two ... and you will see what I mean.

After doing this challenge for the week I am sorely tempted to go BIG and eat for a week on £1 a day, but my common-sense is telling me to have a break, eat more protein and greens and carry on with my eating my way through the store cupboard long term challenge.  Something that obviously wasn't touched at all for the past seven days.

Maybe in a few weeks ...

If you have any questions about the past week and the challenge I will be happy to answer them in the comments section of this post.

Thank you so much for following along, there has been an average of about 500 people reading the posts each day so hopefully you have found it interesting and entertaining, and maybe I have managed to give you a few ideas. 

 Is there anyone out there in blogland doing any sort of similar challenge that I can read about?  I do love reading other peoples challenges.  If anyone wants to read any of my older ones they are all listed on the right-hand sidebar.  And as the instructions above them say: 

Clicking on any of these Challenge photos will take you to the first post of that particular challenge. You can then read on in chronological order by clicking on 'Newer Post' at the bottom left hand side of each post.

This way you will be able to read them in the order that they were written.

Sue xx

Thursday 13 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 for a Week Challenge - Days Six and Seven


I bet you were expecting to see toast and marmalade!!

But I decided on a change ... spaghetti rings on toast, and very nice it was too.

Now spaghetti rings would not be my first choice when shopping for something to go on toast, baked beans or tomatoes are a much healthier and sometimes tastier topping.  But having these for the first time in years has been quite enjoyable, and I would never turn my nose up them if my budget didn't run to a tin of beans in the future.

It's been a fun blast from the distant past, and they taste just as good as the Heinz Hoops that I remember snaffling off my boys plates.

Lunch was special.  

As I had quite a few carrots left I decided to choose the two biggest, top and tail them, cut them in half and then slice them down the middle, and then roast them with a big fat slice of onion.  They were all tossed in herby, garlicky oil and roasted in the oven, it was a real flavour treat to have them on the last of my mashed potatoes for lunch.  They were surprisingly filling too.

So much so that when teatime came around I just had a slice of toast and marmalade.  Ooops I have just noticed that the cut is remarkably like that on the last post ... but the marmalade is twice as thick.  😀

Maybe I wasn't quite as satisfied as I thought because later watching my film I succumbed to my Easter egg and scoffed the lot.  A near end of Challenge cheat that I am not embarrassed at all to confess to.

Day seven and the final day called for a special breakfast ... a peach toasty.

I drizzled the bread with oil and warmed up my sandwich maker, then I covered one slice of bread with peach slices before topping with the other and cooking.  It was very tasty, there's something completely different about hot peaches, I must remember to make myself another peach crumble when I go back to eating normally again.

For lunch I had the final jacket potato with some more of my carrot and onion 'coleslaw' and a drizzle of mayonnaise.  Tasty, but nowhere near as tasty as yesterday's lunch.

My final meal was a large bowl of soup made with the final three carrots, the last of my onion and some stock and curry powder.  I ate it with two slices of toast for dunking as this soup had turned out much thinner.

And then ...

... for supper I had an elicit Hot Cross Bun, well it was Easter after all.  

And that's it the seven days of eating on a budget of just £3.50.  If you want to see a round up of my thoughts and a look at the list of meals I will be back on here tomorrow for a final round up of the Challenge.

Sue xx

Wednesday 12 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 a Week Challenge - Day Five and Prep Work


At the start of day five I thought that it was time for me to assess what food I had left.  My main worry was that if I had not done my calculations right I might end the week with a day of toast and marmalade, which wouldn't have been the end of the world but would have been pretty boring.  

This was what I had in the fridge, I had cut a couple of my potatoes into chips and had them ready for action, there was one pot of spaghetti rings left, the breadcrumbs, the carrots, my remaining onion and the now opened peaches and marmalade.

Over breakfast I had a little ponder ... as you do!!  

Please note the snazzy shapes I am now cutting my toast into, just so you can see it's not the same two slices that I'm showing every day.  😄 

The only things left at room temperature, as the bread is in the freezer, were the potatoes, and as you can see from this photo they were starting to look slightly sad.  So I decided that I would process them all and save myself some time over the last couple of days of the challenge.  I do find that the last couple of days of a food challenge are always the hardest, there's only so much thinking, making and washing up that I can do and I tend to fizzle out.

I picked the best potato to be a baked potato and washed that, and then peeled all the others.  The skin did not feel as good now and to be honest I wasn't that fussed at losing a bit of peel.  Usually I would save them for soup, but you have all seen me do that so many times before during various challenges so I decided against it.

Some were boiled up as they were and then mashed, and the others had a couple of the carrots added in to make a mixed mash.  I actually used the same pan and water for both lots of cooking, it seemed crazy to warm another pan up when the first one was already hot and full of hot water, and as you can see I saved the cooking water and will use it to make another pot of carrot soup.

Lunch was delicious, sometimes a chip butty or two just hits the spot. 

 I livened up the mayo in the dish with some of the garlic powder and a little sprinkle of mixed dried herbs.  The bread is 'buttered' with plain mayonnaise, something that I always do in preference to spread.

My tea was four rissoles made with my mixed carrot/potato mash and half of the remaining spaghetti rings, I was going to use them all but half looked enough.

How to make Mixed Mash Rissoles.

Yes, it's that easy!!

Another day successfully completed and now I have some prepped mash in the fridge for my next couple of meals.

I'll be back tomorrow with days Six and Seven, and thank you for all the interest and the comments so far, it's nice to read your opinions and things that you have been working out that you could buy with similar amounts of money.

Sue xx

Tuesday 11 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 a Week Challenge - Days Three and Four

Day three started with a single slice of toast and marmalade ... I just wasn't that hungry.

At first I found the bread was very coarse and cheap tasting, but it's surprising how quickly your taste buds adapt and now it seems just fine.  The slices do seem to be a lot thinner than I'm used to though, as usually when I buy a sliced loaf I buy the Aldi Ancient Grains version, which makes the best toast and sandwiches, well in my opinion it does!

At lunchtime I made a large pan of Vegetable Stew, using some of the smaller potatoes, a couple of carrots and about half of an onion.  All cooked until just starting to fall apart in some of my store cupboard stock.

Served in one of my larger bowls it was a good sized portion, and with a slice of toast for soaking up the gravy it made for a lovely lunch.

For my tea I decided on Bread-crumbed Potato Slices and Spaghetti Rings.

First I thawed out and whizzed up the two end crusts of the loaf of bread, then I sautéed them low and slow in some garlicky, herby oil until they were crispy and dried out.

They were left to cool in a bowl while I divided my spaghetti rings into three portions and peeled and sliced my biggest potato.

To coat the slices I tried dipping the potatoes in some mayo, but the crumbs didn't really stick that well, you really do need a layer of flour to help with this and flour is just one of the many things that I don't have this week.

Anyway, as you can see from the photo of my meal enough of them stuck to the potato slices make for a more interesting texture on the potatoes and a slightly more filling meal.

The leftover breadcrumbs went into a tub and were put in the fridge for another idea I have for later in the week.

Breakfast on day four was square toast with marmalade ... gosh I'm running out of shapes now. 😄

 Lunch was lovely, just a nice simple plate of mashed potato with  another of the portions of spaghetti rings ... and of course the obligatory black coffee.

For my tea I had the Vegetable Soup that I made from the whizzed up vegetable stew leftover after lunch from the day before.  It was delicious and very filling, and no I decided against any toast this time as it was beautifully thick just as it was.

I think that varying the food I am making, even though I am obviously using exactly the same ingredients over and over again, is helping make this seem not so repetitive.  Of course I could just have made a great big pot of vegetable stew and one of soup for the whole seven days of the challenge.  This would have been so much easier, but I think the repetition might have made it a miserable week, even if it was tasty.  

Still it's something to think about if you had to live on this amount of money for a week and were too busy to play with your food.  Toast and marmalade for breakfast, soup for lunch and stew for your tea, minimal cooking at the start of the week, less washing up and no thought required after the first day ... what's not to like.

Sue xx

Monday 10 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 a Week Challenge - Days One and Two


The start of the challenge and my very first breakfast.  

Now as each of my breakfasts is pretty much going to be orange marmalade on toast I had to think carefully how to photograph it to make it look a little bit different each day.  So here is today's offering, showing how I let my toast cool slightly and crisp up before spreading it with anything, and my yet to be opened jar of marmalade.

My first lunch was a baked potato with some grated carrot and onion coleslaw. 

Gosh that was delicious.  I have never before eaten coleslaw without adding either lettuce or cabbage.  This was juicy, sweet and exceptionally tasty.  It was made with two thin slices of onion and a whole carrot ... minus the top and tail which I just couldn't deprive the dogs of. 

My tea was virtually the same meal as my lunch, just cooked differently.  Herby potato wedges served with some more of the coleslaw made in exactly the same way.  I just had to, it was that tasty.

I added an extra dollop of mayo for dunking the wedges in.  😁

Breakfast on day two - triangles of toast with orange marmalade.

Lunch was a bowl of carrot soup made with a couple of the smaller carrots, a couple of slices of onion and some of my store cupboard stock and mixed herbs.

It was delicious and quite filling as I added a slice of toast for dunking purposes.

My tea for day two was really simple, as I was just not that hungry.

A baked potato cooked in the microwave, with salt and pepper and a drizzle of mayo and that was all I needed.

In my opinion it was a good first two days and although I felt slightly hungry at times it was nothing that a cup of coffee didn't cure ... and I slept so well.   ðŸ˜´ zzzz

Sue xx

Sunday 9 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 a Week Challenge - The Food for the Week


So, armed with my four little coins I went to Sainsbury's and I chose as much food as I could get for my miniscule budget.  I brought it home, took the photo and then thought now I must see exactly what I have to work with here.

It was time to start counting before the panic set in.

I had 20 slices of bread and 2 crusts.

There were 19 potatoes of varying sizes.

Despite one carrot trying to hide under another there are definitely 15 carrots here.

Sadly just the 2 onions, but what a lot of flavour they should be able to bring to the dishes I make.

I had one jar of orange marmalade, one can of orange spaghetti rings, and one can of orange coloured peach slices.  Yes it was at this point that I realised that most of my shopping for the week was orange in colour!!

Oh how I will be missing green by the end of the week. 🍏🥗🥬

And I also had the basic store cupboard foods that I had decided to allow myself.

Next it was time to make myself some notes.

Just rough ideas so that I could see how to spread out the numbers of each vegetable and food to be eaten either as they are or in recipes.  It may be messy and scribbled out, but these scraps of paper told me that while it might be on almost ration levels, I should be able to make myself the twenty one meals that would see me through the week, seven breakfasts and fourteen sort of interchangeable lunches and teas.

Well that was a relief for sure, at least I would be eating three times a day.

My next job was to work out the nutritional value of the foods that I had available and average it out over the one week of the Challenge.  This is how it looks:

Protein -139g = 20g a day
Fats - 43g = 6g a day
Carbohydrates - 1202g = 172 a day
Calories - 5886 = 840 a day
Five a day - 17 = 2.4 a day.

Not added to these figures are the amounts that I will get from using the oil and the mayonnaise, so all of them except the five a day will rise by a bit.

One tablespoon of Olive Oil contains - 123 calories, 14g fat, .5g of carbs and .5g protein.
One tablespoon of Mayonnaise contains - 103 calories, 11g fat, .5g carbs and .1 protein.

So I should be getting over 1000 calories a day and some more fats too.  I will also be getting at least some of my five a day ... as long as I eat all of the onions and carrots.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing the first two days of meals.

Sue xx

Saturday 8 April 2023

The Eat for £3.50 a Week Challenge - The Where and the Food


I am in a Facebook group entitled 'Food - Surviving on 50p a Day' ... yes it's sad that in this day and age we even need a group like this, but it seems we do.  I posted yesterday about The Why and the History and today is all about the where the idea came from and the food that I bought with my £3.50 budget.  I will also show the store cupboard items that I have chosen to allow myself ... after all even in my worst times I think I have always had salt and pepper and usually a couple of things lurking in the back of the cupboard.

The Where ... did this challenge come from?
One day Pat, who is an Admin on the group asked the question:  

' In the true spirit of this group, assuming empty cupboards, and that means not even flavourings, what would you buy?
Must be full price items and no freebies.
I will start you off with Aldi savoury rice 28p and Aldi spaghetti hoops at 16p. total 44p.
You only have 50p. Not a penny over! Just food for one day for one person. '

 It triggered over 250 comments and lots of ideas, and this was mine, well you know me, I love a Challenge.

The above was my shopping and it came to exactly 50p.

Breakfast was my 14 p banana.

Lunch and tea were made from the onion, carrot and potato, with the peelings being cooked to make a stock to add some flavour.  I simply lifted out the vegetables for the stew and then whizzed up what was left with my stick blender to make the soup for my lunch.

It was tasty but not that filling and if I hadn't already been on a limited diet no doubt I would have felt the small amount of food even more.

Then in the comments of the Facebook challenge someone mentioned how much easier it would be to be able to shop for a whole weeks worth of 50p days of food all in one go ... and I replied that for one week I would give it a go.

And so this Challenge was born.

Now quite a few times in the past, and usually documented on this blog or one of my others, I have shopped and lived on £1 per day, but this is a whole other, and half the price challenge.  Could it be done?

So after looking on the Sainsbury's online shopping website and putting things into and out of my virtual basket many times, I came up with the basic plan and then I went shopping the very next day armed with £3.50 and a single shopping bag ... to see if it could really be done.

And this is what I bought:  

One loaf of bread - 36p
2 onions - 24p
2.5kg White potatoes - £1.25
1kg Carrots - 50p
Can of Spaghetti Rings- 16p
Can of Peach Slices - 34p
Orange Marmalade - 59p

I was very lucky to see the 36p bread, I have never even noticed it before in our small branch of Sainsbury's, but there were four loaves tucked right in the corner on the bottom shelf, they obviously don't want many people to shop for such a cheap loaf.

My receipts (I totalled and paid before I realised the bread was still in my shopping trolley), and the 3p that I had left over.  I could have bought jam for 39p instead of that extravagant 59p marmalade ... and I might be regretting that later on in the week!!

Unlike the 50p for one day challenge that we were originally set I decided that this time I would allow myself a very basic store cupboard of items ... and these are the items I chose.

Coffee - caffeine is a MUST if I am to remain sane by the end of the week.
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable Stock
Olive Oil
Curry Powder
Mixed Herbs
Garlic Powder
and Mayonnaise

If you have any questions I will be happy to answer them, but if you are just here to criticise don't bother.  We don't learn more about ourselves or others by being critical and negative, it just shuts down the narrative.

This might be about to be a tough week, but hopefully it can be a friendly and entertaining one too.

Sue xx