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


  1. Working out meals for a whole week on such a limited budget is hard enough - trying to work out nutrition and how to manage a fairly decent amount of the things we need to be healthy is a nightmare! So well done Sue.

    1. To be honest I didn't work out the nutrition until after I had bought the food, so that it's not too horrendous is more by chance than luck.

  2. It is not a lot when you set up a meal-plan for the whole week, is it?
    Just read all the comments on your previous post, and your detailed replies (thank you).
    You have absolutely nailed it when you say " Food education is sorely needed". It's been needed for 20 years or more.
    I fear the woke culture of not telling people they cannot do things, plus politicians who are too scared/selfish to propose anything which might do good but affect their chances of re-election, makes it unlikely we will see real change in the short-term.

    1. The meals are proving to be small, but actually surprisingly tasty and filling, and if followed with a cup of coffee I am finding that I don't feel hungry much before the next meal.

      Some of the comments and questions on the Facebook group show how little some young Mums these days know about food and about cooking it. They really are swept along with what the adverts tell them, and the ready made meals that come with instructions seem to be the only way that they have confidence not to poison their families.

  3. P.S. Apologies for bringing politics in, and will understand if you want to remove my comments, but I don't think you can divorce over a decade of the party in Government from the current position of inflation, obesity, NHS-lists and now food shortages. Went into Aldi yesterday and there was no butter, no cream, none of the meat products Himself had asked for, and big gaps in the veg/fruit section (although that could have been because it was mid-morning and Easter weekend)

    1. No need to apologise. I follow the agendas and talks that Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have had with the various ministers for years now with interest, and seeing their frustration as what COULD be done and what isn't is upsetting.

  4. Wow - seriously impressive all round. Not going to be that easy, is it, and the nutrition, while being the best it could be, is not great. Very creative though and it's going to be so interesting. xx

    1. I'm hoping to be even more creative than the notes, and try not to have too much repetition. But it was good to have a starting point.

  5. You are really impressive! Did you notice that you have on item/product/thing per day? You bought 7 different things!
    I just HAD to see, how this would be here: 5.86€. I chose cheapest sourdough rye bread (sounds very snobbish but this really IS the basic cheap bread here) for 0.74€/18 slices, carrots are expensive atm 1.48€/kg! 2 red onions 0.22€ (to be honest, I can't buy onions, I'm allergic, but I would use my own grown garlic), 2,5kg potatoes (that's 20 of them) 1.60€, and because cheapest marmalade is way over 1€, I chose to have a tub of spread (vegan) for 0.45€. No spaghetti loops here, so I chose to have 1 bag of pasta for 0.36€ and a tin of tomatoes for 0.37€, and replaced peaches for 4 apples for 0.64€. I tried to choose the cheapest things from different shops, but it's of no use to shop around, cheapest products exactly the same price in EVERY shop, even in Lidl! With spices from my pantry I would be able to cook 21(ish) meals, 2 slices of bread for breakfast etc.
    Counting all this just makes me want to grow more potatoes...

    1. Yes, I had noticed that I had bought seven different things, although eating one per day would make for a very strange diet ... imagine a day of orange flavoured marmalade. Haha ;-)

      It's brilliant that you managed to work out a similar weeks food. Without the 2.5kg of potatoes I think I would be having a very hungry week, they are an important and healthy filler aren't they. I wasn't going to grow any this year, but I have just found three volunteer plants already romping away in the raised bed, so I will leave them there and see what I get.

  6. Gosh, that's not a lot of food but your plan looks inventive and I bet you lose a couple of pounds at the end of the week. I was looking back at your " For the price of a coffee " challenge as after a few years Phil and I have started having a coffee out every so often but I always feel so guilty spending £5.20 on our coffees and sometimes we share a toasted teacake ( we are so wild and care free ) and then I feel even worse ,he has all the butter ----- when I think of what food I could buy with that and to be honest I prefer my own coffee but Phil enjoys it and we do talk about other things rather than" have you taken out the rubbish " ," that newspaper has been on the floor for 3 days " and " what would you like for dinner " ( the reply is always the same --"I don't mind " one day I will surprise him with ---- nothing :) x

    1. Oh gosh, the 'For the Price of a Coffee Challenge' would be a luxurious amount to spend each day after this week wouldn't it. :-)

      If me and Alan go out for a breakfast coffee at Booths, I have the toasted teacake but he always gets himself a bacon bun with two extra rashers ... the greedy boy. And we go out for exactly the same reason you do, we talk about different things, sometimes work or sometimes just plans and it makes for a nice change.

  7. Gosh... Orange really is king here! And crikey... I didn't expect that you'd work out the nutritional value as well 😱 I should have known better. We'll done Sue 👍 I'm really looking forward to seeing meals.

    1. I didn't notice until I got home, it's a VERY orange weeks worth of food isn't it ;-)

      Well I always, always, always have someone going on about lack of protein, healthiness etc etc ... so I thought I would nip it in the bud and put all the facts and figures there for everyone to see!!

  8. I’ve enjoyed following your various challenges over the years. I think this one is very brave and super hard. I allow £50 a week for two of us and we eat pretty well in terms of protein and quality. However, I am careful and never waste food. Anything left over at the end of each month goes into my “Food savings” pot and I currently have £350 in there. It means that when an unexpected bill (probably a car bill) comes in and we have no money left, we can still eat. I think we all have to find a way to manage our budgets and do what suits best. Regards June

    1. Yep, it is a challenging challenge this time. :-)

      That is a brilliant way of saving some cash for unexpected bills and a nice budget for two of you. Just manageable with room for healthy foods and a few treats, it sounds as though you have it just right.


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