One week into the live on £53 a week challenge

After no shopping at all on Monday, which helped to balance the spendy weekend, basics were needed today.

Air freshner  £          2.39
Stain remover  £          2.49
Toilet roll x 6  £          3.50
Cat food  £          2.39
Sausages  £          1.99
Cheese  £          2.29
bread  £          0.99
pizza  £          0.99
Cereal  £          1.09
olive oil  £          2.19
butter  £          0.98
milk  £          2.00
 £        23.29

I have made a mousakka using up the onions and aubergines I got at the market on Saturday and some lamb from the freezer. All other ingredients such as garlic, cinnamon, flour, eggs and milk I already had. I have enough of the the meat mixture for a meal another day and found a pack of puff pastry in the freezer which had been reduced from £1.64 to 41p so it will be Greek pie for supper another day. The total for the ingredients for two suppers feeding 3 adults came to just under £6, factoring in that the eggs are from the chickens I keep. The DS doesn’t like mousakka (sigh) so the sausages are for him, to be served with mash and veg left over from the weekend, all ingredients are including in the costing.

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Today I have eaten one egg, and drank only water. I am still ill hence the small appetite. That will change I am sure but I am enjoying the weight loss, and I am really not hungry. Left over pasta and home made soup has sustained the rest of the family. Foodwise it has been quite a cheap day. I did not have to shop at all to feed us today, just utilised left overs, storecupboard and fridge staples and delved into the freezer. With supper and lunches and breakfast it has cost about £5.50 to feed us all, which is £1.83 per person.

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Cooking mousakka brings back happy memories: of the prize I won, cooking with James Martin for blogging about my favourite holiday food, and my first trip as a student to Greek Islands discovering new food. You never forget your first mousakka. I use  a Delia Smith recipe, which is wonderful, always salting then rinsing the aubergine which removes all bitterness, and gallons of olive oil to cook them in, of course.

It did occur to me today that maybe we are not eating enough fruit and veg. The bananas have gone a bit brown so I will make a cake with those tomorrow.This seems to happen all the time, even though I always buy them as green as I can. I read a tip to stop this happening, which is to put cling film over the stalk bit, to make them last longer. And while we have lots of veg on Sunday, mostly I seem to eat onions, peppers and tinned tomatoes.

I have set myself two targets this week, incorporate more fruit and veg into the diet and workout how much our bills are weekly. I love spreadsheets so this isn’t a chore and I already have a monthly budget plan listing all our expenditure. I just don’t look at it enough and this exercise has made me think I really need to. Eating more fruit and veg may be a bit more of a challenge!

Any tips to incorporate more healthy options for a family that doesn’t like many vegetables and some veggie recipes that carnivores may like are, as ever, very welcome.

A totally locally Christmas

So it’s over. That was Christmas and I think it was a good one. Just the four of us yet for some reason I thought it necessary to cook beef, turkey and a goose. As ever Queen Delia rescued me, as her Christmas book covers all three, and with two ovens and a lot of juggling and a microwave that also functions as a convection oven I got there. Of course, it’s so much easier if you have men to cook the meat on a Weber, as per last year in Melbourne.

A few years back when I had a stressful, busy, corporate life I bought all the Christmas food from Marks and Spencer, all pre prepared. Then Aldi came into my life. I now have palpitations at the prices in any of the big supermarket chains. I need to say it now, it costs so much less and I do not compromise on quality.

The turkey and the goose were free range and English. The beef was British. All the veg was from the UK too. I made pickled red cabbage and bread sauce, glazed carrots, sprouts with pancetta and without and everything was bought on my local high street. And no petrol was used to procure these items. So I reckon it’s not just been a locally bought Christmas but a green one too. We did wheel the supermarket trolley home, as that was easier than dragging heavy bags. What we need is a Melbourne Market Jeep.

We all agree to buy presents from lists, so we get what we really want and need, instead of piles of tat that clutters our lives. This means we don’t get into debt by falling into the Christmas trap of spending for spending sake. I bought three hampers of homemade goodies from Maidens Fayre, again most ingredients were locally sourced and I’m supporting a local mumpreneur. We still get little surprises, such as keyring torches courtesy of corporate rebranding, Hobbit Related goodies from our lovely friends in New Zealand and a beautiful china tea set from a new friend who I met though the Four Week Shopping Locally Challenge. And this years Christmas crackers were cracking!

So despite my brother related meltdown moment on Christmas Eve, I’m pretty sure that my nearest and dearest had a good day. All rounded off with Dr Who.

Oh, and I got twitter earrings!

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Still not Living Below the Line

Living below the line is not really a lifestyle choice for me, it is a necessity. Since returning from travelling, I have not yet found a job and my husband works part time. It is one of the reasons I chose not to join the Live Below the Line challenge, as I guessed I was pretty much already keeping to a very low food budget.

Instead I decide to blog about food, cooking  and how to live well on a limited food budget and see how much exactly I lived on. There are three adults in the family and we eat together most of the time, so most meals are for three with leftovers usually for lunch the next day.

One way that helps is to work on economies of scale. I don’t buy one onion I buy a bag. The one above cost £1.69 from Asda and I guess there are 50 small onion in it, so I sometimes use 2 for a  meal at an approximate cost of 3p each.

Tonight dinner is toad in the hole.I will be using a recipe from this book.

The sausages were 2 packs of 6 for £4 which does not make them cheap, however cheap sausages are mainly water and rusk, these are 97% pork and gluten, wheat and dairy free and I would rather have high quality meat and less of it than eat mush.

Today I had tea first thing and accepted a croissant at a friends house for my late breakfast. Lunch was left over Chicken Macaroni from yesterday.

What it cost today.

Tea and milk 4p

Croissant 25p

Lunch nothing as it was left overs accounted for yesterday

Good quality sausages 66p

Egg 5p (from my chickens)

Milk 5p

Onion 3p as per yesterday

Courgette 11p

Carrot 3p as per yesterday

Potato 6p from an Aldi 69p bag

Mushroom 25p

Flour 5p

Total £1.58 as the pictured baked beans will not be on my plate. They cost 30p.

The Croissant was an unusual indulgence, and the mushroom was expensive at 25p, from  a pack of 4 for 99p I had bought to go with a meal last week. It will make me think twice about spending that much on a mushroom in the future!

Yet the purpose of this blog is too see how much I spend on food for myself,  rather than meeting the Live Below the Line challenge. My personal challenge is to see how cheaply can I can eat well without resorting to low quality ingredients, making real savings be made by buying fresh, seasonable food and using supermarket value lines such as tinned tomatoes and ketchup, instead of buying premium brands.

I realise I have a better life than those living in real poverty around the world, who have nowhere warm to sleep, no schools with young children forced into sweatshops and separated from family.   Yet with the rise of food banks in the UK are we, by giving away food without support to learn to cook meals that are nutritious, tasty and cheap,  just handing out the fish and not the fishing rod?