family budget

Crisis diet *plus*

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Organic veg box suppliers are having a tough time at the moment, as people are apparently cutting their orders back as they downsize. So this week I tried to think of a way of factoring in an organic veg box into this week’s crisis diet, while still keeping the total around £35. This proved to be too much of a challenge, so we are looking at £27 at Asda and £14 for a medium organic vegetable box (Abel and Cole), totalling £41 for the week’s shopping.

Breakfast is porridge as usual, lunch is tinned soup and bread plus protein as before.

Dinner ideas are as follows, and recipes are readily available on the internet. The veg box items are in bold. They are tasty, and seasonal.

1. Broccoli and cream cheese bake

2. Chard and salmon quiche

3. White pollack fish with boiled potatoes and fennel

4. Roast gammon, mashed potatoes and peas

5. Baked potatoes with bolognaise sauce

6. Chicory wrapped with ham, tinned chopped tomatoes poured over, and grated cheese on top, baked for 30 minutes.

7. Mushroom omelettes

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Week 2 – Crisis diet

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This is a slight adaptation of week 1. Keep to the porridge for breakfast, preferably with raisins or mixed dried fruit in it, for maximum nutrition at minimum cost.  Likewise, keep to the soup for lunch, with a piece of toast or bread and a small amount of protein to stave off hunger during the afternoon. Here are the dinners for the week.

 

1. Ready made lasagne

2. Home made turkey and mushroom pie with shortcrust pastry, serve with cabbage and/or carrots

3. Pasta with sauce and crumbled Lancashire cheese

4. Roast chicken dinner with roast potatoes , carrots and cabbage. You can make stock with the carcass and make a carrot and lentil soup, with spare carrots from this week and lentils from last week, or a pea and ham soup with frozen peas from last week and a bit of ham from your packet.

5. Fishcakes with oven chips (you should have some left from last week – if not make saute potatoes) and peas (from bag last week, if you haven’t used them in a soup)

6. Toad in the Hole made with frozen sausages, served with vegetables of choice

7. Omelettes, served with bread and butter, and a small salad (optional)

 

Still hungry?

1. Apple crumble and custard

2. Home made sponge cake

3. Bananas and melted chocolate sauce

4. Ice cream

5. Semolina and jam

6. Flapjacks, if you have some porridge oats spare, and sugar in your cupboard

7. Tinned pineapple, or pineapple upside down cake.

 

Shopping list: (currently £37.92 at Asda, including the puddings)
Vanilla ice cream

Large bag porridge oats

Large bag plain white flour

Large bag self-raising flour

Semolina

Pasta shapes

Bolognaise sause

Strawberry jam

Lentil soup x 2

Oxtail soup x 2

Pea and ham soup x 2

Tomato soup x 2

Vegetable soup x 2

Pineapple pieces in syrup

4 x 4 pints whole milk

15 mixed weight eggs

2 x 500g sunflower spread

250g Lancashire Cheddar

Mixed dried fruit

Savoy cabbage

Mushrooms

Onion

2.5kg white potatoes

4 Bramley apples

At least 4 bananas

1 kg carrots

125g thin sliced ham

340g diced turkey breast

Medium chicken

8 Smoked haddock fishcakes

12 thick sausages

Bar of milk chocolate

Week 1 – Crisis diet for when the cupboard is bare

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Baroness Jenkin recently announced (admittedly while being ambushed by the Press, but still …) that the poor don’t know how to cook, and went on to claim that you can sort yourself out with a few 4p bowls of porridge. Anne, you are wrong. As an affluent person, you can afford to live frugally, but many people are forced to pay what we call a ‘poverty premium’ for their goods and services. For example, sometimes people live nowhere near a food shop and have no transport apart from expensive buses. Sometimes people can’t afford to buy in bulk as their cashflow is too limited. Sometimes people have no money for the meter (and remember that if you use a meter, you pay more for fuel than people who are able to pay via direct debit). Others have disabilities or depression and are unable to put in the time and effort it takes to organise a healthy diet on next to no money for years at a time. So you would do well to remember that next time you are insulting your fellow citizens.

In the meantime, here’s an emergency meal plan designed for if you really are up against it financially, and need to spend as little as possible for a week or two without missing meals, or compromising your nutrition levels too much. In planning this menu, I am assuming you have access to a cooker and fridge with a freezer compartment.

If you shop very carefully you could feed family members for £1-2 per person per day on this plan, less if you prowl around several supermarkets near closing time for reduced price special offers, use coupons wisely, and ask for free fruit and veg when market stalls are closing down and have overripe things to give away. Other tips include choosing frozen and tinned foods over fresh, as nutrition levels are usually better than with things that have been languishing in your fridge. Also make sure you choose full fat dairy products over skimmed or semi skimmed, to maximise vitamins and calories.

Breakfast

Porridge with full fat milk, optional raisins.

Lunch

Tinned soup – choose a different type every day. Do not substitute with packet soup.

I piece of brown toast with sunflower spread

If there’s no protein in the soup, also allow 25-50g ham, spam, tofu, tinned fish or cheese

Supper

1. Baked potato and full fat cottage cheese, sliced tomato

2. Corned beef hash and frozen peas

3. Vegetable curry with lentils and rice

4. Spaghetti bolognaise made with Quorn, turkey or pork mince and tinned chopped tomatoes

5. Frozen sausages with mashed potatoes and frozen mixed vegetables

6. Fish fingers with oven chips and baked beans

7. Cauliflower cheese with bread and butter

Still hungry?

1. Tinned fruit and custard made from powder

2. Stewed or baked apples and custard

3. Rice pudding with full fat milk

4. Natural yoghurt and a little sugar or overripe banana

5. Jelly

6. Blancmange

7. Home made jam tarts

Shopping list – cost it out at http://www.mysupermarket.com and take note of any ‘Switch and save’ suggestions they make. Currently the best place to buy it is Asda and this costs up at £33.89 at the moment.

Large bag of porridge oats

2 pints of full fat milk per day – make sure you all drink it if it’s not used in cooking, including the adults

Small bag raisins/sultanas/currants/dried mixed fruit (optional)

14 tins of soup – look for multi buy offers, favour vegetable-rich ones

About 1.5 to 2lbs of any of the following: cheese, ham, spam, tofu, tuna or other protein

8 oz tub sunflower, olive or other vegetable oil spread

2 x 800g loaves brown bread

4 large potatoes

8 oz full fat cottage cheese

4 large tomatoes

2 large tins corned beef

3 onions

5lbs regular potatoes

2 lbs carrots

Bag of frozen mixed veg suitable for curry (root veg especially useful, and you can include some fresh carrots and potatoes)

Small bag lentils

Small bag long grain rice (use with curry and also in rice pudding)

Packet spaghetti

1 lb Quorn, beef, pork or turkey mince

12 frozen fish fingers

Tinned chopped tomatoes x 3

12 frozen sausages

Bag low fat oven chips

Bag of frozen peas

2 tins baked beans

1-2 cauliflowers, depending on size

2 tins fruit, eg pears/prunes/mandarins/peaches

Bird’s custard powder

4 baking apples

Small bag of plain flour

1 pint natural yoghurt

1 packet jelly

1 packet blancmange

If the cupboard really is bare, try the Trussell Trust food banks. Their website is here, and you can get referrals from GPs and other community professionals who are part of the scheme, to receive three days’ worth of food:

http://www.trusselltrust.org/