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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/

Dinners for the home – Week 3

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MONDAY

Lasagne and green salad

Greek yoghurt and honey

TUESDAY

Salmon steaks with boiled potatoes and carrots

Microwaved chocolate cake

WEDNESDAY

Grilled lamb chops with new boiled potatoes and green beans

Poached pears with marscapone

THURSDAY

Baked potatoes with ham and cheese

Ice cream and chocolate sauce

FRIDAY

Beef stew and rice

Fruit salad and cream

SATURDAY

Omelettes and salad

Home made fruit cake

SUNDAY

Roast pork with apple sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, peas and broccoli

Chocolate mousse

Image: Catherine Hadler / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dinners for the home – Week 2

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The second week of my economy menu plans, linked to the Week 2 shopping list and dessert recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY

Spaghetti bolognaise

Banana split yoghurts

TUESDAY

Cottage pie

Courgettes

Mango fool

WEDNESDAY

Sausages

Mashed potatoes

Carrots

Onion gravy

Fruit salad and single cream or yoghurt

THURSDAY

Turkey stir fry and rice

Yoghurt with blueberry jam and elderflower cordial

FRIDAY

Baked trout, herring or mackerel with boiled new potatoes and green beans

Rice pudding

SATURDAY

Lamb curry and rice

Ice cream and chocolate sauce

SUNDAY

Roast chicken with roast potatoes, green beans and broccoli

Fruit crumble and custard

Fruit salad and single cream

Image: Catherine Hadler / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feeding the tribe

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To avoid waste and minimise expenditure, you need to take a view over a month of what you are likely to need in the way of food. To that end, I have devised a monthly menu plan for a family’s evening meals, which I have linked to related weekly shopping lists, designed for precisely this purpose.  It should feed a family of four, where each family member is out at work or school during weekdays, and getting a school dinner or a light mid-day meal at work, but having lunch at home at the weekends. In addition to the meals listed in each weekly menu plan (see in the Food and Cooking Category), a healthy breakfast on a budget could be chosen from the following options, avoiding expensive branded cereals:

  • Porridge (add cinnamon and/or raisins for a treat)
  • Toast and Marmite, jam or marmalade
  • Boiled egg and soldiers
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Yoghurt with banana
  • Stewed apple and yoghurt – see my post on Austerity breakfast recipes.
  • Birchermuesli – ditto, see the Austerity breakfast recipe post.
  • Apple or orange juice (diluted for children to protect their teeth)
  • Hot or cold milk, tea or coffee

Ignore fiddly packed lunch recipes in fancy books aimed at fictitious yummy mummies with time and money to waste. Simple and cheap packed lunches for children could contain things like this, and they are just as likely to eat the contents.

  • Ham or cheese sandwich
  • Apple or satsuma
  • Carrot sticks
  • A  piece of home made fruit cake or flapjack (see recipes)
  • Some diluted fruit juice in a reusable metal water bottle.

You can compare the cost of shopping online using price comparison websites such as http://www.mysupermarket.com. A healthy and sustainable housekeeping budget at 2010 prices, using leading supermarkets, is something in the region of £25 per person per week for parts of London and the South East (considerably less in some other regions), although this should be seen in monthly terms as some weeks you will spend a lot more than others. This budget includes food from the monthly menu plan as well as breakfasts and packed lunches, cleaning materials, and everything you need to do the laundry, as well as basic toiletries.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Healthy diets, the 1910 way.

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As you have probably read on other pages of this blog, my starting point for investigations into housekeeping practices and their effect on family wellbeing started with a series of home management books produced for schools in 1910, written by Wilena Hitching (previously a headmistress and school inspector). These books were designed to give a thorough, almost scientific introduction to the study of housekeeping to girls between the ages of about 11-14, with a view to preparing them for lives as wives and mothers. While some of the advice she gave sounds dated today, most of it has surprisingly significant relevance for men and women a hundred years later, particularly in times of financial constraint. My focus today will be what Miss Hitching considered to be a healthy diet for families, viewed through a 21st century lens.

Breakfast options (served at 8am)

Porridge

Bread crusts soaked in warm milk

Brown bread and butter and an egg

Bacon

Smoked Finnan haddock

Hot milk for children

Cocoa for adults

Most of these are high in fibre and protein, with very little sugar evident and comparatively little fat (with the exception of the bacon). This is clearly an idealised diet – Miss Hitching does permit the drinking of tea and coffee, but regards it as somewhat stimulating and less preferable than cocoa.

Luncheon (which took place mid-morning, around 10.30 am, and was really for children)

Hot milk and a biscuit

Brown bread and butter and a banana

Dinner options (which took place in the middle of the day, around 1pm). A good housekeeper would prepare a two or three course meal, depending on the weather and the type of work family members were engaging in.

Pea soup

Lentil soup

Haricot soup

Roast meats, leftovers minced or served in shepherd’s pie (for example)

Chops or steaks

Offal

Poached fish

Vegetables

Potatoes

Savoury Yorkshire pudding (served alongside roast meats or before the meal with gravy as a kind of appetiser)

Savoury or sweet suet puddings, such as steak and kidney pudding or jam roly poly (but not both in the same meal!)

Macaroni or rice pudding

Stewed fruit and custard

These are high protein meals, comparatively high in saturated fat, but the amount of sugar used in the desserts is comparatively low – a teaspoon of sugar here, a little bit of jam there. There is ample use of fruit, vegetables and pulses, simply prepared, meaning the meals are comparatively high in fibre as well.

Tea (served mid-afternoon, around 4pm; again, mainly aimed at children)

Bread and butter

Watercress, lettuce or radishes

Stewed fruit (apples, rhubarb, prunes, etc)

Once again, this is a high fibre meal with more fruit and vegetables, designed to maximise satiety (feeling of fullness). Watercress is packed full of vitamins, iron and other minerals, representing a kind of Edwardian superfood.

Supper (served before bed, around 7pm) – one or more of the following might be served.

Bread and butter or bread and dripping

Hot milk

Porridge

Boiled onions

Cream crackers, butter and cheese

Simple fare, and perhaps less extensive that in modern times for the time of day. This is presumably because the bulk of the calories needed was taken in during breakfast and lunch, and the family had had the opportunity to gather together for a hot meal during the middle of the day as well. The need to give the stomach a rest from meat overnight is emphasised in Miss Hitching’s book.

I look at all this food, and wonder whether personally I could plough my way through all of this every day, even taking out the ‘luncheon’ and ‘tea’ on the basis of not being a growing child. It is also intriguing to wonder what might happen to the body, were we to start eating like this regularly. Given that the calorific intake is probably higher than we are used to today, would we end up fatter? Or would the simple nature of the food allow our bodies to process the fats and sugars more effectively than we tend to now, leading to fewer metabolic problems such as diabetes and obesity. I think I have an inkling as to the answer, when I think about rationing that was to come thirty years later during World War II, which involved a diet not too far removed from what we are seeing in this 1910 list, albeit with less meat. This led to an improvement in the nation’s health, so perhaps the answers to the obesity epidemic lie in what our grandmothers already knew about choosing food for the family?