Cheap and healthy foods – will not exceed $ 5 a week :
As I can’t afford my usual loaf, I make bread. I find a simple recipe, knead, let it rise, knead again.
After several centuries have passed, my loaf emerges from the oven, dense but edible.
Sensibly, I put half in the freezer. Normally, I’d leave it lying about, going mouldy, but the freezer is my new best friend.
My son Wolfie, 18, is horrified that his usual Warburton’s Toastie isn’t available. I use half the plums for jam. It sets like concrete and I feel like Mrs Bridges in Upstairs Downstairs, with varicose veins and a grumpy disposition.
It’s taken me a full evening and all I’ve managed to do is make tomorrow’s breakfast.
The homemade toast and jam go down well with Wolfie and my husband Simon. Baked potatoes and cheese for lunch but I’d forgotten how long they take so we eat them mid-afternoon.
This diet is carb-heavy but if I wanted salad, I’d have to grow it as shop-bought stuff would send me over budget.
For dinner, I spend an hour making jerk chicken, creating a sauce out of the herbs and spices I already have. I wouldn’t buy battery chicken breasts so we go with the free range legs and wings, served with rice and half the tin of sweetcorn.
I’m a vegetarian so I have jerk butternut squash instead.
I would usually buy boil-in-the-bag rice but “value” stuff tastes the same. Later, Wolfie wonders about snacks.
There aren’t any. I think we are all going to lose some weight.
Toast for breakfast again. I should have bought porridge oats. But I’m very pleased with the soup I’ve made from cabbage, a quarter onion, and the leftover bones from the chicken. I have a cabbage-only version.
With homemade bread, it makes a great lunch, and costs about 10p. If I wasn’t lucky enough to work from home, I’d spend all weekend cooking and freezing the results.
As it is, it’s taking two hours a day to feed three people. I allow a plum each for pudding. Dinner is pancakes with chicken and tinned spinach in a white sauce made from flour, butter and milk. More pancakes for pudding but they feel more like a snack.
We go wild at breakfast, with omelettes made from just one egg each. I’d give anything for mushrooms but sprinkle on cheese instead.
More bread needs making, so that’s half the morning gone.
I make lunch from leftovers and produce a gastronomic-looking plate of cabbage, leftover spinach, tinned tomato and poached egg. I’m excited to discover that tinned spinach tastes as good as fresh for a 10th of the price.
For dinner I make fishcakes with tinned salmon, sweetcorn and mash, with homemade mayonnaise (last egg) and more spinach.
It looks and tastes great, but it takes two hours and uses nearly every pan in the house.
There’s nothing convenient about eating well on a budget. It’s no wonder previous generations of women stayed home cooking- they had no choice.
Baked beans on homemade toast for breakfast. It’s a good job none of us are on the Atkins diet.
For lunch, I make hummus with half the chickpeas, some garlic and olive oil, but it’s somewhat lumpy and reminds me of 70s wholefood cafes.