A £30 budget menu

 Well, my month’s challenge of trying to live like a pensioner has finally come to an end. The month went by very quickly but I have to hang my head and admit it wasn’t an easy task for me. And I don’t think I could have done it without all your messages of support and suggestions of how to make my money stretch further. Thanks so much guys!

To read my roundup of the pension task and favourite tips I picked up along the way click here

Remember Paul Merrett’s budget family menu I featured here last week? Well, it’s spurred a number of readers into action. Graham came up with some cheap recipe ideas, which you’ll find at the bottom of this entry. While Christine searched through her kitchen cupboards to come up with an alternative £30 menu for one for skint pensioners or anyone else out there that is cash-strapped. For all you foodies, she warns that you won’t be malnourished “but you might be bored”! Christine says: “I’ve included cleaning stuff because most people do in their regular shopping, although you wouldn’t need it every week. You need to keep an eye open for the veg and fruit being sold off at a reduced price – you get to know when your local supermarket does this and nip down then.”

Christine’s £30 Weekly Menu for One

Mon Shopping list* Price Total Breakfast cereal Beans – 3 0.26 Lunch home-made soup cheese -1 2.43 Tea cheese on toast/fruit bread – 2 0.62 Tues butter 0.85 Breakfast cereal 2 pints milk 0.80 Lunch home-made soup teabags 1.13 Tea cheese on toast/fruit fruit & veg 10.04 Wed lentils 0.62 Breakfast cereal pearl barley 0.69 Lunch baked beans on toast pasta 0.59 Tea homemade soup/fruit stock cubes 2.09 Thurs marmalade 0.64 Breakfast cereal veg oil 0.78 Lunch baked beans on toast/fruit washing powder 1.99 Tea stir fry shampoo 0.46 Fri conditioner 0.43 Breakfast cereal soap 0.74 Lunch homemade soup toothpaste 0.90 Tea cheese on toast/fruit washing up liquid 0.46 Sat general cleaner 0.99 Breakfast cereal cereal 1.35 Lunch Baked beans on toast Total: £30 Tea stir fry Sun Breakfast cereal Lunch cheese on toast Tea stir fry

*items own brand where possible

I wondered if maybe you could alternate the stir fries with the odd curry or roasted veg and couscous, which is a delicious and cheap meal, but would mean you’d have to spend money on rice or couscous. Living on your own, you probably wouldn’t need to buy washing powder and shampoo every week though so you could probably stock up on rice and spices on alternate weeks.

Meanwhile, it’s Valentine’s Day. I’ve decided I’m going to make a card for DJ instead of spending £2 on one from a shop. How ridiculous! All we do is look at cards for a few seconds, put them on the mantelpiece and then they end up in the recycling bag. What a waste of money!

We’re also not going out for a meal but will have a nice candle-lit one at home instead (for the romance – not to save on electricity!). This isn’t a new frugal thing – we’ve done this for years because I hate going out to eat on Valentine’s. Typically some restaurants charge a lot of money for Valentine’s menus, stick in a lot of extra tables so you’re all cheek by jowl with other couples – how romantic! not! – and then the service is inevitably lousy. We don’t bother with expensive flowers and presents either. Often DJ doesn’t actually buy me flowers on Valentine’s – he prefers to surprise me by buying me flowers other times of the year. Although I usually wonder what it is that he’s done…Just kidding!

What are you doing – if anything – for Valentine’s Day? Is it just a cynical money-making exercise on behalf of florists, restaurants and other retailers?

By the way – if you’re still hungry for recipe ideas, here are some great ones from Graham:
Corned Beef Hash
Ingredients
1 tin corned beef
Small packet of instant mash ( you could use normal potatoes, but they are too time consuming
Salt + pepper, to taste, if you use them
Half a kettle water
Method
Empty the corned beef onto a cutting board, cut into small cubes, best way to do this was by cutting into strips then turning them around and repeat the cutting  until you get cubes ( they are easier to mix in)
Boil the water, tip the mash into a pudding basin, add the boiled water until it covers the mash , stir with a fork. Add the corned beef, stir that into the mash, add salt & pepper if desired
Re-heat in microwave, if you have one or place all ingredients into a oven proof dish until cooked to your liking – Serve and Enjoy
—————————————————————————
Cheese & Potato (Pie) (But not really a pie!)
Ingredients
Mature cheese { size depending on how many for } (depending what cheese you like
Packet of instant mash
Half a kettle of water
Onion or onion salt ( optional )
Tomatoes ( optional )
Sour milk ( if any available) a squeeze of lemon juice if not & normal milk
Method
Grate the cheese into a container, this makes it easier to mix in
Boil the water add to the mash, stir, then add the cheese & milk (the lemon helps to add flavour and curdle the milk slightly)
Empty the mixture into a casserole dish if oven cooking, then add tomatoes if using
or you can put straight onto the plates for serving if using a microwave ( this will make it a little sloppy if you have added too much water ( other way is to place plate with mixture under grill & leave till brown on top
Serve and Enjoy
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Welsh Rabbit or (Rabbit or cheese on toast )  Note there are quite a few variation of this teatime snack
Ingredients
Mature Cheese { size depending on how many for }
Milk (about half a jug, depending how many your serving )
Worcester Sauce
Mustard
Egg & spoonful of corn flour
Sliced bread for toasting   ….   Mixing bowl needed
Method
Grate the cheese into a mixing bowl, break the egg into the milk, mix add Worcester sauce, small amount of mustard (to suit taste )
Place the mixture into a microwave, this is the quickest way to set it, you can use saucepan on top of the stove, but you will need to keep stirring – with microwave you just pop it in set to Full power for about 5 minutes and keep a eye to it, when it starts to thickens take it out and stir well ( Don’t worry if it looks weird it will smooth as you stir)
Next, spread onto pieces of toast, place under a hot grill until brown spots appear – Serve and Enjoy
——————————————————————————-
This next recipe was out of an old cookbook by Mary Norwak called Save Money Cookbook – not sure if it’s still in print but worth having if you see a copy or try eBay
Sausage Roast

Ingredients
1 lb sausage meat (you don’t need to use all of it if just cooking for yourself)
3 oz plain Flour (self Raising will do if not)
1 oz fine oatmeal ( I also use half a crumbled up Weetabix
Salt & Pepper ( optional)
Pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
1 beaten egg
Method
Mix together the sausage meat, flour, oatmeal, salt & pepper and the beaten egg, until it stiffens enough to tip onto a floured pastry board, this is when I add the Weetabix which gives the dish a crunchy finish
Place onto a greased baking tray. Bake at 350F (Gas 4) for 40 minutes
Serve with gravy and root vegetables
A variation of this is to replace sausage meat with corn beef, also with gravy
—————————————————————————-
Other suggestions for cheap meals:
Breast of Lamb – this is dearer than it used to be, but still a cheap dinner, cut into  strips, it must be well cooked, served with lamb sauce of course
———————————————————
Draft of Pork – this comes in ready cut strips, a great alterative for spare ribs. I use my own mixture of barbeque sauce, by mixing Worcester Sauce and tomato soup (finger licking good)

Graham’s other frugal ideas including “find someone who can show you the lost art of darning” to mend socks, save cereal packets to cut into strips & write shopping lists on as well as the backs of unwanted letters.

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7 Responses to A £30 budget menu

  1. Tattyhousehastings says:

    Hi Piper
    I\’m celebrating Valentine\’s day with a sick child, lovely! Making me feel a little ill too…
    Just reading those recipe\’s made me realise how much extra cheese and bread we\’ve been eating since moving out of London. There aren\’t really any Asian or Turkish grocers down here, used to buy loads of yummy proper houmus and soya protein to make curries and shepherd\’s pies etc etc and fresh fresh vegetables. Do miss that a lot, and must remember to be more organised so don\’t rely on cheese and bread for lunch so much. Have gone up a dress size since leaving London. Aargh.
     

  2. Christine says:

    Tell Graham to get his darning along to my house and I\’ll teach him. Bit since I\’ve had to but I still can along with a nice patch!

  3. darkrose says:

    just thought id add a recipie for BBQ cooking sauce tomato ketchup, brown sauce, brown sugar, and coca cola yes you did read right. warm two sauces then add sugar and when the sugar has melted add the coca cola till its all thick and gooey marinade which ever meat you wish and cook as normal i used this recipe for spare ribs for a barby one year everyone loved it, i am not sure on the measurements but then i always cook to taste

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