Hi guys, today’s post is the final installment of my £20 Grocery Challenge – what I ate this week for £20. if this is the first part of this series you’re seeing, I recommend you go back and read Tuesday’s and Thursday’s posts. Tuesday’s was all about how I planned out my grocery shop and Thursday was everything I bought, how much it all cost and why I chose to get certain things for a nutritional purpose.
How I Found It
Before we get into what I ate, I’m going to give a brief overview of how I found it. The thing I think you’ll all be wondering, I didn’t go hungry. As I have a small appetite, I convinced my mum to do this with me, eating the same things, to let me know her thoughts. She wasn’t hungry either, well done me for planning meals with substance.
One thing I did find, I was getting bored of eating similar things. With a limited amount of vegetables, mixing things up wasn’t the easiest. Although, as you’re about to see, I did cook a variety of dishes, it was a bit dull. That could just be me though, I like to cook, this is a food blog (primarily) and I’m always playing around with recipes so I probably get tired of things faster than the average person.
Another thing, I mentioned in the planning post that I was going to have to skip the snacks I usually eat and have more square meals to keep the cost down. As I result, I think I did eat less than normal this week. There were several days where I didn’t eat anything until much later in the day because eating a full meal wasn’t that appetising. If you eat more than the average sparrow this probably won’t be a deal breaker. But, if you’re like me and you like to graze on things like fruits and nuts throughout the day, this could be hard.
The following diary is written more in note form, like an actual diary, as it was written while I was doing the challenge so I didn’t forget. Sorry it isn’t more polished! And another apology that some of the photos aren’t great, it was November and dinner is around 8pm in my house most nights. Good lighting is not the one.
My Food Diary
Sunday 4th November
Today was fabulous, great start, didn’t eat anything until dinner. I wish I could remember why, but the first and only thing I ate was a lentil and potato curry for dinner. I’m sure sticking to £20 for a week is easy if you only eat a meal a day, but it’s not a strategy I recommend. Here’s to a better day tomorrow.
Lentil + Potato Curry
Ingredients Used: half an onion, half a pepper, half a cup of red lentils, one baking potato, half a cup frozen peas, half a tin of chopped tomatoes plus some vegetable stock, herbs and spices.
Servings Made: 1
I actually woke up with an appetite!! Eating one meal yesterday served me well for eating a normal amount of food today. If you read the grocery haul post, you’ll know that I had very limited options for breakfast this week.
Breakfast – Oats w/ grated apple
Self explanatory. Half a cup of oats, made with ½ cup almond milk, ½ cup water, ½ an apple grated in and some chia seeds for those healthy omega 3 fats. And a little brown sugar.
Snack – other half of the apple
Lunch – Lentil Pasta
Lunch was made in a hurry so I had some lentil pasta with some spicy tomato sauce I made up. No vegetables were used for this one, trying to save those for my dinner options.
Ingredients Used: 100g lentil pasta, half a tin of chopped tomatoes plus herbs and spices.
Servings made: 1
Dinner – Squash Casserole
This was my ‘blow the budget’ meal. My butternut squash was quite expensive compared to my other vegetables and I wanted at least one meal that didn’t feel like a compromise. This is a recipe I put up back in February with just a couple of small changes to reduce the cost a bit.
Ingredients Used: 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, whole butternut squash (mine was small, I usually use half), one baking potato, I can chickpeas plus herbs and spices.
Servings made: 2
Breakfast -Baked Oats
½ cup of oats, water, ½ an apple (I ate the other half while I was prepping), a pinch of cinnamon and brown sugar. Gotta try and get some variety with those limited ingredients.
Bar at Caffe Nero
I know this is sort of cheating, but here’s my logic. I was having a coffee with my dad and he was paying. If I was really on a £20 budget because that was my only choice, he’d still have paid and I’d have probably had my snack anyway? Not technically within my budget but I didn’t spend more than my budget. I know that’s a technicality, let me know your thoughts on this. Did I cheat?
Lentil veggie pasta
Finally, some fresh vegetables and a protein source. I wasn’t measuring my vegetables out when I was making the pasta, just eye balling it to make sure I had enough of the ingredients left to make other dishes later in the week so I’m sorry this isn’t very precise.
Ingredients Used: 100g lentil pasta, pepper, onion, mushrooms, half a tin of chopped tomatoes plus herbs and spices.
Servings made: 1
I actually did a ‘what I eat in a day budget edition’ post with the food I ate on this day so you can read about this in more detail here.
Breakfast – Oats w/grated apple + the other half of the apple
Snack – Roasted chickpeas
Late Afternoon – Soup/ roasted chickpeas
Later? – Some leftovers of Monday’s dinner
Breakfast – Oats
The same as Monday.
Lunch – Lentil veggie pasta
Pretty much the same as the other day, remember I said I was getting bored of this…
The small appetite kicked in again and the lentil pasta left me quite full for a long time. I didn’t want dinner at dinner time and made a baked potato later in the evening.
Breakfast – Oats w/ apple
Same breakfast as Monday again, I’m bored now.
Snack – ½ portion oats
Oh, look, more oats. This was the I want something to eat but don’t have the appetite for a full meal situation repeating itself.
Dinner – Patatas Bravas
Laziness kicking in at the end of the week. My leftover potato roasted with another spicy sauce.
Ingredients used: 1 baking potato, 1 onion, a tin of chopped tomatoes
Breakfast – Baked Oats
I found another way to make breakfast!! Last time I baked my oats, I baked cinnamon apples alongside my oats. This time, I baked my apples inside my oats. Exciting.
This ends here. Originally, my plan was to make a lentil dal this night with my last tin of tomatoes and some of my lentils but my nan had a health scare that afternoon (she’s fine) so dinner was something I grabbed quickly, off plan. But I had planned dinner within my budget and would have made that if the situation had been different. So, I think this whole thing was quite successful.
Before I end this post, I’d like to add something about nutrition and vitamin consumption. Just like last time I did this, I spent more money than 100% essential to try and keep this as healthy and balanced as possible. Of course, there are some things missing here.
This is only one week in my life, not something I have to battle with daily. However, that’s not the case for everyone. If this was my every day, I would shop wisely in the following weeks from a nutritional perspective.
We have some pasta and some lentils left. Together, they make just over £4. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s over 20% of the weekly budget. I wouldn’t need to buy more sugar, there’s another £1. I’d have peas left as well, another £1.30 saved. There’s a tin of chickpeas left too. All in, that’s £7 (ish) of items I wouldn’t need the following week.
If I’d continued this for a second week, I would invest that money into fresher ingredients for the following week, perhaps more frozen vegetables to try and get some more nutritional variety. And probably something like rice as a cheap cupboard staple to either bulk other meals up or make something like a Mexican bean rice as another cheap meal option.
And that’s a wrap on the £20 Grocery Challenge #2. I hope you guys have enjoyed the second installment of this series and maybe picked up a few tips on the way. How do you think I did? Would you have done it differently?
Until next time,