This post is about shops 6, 7 and 8…lots in store for you lovely readers, with more detail about what I’ve been cooking up in my super budget kitchen!
Shop 6: Whilst we were house- and dog-sitting, we did one shop, from Nisa Local (a mini supermarket) and from one of those discount food shops with lots of freezers and factory surplus. The Nisa was disappointingly expensive compared to Sainsbury’s (60p for chopped tomatoes and 89p for kidney beans) but we did get a great reduced section deal on some Jus Rol puff pastry for 40p. This made a lovely roast veg tart, which is an easy and filling dinner and we had enough left over for lunch the next day. The discount shop had some weird and wonderful items including a huge bag of frozen chopped red peppers for £1, and a paella spice mix for 60p. We also bought some BBQ crumbed pollock fillets, which sounds very odd and to be honest, tasted a bit naff. The fish inside was nice, though, and Ruth made them into a lovely meal with homemade potato wedges and garlicky sauteed carrots. I used the paella spice mix for paella, of course, with those red peppers and some Quorn chicken-style pieces, but it also worked well in enchiladas which I baked in the oven with some ready-grated cheese on top. The cheese, sadly, was not very good value for money, as I used the whole packet in one meal.
Shop 7: Back to Sainsbury’s, hooray! The mythical reduced section triumphed again, with 4 white baps for 29p. We’re not making as much soda bread any more, as it uses up a lot of soya milk and therefore reduces my breakfast options. Speaking of breakfast, peanut butter oat cookie/flapjack things were on the breakfast menu, as the oats and peanut butter were running out and I just couldn’t face another morning of porridge. These were made with oats, peanut butter, honey and Basics spread. I melted an equal amount of spread and honey in a pan with a bit of allspice, then mixed in the oats and a little plain flour, and formed the mixture into balls. After baking in the oven for 15 minutes at Gas 4, they were golden-brown and tasted delicious. Ruth also bought some Basics black olives, which were delicious with a tomato sauce on pasta. The little tub of mixed herbs I bought ages ago is still going, and we’ve been using it for the majority of our meals. It really is a star buy at 35p, and has lasted me since the 7th of March!
Shop 8: This was a bit of a luxury shop, as we really fancied some treats for once! We managed to find some reduced croissants for breakfast, courtesy of the reduced section, 29p for four. We also bought some chillies, as I was missing spicy food, and a bar of Basics dark chocolate for 30p. The biggest luxury purchase was a jar of Marmite for £1.70. I’ve been missing it so much! Anything over £1, on this foodbank fast, is a luxury. I will make the Marmite work for its price tag, though: it can do so much more than perk up your soda bread toast! For example, Marmite enriches sauces and gravy, and provides much-needed Vitamin B12 to supplement our veggie diet.
The best meal I made was a sweet-and-sour Chinese stir fry with egg-fried rice. Everyone has a different recipe for sweet-and-sour sauce, and mine ended up tasting just slightly too much of tomato. Usually I would use ketchup, but we had none, so I made it with these ingredients: Chopped tomatoes, honey, tinned pineapple, soy sauce, a pinch of Chinese five spice, malt vinegar and chopped garlic. It’s really important to mix the sauce cold and taste it while you’re making it. We used half of a big bag of stir-fry mixed veg from Sainsbury’s (700g for £1) and the rest of the Quorn chicken pieces for the stir fry, and it was more than enough for both of us.
On this last shop, Ruth had a good chat with the checkout staff about End Hunger Fast. She had to put some items back at the till (lemons and anchovies) and instead of disdain, she encountered sympathy and interest about the cause. If you want to find out more about why we’re doing this, please visit http://www.endhungerfast.co.uk.
I would like to get something off my chest here, and shed some light on how we make our food last on so little money. I don’t eat every meal at home, as I work in a kitchen for 25-30 hours a week, mostly in the evenings. My workplace offers me a small staff meal after working 5 and a half hours, which I sometimes take advantage of (once or twice a week) even during this foodbank fast. You may think that this is unfair, as I end up eating outside of the budget some nights, and therefore our fast isn’t authentic to how people in poverty live. Let me just answer that with some statistics: According to the Trussell Trust, In 2012-13, 18% of people referred to their foodbanks were there because of low income (http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats). These people on a low income are likely to be working in industries such as catering, which has very little union activity, widespread abuse of zero hours contracts and frequent breaches of employee’s rights. Most catering jobs pay the minimum wage. Believe me, I have been working in catering since I was 16 and I have never been paid above the minimum wage, with the exception of my current job, which pays 36p an hour above for back of house. Just think about it: if you were under-employed, surviving on the minimum wage, and barely able to pay your rent and bills, you wouldn’t say no to a free hot meal.Therefore, I am going to continue having my staff meal when I get home late at night.
Thanks for reading. See you soon for shop 9,