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How to Eat on a (Tiny) Budget

October 18, 2013

I don’t know if you saw it but there was a documentary/reality show some months ago on British TV where celebrity Chefs were challenged to feed families on, I can’t remember the figure, say two pounds a day or something. In the end, the intention of the show got completely lost and the Chefs then started to discuss social problems and challenge just why a poor family had a flat screen TV. Quite understandably I suppose but then the show became all about the delicious meals…. but less mention of the cost because they just couldn’t achieve it.

Celebrity Chefs, earning millions of pounds, advising how to feed yourself on a budget? I don’t think so.

So let me tell you how I eat on a tiny tiny budget:

Aldi (a cheap German supermarket in Britain, I assume they have them elsewhere) is my best friend. The local Asian supermarket is also pretty cheap and I can buy what I need rather than in bulk.

My health is very important to me and getting the right nutrition on a diet free from wheat and with very little dairy is a challenge. This challenge is possible. Today I had just one courgette, one onion, a tin of tuna and a carrot in my fridge! I also had half a bag of wheat free pasta which was a little out of date but edible. When I do have some money I make sure to buy herbs (dried) and salt and pepper so that whatever I cook has at least some flavour. So my meal today was delicious and can easily be spread over two meals:

·         Half an onion (from a bag of four for 49p from Aldi)

·         One courgette (from a bag of three for 69p from Aldi)

·         One tin of tuna (for 79p from Aldi)

·         One carrot (7p from local Asian store)

·         Salt, pepper and a tiny pinch of turmeric

·         Wheat-free pasta (Tesco, £2.69 for the full bag sometime ago. A budget version of wheat pasta can be bought from Aldi for just 79p and will last several meals. Alternatively use potatoes or sweet potatoes for 49p or 69p or rice for 39p-99p also from Aldi. Your local Asian shop may have larger bags for 99p or thereabouts. Again, these will last for a few meals).


·         For breakfast I had a huge bowl of porridge. The bag initially cost just 49p from ‘Home Bargains’.

I cooked the pasta using my steamer because I have no cooker rings in my tiny kitchen and it works just fine. The rest I cook in a halogen oven. I put the chopped onion, courgette and carrot along with the tuna in a roasting dish along with water, soya spread/butter or olive oil. Today I didn’t have any oil so used soya spread. I cooked the vegetables and tuna on a high heat until a little crispy to add to the flavour and I kid you not it was delicious! Very filling and will last until tonight when I will re-heat the rest.

Today is a very very lean day (!) but as you can see, feeding myself is still possible!

On a not quite so lean day there are other recipes and ideas that I will share with you soon. For now, if you are really struggling or know someone who is – share this to let them know that a poor man from England can feed himself on a tiny budget – and so can you/they!

NB: Sometime ago I would have been enraged at reading the above paragraph because sometime ago I had NO money – not a bean – and no sign of any forthcoming. It is therefore irrelevant to tell you how to cook on a tiny budget if your budget is zero. I do know how this feels and I do know the solution, for most (depending on how mobile you are, more about this in another post): Food Banks. Food Banks are becoming commonplace in many towns, cities and even some villages. They provide ‘Three days emergency food parcels’ which, for me, can last much much longer. There is of course a degree of shame involved in approaching a Food Bank when you have run out of food and money but please, please push beyond this pride (as I have done, it isn’t easy but it is doable) and ask them for some grub for your tum! This is what they are there for and you will be treated with dignity, compassion and love. There is a quote from the book of Matthew in the Bible, I am not a Christian as such but I love the quote all the same: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food’. Some Food Banks are run by Christian volunteers and many are not. Some are Islamic, some non-denominational. It does not matter. We all need a helping hand sometimes and eating the right food in the right quantities can make a huge difference to your physical and mental health – giving you the strength to fight another day.

Stay with us – you can do this. I love you,

Matt xx

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