The cost of living crisis is beginning to bite, so this week's NHD guest blogger, Hazel Windsor-Aubrey, attempts to eat five days' worth of breakfasts, lunches and evening meals for just £15: #15for15
I don’t believe I would be letting you in on any big secret by mentioning here how much our cost of living has increased in recent times. This is felt in many areas of our lives, from filling up our cars with fuel to the small but very noticeable price increase in a simple cup of coffee. It is practically impossible to shield ourselves away completely from the reality of the present situation.
At the time of writing, in September 2022, according to the Office of National Statistics, the rate of inflation in the UK is now at 9.90%, well up on the long-term average of 2.62%. There is no denying that we are living in challenging times and this will be a cause of worry and potential hardship for many. In an article written by Statista in August 2022, households in the lowest income decile spent an average of 48.4% of their weekly income on food, drink and housing costs in 2020/21 compared with those in the top income decile who spent an average of just 26.5%. It is not difficult to see who is going to be harder hit now and into the future.
With all of the talk on the subject of price increases, it got me thinking about ways in which I could personally save some money in an attempt to reduce the sting just a little bit. I am passionate about food and love the organised feeling that meal prepping on a Sunday gives me, so I thought why not make it into a bit of a challenge for myself?
So, I set off to Costa Coffee (where I tend to do a lot of my best work!) laptop in hand, full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to formulate this killer meal plan for the week for only £15! This was to cover five breakfasts, lunches and dinners for one person. As a dietitian, it was also important to me that the plan was somewhat nutritionally balanced. I could foresee a lot of oats, potatoes and onions being eaten in the week ahead!
For clarification, £15 is only to cover the cost of the ingredients.
With the help of Tesco Online, my menu for the week was created.
- Breakfast: a bowl of humble porridge made with whole milk, one banana and a serving of peanut butter (0.40p per bowl). This was followed by...
- Lunch: tuna pasta salad (£1.25 per bowl) and finishing the day off with...
- Dinner: chickpea curry and rice (0.90p per bowl).
I included two snacks per day of an apple (0.56p) and a serving of almonds (0.20p). The five-day 15-meal challenge came to a grand total of £16.15. Not perfect, but I think it was a good enough attempt, nonetheless.
On silent reflection, looking into what I was most thankful for, i.e. my final bowl of chickpea curry for the week, I considered what I had learnt:
- It helps to have an awareness of cheap but nutritious foods sources.
- It is possible to make tasty, cheap AND nutritious food.
- It takes away the stress of coming up with something to cook for dinner each night, allowing headspace for other thoughts.
- A kitchen with basic equipment is necessary.
- Discipline is also needed (avoiding coffees at Costa, a snack on the way home from work and no popping into the shop to pick up some bits for dinner, etc).
- Somewhere to store meals (may be more difficult if living in shared accommodation, eg, student house where fridge space may be at a premium).
As somebody who would ordinarily have happily popped into the local supermarket at least three times per week, I was spending less than half of what I would usually spend per week on food. My hope is that by reading this blog post, others may be empowered to do the same. So if you have a go at #15for15, leave comments here and share your experiences with me on Twitter@ #15for15. I'd love to hear from you.
Hazel Windsor-Aubrey, RD
Hazel is a Band 5 Community Dietitian with Cambridge
and Peterborough NHD Foundation Trust. She enjoys the
variety of practice that her current role allows.