Saturday, 4 July 2020

Book Review: Feed Your Family for £20 A Week by Lorna Cooper

Not my usual type of post but since this book based on the popular Facebook group came up for under a pound in my recommendations from Amazon UK I bought the Kindle version out of curiosity.   Before I get into what may seem like a rant I first want to say that overall the book is very good and has plenty of good ideas and recipes and was well worth the 99p I paid for it.  Even full price it is still worth the money simply for the mindset it shows you if you are having trouble with your food budget. The book also came out of a Facebook group of the same name which I will be heading for next.
However, what is not apparent from the description on the website is that the £20 a week is the average cost of an eight week meal plan and shopping list.  All the old advise is there - use oats for breakfast and eggs are a good source of protein etc but the cost is so low mainly because of the use of value packs (presumably) which are then less money per 100g.  I personally do not know how you get the fresh ingredients like fruit and vegetables listed in the shopping list to last 8 weeks either so I would end up having to top these up which would cost more I guess, and of course seasonality comes into play in the case of the cost of fruit and veg (unless you rely on frozen).
The other bug bear that I have is that the author does not give where she bought these things.  Certainly where I live it would be impossible to get some of the items for the prices that the author has (eggs spring to mind).  One little known fact is that the cost of food throughout the UK will vary even if you use the same supermarket chain.  If you are short of money then the cost of actually getting to the cheapest source can be prohibitive and you could be faced with the more expensive (local) convenience store. Lidl or Aldi may be a great way to save up to one third of your shopping (from personal experience of Lidl at least) but if it has to include £10 for a taxi to get there then it may not be worth it.
The book also includes a list of items expected in your storecupboard.  Although these are not included in the shopping list they are in the recipes so if you want to follow the meal plan allow extra money for these if you do not have them already.  You only need to have to throw in a couple of jars of herbs and spices and a litre of vegetable oil and suddenly the overall total has jumped by a fiver even though the nutritional value of your shopping has not increased by much.
The authors assumption is also that you have the large lump sum of £160 to begin with - personal circumstances may mean that you get your income monthly or weekly or even in dribs and drabs rather than a regular amount and do not have a large sum to fall back on, making one giant shop impossible; this can impact on the size of packs of food that you can buy and will drive up the average cost per week if you still wanted to follow the meal plan as is (just shopping more often).  The only other way to drastically drive down the cost in those circumstances would be to minimise the variation in meals within each week so that some of the ingredients were bought week one but some waited until the next week and so on.  Not having done the exercise I am not sure if this is possible.  This is the classic way of extreme food budgeting and means that the variety of meals (which are overall good within the book itself) gets lost.
It now sounds like I am slamming the book and the author but I am not.  It is a very good start, has a lot of good ideas for meals and does not rely solely on coupons, multibuys and other money off offers which are often recommended but in effect mean that you would be eating pre processed food all the time. Cooking from scratch and even growing your own herbs are recommended.  But, and it is a big but,  do not expect it to be a blueprint that you can follow wherever you live and you automatically will only spend £20 a week for four people.  When you are at the sharp end of food budgeting personal circumstances make it impossible to do a one-size-fits-all solution so the author is completely forgiven!  There are 100 recipes to follow which can used as a starting point, and often suggestions for variations are included in the recipes itself which again is good.  Some of these will be dirt cheap, some more expensive in terms of ingredients so the meal plan is a clever way of suggesting that you get a range of these.  The book should be used as beginning of the journey and is excellent for those who have never had to worry about this kind of thing before - but perhaps a better title would be "Feed YOUR family FROM £20 a week" or "How I feed MY family for £20 a week" instead...

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Help we have a courgette tsunami! Or what to do with a courgette or zucchini glut..

Well we will have..

Let me explain.  Since I have been isolated at home since mid March (Asthma and Covid 19) and so I decided to conquer my black thumb in the garden.  Embarrassingly I have a Biology Bachelors degree ( ok strictly speaking microbiology) but cannot grow things in the garden (except for weeds) to save my life.  So I researched and took the plunge with my own self wicking containers, planted a whole load of courgette seeds amongst other things (most of these are going to die so I want at least one plant thought I) and not only have 95 % of them grown but they have grown really well and so we are about to be inundated.  Below is a trawl of the UK websites using the vegetable- hopefully most of these will make an appearance on my dinner table.  I will be looking for more including those I can freeze as well....

So my starter for 10...

1. Roasted Summer veg quiche.
From BBC food - uses peppers and courgettes both of which are coming along in my pots nicely.  Can be eaten warm or cold and can be frozen in portions.

2. Ratatouille
Had to be there somewhere didn't it.  Can be a main course although we like our with sausages on the side.  Fingers crossed all our ingredients should be coming from our garden and can be frozen.  Makes a good filling for savoury pancakes or veggie lasagne too.

3.Moroccan Couscous Soup
One that sounds  different - I could use a little different after 4 months stuck inside at every body elses mercy...I also uses those odd tins I have at the back of the storecupboard

4.Courgette and Lemon Rissotto
Stepping away from the courgette and tomato combi entirely this one sounds nice and light

5. Courgette Salad
As a side dish for barbeques when the hot dry weather finally returns.

6.Choccy Courgette Cupcakes
Courgettes in a cake - think carrot cake but with added green (although you can peel them first)  gives a moist cake that does not taste of veggies - honest.  Don't forget cakes can be frozen

7. Lime Courgette cake
More grown up than the choccy version but very delicious - substitute lemon if preferred. Don't forget cakes can be frozen.

8. Potato and Courgette Bake
Another great side dish I will be trying

9. Courgette Fritters
These ones use cheese but there are recipes out there that don't, should be good for lunch I hope.

10. Stuffed Courgettes
Finally in a nod to the 1970's the stuffed courgette.  This recipe uses lamb mince and rice and could be used to stuff other vegetables.  You could also use beef mince instead.

Oh and as a final thing here is the You Tube video I used for the containers



Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Monday, 22 October 2018

Letter B: B is for bear: Paper Plate Bear and other resources

Our books for the day was "Where's My Teddy" by Jez Alborough and "We're Going On a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen although this craft could be used with any bear story.

Instructions for how to make our paper plate bear came from the Making Learning Fun site here.

Our Bear tracer page came from the Making Learning Fun too.


Once we had finished we wrote it all up in our summer journal.

Related Pinterest Boards:
Homeschool
Alphabet
Tracer Pages

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Letter A: A is for apple - capital letter

This is from Making Learning Fun and can be downloaded here - I also created a lowercase version many years ago here.


Related Pinterest Boards:
Homeschool
Alphabet
Magnet Pages
Plants/Seasons

Letter B: B is for Butterfly: Magnet Page

Free to download from Making Learning Fun
Click here to download

Related Pinterest Boards:
Minibeasts
Homeschool
Alphabet
Magnet Pages
zoo/Animals
Very Hungry Caterpillar

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Letter A: A is for Alligator puzzle

Free for download from Lawteedah.

Click here for a whole page of alligator activities and other general letter A stuff.

Related Pinterest Boards:
Homeschool
Alphabet
Alligators
Zoo/animals