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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020

Open thread: Feeding a family on less than €10 a day

As new Irish book gives handy tips and recipes to help families cut their food bill, we want to hear about YOUR cost-efficient cooking…

Image: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

SINGLE MOTHER-OF-THREE Elizabeth Bollard, who lives in Cork, has brought out a book with the intriguing title of How to Feed your family on Less than €10 a Day.

The guide to frugal living, published by Orpen Press,  also has a number of sections on money-saving in other areas. Bollard gives information on things such as:

  • grants available to help you pay to upgrade your home’s energy rating (it will save you money on heating and electricity bills in the long run), eg, attic insulation (€200); wall insulation – cavity (€320); wall insulation – external (€4,000); wall insulation – internal dry lining (€2,000); high-efficiency oil/gas boiler (€560); heating controls upgrade (€400)
  • cutting the costs associated with children, eg, not to be cautious about buying small children’s clothes from charity shops – children grow out of clothes so quickly that much of the clothing that ends up in these shops has been worn for a short period of time, or not at all
  • making rich use of the internet to locate tools that help you DIY a number of otherwise expensive domestic issues, eg, the iWill app which “guides you through the process of making a will with the help of an easy-to-read glossary of terms.

The bulk of the book though is concerned with making a family’s diet less expensive to maintain. To this end, Bollard explains that this was a skill she “developed through necessity”. She recommends a great deal of forward planning and the use of the Tesco website, for example, to help her compile her shopping list using their prices as a rough guideline. She gives herself a self-imposed limit of €140 and then goes to her local supermarket and purchases her pre-planned list.

Bollard’s general shopping guidelines:

  • Online grocery shopping can help control impulse buys
  • Stick to the store’s own brand when it comes to tinned tomatoes and other staples
  • Buy fruit and veg in season, when they are cheaper
  • Buy vegetables loose, rather than pre-packed
  • Breakfast cereals tend to be loaded with sugar and are expensive; stick to oatmeal and fresh fruit
  • Choose food with the furthest away best-before or use-by date gives you more time in which to use it up and reduces the chance of waste (only buy reduced-price products with a close expiration date if you know you will use them or it is a false economy)
  • Very often, the most expensive products are kept at eye level on the supermarket shelves. Look low down and above for cheaper alternatives

Bollard plans menus in advance, including packed lunches. This is what a two-week menu looks like in her house (it should also work for a two adults, two children combination for less than €10 a day, she says):

Week 1

Day 1

  • Breakfast: sweet pancakes with fresh fruit
  • Lunch: creamy carrot soup with bread rolls
  • Dinner: roast chicken, cabbage and mash, stuffing

Day 2

  • Breakfast: porridge with chopped banana and syrup
  • Lunch: quiche and salad
  • Dinner: meat loaf with mashed potato and onion sauce

Day 3

  • Breakfast: boiled eggs with toast
  • Lunch: pasties
  • Dinner: vegetable curry with egg fried rice

Day 4

  • Breakfast: muffins – plain or apple
  • Lunch: potato cakes with coleslaw
  • Dinner: pork casserole

Day 5

  • Breakfast: savoury pancakes
  • Lunch: vegetable soup
  • Dinner: stewed chicken and vegetables with mashed potatoes

Day 6

  • Breakfast: flapjacks, toast and fresh fruit
  • Lunch: chicken soup with fresh rolls
  • Dinner: pasta with Bolognese sauce

Day 7

  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs on toast
  • Lunch: pizza, garlic bread and salad
  • Dinner: lamb stew on a bed of rice

Week 2

Day 1

  • Breakfast: porridge with syrup, chopped kiwi and apple
  • Lunch: quiche with coleslaw and lettuce, garnished with grated carrot
  • Dinner: burgers with chips and French fried onions

Day 2

  • Breakfast: savoury pancakes
  • Lunch: baked potatoes with chopped ham
  • Dinner: meat sauce with creamed mashed potatoes

Day 3

  • Breakfast: muffins with apple or chocolate chips
  • Lunch: cabbage soup with garlic bread
  • Dinner: chicken curry with fried rice

Day 4

  • Breakfast: fried bacon with eggs
  • Lunch: chicken and ham Chinese fried rice
  • Dinner: pan fried pork chops with baked parsnips and sautéed potatoes

Day 5

  • Breakfast: fruit kebabs and toast
  • Lunch: potato and onion cakes with lettuce, tomato, red onion, coleslaw
  • Dinner: roast chicken with chips and French fried onion rings

Day 6

  • Breakfast: omelette
  • Lunch: vegetable soup with chicken rolls
  • Dinner: cottage pie with chips

Day 7

  • Breakfast: friend sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, toast, fresh fruit
  • Lunch: pizza with garlic bread
  • Dinner: roast chicken, with roast potatoes, egg fried rice and creamed carrots

She also provides easy recipes for all of the above.

We’d like to hear from on their favourite, cost-efficient recipes. If we get enough together, we’ll create a post made from your tried and trusted meals! Let us know your best inexpensive culinary delights in the comments section below…

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