Food Waste Action Week Challenge – Lottie

Hello! My name is Lottie and I am a first-year student here at the University of Bristol. I was given a challenge in support of the Food Waste Action Week campaign, to spend only £15 on all my food for 5 days!

I must admit that I am not usually the kind of person who budgets. I normally go to the supermarket without a list and buy whatever I like the look of, often gravitating towards the bakery section or the pre-prepared food like grated cheese packets or overpriced smoothies. Therefore, I knew that this task would be a real challenge for me.

As well as this, I am a vegetarian, so I still had the objective to eat a balanced diet and make sure that I was receiving all the nutrients which I need.

Shopping for food

The night before the big shop, I created a list of everything that I intended to buy. I normally claim that I do not have enough time to plan my meals, imagining it to be a long, laborious task with little benefit to my life. However, after writing a shopping list and planning my meals for the next 5 days, I soon realised that this in fact saved my time.

When shopping, I was always conscious of my budget. Rather than buying pre-cut vegetables in packets, I was buying raw carrots, onions and courgettes which proved to be a lot cheaper. I also had to erase some items off my shopping list, such as lotus biscuits, because my priority was to buy ingredients for nutritious and filling meals.

My total was thankfully £14.96 so I was just under budget. If only lotus biscuits were 4p!

Breakfast

For breakfast, I simply ate bananas. I am not a huge ‘breakfast person’ so I luckily did not feel the need to buy cereals or toast!

Lunch

On Day 1 of my challenge, I cooked what I like to call a ‘pizza wrap’. Essentially, it is a pizza, but the base is a wrap! It is ridiculously easy to make, and I chose spring onion as my topping.

I decided to branch out on Day 2 and have a jacket potato for lunch. The secret to an amazing jacket potato is to microwave it for 6 minutes first and then pop it in the oven. Trust me – it makes a world of difference! On top of my jacket potato, I used cheese, fried courgette, and chilli flakes.

On Day 3 I tried out a new recipe which I had found on BBC Good Foods: vegetarian enchiladas.

Although, due to my budget, I could not follow the recipe exactly (I could not top them with low- fat yoghurt), I was still incredibly happy with the outcome. As a result, I kept some in the fridge and had them for lunch on Day 5 too!

Finally, for lunch on Day 4, I created some omelettes with cheese and spring onion. I know it does not sound particularly appetising but as far as omelettes go, it did not taste too awful!

 

Dinner

On Day 1, I cooked one of my favourite dinners to make, which is a Kidney Bean Curry. This consists of frying onion and then adding chilli flakes, followed by chopped tomatoes and kidney beans. The best thing about this meal is that you can make lots of portions and then refrigerate them for another day. Therefore, I ate this meal on Day 3 and Day 5 as well! I always add cheese and eat it with either rice or a wrap.

Day 2 was nice and easy because I made a quick stir fry. I fried carrots, courgette and onion and combined them with rice, chilli flakes and soy sauce.

The meal on Day 4 was rather similar to stir fry but this time, I added egg to make egg fried rice. I had also used up all of my carrots by this point so had to use solely courgette and spring onion. As you can probably tell, this meal was a combination of the ingredients which I had not used up yet!

 

Snacks

I love a good snack so during this challenge, I had to be inventive with the ingredients I had. If I ever got hungry between meals, I had a cheese wrap, spicy egg fried rice or ‘banana ice cream’ (frozen mashed up banana). These snacks were actually healthier than what I normally go for!

Did I face any challenges?

Although I successfully completed this challenge, it is true that I did struggle in some areas.

I found that my meals were lacking variation. The only fresh vegetables that I bought were onions, courgettes, and carrots so I found that I had to incorporate them into most of my meals so that they were nutritious. This soon became repetitive.

I am also going to put my hands up and say that I am not a good chef … at all. The omelette that I ate on Day 4 for lunch was actually my second attempt. The first time I tried to make it, it was somehow raw and burnt at the same time. I did not feel good about this mistake because it completely went against what Food Waste Action Week stood for!

Another challenge for me was being in the university environment. On campus, I was so tempted to buy a snack in between classes, and I also missed the social aspect of going out for meals with friends.

Conclusion

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this budgeting task, despite the challenges which I faced. I believe that from now on, I will always look for cheaper alternatives when shopping and I will also make sure to write a list in advance!

I think it would be hard for me to only spend £15 every week on food but after this experience, I will make sure to cut down on any unnecessary purchases (including lotus biscuits!).

Written by Lottie Aikens, Student Champion

Food Waste Action Week Challenge – Adam

The Challenge: To prepare three meals a day for the next five days on a budget of no more than £15.

Hi, I am Adam, and I normally spend around £30 on groceries a week. This challenge meant that I had to reduce that to half. Probably the best piece of advice to start with is planning. A meal plan with a shopping list makes the whole process much more efficient. It minimises the number of times you need to go shopping, reduces the time you spend there, prevents you from buying unnecessary things, and helps you save money. You will also not have any leftovers that you would have to throw away.

Every Sunday, therefore, I try to plan my weekly meal plan. With this challenge, it was basically essential.

Once the plan was done, I wrote down things I needed. For the list, I use the NOSH book app. I genuinely recommend buying a cookbook as it really helps with ideas on what to cook. NOSH is also very student-friendly, and it comes with an app in which you can browse recipes and automatically add everything to a shopping list. The ‘Broke but hungry’ chapter of this book with affordable recipes was particularly useful for this challenge.

With the shopping list done, it was time to head to Sainsbury’s to do the shopping. My tip here is to use their Smart Shopping app that not only makes the shopping more efficient because you can scan as you go with your phone, but it also helps you to save money as you get some personalised discounts with your Nectar account.

When shopping, my tip would be to look for reduced stuff. Things like bread that can be frozen can often come at a fraction of the price. Another tip is to look at the bottom shelf for cheaper brands or own-label products. Marketers often put the products that are premium or have the highest margin on the eye level, leaving the more affordable brands at the bottom. Also, fresh vegetables can be quite expensive so look out for the Imperfectly tasty series that is more affordable.

<-This is what my shopping looked like at the end.

Note: As I was not able to use any things I had at home, I had to include the cost of things like oil, salt, curry powder, pasta and rice – things that last for longer once you buy them so shall I continue the challenge the next week, I could buy more different products.

With the shopping done, it was time to start cooking.

Day 1

Breakfast

SUPER QUICK PORRIDGE

Ingredients: Milk, Oats, Peanut butter, Banana

1.     Combine some milk and oats, and simmer until it thickens. Remove from heat.

2.     Add sliced banana, a spoon or two of peanut butter, and your breakfast is ready. You could use plant-based milk too!

Lunch

POTATO HASH

Ingredients: 4 medium diced potatoes, 400g baked beans, Oil, Cheddar cheese, Ketchup (optional)

1.     Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain, return to the pan and squash them a little with a fork. Do not mash them.

2.     Stir in the beans.

3.     Heat some oil in a frying pan and tip the mixture in. Don’t stir, allow it to dry and brown on the bottom. Once browned, using a spatula, stir all the browned bits up from the bottom, leave again to allow the rest to brown. Stir in the browned bits again.

4.     Serve with some cheese on top and optionally add ketchup.

Dinner

FRIED RICE

Ingredients: a mug of rice, 4 eggs, 3 chopped spring onions, half of the pepper, chopped carrot, soya sauce

  1. Cook rice and let it cool.
  2. In a wok, heat some oil and on high heat stir-fry 2 spring onions, carrot, and pepper for 2 minutes.
  3. Add rice and stir-fry for another minute.
  4. In the meantime, fry eggs in a separate pan.
  5. Add soya sauce to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  6. Serve the rice and put the fried eggs on the top. Add some finely chopped onion on top. You can add some more soya sauce if needed.

Day 2:

Breakfast:

CHEESE ON TOAST WITH TOMATO

  1. Put some slices of cheese on to bread and put in the oven.
  2. Allow to melt
  3. Add some fresh tomato and spring onion on top

Lunch:

POTATO HASH LEFTOVERS

Dinner:

FRIED RICE LEFTOVERS

Day 3:

Breakfast:

SUPER QUICK PORRIDGE

Lunch:

CHANNA DHAL

Ingredients: Oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, Freshly grated ginger, ½ teaspoon, Curry powder, ½ x 400g can tomatoes, 2 tablespoons coconut milk, 400 g tin of chickpeas

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Stir frequently. Once brown, add the ginger and curry powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.

Note: the leftover coconut milk can be used to make some sauce

Dinner:

CHANNA DHAL LEFTOVERS

Day 4:

Breakfast:

TOAST, CHEESE, TOMATO

This was the same as before, but I added two fried eggs.

 

Lunch:

CREAM CHEESE PASTA

Ingredients: 300g of spaghetti, Cream cheese, ½ of 400g tin of tomatoes, Broccoli, Cheese, grated

  1. Put the pasta on the cook.
  2. Boil broccoli until soft.
  3. In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the cream cheese, tomatoes, and cheese. Season with salt. Simmer until it thickens and combines.
  4. Add broccoli to the sauce and squash it a little.
  5. Add pasta and toss.
  6. Serve with some grated cheese on top.

Dinner:

CHANNA DHAL LEFTOVERS

Day 5:

Breakfast:

SHAKSHUKA

Ingredients: Oil, Onion, chopped, ½ of 400g tin tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 2 eggs, ½ of pepper, chopped

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan put onion, pepper and garlic and cook until soft.
  2. Add tomatoes and stir until thickens.
  3. With a large spoon, make 2 dips in the sauce and crack an egg into each one.
  4. Put on a lid and cook for 6-8 mins on low heat.
  5. Serve with a toast.

Lunch:

CREAM CHEESE PASTA LEFTOVERS

Dinner:

CREAM CHEESE PASTA LEFTOVERS

Conclusion

I was positively surprised how much I could buy and how many dishes I could make while sticking to £15. Most importantly, at the end of the week, I was left with almost no leftovers which was the idea of the whole project. Utilising the things we have and not throwing out anything.

Written by Adam Balazi, Student Champion