The first week of this challenge. It was difficult to make a menu, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I needed to know how much everything would cost, so I made a list for myself with the supermarket prices, using the prices of the supermarket nearby. It is a medium priced supermarket and I thought that would be realistic. In the end I did get my groceries at the Lidl, which saved me money.
You can find the budget challenge recipes of all weeks under BC Recipes. They are linked below as well; click on the dish names at each day to get forwarded to the corresponding recipe.
My shopping list of week 1 (if I bought more, the quantity bought is between brackets):
- 300gr Chicken fillet (600gr)
- 1 Mackarel
- 175gr Panga fillet (185gr)
- 100gr Bacon (300gr)
- 100gr Carrots (1kg)
- 3/4th Cauliflower (1 head)
- 1/2 Fennel (1)
- 150gr Spinach, frozen (450gr)
- 1/2 Cucumber (1)
- 1 Courgette
- 500gr Swiss Brown Mushrooms
- 250ml Cooking cream 15%
- 400ml Can of coconut milk
- 75gr Gorgonzola (200gr)
- 4 Eggs (10)
- 150gr Grated cheese (250gr)
- 0.5kg Floury Potatoes
- 1kg Onions (2kg)
- 1 Orange
- 100gr Spaghetti (500gr)
- 100gr Macaroni (500gr)
I spent €23.47. This includes the following leftovers for the freezer: 300gr chicken breast, 100gr grated cheese, 300gr frozen spinach, 1/4th a head of cauliflower.
I will use the remaining half of the bacon (the pack is in two sealed sections) next week, like the onions. I will use the remaining eggs to bake a cake, the cucumber, fennel, carrot and gorgonzola will go in lunch salads to take to work. The leftover macaroni and spaghetti will join my pantry.
Day 1 – Saturday
Lunch: Onion Soup with a Cheese Grilled Potato
Onion soup is delicious yet very cheap. This may be a lunch dish, but could easily be served for dinner as well. The soup can be made ahead of time, or make a larger batch and freeze leftover portions in flat bags (this will defrost quicker). The soup is great when you are feeling under the weather. Usually I use white wine and a bay leaf in my onion soup, but I left it out and it is still great.
Pantry items: Butter, garlic, stock cube, dried thyme
Dinner: Fish curry
I am using a quarter of the cauliflower, together with some carrot and half a can of coconut milk, to build up the body of the Fish Stew I am having tonight. I chose the cheap Pangasius fillet. You can use frozen fish as well, salmon and cod are both much cheaper when frozen. Defrost them in a bowl of cold water, which speeds up the thawing process.
For spices, only paprika, kurkuma and chili pepper are being used, together with half a stock cube. You can use curry powder instead of the paprika and kurkuma.
This stew does not include starches. You can however cook some rice and serve this curry for two people instead.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil (much cheaper than olive oil and you won’t taste the difference when heated to bake in), stock cube, paprika powder, kurkuma powder, chili powder, flour.
Day 2 – Sunday
Lunch: Toast with spinach and poached eggs
For this lunch I use defrosted spinach, heated briefly in a very small sauce pan (or use the microwave) and a sauce that I make in larger quantities and freeze in batches. A 500ml batch costs me €0.73, I have used less than a third (budgeted €0.25) and froze the leftovers in two single portions. It is very economical to do this once in a while, it won’t take up much room in your freezer but will save you the cost of ready-made sauces. By all means, you can also omit the sauce and instead slather some mayo on the bread. The bread I have made myself, you can use supermarket bread of course. Making your own bread does not require that much work, it is mainly resting time, so I can recommend trying it, the bread is tastier and will contain no unneccessary additives. I get my flour from the windmill around the corner (the benefit of living in The Netherlands, although most windmills are not used anymore) and a regular loaf costs me €0.70.
Pantry items: Bread and the ingredients for the sauce except for the cream used.
Dinner: Fish Packages and Potato Gratin
This is the most expensive meal this week. That is due to two reasons: firstly it has fresh fish, which is very expensive in The Netherlands. I chose a mackarel because it is a tasty, fatty fish but also one of the cheapest varieties. Secondly, I have added fresh fennel and an orange to the package. These flavours go wonderfully together and although not very cheap, they fit the budget because of the use of a cheaper fish. There was even room for a rich potato gratin with garlic and cream. For a more economical version, omit the fennel and serve the fish parcel alongside roast potato and carrots.
Pantry items: Garlic, salt/pepper and aluminium wrap (not budgeted).
Day 3 – Monday
Dinner: Cauliflower Couscous with Baked Mushrooms
Cauliflower couscous really is a great thing to make. It is low on carbs and calories, tastes great and you eat a massive amount of vegetables without realising it. It goes really well with the meaty flavour of baked mushrooms, to make a complete vegetarian meal.
Pantry items: Garlic, sunflower oil and butter
Day 4 – Tuesday
Dinner: Chicken with Satay Sauce and an Asian Cucumber Salad
This is the day that we start using up some “leftovers” from the previous meals, meaning half the can of leftover coconut milk. Half will go in the satay sauce, half in the chicken marinade. This is the recipe that takes the most time, but you could make the sauce and marinade the day before. For the chicken, I got a 600gr package, I cut everything into cubes. A fourth was used for this recipe, a fourth bagged for tomorrow and the remainder frozen in two single portions.
Pantry items: Peanuts, garlic, brown sugar, chili pepper, soy sauce, ground ginger, vinegar.
Day 5 – Wednesday
Dinner: Chicken Stroganoff
Today the leftover cooking cream was used, as well as the remaining chicken. Stroganoff is a delicious but simple dish, which takes hardly any time to make. It was served with rice from my pantry.
Pantry items: Rice, butter, nutmeg, mustard, paprika powder.
Day 6 – Thursday
Dinner: One pot Courgette Spaghetti
This is not only easy, it is incredibly delicious! I love softened courgette, and it goes so well with the simple flavours of onion and garlic. Add a stock cube and some water and you have a great one pot dish.
Pantry items: Garlic, stock cube, butter
Day 7 – Friday
Dinner: Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese with Bacon
Cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese are two great dishes, but both cannot really be served as a meal. However, if you combine them you can. I have added bacon for extra flavour but it isn’t strictly necessary. Without bacon, the total cost of this would be just below €1,-. The marinade and sauce for tomorrow take some time, so you could make those while the dish is in the oven, saving you time tomorrow.
Pantry items: Butter, flour and milk for the bechamel sauce.
Grocery costs: €23.47
Recipes total: €18.04