Three sandwiches and two soups this week, yet not once did I feel cheated of getting proper food. The dishes were filling and hearty. Except for the last day, there are plenty of vegetables at each dinner dish. The last day was my “I am allowed to have something deep-fried once in a while” protest. And within a balanced menu the rest of the week, that is perfectly acceptable.
The main reason this week’s groceries are much more expensive than this week’s recipes in total cost, are the lemon grass stalks. I usually get them at the market or Asian supermarket (they freeze really well so it is definitely worth getting some extra when you find a good deal) but the market stall was not there this week. They were insanely expensive at the regular supermarket, €2.50 for 7 short stalks, the other packs even had only 6 stalks.
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 this week (if I bought more, the quantity bought is between brackets):
- 300gr chicken breast (600gr)
- 250gr salmon
- bacon (pack of 11 slices)
- 2 beef croquettes (box of 8, frozen)
- 500gr broccoli
- 1 aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 courgette (squash)
- spring onions
- 250gr Swiss Brown mushrooms
- red onions
- 2 chili peppers
- lettuce, mix of lollo rosso/bianco
- 70gr Gouda cheese (190gr, slices)
- 200gr crème fraiche
- bush coriander from market
- 1 lemon grass stalks (pack of 7)
- 1 loaf of bread
I spent €19.69. This includes the following leftovers for the freezer: 300gr chicken breast, 6 beef croquettes and 6 lemon grass stalks (which freeze really well). I will have some onions left for the pantry. The remaining bread and cheese makes Holland’s favourite work-lunch dish: cheese sandwich.
I used the following items from my pantry this week: 3 eggs, noodles (BC2), pasta (BC3), rice (regular & Arborio), mayonnaise, garlic, stock cube, fish sauce, soy sauce.
Plus these standard pantry items: Sunflower oil, butter, deep-frying fat, flour, milk, salt/pepper, dried herbs (dill), fresh herbs from garden (dill), spices (paprika, cardamom, kurkuma, cumin, nutmeg (optional)).
Day 1 – Saturday
Lunch: Club Sandwich
Club Sandwiches can vary a bit in execution. Sometimes they have tomato or eggs, and even avocado is quite popular. I stuck to the basic form; chicken, bacon, lettuca and mayo. No frills and yet delicious.
Pantry items: Mayonnaise
Dinner: Salmon and Broccoli Pasta
A very easy dish, with a creamy broccoli and dill sauce, pasta and salmon.
Pantry items: Pasta (BC3), fresh dill from the garden.
Day 2 – Sunday
Lunch: Hot Brown
Pretty much a chicken and bacon sandwich with cheese sauce, but very nice none the less. The sauce I budgeted is twice as much as you need, but making a smaller portion wouldn’t be convenient. You can freeze this sauce and use it for gratins, pasta sauces or to make cauliflower cheese (or any other vegetable).
Pantry items: Butter, flour, milk, nutmeg (optional)
Dinner: Thai Chicken Soup
The most expensive dish this week is less than 2/3rd of the allowed cost (so yes, this is a cheap week). This really is a great but healthy soup, which fills you up wonderfully. Try finding an economical place to shop for Asian ingredients, because it will allow for much more variety in your meals, without having to spend way too much for small quantities in regular supermarkets or speciality shops.
I make twice the amount of stock for this, because half can then be used tomorrow. It is handiest to fish out all the filling and add some stock to your bowl for today, leaving around 400ml for tomorrow’s soup.
Pantry items: Stock cube, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, sunflower oil, noodle pasta (BC2).
Day 3 – Monday
Dinner: Mushroom Noodle Soup with Poached Egg
This recipe uses half of the stock of yesterday, benefitting from all the flavours you incorporated then. However, with the mushrooms and poached egg, it does become quite a different soup. The egg will turn brownish if cooked in the soup itself. I don’t mind so much, but if you need it to be perfectly white, poach it in a separate pot with clear water.
Pantry items: Noodle pasta (BC2), 1 egg.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Dinner: Courgette and Eggplant Fried Rice
It might not look like much, but it is quite tasty, this alternative to plain fried rice. The courgette and eggplant give off a nice flavour. Using cooked rice, it is quite quick to make as well. I always have some extra cooked rice in the freezer and can advise you to make this a habit, alongside pre-cooked noodles for stir-fries.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, pre-cooked rice, 2 eggs.
Day 5 – Wednesday
Dinner: Vegetable Kebabs with Spiced Rice
Vegetable kebabs are a great way to use up any leftover veggies. I am using the courgette, aubergine and mushrooms that I had extra this week, plus the leftover slices of bacon. For a vegetarian option, the bacon is of course optional.
Pantry items: Rice, spices (paprika, kurkuma, cardamom, cumin), stock cube, sunflower oil for brushing, bamboo skewers.
Day 6 – Thursday
Dinner: Salmon Risotto with Peas
Risotto is good, no matter what (granted that you make it the right way). Add some salmon from the freezer (cheaper) and some frozen peas (also very economical) and you will have a great meal that really doesn’t cost you much. Buy the risotto rice in a kilo pack when you find a good deal, to avoid spending insane amounts.
Pantry items: 1/2 stock cube, Arborio rice, dried dill
Day 7 – Friday
Dinner: Broodje Kroket
Broodje Kroket is a simple lunch dish that is very popular in The Netherlands. You can also serve it as a simple dinner (add a salad to make it feel healthier if you must). A kroket (croquette in French) is a breaded roll made from roast beef and a thick bechamel sauce. It is then deep-fried to perfection and served with mustard. There are also shrimp and vegetable croquettes available. My old site had a cheese croquette recipe but I haven’t made a new one for this site at the time of publishing this BC. In The Netherlands every supermarket sells them frozen, but they aren’t too hard to make yourself (especially when using leftover roast beef), just a little time-consuming.
The deep-frying fat has not been included in the price of this dish, as the fat is used quite some times and I found it difficult to put a cost on it.
Pantry items: Deep-frying fat (alternatively you can fry in sunflower oil in a sauce pan), mustard.
Grocery costs: €19.69
Recipes total: €13.38