Or how to live off €15/week
Ok now I feel completely justified complaining about the cold as this week we had our first (albeit brief) snowfall! Now I’m waking up to frost on the rooftops and slipping along the road to my 8am french classes which is still exciting to me. As plenty of people now know, my budget has run a little thin towards the end of almost an entire year spent without income, so for the last 6 or so weeks I have been living off a (flexible) €15/week groceries budget. As this week has been much the same as the last few (classes, study, procrastination and all that) I thought I would show you some of my staple meals that have been getting me through the cold weather without breaking the bank.
First is my awesome discovery when I realised that the bananas I’d got from Carrefour were ageing much faster than I’d expected. I threw two unhappy looking bananas, a couple of eggs, some oats, lots of cinnamon and a pinch of salt into a blender and whizzed it up to make pancake batter. Top it with honey or some frozen berries you’ve been meaning to use up for a month and you’ve got yourself a pretty great brunch. (Find a photo at the top of this post for reference and aesthetics).
Next is a recipe I’ve been using all year, but increasingly so lately as the change of seasons is making everyone sick. To avoid this for as long as I can, I’m packing almost every meal I eat full of greens, and what better way to do this than to wake up your neighbours with the sound of your blender most mornings for a green smoothie. Obviously this is a pretty versatile recipe that works with most fruit, but working with whats available (and cheap) I usually blend up half a frozen banana, 5-6 chunks of frozen spinach, orange juice, some avocado and a kiwifruit. Maybe not the most winter-y breakfast in the world, but the orange and kiwi add a great source of Vitamin C (and help process the iron in the spinach!)
Of course, this wouldn’t be a week in food for me without my trusty between-class brekkie of avo on toast. Mum brought over a jar of Vegemite with her and I’ve managed to ration it out to make it last almost to the end of this year. This one’s super simple. Toast + Vegemite + Avo + a little garlic. Need I say more?
My go-to for lunch lately (or a super late breakfast after classes) has been turmeric porridge. It’s kind of like you’re making a turmeric latte but just adding in oats on top. I’d usually use almond milk but my budget says otherwise, so this week I mixed cinnamon, ginger and turmeric together with some oats and raisins (to add a bit of sweetness) and cooked it over the stove with water. Top it with some almonds and honey (again, ideally this would be maple syrup but I am not paying €3 extra) and you’re good to go. The spices make this a really warming and satisfying midday meal, especially when you’ve braved that tough 4 minute walk in the cold home from uni.
Another budget lunch I’ve been obsessed with lately is oven fries. Let me tell you, Carrefour comes through with that €0,99 bag of potatoes when I’m craving something that feels a bit more like a cheat meal. I cut up around 3 small potatoes into wedges and coat them with salt, herbs de provence and a little olive oil before baking them in the oven for around 25 minutes. My oven isn’t going to win any awards any time soon so I have to turn the trays around halfway through, but these fries always turn out amazing! Serve with tomato sauce, or pesto (when you run out of tomato sauce and Carrefour is closed).
Finally, what better way to end a cold day than with a curry, packed full of veggie goodness. I can’t resist a good tikka masala and finding a jar of tikka masala sauce made it worth shelling out a little extra for half a week’s worth of curry for dinner. While this might not be the most photogenic meal, its definitely one of the easiest to make. I defrosted a bag of frozen veggies that I’d bought, added in some spinach and a tin of chickpeas (hello cheap protein) and mixed it all together in a deep frypan with the curry sauce. Future curries will be featuring the added bonus of chicken (thanks to Dad and Liz for sponsoring that protein boost) but this one was something I needed to use up first.
So, there you have it. I’m going to chuck a grocery list below that I’d use most weeks for an idea of costs (not including spices or oil and basics like that). It’s a little more than what I would usually spend per week just because most things last a couple (i.e. things like oats and condiments). It also includes my mistake this week of splurging on kiwifruit (which I didn’t realise was so expensive until I got to the counter) and almonds. Enjoy the photos of this week in food and I’ll see you next week!
- orange juice €0,98
- bunch of bananas €0,99
- 1x avocado €0,99
- 2x kiwifruit €1,20
- bag of potatoes €0,99
- raisins €1,85
- almonds €2,90
- soy & linseed bread €1,99
- quick oats €1,25
- tikka masala curry sauce €2,63
- tin of chickpeas €0,57
- tomato sauce €1,35
- honey €1,89
- frozen spinach €1,08
- frozen mixed veggies €1,47