That January credit card made Kay Cairns baulk and so she’s been on a strict budget since. She is managing to eat well for an incredible €30 a week
IT’S not just students and the unemployed who struggle to pay mortgages or rent and bills, let alone food.
Many of us are reverting to student budgets to live within our means, but this doesn’t have to mean Pot Noodles and toast.
I ,for one, have been doing this recently and managing to eat well. I consulted with Paula Mee, dietician of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI), to make sure my diet was balanced and she gave it the thumbs up. So here it is:
(I live alone, but the menus can be expanded to feed couples and families for a fraction of your regular grocery bill).
Paula is an advocate of porridge (96c in Tesco). She says: “It’s a foundation food, which means you can top it off with other things.
Fresh or dried fruit (€1.69 in Aldi) and honey (€1.99 in Aldi) are great options. You can make it different and varied.”
Nuts (€1.99 in Aldi), seeds (€1 in Tesco), and porridge oats can be bought in bulk for the month and contain fibre, natural vitamins and minerals.
To get your calcium and protein, Paula recommends natural or Greek yoghurt, with chopped fresh fruit. A 500ml pot (99c in Aldi) is pretty cheap, and will last the best part of a week.
Fancy something different for the weekend? Paula’s porridge bread is super simple: ingredients are a large pot of natural yoghurt, two pots of porridge oats, and a teaspoon of baking soda (€1.79 in Tesco).
Stick the oven on 180C, pop the bread mix in a tin, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Voila.
If you bought those nuts and seeds earlier, add them, instead of a quarter of the porridge oats, for an extra nutritious loaf.
But if that is too exotic for you, stick with a wholemeal packet mix (69c in Aldi). It just needs a splash of milk (75c a litre in Aldi) and 25 to 35 minutes in the oven for a yummy brown bread.
Another option is to whip up eggs (€1.09 for six in Aldi) and scramble them.
Paula says: “Eggs are a brilliant, economical source of proteins, and lots of other things we need. Most of us can enjoy seven eggs a week.
Melt some olive-oil spread (€1.19 in Aldi) over your bread for a mono-unsaturated, healthy option.”
A salmon-avocado and cream-cheese bagel is delicious and has everything you need for a few hours.
It sounds pricey, but a 200g pack of smoked salmon can be bought in Dunnes for €3.45 and will last you the week; Aldi has cream cheese for 59c and Tesco has avocados for 90c.
Pick up a packet of five bagels for €1.29 in Aldi and you’ve the elements for a nutritious lunch for the working week.
Paula says: “Oily fish is a very good option, as it’s high in Omega 5 and D.
“You’ve also got the protein in the salmon, calcium in the cheese, your vitamins and minerals in the avocado, and carbohydrates in the bagel.
“Go wholemeal on the bagel to get your fibre up and consider a slim bagel, if you’re looking to lose weight.”
Another lunch alternative is a couple tins of salmon, tuna or mackerel, on special offer, and mixed up with mayonnaise, salad and pasta for another high-omega-and-protein dish.
For the evening meals, we’ve gone for some massive, lean, pork-chop shoulders (€2 for pack of two in Aldi).
Quick-to-cook under the grill with some frozen veggies and potatoes boiling on the stove, they can also be paired with a pesto-and-toasted porridge-oat sauce for a flavoursome, warming dinner.
Lean pork has protein and zinc, while potatoes cooked with skins have carbohydrates and fibre. Plus, they’ve more vitamin C and potassium than rice or pasta.
Frozen vegetables are fantastic, as they’re just as nutritious as fresh vegetables and super-cheap to boot.
Another great dinner option is smoked coley fish, cooked with a squeeze of lemon and a generous helping of frozen veggies and potatoes.
We’re back to our omegas, proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates.
Paula’s a big advocate of curries, for their ability to take on all the leftovers from the fridge.
She says: “Those kind of compound meals are great, because they’re high in flavour. You can use low-fat coconut milk to keep the meal slim, and cans of tomatoes for a nutritious, cheap option.
“Add in your onions, aubergines, peppers, and whatever you have, to get a medley of nutritional vegetables into the meal.”
To finish the day off nicely, I melt some dark chocolate (€1.19 for 125g in Aldi) in a cup, toss in some Crisp Rice (€1.19 in Aldi), and mix up some chocolate rice-crispy cakes. This is a perfect treat to eat for dessert or pop in a bag for work.
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