Thursday, 20 August 2009

7 meals, 7 days, 2 people, £35

First and foremost, I'm loving my new kitchen and thought I'd begin as I mean to go on with some cooking. I got out of the habit while the kitchen was being 'created', then we went away on honeymoon and so, now I'm back, let's see what can be done!

At the airport, I picked up a copy of the BBC's Olive magazine, which I enjoy as it's a range of chat, recipes, recommendations and home stuff. One of their articles in the August issue was entitled '7 meals for £35'. All the recipes looked summery and tasty and I thought since I'd still got a week or so of holidays left, I could try it out.

First though, I needed to go shopping!

The list gave all the ingredients needed for the week, including any store cupboard ingredients, and cost the Olive team £34.67. Having looked through the list, I already had a red pepper, home-grown parsley and mint and chicken pieces. So I popped down to the shops and bought the requisite items. I couldn't find 'orzo' pasta and had to settle for mini farfalle instead! The cost? £29.06, but that was with the above exceptions.

I did not, however, have several items from the store cupboard list: lamb stock (do people really have a supply of this, or even lamb stock cubes, in their cupboards?); dijon mustard ( usual fridge-favourite of mine); harissa paste and pine nuts. Having been away, I also needed to stock up on eggs, milk, and Parmesan.

If you did have all the items in the stock cupboard, I think the price given would have been nearly spot-on.

When I returned I looked through the recipes in more detail and noticed that if a dish was served with something, for example, a salad, new potatoes, naan bread or rice, those weren't included in the price, but again, most people would have those in the cupboard anyway. I may have to have a go at my own flat-breads later in the week - any recommended recipes greatly appreciated!

So, for the rest of the week, I'll publish a post a day, letting you know how I got on with each recipe, how it looked in comparison with the magazine's lovely-looking pictures, and, most importantly, how it tasted!

Original photograph: Lis Parsons, Recipe: Janine Ratcliffe. Both from Olive, August 2009
First up: Lemon butter fish with pepperonata.


  1. I'll be following this with interest. A bit cheeky of them not to include the accompinents in the £35. I admit to being one of those people with lamb stock cubes in the cupboard, however I very rarely use them and beef stock works just as well.

    This is the recipe I use for flat bread.

  2. Not a particularly fair test; I don't have salad as standard!

  3. I have an issue with the 7 for £35 - some recipes are for 2, some for 4. It would make sense to have everyting for 2 or everything for 4. I assumed that all the recipes were for 4 the first time I read the feature as the first recipe was for 4.

  4. Hi Merlotti,

    so glad you liked the look of the recipes enough to give them a try! I thought I'd just explain how we cost out the recipes for this feature. The costings are based on the exact amount of ingredients used in the recipe so if it was 1 egg used or 50g cheddar or 2 courgettes we would cost exactly how much each ingredient was rather than the cost of the whole pack. You'll find that this is how all the food magazines and TV programmes cost out their recipes and we try to be as accurate as possible.
    Really looking forward to seeing the results this week!

  5. Thanks for all your comments!

    Janine - Thanks for reading! I think that on the whole the pricing is accurate; like I said, the shopping basket came to a very similar price. I just wish that things like naan bread and new potatoes had been on the shopping list. I'm looking forward to trying them all out!

    Mark - The first recipe, Lemon butter fish, is for 2, not 4, but yes, there is a mix of how many each day's menu serves. I'll let you know how that works out. If, however, they're for 4 people, that's even more meals for the money! If it makes as many portions as Olive says it does, 22 over the week, then that works out as £1.59 a meal. Not bad!

    Merlotti x


Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Merlotti x

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