Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Day 3 #Below The Line: 94p for three meals

Day 3 #Below The Line: 94p for three meals

Today was very much a game of two halves in the #BelowTheLine challenge. I spent very little on breakfast and lunch so we could enjoy a decent meal in the evening using some reduced pork fillet. So by the time I got home I was more than ready for dinner and delighted to see that Mr Kate was already cooking away in the kitchen. Which was a good job because I had been craving cups of tea at work and having to stick to water - I was ready for a proper feed!

So here's how the day went...

2p breakfast = Two plain slices of toast from our reduced loaf - some peanut butter would have gone down nicely!

15p lunch = The last two slices of Quorn and another reduced roll with a 5p reduced soup.

Dull, dull, dull - I'm used to a much livelier lunchbox than this!

14p afternoon snack = Two reduced clementines

63p dinner = Reduced pork fillet, new potatoes and spinach.

How did we manage to eat pork fillet from Waitrose on the #BelowTheLine challenge? Well, the pork was reduced from £4.02 to 59p! We had half the fillet each with a quarter of a bag of potatoes which were reduced to 39p for the bag. Add to that a quarter of a bag of spinach reduced to 55p so the total for each ingredient was:

Pork - 59p
Spinach - 27.5p
Potatoes - 19.5p
Herbs and oil - 20p

So the meal cost £1.26 for two - just 63p each!

That means a grand total of 94p for three meals and two pieces of fruit!

Quite amazing how far a pound can go if you plan really well and hunt down the bargains - but I'm lucky in that I'm not living below the line for real. I have a freezer, a fridge and all the utensils I need to make my pound a day stretch as far as possible. People living in real poverty don't have that luxury. If you've enjoyed reading my blog and have a pound or two to spare, please do sponsor me at:

All the money raised goes to The Global Poverty Project who are working to help people less fortunate around the world. To everyone who has donated so far - thank you!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Day 2 #BelowTheLine: 87p for three meals

Day 2 #BelowTheLine: 87p for three meals

Day two of living #BelowTheLine and I thought it was going to be a very beige day full of breads and carbs. Fortunately a post-work trip to the supermarkets on the way home secured us some reduced fruit and veg to use today and over the rest of the week.

A bag of seven clementines reduced from £2 to 50p means we've got a piece of fruit every day now for just over 7p per piece. A bag of spinach down from £1 to 55p and tomatoes down from £1 to 29p completed the fresh veg reduced haul - we're nicely set to keep up our five a day intake during the rest of the challenge now. 

So what was on the menu today?

10p breakfast = Toasted roll with reduced Quorn (an odd start to the day but actually quite nice!).

15p lunch = Two scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.

A penny for each slice of toast from my reduced loaf and 6.5p for each egg (we get them cheap from a farm).

55p dinner = Reduced fish cakes, baked tomato and spinach.

The fish cakes were reduced from £1.29 to 39p - pricey for #BelowTheLine but as I'd not spent much on breakfast and lunch today I could afford them. 5p for one of the reduced tomatoes and about 11p's worth of the reduced spinach - we will use the rest of the spinach and tomatoes in tomorrow's meals. 

So 80p for the three meals and then a snack of a clementine at 7p means a grand total of 87p for the day. Not bad going at all! Keeping this up for five days is going to be hard though - and I'm missing the fizzy drink chemicals for sure!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Day 1 #BelowTheLine: 93p for three meals

Day 1 #BelowTheLine: 93p for three meals

This week I am taking part in a charity challenge to raise awareness of poverty. I will be raising money for The Global Poverty Project who work to improve the lives of people living in poverty. The challenge, called #BelowTheLine, is to survive on £1 per person, per day. That's just £1 a day for all meals and drinks for five days!

Regular readers of this blog will know that I live pretty frugally already. I blog about eating and cooking as cheaply and healthily as possible but for me it is simply to save money for the nicer things in life. For many people it is a necessity, so this week I will be really pushing my cut-price shopping habits to the limit to try to live off £1 per day - and forcing Mr Kate to do the same (he's delighted about that...).

If you have any spare cash please do sponsor me at:

Please donate as much as you can to raise money for the people for whom £1 a day is a reality instead of a five-day challenge.

So, how have I got on today? Surprisingly well as I managed to get some excellent end of day bargains last night! A 15p loaf, 24p punnet of raspberries, 20p pack of Quorn and four yoghurts for 25p has got me off to a great start! Here's what I had and how I got the meals so cheap:

20p breakfast = Two slices of wholemeal toast and fresh raspberry smoothie.

Bread - 2p (reduced 15p loaf)
Raspberries - 12p (half a reduced 24p punnet)
Yoghurt 6p (25p reduced pack of four)

34p lunch = Two rolls with Quorn, tomato and vegetable soup, pineapple pot.

Quorn - 10p (half a reduced 20p pack)
Rolls - 9p (two from a pack of 12 reduced to 55p)
Pineapple - 10p (reduced of course)
Soup - 5p (bargain reduction!)
39p dinner = Sausage and tomato pasta.

Sausages - 5p (half a reduced 10p pack)
Onion - 5p (half a 10p onion)
Tomatoes - 16.5p (half a 33p tin)
Chilli - 2.5p (half a reduced chilli)
Pasta - 5p (quarter of a bag of 500g of Tesco value penne pasta)
Paprika and chilli spices - 5p

So a grand total of 93p for three decent meals. And water is classed as free in the challenge so I've stuck to that all day long. With the raspberries, soup, pineapple, tinned tomatoes and onion I even got a good four of my five a day in too!

One day in and it's not going too bad... although a bar of chocolate wouldn't go amiss!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Restaurant review: The George at Brixworth

Restaurant review: The George at Brixworth

When a Groupon restaurant deal came up for the pub in the village next to my mum and dad's I jumped at the chance -  a good opportunity to take the parentals out for next to nothing I thought! Most of the Groupon restaurant deals I've had have been excellent or thoroughly decent. Unfortunately this wasn't one of them...

We arrived at The George at Brixworth with high hopes - the pub has new managers and the dining room and conservatory looked really inviting. We didn't get off to a great start as the waitress took a good 20 minutes to take our order - even taking orders from people who had arrived after us first. The waitresses were perfectly pleasant, just not particularly on top of their game and we were left waiting a long time between courses.

Mr Kate went for the Thai fish cake for his starter but unfortunately reported that they were severely lacking in the spice and flavour stakes. The parentals and I all went for the Brixworth pate which was absolutely fine and it was good to see a local pub putting a local producer on the menu.

After a long wait for our mains, mum, dad and Mr Kate all had the beer-battered cod with chips and mushy peas. Alas all reported that the batter was on the soggy side and the fish wasn't the freshest. I had chilli con carne with rice and tortilla chips. The presentation left a lot to be desired but the flavour of the chilli was decent.

It wasn't that there was anything particularly wrong with the food - it was more that there wasn't anything particularly right with it. Slow service and below average food. A real shame because the location and setting is excellent and could make for a strong local pub.

The deal was £30 for a two-course meal for four. Fortunately I had just been emailed a £10 off Groupon voucher so actually got it for only £20. So at just a fiver per person this didn't hurt the bank and I guess we shouldn't grumble too much at that price. Having said that, would I have paid full price (£52.70) for what we ate? I'm afraid to say I wouldn't. Not terrible but certainly disappointing. I wouldn't rush back in a hurry but would maybe try again in a few months to see if it has improved as it's a pub I really want to like!

The George, Northampton Road, Brixworth

Monday, 21 April 2014

Restaurant review: Dang's, Northampton

Restaurant review: Dang's Northampton

The best thing about buying Groupon deals for restaurants is that it gives you an opportunity to try out new places you might not have been to before - without the fear of paying over the odds for a meal. Once in a while you find a gem of a restaurant on Groupon and Dang's on Wellingborough Road in Northampton is exactly that.

The Groupon deal? A main course and a side dish for four people for £32 (or £19 for two people). A girl's night out on the cheap with some old work friends was on the cards! My friends had never had Vietnamese food before and I've only had it once or twice so it was a bit of a venture in to the unknown as we worked our way through the menu.

We shared the four main dishes between us so we all got to try a bit of everything. First up was the roast duck with bamboo shoots, spring onions, chilli and coriander. I'm not a huge duck fan (unless it's of the crispy variety!) but found this deliciously tender. 

My favourite dish of the four was the chicken breast with bamboo shoots and po ku mushrooms in lemongrass sauce - I could certainly have eaten the whole dish myself! The salmon with pak choi, spring onion, chilli and soy sauce came a close second to the chicken though - lovely and light and full of flavour.

For our fourth dish we decided to try a tofu dish - we were all tofu virgins but thought would give it a shot! And I was very pleasantly surprised - the lemongrass sauce was the star of the dish and worked really well with the tofu. Something I've never eaten but certainly would give another go.

Full price with the side dishes and mains our meal would have cost just short of £60. The Groupon deal made it just £32.

The big question is would I go back and pay full price? And the answer is a resounding yes - the food at Dang's was lovely and fresh with excellent flavours. And it all felt deliciously healthy so was very much eating out without the usual guilt factor!

Dang's, Wellingborough Road, Northampton