Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How we Ate Then

Continuing with the recent mention of the magazine article, I have now worked out how much the food bought from the stores would cost today. I scrolled down Tesco's current food prices and selected the cheapest of each of the foods originally used - with the exception of chicken which I know is sold cheaper somewhere else as it was on TV the other day (so used that price instead). Also couldn't select '8 other seasonal vegetables' at this time of year. Likewise the canned mackerel was not to be found in the size purchased for the article, I had to '5 times' the price of the much smaller cans on sale today. The amount came to £35.02p (and yes, I checked it firstly by adding it up in my head- correctly I may say, then on the calculator, incorrectly, and then twice more on the calculator - which then gave me my first total. I should have just trusted my brain). I did not include foods taken from the storecupboard - but I have a rough guess at this bringing the final total for both to over £40. Probably well over.
Thank you Valerie for coming back to me with your total. You may well be closer to the real cost than I am. But what the heck either way this proves that feeding a family of four (using the same menu) now costs at least double what it did 23 years ago. Although the magazine kept saying "this will feed a family (deliciously) on £3 a day", and that "the meals were well thought out, and well balanced" and bla, bla, bla, I now feel I should have been able to do better. Certainly now I would serve different (and still delicious) foods and be able to feed a family of four for under £40. Only please don't ask me to show you how. Let me have a breather first.

Requests for the menus. They read thus, each followed by a planning tip for the day:
Breakfast: orange juice, toast and marmalade, tea or coffee.
Main meal (noon): roast chicken, stuffing, sausages, gravy, bread sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, braised celery. Fresh fruit in jelly.
Light meal: Beef and cucumber open sandwiches, pikelets, sultana buns, Victoria sandwich.
(Planning tip: make muesli; also beef stock. Meat from beef bones is for beef and cucumber open sandwiches for tea. After lunch remove meat from chicken carcase and make chicken stock for tomorrow. Make pikelets, cakes and buns).

Breakfast: orange juice, muesli, savoury stir-fry, tea or coffee
Light meal: Lettuce soup, oatcakes and cheese.
Main meal: Lamb au Chou, new potatoes. Eve's Sundae.
(Planning tip: In the morning make oatcakes. If baking Syrup Savarin at the same time as the lamb, allow time for dough to rise. In the evening prepare Dreamy Dish for Tuesday breakfast, using home-made yogurt.)

Breakfast: orange juice, Dreamy Dish, tea or coffee
Light Meal: Lemon cups Fish Pate with toast triangles, Lemon Barley drink.
Main Meal: Chicken Gougere, lettuce salad with yogurt dressing. Syrup Savarin.
(Planning tip: Make lemon barley drink early for lunch, also make basic egg white whip, Pavlova. Make cream filling for Savarin, and ice-cream Chantilly. Make choux pastry for Chicken Gougere and Profiteroles.)

The menus for the rest of that week will follow tomorrow. Even reading it back sounds too much like hard work for me, but in those days I was younger, with more energy. Looking at the photos of the meals does make them look much better than they sound. But now in the 21st century and much older, not to mention more experience under my wide belt, I would make it simpler, using different (but still nutritional) ingredients.
Once you have read the entire menu, if there is a mention of a recipe that entices you to try it, then just ask. As My mouth is already watering looking at the photos of the menus to come. At the end of the challenge I will see if I have saved enough (from what I would normally spend) to enable me to buy a digital camera - then, hopefully I can persuade my grandson to come over to show me how to put up the pics. onto this site (always supposing I am allowed to) then maybe you will see the food as well as reading about it.

One final tip of the day, something I discovered recently (and so obvious you must think I am a complete idiot not to think of it before) , when cooking anything that requires as much heat from the base as at the top: puff or short pastry, oven chips, pizzas, sausages etc. Put the (empty) baking sheet/tin in the oven for the time the oven heats up, then it will be very hot indeed so take care, then put the food directly onto it and this will start it cooking underneath immediately instead of waiting for a cold tin to warm up. When cooking a meat pie covered with puff pastry, I cut the pastry lid to fit but cook it separately so the underpart is not soggy from the steam from the meat. The meat can be reheated alongside, in a dish covered with foil.
But of course you know all this already. Said I was stupid.