Thanks for sending details of the 'budget menu' Jane. Working on £5 per head (for approx. 50 people), that allows £250 to make the meal, and it would be wrong for me to suppose ALL this money went on paying for the ingredients, as probably the speakers were given some payment towards their expenses, or maybe a donation given to charity (as usually happens).
The cost of this meal can vary immensely depending on whether foods that could be made were instead bought (bread rolls, yogurt...) and also whether best quality (jacket potatoes always seem far more expensive bought singly, or in packs of four, and a great deal cheaper when bought in larger packs). supermarket 'best mince' usually more expensive than from a butcher..... some canned (ready-cooked) red beans cheaper than if soaking/cooking from dried - so each one of us could end up spending more - or less.
Given the total menu, a good meal was had by all for a low price. Could it have been lower? Possibly if that is the aim, but to reduce prices and keep reducing them we need quite a bit of experience and use a fair amount of hard work.
There were a couple of comments re how food can be made to look more if it has been shredded or whipped, and this is true. When you think about it, a chunky vegetable soup is almost made that way (especially if shredded chicken - from a carcase - is included). Minced meat could be classed as 'shredded/chopped', as are also onions, so with the addition of cans of chopped tomatoes and cooked red beans is another dish that fits into the 'shreddeds'.
Sometimes I serve a salad with a chilli, and keeping with the same theme I would make a coleslaw using white cabbage, carrot, and onion - all shredded or grated - and mixed together in a salad dressing.. Possibly accompanying this with potato salad (chopped cooked potatoes with onions in a mayo dressing).
In a way 'the shreddeds', eaten with a fork, are a bit like a Chinese stir-fry eaten with chopsticks. Can take quite a time to eat it all up, and this makes our stomach (feels full after eating for 20 minutes) believe it's eaten more than it has. Or we could do as some people on a diet do - chew every mouthful 35 times before swallowing.
If the Americans are now beginning to celebrate Pancake Day Pam, do they serve the European type pancakes (large and very thin) or still keep to those normally made in the US - small and thick, very similar to what we call 'drop scones' or 'Scotch Pancakes'?
Do hope your father manages to sell his house soon Kathryn, and no doubt you could start looking for your own new property, just to see what is of offer and for what price. A lot of property these days have to wait for a 'chain' of properties to be sold before the money is freed to by a chosen one. But you can always make an offer. Your dad has no chain so this should speed things up a bit.
As to what to grow/rear (what would sell well?). Keep free-range hens, a variety so you get different coloured egg-shells (I like the blue ones). If you have a field/orchard, then keep a couple or so sheep to keep the grass down (then spin their fleeces every year and have one butchered for the freezer when it is coming up to years old (a hogget). You could also keep a few bee hives to give a supply of local honey (would sell well).
If you really fancy living in a hilly area (climate may be a bit cold for growing some veg), you might be able to spare a bed-room to take in B & B, maybe also an evening meal (or packed lunch) for visitors that are touring the area (by car, cycle, or walking). You could even include some craft tuition or pony trekking (buy another pony?). With anything like the above, if you have alternative work, then you take in visitors only when you have free time. Build your reputation on comfy beds (pref with an en-suite or wet-room), or barn accommodation for walkers, and plenty of good, home-cooked, home-made/grown, tasty food. It's the last meal eaten (usually breakfast) that B & B visitors remember and will bring them back again, also pass details onto their friends.
We used to have the occasional B & B (only a handful a few times a year) when we lived in Leeds. So it wasn't a bit stressful, and they normally came when there was the annual Flower (etc) Show on our local park (about half a mile from where we lived), so as there are many annual shows in Yorks/Lancs, you could get several visitors if that is what you want.
Myself used to find that raising money in different ways (baking, preserve making, crafts, and B & B, plus demonstrations to local groups...) brought in necessary pennies, but a lot more interesting for me than doing the same thing all the time. Just keeping the wolf from the door was enough for me. Wasn't planning on being an entrepreneur.
Who knows, you new way of life would make a wonderful TV series when filmed from the start. Worth making a few enquiries to see if one (cable?) company is interested.
That's is for today, be back later this week....TTFN.