It was when Poppy, my stratospherically brilliant working cocker spaniel got yet another digestive upset, from scavenging (probably in my very active compost heap) as she is very wont to do, that I found myself going once again to Tesco, this morning, to buy some chicken and rice. For all you dog owners who don’t already know this, a very bland chicken and rice diet is the best thing to feed dogs with such a disorder. Especially for greedy working dogs who eat anything going, and suffer the consequences later.
Not for the first time did I notice how cheap it was to buy a whole chicken of 1.38 kg and 1 kg of long grain rice.
£3.03 to be exact.
That sum would buy just under 7 x 400 g cans ( at 45 p each ) of Tesco Tinned Chunks in Jelly Complete dog food , with 4% chicken out of a total of “44% Meat and animal derivatives” (goodness knows what that is). Scarcely enough for a week.
My purchase of today will provide at least 10 convalescing cocker spaniel sized daily rations, with much more goodness than the tins, costing around 30p per day.
It would also provide a family of around 6 adult humans with enough basic food for at least one day, especially if some fresh vegetables are added. All for around 50 p per person, excluding vegetables, spices, seasoning etc.
Now, I know all my regular followers will know by now just how much I value and like my food! And I freely admit to being able to either grow, rear or locally source the very best produce available.
However, in todays increasingly shrinking world, with resources diminuishing daily, I think we should get a bit more pragmatic about how best to feed the world.
By way of illustration, I have calculated what one really good organic free range chicken, and 1 kg of Tilda basmati rice would cost from Waitrose.
That is for one Organic Free Range Chicken of 1.45 kg and 1 kg of Tilda Basmati Rice.
As opposed to £3.03 from Tesco’s cheapest range.
I do genuinely believe that you can double the actual nutritional worth of these two more expensive items, so in practice you would only need half as much of the expensive range in order to reach the same nutritional values of the cheaper foods. Even so, if you are on a budget, it would appear to be a no- brainer to use the cheaper supermarket brands, in terms of surviving in the short term.
But Today’s exercise really got me thinking about just how little money can one spend on eating healthily, as a human. I tried to imagine just how hard it would be to suddenly find myself with no real income, and with extremely rudimentary cooking facilities. I believe that it might just be possible, if you are of sound mind and body and capable of walking a few miles, to be able to feed your family quite well in the UK for not too much money at all.
Assuming you are living in a bed-sit, on a boat, or in cheap accommodation with no working oven, here are a few suggestions for cooking a cheap, nutritious meal with only two cooking pots and two rings on your cooker!
1. Cullen skink
2.Pan fried Mackerel with New Potato Sald with gherkins, spring onions and chives
3. Boiled Ham, Parsley sauce and New Potatoes
4.Corned Beef Hash
5.Chicken Fajitas with homemade flatbreads, Guacamole, Tomato Salsa and Iceberg Lettuce
6. Pan fried Pork Chops with Colcannon and Vichy Carrots
7.Warm Chicken Caesar Salad with croutons and homemade mayonnaise
8. Herrings in oatmeal with new potatoes and Mustard Sauce
9. Mushroom Risotto
10. Tortilla with potatoes, garlic, onions, peppers and a tomato salad and a green salad
11. Authentic Ragu Bolognese with Tagliatelle
12. Classic Kedgeree
13. Seafood Pasta with Mussels and Tomato sauce
14. Irish Stew
15. Pasta con le Sarde.
All of the above recipes originate from poorer cultures with only a fireside hearth, or rudimentary stovetop with which to cook by. None requires an oven!
If anyone is interested I can easily provide tried and tested recipes for any of the above! Just email, or comment on this post.
I have now cooked up the chicken and rice in a large pot. I put in all the rice, 1 kg, and the whole chicken, having removed all packaging and strings. Then I covered the whole lot with water, brought the pan to a gentle boil, and then simmered the whole lot for a couple of hours. I then stirred it all up, bones and all, and tasted it, and found it to be quite palatable, if a little bland and mushy. My dogs, on the other hand, were really excited to find that they were to get some for supper. The spaniel wolfed it down, and I was really pleased as she had not eaten properly for a couple of days. I might even dish it up to my husband tonight, although some seasoning and vegetables would certainly improve it for humans! This dish, as cooked, would certainly serve 10 hungry men, especially if tarted up a bit with spring onions, chillies, soy sauce etc.
My original estimation of how long it would feed my spaniel is way out! 10 good days portions at least! So around 30 p a go for man or dog!