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back to article Quid-a-day nosh challenge hack in bullet-hard chickpea drama

Day two of my "Live Below the Line" challenge has kicked off with another two fried egg sarnies and a couple of cuppas, following a long, hungry cooking slog yesterday thanks to some particularly obstinate chickpeas. To recap, I'm subsisting until for five days on just £1 a day for nosh as part of "an innovative awareness and …

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Doesn't look too bad

My stomach is awaiting dinner and it quite fancied the look of that.

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I approve and award you hero of soviet union

Seriously we should all do more of this. You can get fantastic nutrition out of cheap veg and pulses and I do get tired of hearing "poor people are malnourished because they can only afford mac fry king burgers."

Slight shock when I speed-read the article as "while peeing occasionally into the bubbling broth"

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: I approve and award you hero of soviet union

' I speed-read the article as "while peeing occasionally into the bubbling broth"'

Good idea!, that would make a thicker broth without incurring in any costs :0)

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Coat

Re: I approve and award you hero of soviet union

>>"poor people are malnourished because they can only afford mac fry king burgers." <<

I must confess that I did watch Jamie Oliver's programmes about trying to improve the quality of food served in schools; and the one particular epsiode that stood out was when a mother said that she could serve her children Cottage Pie because it was "too posh" for them.

As it happens, I cooked a Cottage Pie a couple of weekends ago and produced 6 good sized portions for a smidge over £3 the lot. Yes it had a lot of veg in it, but was very tasty and everyone was full up after.

White coat, apron and starched white chef's hat please!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I approve and award you hero of soviet union

"As it happens, I cooked a Cottage Pie a couple of weekends ago and produced 6 good sized portions for a smidge over £3 the lot. Yes it had a lot of veg in it, but was very tasty and everyone was full up after."

You, sir, don't own an energy monitor! Sorry, the cooking process would have cost 40-50p alone. Decent mince costs £2 minimum. Brits really have no clue of the cost of, well, anything, it seems.

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Re: I approve and award you hero of soviet union

>>Decent mince costs £2 minimum<<

The cost of the ingredients depends upon the quality and the quantity - I specified neither. But I can tell you that the mince used cost just over £1. (You can draw your own conclusions from that.)

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AC never went to uni then. Mince of unspecified origin can usually be had for circa 70p a pound, less if you buy from the woops bin section. Yes if you have the money you can pay 2 quid or more for a pound, but if you don't have the money there are ways to pay less.

As for cooking costs, it depends on electric or gas but yes the cost of energy is a factor. I'm not sure it would be that high for gas but I suppose it could be. I know it's not that high when camping and that stuff costs a freaking fortune.

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Holmes

Re: I approve and award you hero of soviet union

Ok, so much kudos for spending less than a quid a day on food, but to be fair to those who regularly have to watch the pennies - how much does it cost in fuel to boil the living daylights out of those pulses for six hours?

Just sayin'.

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Joke

unspecified mince

anyone seen my horse recently?

Actually in South Africa it has been donkey appearing in the food chain.

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From what I remember saffers will pickup nearly any animal thats been whacked on the roads assuming its fresh enough. We saw quite a few different roadkills being hauled onto pickup beds. Good on em.

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Black Helicopters

Re: I approve and award you hero of soviet union [cost of fuel]

> how much does it cost in fuel to boil the living daylights out of those pulses for six hours?

sweet FA., near enough. Bring them to the boil then wrap the pan (helps to have a heavy one) totally in anything heatproof & leave overnight. Okay, you've got to plan ahead a bit but still.

As to your diet, I'd have gone less on the protein and more on the calories. In the short term you need the latter more. You can survive comfortably with minimal protein for 5 days, sans calories, not so easy.

Well done and best of luck.

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Anonymous Coward

I'd do well at this challenge.

Due to current budget constraints I've been living for the past month on £1 a day or less.

It's reached the point now I simply forget I'm hungry, don't bother eating at all for a few days, then use the additional coins to 'treat' myself to a more substantial meal... like beer or doughnuts.

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JDX
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Last all week?

Without going off?

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Re: Last all week?

Not a problem if you bring it to the boil for a couple of minutes on a daily basis (or more regularly in warmer climes, which Spain does not appear to be right now)

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Re: Last all week?

This works really well with soup. If you keep adding leftovers to a big pot of soup, and simmer for 45 minutes or so a day, it'll keep forever and after about a week gets really, really tasty.

If you manage to keep the pot going for more than about three weeks the flavours do tend to merge into generic brown, but we rarely got to that point as we kept finishing it while it was at peak soup. At which point, of course, you have to start again.

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Re: Last all week?

Remember the old childrens' nursery rhyme?

Pease porridge hot

Pease porridge cold

Pease porridge in the pot

Nine days old.

What Lester has cooked up here is essentially "pease porridge". It doesn't go off as long as you keep it on the slow boil at least some of the time. It might start getting a bit manky after nine days, but it would still be edible if not palatable!

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Re: Last all week?

Hell, if you're willing to add water and re-boil it at least daily before eating, it can stay in the lidded pot and never get moved into refrigeration at all. You can probably even just add half a quid's worth of other food to it daily and keep the thing going quite a long time. (My personal record for a stew is just under four weeks. Only quit because I was headed out on a holiday and wouldn't be around to maintain it.)

As an aside, 10kg of rice is often only about 5-6 times the cost of 1kg of rice. The real trick to getting people into a state where they're able to manage poverty is to make sure they live indoors with cooking facilities and storage space, and have a lump of cash to initially acquire cookware and set up the pantry, mostly because dry staples (flour, dry milk, sugar, rice, oats, salt) cost so much less in substantial quantities. Dry staples, a supply of eggs, and some vitamin supplements and your diet is monotonous but sustaining.

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Re: Last all week?

"Dry staples, a supply of eggs, and some vitamin supplements and your diet is monotonous but sustaining."

Which is where hot sauces come into their own. If (like me) you're losing a few pounds by cutting the calories, then the miserly portion size and limited interest of dollop of lentil broth can be completely hidden by adding sufficient hot sauce to give it a real bite.

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Re: Last all week?

Fighting your food will indeed burn a fair few calories. Food that bites back? That's paying the iron price, that is.

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Linux

looks alright

I've eaten similar due to my vege lifestyle. Dried chickpeas take forever to cook - try one of the cheap German supermarkets for budget friendly tinned pre-cooked chickpeas.

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I found our local farmers market does awesome bulk organic chickpeas \ pinto beans \ kidney beans etc really cheap (like supermarket own brand cheap) and they soak really quickly. Compared to the supermarket type which can be hit and miss with the soaking times. Lentils and splitpeas are also great for those on a budget (perhaps not so great for those that have to share a confined space with you). Lentil curry and splitpea soup are pretty samn cheap to make and very tasty (and thats coming from a meat eater).

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The solution to your chickpea problem

is that they need soaking before you boil them. Put them in a pan or bowl with at least 6 times their own volume of cold water and leave them overnight, or start in the morning and they're ready to wash and cook in the evening. (Leave them at ambient temperature, or if you want to speed things up, they rehydrate splendidly in 2 hours at 40 to 45 C, if you have a space at that temperature.

To really keep the flavour in your soup and minimise energy consumption, you need a pressure cooker.

8 minutes at 1 Bar cooks chickpeas to the point where they're ready to gently fry with oil, garlic and cumin.

(Quick! Buy a pressure cooker before they get banned in the "Free World":)

Where's the Chef's Hat icon?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: The solution to your chickpea problem

I did soak the chickpeas for 10 hours. Didn't make much difference, evidently.

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Happy

Re: The solution to your chickpea problem (@ Lester)

Another factor to consider is the water hardness. Soaking and boiling the chickpeas in hard water is much less effective. A possible solution is to add 1 or two teaspoons of lemon juice to the water the day before you're going to use it.

A good pressure cooker also helps a lot, and it will save you lots of energy and time. And now that I think of it, eating chickpeas for five days in a row will also help you to save a ton of cash in heating costs in this cold spring though you´ll probably have to spend more than that in air fresheners.

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Happy

Re: The solution to your chickpea problem (@ Lester)

Interesting, thank you. I was also taught to change the water once during soaking approximately after 6 hours. This should get rid of the unpalatable substances and make soaking more effective.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The solution to your chickpea problem (@ Lester)

My sister-in-laws family have developed a water resistant chick pea, no amount of soaking or boiling will soften them. If these ever got to be sold in a shop and you bought a pressure cooker at the same time, you'd be asked for id and put on a terrorist watch list.

Would a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda have helped in both the soaking and cooking water? They used to have tablets of these for making mushy peas.

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Paris Hilton

Re: The solution to your chickpea problem

Lester wrote: "I did soak the chickpeas for 10 hours. Didn't make much difference, evidently."

I don't know why I failed to notice that you had soaked them, sorry. In that case you may be right about what the shopkeeper has done. Maybe your dried chickpeas are literally dead. You need healthy chickpeas that would germinate if you planted them. However, the ones in the photograph do look as if the majority have swelled to some extent. Did you use them all and make a week's stew? If so it's probably too late to suggest that you soak them for a couple of days (and change the water twice a day).

I'll leave you Paris as food for thought.

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Re: The solution to your chickpea problem

You didn't put salt in before they were fully cooked, did you Lester? Most pulses harden up if there's salt added before they're soaked and cooked, and all the books I've read on the subject (as a curry fiend) are explicit that salt goes in only when the pulses are fully done.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: The solution to your chickpea problem

No - I never use salt. Local wisdom confirms that any salt does indeed go in after the soak.

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Re: The solution to your chickpea problem

That only leaves one answer then: You've been flogged plastic chick peas. Possibly the output of some municipal plastic recycling programme, where the processed chopped and pelletised plastic was a light brown, and looked like chick peas, and somebody thought "I know how to make a bob or two on those!"

Good luck with the rest of the bag!

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Pint

University weeks...

Consisted of 6 days of Pasta, tinned tomatoes and baked spuds, followed by one day of beer. Of course, that was in the good ol' days when the LEA would happily pay for both fees and a grant, so I ended up out of university without any debt at all, and an appreciation of how to make a little money go a long way.

£1 a day was a luxury back then. 56lb bag of spuds, enough for 2 months worth, was £4. Tomatoes were 15p a tin at safeway and would do your main meal. Pasta was about 10p a portion. 50p would feed you for the day and allow you to save a fiver to simply waste on beer at the Neslon Mandela student union building* on a friday night. The weekend was spend sleeping. I don't ever recall buying meat and I don't understand the whole Pot Noodle reference as they were too expensive for me to afford.

*yep...it was called that.

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Re: University weeks...

You were lucky to have 6 days of pasta...... In my day etc...

Sheffield Hallam per chance?

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Re: University weeks...

I tended to have 6 days of chicken. Asda keps having sales on chickens, £3 each or two for £5 (Really good deal) so i'd buy the chicken, cook it on day 1, have a leg, have the second leg the next day and the rest would go into a soup pot, boil the bones to get out as much broth as possible. Add some spices etc.

That £3 of chicken would last me a week easily. Buy a few packs of instant noodles and you have chicken noodle soup.

Sadly I'd still be screwed for breakfast and lunch if I were aiming for £1 a day. Cannot find a dozen eggs for £1 anymore,

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Pint

Re: University weeks...

At Bradford we had the Steve Biko bar!

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Re: University weeks...

Seem to recall our college hall could serve mince all week for lunch and call it something different depending on what it was served with

mince + mash on top == cottage pie

mince + spaghetti == spaghetti bolognese

mince + red kidney beans + rice == chillie con carne

mince + flat pasta + cheese == lasagna

mince + red peppter + rice == savoury mince

mince + potatoes == mince & potatoes

etc

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Re: University weeks...

Ahhh... the NMB... what a dump. Better off walking up to the Red Lion, better beer, better food.

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Re: University weeks...

@Jack, Nelson Mandela is quite a popular name for Student Union Buildings, so it could be Sheffield, or not....I am being vague, ey up ecky thump....

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Re: University weeks...

Chili con carne does NOT contain mince.

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Re: University weeks...

@wowfood...

Chicken? That's like...meat...Shame on you... I bet you weren't even a pallid gaunt spotty mess and had energy and stuff.

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Re: University weeks...

@deshepherd. Our works canteen does that, and when it becomes unpalatable it then becomes <homogenised bland food product> curry. I go home for my lunch and dine like a prince!

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FAIL

Re: University weeks...

University bars have names AND you can remember them???? You sad people.

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Worse then that it seems some of them lived in halls and ate in the canteens! Posh buggers ;-)

Leeds (proper) had one of the better su's. Trying to think back to the other unis I went to, I don't think I went in the su's more than once. More fun to be had elsewhere for less money. A rileys membership was a must however! That and at least one trip to club bongo international just so you know how bad things can get.

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so let's see if we can't pass my fundraising goal...

<achievement unlocked>

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: so let's see if we can't pass my fundraising goal...

Yes indeed - thanks very much and to all the other readers who've chipped in

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Happy

Taste test

You would be surprised just how many herbs you can find growing wild - most it's just a case of knowing what to look for ... but here in Louisiana we can solve the flavor issues with hot sauce ...and again, locally you can usually grow the peppers all the time.

Basically - the diet may be boring when you try it for one week but over time it becomes much better with a little planning.

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Re: Taste test

I totally agree. In the area were Lester lives people buys/barters most of their food locally from their neighbours, or from some local 'Cooperativa Agraria'. This way you get a better price and and the food is fresher and of a better quality than anything sold in a supermarket. Some winter greens, onions and garlic in your garden will also help. With good planning you could probably spend less than 1,5 Euro a day and still eat quite princely.

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Pint

University challenged...

My university meals were a model of capitalist enterprise. I'd cook goulash, spag bol or chilli - enough for around 8 people at least. Then have 5 mates round for dinner, charge them £1 each for the nosh which cost about £4-5 and eat for free. Following day I'd eat the leftovers, then start again. Always had a queue of folk asking when I was cooking again and I hardly ever paid for any of my own food. The key was huge portions and hand out free beer (made my own lager as well - 75p a 750ml bottle, sold about 1/2 the 50 bottles on a £5 batch, had a batch ready every week).

I came out of uni with more money than I started with...

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Re: University challenged...

Sounds like someone ought to be writing a book or a website... ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Factor in the energy costs?

My own budgeting has realised there can be a false economy in buying something cheap which then needs a lot of cooking with gas or electricity. I try to make efficient use of the energy by cooking a batch of a stew - or filling the oven with things to roast. The excess is then frozen as individual portions. When needed a portion can be thawed in the fridge and then reheated in the microwave.

Haven't tried the wartime economy method of using a hay box for slow cooking.

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I also did this at university

when I inevitably ran out of money a week or two before my next loan payment, it was a bit easier then though, as you clould get a cheap 'value' loaf of bread and 5-6 cans of 'value' beans for under a pound.

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