Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Benefits Challenge for Out On Campus

Over the last week I was set a challenge to survive healthily on £53.54p by the publication Out on Campus. This is the amount of money that an individual under the age of 25 would be given to survive off for a week. The challenge aims to investigate how difficult it is to provide using just this amount to buy everything you need to live.

The rules of the challenge stated that I had to cook and prepare every meal using only the items that I purchased with the money provided (for example salt, pepper etc... had to be brought). This also included any other items that I needed to survive throughout the week (for example shower gel, toilet roll, toothpaste, washing up liquid etc...).

I had to cook 3 separate meals a day, all of which contained 5 fruit and vegetables (the recommended daily intake) with lots of spare. My reasons for cooking three separate meals a day were just to prove that even with a tight budget it is possible to cook an infinite variety of meals if you organise a little.

Below is a taster - check out the magazine and this blog to keep up with it.

The outcome will be published in full next week within the Out on Campus magazine and on their site, in the meantime here is an example of day 1.

Keep up with this challenge and my other recipes, hints and tips on twitter @sebbyholmes.

Benefits Challenge

The average cost for every ingredient has been rounded up whenever necessary in an effort to keep the total price as accurate and fair as possible.

Day 1: Total cost for day = £3. 63p

Breakfast Day 1: Homemade Strawberry Yoghurt

  • Strawberries, roughly chopped x 6 (50p)
  • Natural Yoghurt x 250ml (27p)
  • Sugar x 2 tbsp (1p)
  • Water x 100ml
  • Total Cost = £0. 78p


  • Place the strawberries, sugar and water into a small saucepan and put onto a medium heat.
  • Cook for 3-5 minutes until strawberries have gone soft and sugar has caramelised.
  • Finally, combine the contents of the pan with the yoghurt using a blender.
This leaves enough spare for two more portions

Lunch Day 1: Baked Cheese Pudding with Tomato and Herb Salad


  • Bread x 2 slices (6p)
  • Eggs x 2 (20p)
  • Butter x 1tbsp (1p)
  • Cheese x 1 sprinkle (2p)
  • Milk x 100ml (2p)
  • Tomato x 1, quartered (19p)
  • Parsley x small bunch, chopped (1p)
  • Oil x 1tbsp (1p)
  • Salt & Pepper x pinch of both (1p)
  • Total Cost = £0. 53p


  • De-crust and butter both sides of bread and place into the bottom of a small oven proof dish.
  • Next, beat the eggs, salt, pepper and milk together and pour over the bread. Top with a sprinkle of cheese and bake at 200 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Finally, chop the tomato into quarters and mix with parsley, 1tbsp of oil and season with salt and pepper.

Dinner Day 1: Homemade Cottage Pie


  • Chestnut Mushrooms x 4, chopped (20p)
  • White Onion x ½, diced (13p)
  • Garlic Clove x 2, diced (2p)
  • Carrot x 1, peeled and roughly chopped (17p)
  • Leek x ½, roughly chopped (25p)
  • Mince x 200g (62p)
  • Potato x 2, peeled and chopped (36p)
  • Cheese x 1 sprinkle, grated (2p)
  • Parsley x small bunch, chopped (1p)
  • Oil x 1tbsp (1p)
  • Butter x 2tbsp (1p)
  • Stock Cube x 1 (1p)
  • Red Wine x 85ml (51p)
  • Water x 200ml
  • Total Cost = £2. 32p


  • Firstly, submerge the potatoes in salted water and bring to the boil on a high heat. Once boiling, leave for 30-35 minutes until potatoes are soft then mash with the butter and a pinch of salt.
  • At the same time fry the onion and the garlic on a high heat for 2-3 minutes until translucent then add the mince, carrot, leek, mushrooms, red wine and stock. Continue to cook for a further 15-20 minutes until wine and stock has reduced and the vegetables and meat are cooked.
  • Lastly, place the mixture into an oven proof dish and cover with a spreading of mash potato. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 200 degrees until golden brown.

This left enough mashed potato to use for future meals. For this challenge I am using it for dinner on day 2 (Fishcakes).

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