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Living in Bulgaria: Cost of One Week's Food - continued

All food for the week plus 16 extra meals

At the end of the week, the total food bill, excluding dinner in a restaurant, has come to 50.00 leva (23.17 British pounds), compared with the average food bill in the UK for two people of 129.50 leva (60 British pounds).

We do take the mainland European view and serve jugs of water and fresh bread on the side with most lunches and dinners, preferring a small crispy loaf called 'pitka', which is only 0.25 leva a loaf (0.11 pence).

We additionally have dinner out once every week at a decent restaurant for the sum of 30 leva (13.90 British pounds) including drinks: compared with the average meal for two in a mid-priced UK restaurant being 86.35 leva (40 British pounds).

During the week, we take a glass of wine with our main meal (a couple of glasses at the weekend). Good reds (Cabernet Sauvignon) and the high quality white wines (Misket) bought directly from our local vineyard are 2.40 leva a litre (1.11 pounds a litre). Which means a glass of wine at home costs us just 0.27 leva (12 pence). A similar quality wine in Britain would be 9.20 leva (4.26 pounds) for a bottle of 75 cl, not for the full litre, which is 1.56 leva a glass (or 72 pence).

And let's not forget, having spent only 50 leva for the food, this has also made another 16 homemade meals which are in our freezer from this week, already paid for and just waiting to be eaten. Including 4 chicken curries made from the roast leftover, two cornish pasties, 2 tomato soup, 4 liver and bacon casseroles and 4 chili con carne!

The following week we would probably exchange the chicken roast for a joint of pork, then swap out the filet mignon for boeuf en croute (fillet of imported British matured beef, with homemade chicken liver and cognac pate, all in puff pastry). The boeuf en croute is an extravagence but only adds 5 leva (2.31 pounds) to the overall bill, so what the heck.  Changes would be made to the recipes for making other meals with the leftovers: swap chicken curry for chinese pork and, say, the pasties for lasagne, tomato soup for leek and potato, etc - again freezing those portions unused during the week.

Tip: When wishing to reheat frozen meals, don't empty the freezer box contents into a pan and heat directly as it loses too much flavour and liquid. Make sure you use boxes for freezing which will be alright in hot water. Take the freezer box with the contents and the lid still on, then bring a pan of water to the boil, gently place the meal in, lower the temperature and very gently 'poach' the whole box (if you have a bain marie, all the better). The water should only be hot enough that you can still dip your finger in and not be totally scalded. This way you seal the flavours in - try it, you'll taste the difference.


Incredible value

You'll be amazed how quickly you fill your freezer(s) and at the end of only two weeks you'll already have some 28 main meals with a different choice for every day of the week for the coming weeks- at no additional work and no extra cost!

Six weeks worth of main meals made with fresh organic ingredients - all for only 100 leva or under 47 pounds.

Note: Exchange rate correct at 21 September 2009 from