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Nov 172011

Just how cheap can a simple meal be? That was the challenge issued by the Royal Society of Chemistry and I found what I thought was the answer in a 150-year-old book, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management published in 1861. This is a compendium of hundreds of recipes and tips, and it is still in print. There among its pages it the toast sandwich. This is not a toasted sandwich but a sandwich in which the filling is a slice of toast. This is so simple to make, but does it provide a nutritious snack and how little can it cost?

Toast sandwich recipe

Toast a thin slice of bread.
Butter two slices of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the slice of toast between the 2 slices of bread-and-butter to form a sandwich.

Rather surprisingly a toast sandwich is pleasant to eat, but the salt and pepper are essential ingredients.


3 slices of white bread = 3 x 80 = 240 Calories
Butter = 10 g = 90 Calories (Margarine would provide the same.)
Total = 330 Calories

The sandwich will provide the following dietary nutrients:
Protein = 9.5 g
Fat = 12 g
Carbohydrate = 55 g
Fibre = 4.5 g
Calcium = 120 mg
Iron = 2 mg
Vitamin A = 90 μg
Vitamin B1 = 0.25 mg
Vitamin B2 = 80 μg
Vitamin B3 = 4 mg
Vitamin D = 0.08 μg

[From Nutrient Content of Food Portions, by Jill Davies and John Dickerson, published by RSC 1991.]


Depending on where the bread and butter/margarine are purchased, the RSC has calculated that a toast sandwich can cost as little as 7.5 pence and they have challenged others to provide an austerity meal that is as cheaper and as nourishing. The reward for doing so is £200. Of course cheaper meals are possible, but can they match the target of 330 Calories and still provide a range of nutrients?

At a later date I hope to report on whether such a meal can be made.