In which I am not Felicity Kendal.

Printed 15/01/09.

Tighten your belts! Is yours tight enough? Squeeze down another notch, go on. Still buying bottled water? Are you a Duke??

So, in these troubled economic climes, everyone is having to cut back a bit. As far as I can deduce, what this means is that Waitrose people are now all at Tesco, Tesco people are all at Morrisons, and Morrisons people are trawling markets to stockpile free samples in old ice cream tubs. (It hasn't been widely publicised, but even the Queen's weekly Harrods shop has recently been feeling the pinch — she can't have little sausages in with her beans anymore).

What, then, becomes of the student? If the real-life actual people are all decamping to Lidl and Netto, then what room will there be for us in the aisle among the vats of bargain sauerkraut? It's quite possible we just fall off the consumer spectrum altogether.

My brand-new, super mega masterplan, then, is to beat the recession before it gets the better of us (fairly similar to dumping someone because you suspect they're going to dump you — the credit crunch hasn't been answering my calls for a week and I've a feeling he's been seeing other people). So in the spirit of Tom and Barbara Good, and partly because I'd like my bottom to look like Felicity Kendall's in a pair of dungarees, I'm going self-sufficient.

Sadly, my effort won't be quite the rural idyll of the Surbiton original. Lacking in the crucial element of "garden", and subsidiary elements of "skill with trowel" and "faint idea of what Baby Bio does", I won't be growing cabbages. Or keeping pigs. Or looking attractive with mud smeared on my ruddy, health-flushed cheeks.

Our modest bit of flat rooftop (known as the "terrace" only to people who aren't ever likely to pop round and find out the truth) has been housing two carrier bags, five empty lager cans and a stack of London Lites for as long as I can remember, and isn't likely to let me tamper with the natural course of things. Plus, everyone knows the only plants students can keep alive aren't wholesome enough for BBC airing.

But, I do have a plan. For the next few months, I plan to forgo the supermarkets in favour of the freely available bounty on my own doorstep. I am not going to buy any food, from any shops, until I have eaten everything I can possibly eat in our kitchen. It won't be a task for the fainthearted, but I intend to emerge a better, richer, more disciplined person as a result. Albeit with rickets.

Of course, only our specific breed of student house could accommodate such a challenge. In the 18 months or so that I've lived here, our five-bedroomed maisonette has had 12 inhabitants. And that's just counting the core livees, not the various hangers-on who have frequented our sofa and left pasta sauce in our cupboards.

So we've amassed about six Harvest Festivals-worth of tins, packets, jars, and weird things in Tupperware that nobody ever dares eat, in case the original owner from 2006 jumps out from behind a door shrieking "MY Cup A Soup. You thieving scoundrel" then batters them with the good wok.*

It'll be a tough adjustment at first, but pretty soon I'm sure I'll learn to love the diet. Think of the opportunities it'll create for fusion cuisine. I can have cous cous, in an Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire pudding, with a side of fajita filling, and some chicken tikka splodged on top. I'll discover brilliant new uses for Angel Delight, and find out what's in that freezer bag everyone's scared to touch.

What's more, I'll be providing a wonderful service to my flatmates by making room for all the new, lovely food they want to put in the cupboards, instead of eating it from the carrier bags on the bus home before it goes off. Then, in several decades' time when another recession hits, a whole new generation of students will be saved by our new hoard of nourishment. It's a beautiful cycle.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm pretty sure I saw some powdered egg at the back of a shelf and I'd like to see how it goes with Smash.