Today, as I am smashing ripe buttery avocado onto toasted bread, and whisking up my ‘essential’ matcha tea (how I’ve missed you), you may be pondering just how to make that crumpled fiver last five days. The Live Below The Line challenge: Did you sign up? Good.
As I wrote in the last post, eating and drinking on £1 a day brought out my creativity and a bit of pioneer spirit (minus the wood chopping and home dentistry), but the challenge also reinforced how fortunate I am not to have to do this day in and day out. I really don’t know how I would cope if I were to – through need and not awareness-raising – have to live so frugally, and without any end in sight. I would like to think that as with many things I would just get stuck in and make the best of it. But when your situation feels unjust and hopeless… I have never experienced anything like that. And of course I hope my family and I never do.
Anyway, this whole week has given me much to ponder on. I understand from some comments on the blog, on social media and in person, that my week has made some of you think deeply also. Not only about what you would actually eat, but about the situations of others less fortunate than ourselves; about what we really think is important; about how much we waste. I think I am pretty good with menu planning and waste, but honestly, I don’t have much of a clue. But I have made a stab at it, and my week of living below the line is listed below.
All of us have different tastes, so your week’s shopping and menu will probably be different to mine. But hopefully you will find my take on Living Below The Line helpful, and give you some ideas – whether you are taking the challenge or not. I won’t lie, it will be somewhat repetitive – as the limited shopping will convey. And it may challenge your digestion – our guts don’t like sudden changes. But it needn’t be boring or without culinary merit.
If you are doing the challenge, please let me know. Let us ALL know. I would love to find out what you have planned. Or, if you aren’t doing the challenge, do pass on some frugal tips that will make the week – and beyond – easier. And, if you can make a way of fitting avocado on toast and a serious matcha tea habit fit into a £1 a day budget, I will come over and make you dinner. Avocado growers need not apply…. :-)
TOTAL SPENT: £4.49, leaving me with 51 pence for spices, accounting for my homegrown veg, some oil (which may not be allowed on some challenges, so check). The oil is not necessary for any of my recipes.
MY “LIVE BELOW THE LINE” MENU
Monday: Breakfast – 1 poached egg, kale from the garden, steamed and mixed with some turmeric powder, plus half a banana; Lunch – porridge with half a banana + 1 tbsp peanut butter; Dinner – er, I was at a wedding and ate what was served. Water to drink.
Tuesday: Breakfast – porridge, mashed half a banana + peanut butter, all swirled in (quite nice actually); Lunch – a big soup of poached egg, boiled frozen veg with added stock cube for seasoning, chopped wild garlic, pinch of turmeric and some boiled rice; Dinner – Spicy Peanut Butter Soup with Roti (Flatbread), plus boiled nettles on the side for some vitamins (free food!); the other half of the morning banana. Water to drink.
Wednesday: Breakfast – porridge with peanut butter, mashed banana and cinnamon; Lunch – Roti with garden kale and chard, with a fried egg; Dinner – more Spicy Peanut Butter soup and roti. Water to drink.
Thursday: Breakfast – Roti with half a tin of baked beans (the other half will go into dinner), chard from the garden (or you could use picked nettles) and a fried egg; Lunch – Porridge, and a side of frozen vegetables with added turmeric and stinging nettles done as a simple soup; Dinner – Wild Garlic Soup with Roti, plus a banana later on and some hot water to drink.
Friday: Breakfast – Roti topped with banana ‘spread’. I made this fluffy and really quite nice topping by chopping half a banana and adding it to a bowl with a tbsp of peanut butter, some cinnamon and some water. I heated this in the microwave for 30 seconds and mashed it. This was a way of making heavy ingredients light and really quite nice. I topped this with more slices of banana. I will definitely do this more often. Lunch – Hard-boiled egg with cooked rice and frozen vegetable stir-fry (turmeric, cumin and cayenne added). Dinner – The last of the Wild Garlic Soup, plus a roti. Water to drink.
Thoughts on the ingredients: The roti idea was a bit of a winner for this week. They proved to be very versatile, but I will be quite happy not to have one for awhile! As for the oats, I could have been more creative with them and made them into bread too, but I was happy with the roti. All of my staple items would go further if doing this for more than one person as the initial outlay when you won’t necessarily be eating everything up was a bit steep. I would perhaps have swapped rice for potatoes as I would have finished them up no problem. I do prefer rice to potatoes though. If you are able to liven up the diet a bit with some foraged foods then this will make the week a lot more interesting and add some needed freshness and vitamins into the diet. I would also have liked to have made a wild garlic and dandelion frittata with some cooked rice added in, but I didn’t get round to it (where are the dandelions??). I think I’ll make that this week even though I can eat what I wish. The biggest hit was the Spicy Peanut Butter Soup, but we also really love this incredibly simple Wild Garlic Soup. Make it less frugal by adding some mushrooms, and with sustaining protein by adding a poached egg or cubes of silken tofu to each serving. If you don’t have wild garlic/ransoms then use spinach and add a clove of crushed fresh garlic. Wild garlic smells much more pungent than it tastes.
Wild Garlic Soup
This is incredibly frugal but tastes fantastic. As with my previous soup in this series, it was made to fit in with my £1 a day budget for the Live Below The Line campaign. Make it more luxe by using a wild and white rice mix, adding a splash of cream, and adding more protein with a poached egg per serving, or cubes of silken tofu. If you don’t have wild garlic/ransoms, baby spinach and a minced clove of garlic will work nearly as well. Even if you miss out on the cheap thrill of finding free food!
1.5 litre (6 & 1/3 cups) hot vegetable stock (I used a stock cube)
90-100g (1/2 cup) of white rice or wild and white rice mix
1/2 tin of baked beans, rinsed
100g (3 packed cups), wild garlic leaves and stems, washed and roughly chopped
Method: Add the rice to the stock and bring to the boil; turn down to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, then add in the rinsed beans and wild garlic. Let the soup simmer for a further couple of minutes, serving when the rice is cooked through and soft.