Ideas for Live Below the Line

Live Below the Line challenge runs this week, but I’m aiming to follow it when it’s Christian Aid week next week. The idea is that one lives off £1 a day for five days. A few people asked for some advice on how this might be achieved and since I did a similar exercise for Lent last year, and part of this, here are my thoughts on the subject. Other recipes are probably cheaper and more nutritious but these win for speediness and being doable for one person. Even if that one person does get heartily sick of pasta by the end of the week.

I’ve suggested a few things which would combine for meals and snacks- this comes to £5.10 on today’s prices, one carrot less and you’re under a fiver. I am assuming you have salt, pepper, oil. Prices are Asda online – you can get veg much cheaper if you have a handy market stall nearby, looks like Tesco might beat a few prices too. On a budget of £1 a day, a few pence makes a difference. Also, if you are doing this challenge next week, sowing some cress seeds, or pea shoots now will give you free green stuff to add to pasta next week.

First things first – forget getting 5-a-day. You might manage two. Forgetting decent meat is probably a good idea, too.

Second thing second – porridge. I know I bang on about this a lot. Porridge oats are 75p for 1kg, so 37p the week. You need about 50g for a decent bowlful of porridge – that’s breakfast sorted for under 4p. Fill up on it again before bedtime if you need to.

Carrots and broccoli are cheapish; 1kg of carrots (about 8-10) is 78p. You can get a small head of broccoli for about 45p. Arm yourself with a garlic bulb (26p) and a bag of chillis (50p, or much less if you can just get one or two). Or you might sneak an onion in at about 10p (adjusting the number of carrots again)

Tinned tomatoes – currently 31p a tin, but I think you can probably get these cheaper still.

Pasta – 30p for 500g of value pasta, or 89p for wholewheat. The latter is much nicer and as it’s the basis for most other meals, probably worth the extra.

Two of the three of: Value greek salad cheese – i.e. pretend Feta – 75p. Cheapest cheese I like. 12 skinny sausages, 78p. Or, 6 value eggs, 85p.

With this lot you can make the following combinations, which try to fill you up and make endless pasta interesting. I guess you could substitute rice. There are lots more, of course – this is just the general idea.

Combinations of sausage and pasta: just the two together, or in a bake with ½ the tomatoes.

Chilli, garlic, other half the tomatoes. As a pasta sauce.

Pasta, feta, chilli. Eat hot or cold for lunch.

Garlicky broccoli, pasta. (Also good with feta added). Either leave the florets whole or puree/mash for a sauce.

Carrot, garlic, broccoli stir fry (with, you guessed it, pasta)

Omelette with chilli.

Roast cloves of garlic, smush with a bit of oil.

I eat carrots as snacks, so you might want less than 1kg. You could swap that for some potatoes – then you’ve got possibilities for mash, to go with sausages; or jacketed, or in a Spanish omelette.  Bread probably only worth it if you get it very reduced. Ditch the chilli and garlic and you’ve got enough for a litre of value orange juice (62p) to brighten breakfast.

Other people do interesting things with lentils, but I think a whole bag is over budget for the week.

It’s not the most interesting week’s food – there are probably people doing amazing things and providing very balanced meals. This works for one person, though; when there are two or more of you there is a distinct advantage in being able to share the cost. A vegetable curry would be over my budget but you could probably do that very easily and feed 4 people on about 25p each.

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