Monday, 17 June 2013

Live Below The Line - Day 1

I awoke this morning with an air of excited trepidation - I do love a challenge, and this week is going to be just that, I am sure.

I wander downstairs and eye the range of food still on the worktop. I have not put it away in the vain hope that every time I look at it I can drag some inspiration from those boring white labels, I can't!

Normally if I look at a collection of ingredients I can immediately come up with something to make, right now I am wondering how I am going to make it stretch, never mind any culinary masterpieces.  Right now, I am wondering what curried cottage cheese is going to taste like.  Right now, I am wondering if my pitta breads will last until the weekend.  Right now, I am wondering what on earth made me do this.... then I remember.

Right then  (a big breath and lungs full of renewed motivation) I put the kettle on and treat myself to a cup of tea.

Reduced "Love" tea bags - 10p for 20 which makes them 0.5p each.  (Normally I drink Nambarrie which is a good strong brew and hits the caffeine spot dead on) .  Today my brew is weak, it's like going to a friends house where they don't appreciate a good brew - you drink it out of politeness but yearn for your usual.  My "love tag" says I am sweet  :) I think I am too.

I drink this out of politeness and necessity as a Nambarrie tea-bag will cost me around 37p.

Along with my tea I have marmalade on toast, one thing this challenge is making me do already, even before my first breakfast, is to compare the amount I normally spend on food.  I think this may be embarrassing as the week goes on.

Usually my breakfast is two slices of Hovis 7 Seed Wholemeal Bread, with Olive Oil Spread & Roses Marmalade.  Today it is two slices of budget brown bead with something that claims to be spread (snobbery shining through) and basic marmalade.

Let's compare prices.

Basic brown bread (20 slices to a loaf) works out at 3p a slice.  The spread is 70p and I estimate very roughly that I used about 1p worth a slice.  The marmalade was 27p and I used about a tenth over both slices.

LBTL Before
Bread 6p 15p
Spread 2p 6p
Marmalade 3p 15p
Tea 0.5p 37p
TOTAL 11.5p 73p

Interestingly if, for arguments sake, you had this breakfast every day for a year, the budget breakfast would be £41.97 (and a half penny) while the regular breakfast would be £266.54 - a saving of a significant £224.57

Lunch today was soup.  I used my expensive soup maker, but had to skip on the sautéing part as I had no oil in my food stash.  The spread for my bread claims it's for spreading only and not cooking or baking - I guess it will split. I also had no stock cubes or bouillon, so everything just got chucked in and I hoped for the best. I did debate whether to use my one and only fresh potato to thicken it, but decided I might need that for a jacket spud in the week.

The recipe ingredients:
  • A bag full of prepared leeks  (25p)
  • 2 bags of prepared butternut squash (50p)
  • 4 carrots (10p)
  • Generous pinch of mixed herbs (1p)
  • Half teaspoon chilli powder (1p)
What you do:
  • Chuck it all in the pot with enough water to cover, bubble for 20 mins then blitz.

This made 5 decent portions which will make me a nice lunch for the whole 5 days of the challenge, unless I decide to do something else with it in the meantime.  It cost in total 87p which makes it just under 18p a portion.

Served with two slices of bread and spread accompanied by a big glass of water, lunch cost me:

Bread 6p
Spread 2p
Soup 18p

I actually split my lunch in half as I was on a 12-4 shift at work. 11 o'clock is a little early for lunch, but 4.30pm is way too late, so I had half before and half after  :)  I also had two brews throughout the day.  (1p)

Dinner time, and what can I make?  I feel I need something quite substantial and filling so I can go to bed full and happy tonight.

Burgers of some description came to mind. I have a tin of Indian Beans, plenty of carrots, bread, rice...let's create!

The recipe ingredients:

  • 100g rice (4p)
  • 3 medium carrots (7p)
  • half a tin of Indian Bean Salad (25p)
  • 1 crust of bread (3p)
  • 2 teaspoons of marmalade (3p)
  • chilli powder (1p)
  • mixed herbs (1p)
Total cost for 6 burgers is 44p

What you do:

  • Put the rice on to cook according to the packet instructions.
  • Peel and grate the carrots and put into a mixing bowl.  Add chilli powder to taste and a good pinch of mixed herbs.
  • Rinse the beans and put in the bowl.
  • Blitz the bread crust into a fine crumb and add to the bowl.
  • Give the mixture a little mash with a potato masher to break down the beans a little.
  • Rinse the cooked rice well in cold water and add to the bowl.
At this point I realised I needed a binder - no eggs! - so I took the marmalade and mixed it with a pinch of chilli powder to make something that wasn't too far removed from a mango chutney.
  • Add the marmalade binder to the mix and stir very well.
  • Wet your hands and form into 6 patties, place on a baking tray and bake for 30 mins at Gas 6, turning once half way through cooking time.

I had three burgers split between two pitta breads topped with a little cottage cheese.

Dinner cost me:

3 Burgers 22p
2 Pitta Bread 7.5p
Tea 0.5p
Cottage Cheese 10p
Total 40p

In total my whole days food and drink was as follows.

Bread 6p
Spread 2p
Marmalade 3p
Tea 0.5p
Bread 6p
Spread 2p
Soup 18p
Teas 1p
3 Burgers 22p
2 Pitta Bread 7.5p
Tea 0.5p
Cottage Cheese 10p
TOTAL 69.5p

And that completes Day 1. Phew, I made it, only four more days to go.

A HUGE Thank you to all my sponsors so far, and if you haven't yet and wish to, it can be as little as £1.00 as every little bit helps. To date I have raised £55.


  1. Good for you, Sooz. You're doing brilliantly. Would it be cheating if friends gave you home-made things, like marmalade? After all, that might happen to anyone...

  2. In normal circumstances, no, but for this challenge I think they would like it to be like you had no outside help at all.


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