Many budget recipes have a sting in the tail.
They start off all chick peas
and cheap cuts of meat before sneakily asking you to chuck in a spoonful of
truffle oil or ground gold dust, that somehow just happens to be lurking at the
back of your cupboard.
Live Below the Line is having none of it.
The official rules here are quite
clear that you have a total of £5 to buy all ingredients for the five days, and
the full cost must be included in the budget. So you can’t allocate the cost of
a quarter of a pack of pasta, or a single egg from the box, but have to stump
up for the whole lot.
You are allowed to use salt, pepper, herbs and spices so
long as you work out a cost per gram, and deduct it from your budget. However,
I suspect this doesn’t really apply to many of the ingredients I’ll really
miss, like oil, butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chutney and so on.
If you’re lucky enough to grow food in your garden, you can
only use it if you “account for the price of production”. This just made my
head hurt, so I reckon our scraggly mint plant and miraculously surviving basil
are safe for the week ahead. There’s no reference to foraging for food
elsewhere, but it’s unlikely I’ll be scavenging for
dandelion leaves behind the bus stop.
I still have vivid memories of a meal years ago when the host
announced that the rice was flavoured with saffron which he had “picked from
the saffron fields of Northern Iran”, and then looked a bit aggrieved when I duly
snorted said rice out of my nose. I reckon shoehorning the return air fares into
a Live Below the Line budget might be a tad tricky.
The good news for me was that ingredients can be shared
between a team, and it was a great relief when my husband volunteered to Live
Below the Line too. Relative to a fiver, all of a sudden a £10 budget seemed
enormous. Right up until I started working out what it could actually buy.