Meals on a micro budget

I have never spent so long planning how to spend so little
money.

Live Below the
Line
has made me so grateful that normally if I see a recipe I like, I can
add the ingredients to our shopping list and try it out. I keep an eye on the
cost per gram, look out for special offers, and substitute some products from
value ranges in true Martin
Lewis downshift challenge
style, but I’ve never had to account for every
penny before.  As our family preferences are
less for lark’s tongues and more for spag bol, the budget balances.

Faced with only £10 to spend for the two of us, I needed new inspiration. I pored over the menus and shopping lists suggested by
Live Below the Line, read up on blogs by people who eat frugally and dug out
copies of Sainsbury’s “Feed Your Family for £50” guides.  

I can safely say it’s the first time I’ve looked at recipes
on Penny’s Recipes, a website about
economical cooking, read the list of ingredients and thought “ouch, too
expensive”.

The most helpful sources were:

  •           The Live Below the Line recipe guide, with a
    link on the page under “recipes” on this page. It had very
    practical shopping lists and daily menus, largely based on supermarket value
    ranges. Even though I went through scribbling “yak” by a bunch of the curry
    sauce / sweet and sour sauce / value sausage combos, it still sparked ideas
    about investing in eggs, making risotto and even baking your own pizza dough
  •         The Live Below the Line recipe
    book written for Results
    by one of the chefs from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen
    scheme, Lloyd Hayes, which included realistic ingredients  like pea and ham soup using a tin of value
    marrowfat peas and basic ham slices

The most exasperating recipes were on the Live Below the
Line Facebook page,
touted as designed by celeb chefs to cost a mere 33p a serving. I’m not sure
any of the chefs had actually seen the rules of the challenge, such as
accounting for the full cost of the ingredients, not just a fraction of a
packet. A highlight was the “Butternut squash ravioli with thyme, tomato and
red onion butter sauce”, which calls for cut price ingredients like OO flour,
olive oil, thyme, butter and of course butternut squash, a combination that
would surely decimate your budget in a single meal, however delicious.

Overall, I reckoned my husband and I could stave off starvation eating
porridge or egg on toast for breakfast, filling up on soup and wholemeal bread
for lunch, and focusing on main meals including veggie curry, omelette,
mushroom risotto, egg-fried rice and a tomato-based sauce for pasta in the
evening.

Next step: scoping out the supermarket value ranges.

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