Principles are expensive

Before planning a pound-a-day shopping list, I never
realised how cheaply I would throw some principles to the wind.

Organic milk?
Left on the shelves, in preference for cheaper UHT treated long life skimmed milk., even if it makes me grimace every time I think about it.

Fresh fruit? Hard
to squeeze into the budget.

Free range eggs? Too
expensive, dazzled by the quantity available when turning a blind eye to
battery farming.

Meat from a
recognised source?
While I’ve never been on first name terms with a pig, I
have tended to look out for tractor marks, freedom food signs or free range
labelling and the like, while avoiding value range meat. For the purposes of
the challenge, I’ll be trying the mysteriously labelled “cooking” bacon,
as if every other variety of pricier bacon could be eaten raw – bacon sushi
anyone, or bacon tartare? Ever the optimist, I’m hoping the promised bacon
medley of smoked or unsmoked, rindless or rind on, streaky, middle or back
bacon will add some much needed flavour and comfort.

However, I am still attempting to stick to some of the basic
principles of my normal culinary life.

Variety: I enjoy cooking
and hate eating the same thing all the time, so boring food is the ultimate
sin. I’m sure a practical approach to Live Below the Line would be to choose a
single breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then repeat the same menu for five days.
However, I wanted to trial different recipes and foods on a limited budget.

Ready meals and
processed food:  
I cook much of my
food from scratch, and don’t use many ready meals normally. I was deeply
suspicious that both the ingredients and taste of extremely cheap prepared and
processed foods would leave a lot to be desired. Apart from the cooking bacon, I
therefore avoided such delights as 30p sweet and sour sauce, 26p curry sauce, 40p
tinned meatballs and the value sausages at 12.5p each, with only 41% pork. So looks like I’m going to be shot down in flames for both food snobbery and countenancing battery eggs.

Flavour: Still keen
to avoid boredom from blandness, I went out of my way (literally) to shoehorn items like garlic
and garam masala onto my list.

Treats: I figured
luxuries like cheap jam, and hopefully a packet of sponge mix, could help maintain

Caffeine: not
such a big one for me personally, but my husband blanched at the idea that
glamorous items like oooh tinned pineapple pieces or tinned sweetcorn might
elbow out tea bags. The caffeine kick, even via 27p value bags, was swiftly reinstated.

Where do your own culinary lines lie? What would make the
cut, or be ruthlessly sacrificed if you had to Live Below the Line? (Or would you rather sponsor us, so we’ll eat the value bacon and you don’t have to?)


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