Stretching the budget: part packs and store cupboards

The eagle-eyed and mathematical geniuses may have noticed that I spent more than £10 for the two of us during my Live Below the Line shopping trips.

One part of the Live Below the Line rules I found contradictory last year was that on the one hand you’re meant to budget for whole packs of food items such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs.

Yet on the other hand you’re allowed to share ingredients as a team, and for items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices you can work out the cost of each item per gram and then budget proportionately.

I already have the relative luxury of spending £10 to feed 2 people, rather than just a fiver for one.

Last year I took a really hard line and only included the entire costs of packs of everything, even store cupboard ingredients like the 60p for a 100g pack of curry powder.

This year, I decided to stretch my cash by buying bigger packs of several ingredients, but only budgeting for the parts I plan on eating. The remainder will be devoured by my offspring, or by the whole family after Live Below the Line.

This means I could get cheaper onions, carrots, bananas and apples than buying them individually. It brought the dairy products within reach: half a pack of cheese singles, most of a large container of cheap milk and half a pack of butter.

I also raided my store cupboard, and included a few pence worth of dried mixed herbs, the elusive yeast sachets, some of the garam masala left over from last year, a teaspoon of sugar and a bit of Sainsbury’s Basics lard.

Finally, I only budgeted for the jam, oats and tea bags I thought we might use, after we had loads left over when Living Below the Line last year.

Spending extra money, and having some food left over to eat after 5 days, isn’t possible for many millions of people living in extreme food poverty worldwide.

 However, one of the things Live Below the Line taught me last year was to be much more aware of the cost per kilo. Where there is some (any) extra cash, it usually makes sense to buy bigger packs to last longer, even if it’s only buying a bag of 9 onions for a £1 rather than 5 individually.

Only on Live Below the Line could budgeting for one apple from a pack of 6, rather than a whole bag, become a moral dilemma.

 Sponsor Josh and me on our Live Below the Line challenge by donating to UNICEF here:

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