I was sent a really interesting question yesterday from someone considering doing the Live Below the Challenge on Monday to Friday of this coming week. In her words ...
"If you were me with access to only supermarkets, no growing space and no chickens so no eggs, only a pot of basil and one of parsley on my windowsill, knowing what you do now after doing this challenge for the last two years, what would you buy with your £5 allowing for finding NO special offers at a random visit to the supermarket, also what would you make from these foods to last you the week".
A very good question it really made me think ..... and this is what I came up with.
Brown bread 50p
Peanut Butter 62p
Instant coffee 47p
Last year (LY) I got 22 slices from my brown loaf, I would have two of these each morning, toasted with peanut butter (LY = 6 servings from one jar) and a cup of coffee, (luckily I now have my coffee black and with no sugar or sweetener a real LBTL money saver).
1kg Rice 40p
The rice would be split into 5 x 180g portions and 1x 100g portion, one 180g portion allowed each day for lunch or for my evening meal.
Curry Sauce 26p x 2 = 52p
Each jar of curry sauce would be cooked with 2 or 3 of the onions and two fifths of the frozen mixed vegetables to make two and a half portions of vegetable curry to have with the rice meal
(two jars = divided into five portions of vegetable curry)
I would cook this all at once at the start of the week and portion it up. It would keep well in the fridge or it could be frozen in daily portions.
Frozen Mixed Vegetables 75p
1.5kg Onions 95p
Vegetable Stock Cubes 15p
(chicken and beef flavours also available at this price)
Allowing that potentially 6 of the onions have been allocated to the curry the rest would be peeled (carefully to give you as much onion as possible) and finely chopped. I would then turn them into a basic pot of soup using around six of the stock cubes. Once cooked either blitz the entire pan of soup with a blender and divide into 5 portions, one for each day or blitz some of the portions and leave others chunky. The final portion of frozen vegetables can be split between some of the portions of soup, as can the 100g of rice not allocated for the curry meal.
This I would serve with a slice of brown toast for either lunch or tea.
Sparkling Water 17p x 2 = 34p
Ice cold Sparkling Water would be my treat each day, a glass of this with ice served in a wine glass with the evening meal makes a lovely cheap treat. This would be rationed out to last over the entire 5 days.
3 slices Bread and 1 serving of Peanut Butter - available for an emergency snacks or could be added to give the soup more substance/flavour
4 stock cubes - could be used to cook the rice in to give it more flavour.
Any herbs growing on the windowsill or wild could be added to both the curry and the soup for extra flavour
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This is my personal choice of foodstuffs for the week, and comes to a total of £4.70, allocating 10p for salt and pepper and herbs to use as seasoning it would give me 20p left over, with this I would try to find a potato (of the right weight and costing 20p, Sainsburys scales are brilliant for this as they print out your price sticker for the checkout and you would know the potato is going to cost you exactly this) to help give the soup more substance.
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Alternative to consider
If you hated curry and rice my alternative would be to buy pasta instead. Two bags of basics pasta would be 60p, two packs of chopped tomatoes would be 62p.
So taking away the rice and curry for 92p, and adding instead the pasta and tomatoes for £1.20, would mean that you have 28p less to spend, which would be possible if you didn't search for that illusive potato and used your leftover 2p for the seasonings (more salt and less pepper would achieve this).
I would use half the onions for the soup in this case and the other half to add to the chopped tomatoes to make a pasta sauce to last the full five days. I would also chuck in every available herb I could find for added flavour. I'm sure foraging is allowed and it is the right time of year for Wild Garlic and Dandelions!!
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I hope this answers the question, and now if I was you I would dash out to Sainsburys and Asda or your local supermarket with equivalent foods pretty sharpish to hopefully grab these bargain foods to see you through the week if you are going to give this ago.
Of course if you get there and something is not available then you have to have your thinking cap on and reconsider the shopping. But by keeping your eating to the same breakfasts each day, and the same foods that can be eaten either for dinner or tea it does make it much more achievable. You only need lots of different foods if you want different meals for each day of the week, not something you have the luxury of really if you are living on £1 a day!!
Good luck to all of you who are taking part in this wonderful challenge. Lets hope that once again it opens peoples eyes to the shocking truth about poverty both here in the UK and all around the world. It does us all good to stop and think sometimes.
Please use the links at the top of my right hand sidebar to go directly to the official Live Below the Line web page and read all about the efforts being made by so many people and to also make your donation if you can. I'll be looking around Blog land for more Blogs of folk taking part in the Challenge to add to my sidebar, let me know if you are.