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Live Below The Line 2014 Family Meal Plan

Friday, 25 April 2014

We're once again taking part in the Live Below the Line campaign as a family from 28th April - 2nd May, this time raising money for Christian Aid.  Sometimes the best way for children to learn things is to experience them in a safe but challenging way.  We take for granted our plentiful food, clean water and fairly comfortable lifestyle.  It is very important to me that my children realise that others in the world are much less fortunate and for them to experience a little of what it is like for those people who live on much less than we do.  

There are currently 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty – surviving on just £1 a day.  That £1 has to pay for everything – food, housing, health, clothing, transport and education.  Live Below the Line aims to raise money to help those in poverty by highlighting the plight of the world’s poorest.  My eldest daughter wants to be an aid worker and has already raised £188 for Save the Children this year by organising a concert with a teacher and her worship band at school so she was very enthusiastic about participating in Live Below the Line once again - my husband and other two daughters are slightly less keen.

I am pregnant so have been advised by my Obstetric Consultant to keep taking my pregnancy multivitamins throughout the week but other than that we will be strictly sticking to the rules of spending £1 per person per day on food.  I will be blogging our experiences and feelings throughout next week so do check back to see how we are getting on.

You can sponsor us to raise money for Christian Aid by clicking here.

Our 5 Day Meal Plan

Drinks will be either water, milk or cheats cuppa soup made with some vegetable stock cube dissolved in hot water. There is no tea, coffee, juice or squash in this Meal Plan.  We grow rhubarb, fresh herbs, spinach, chard and salads so I’ve included 60p to cover the costs of seeds used to grow our produce. I will of course be baking our own bread and other baked goods needed for the Meal Plan.


Breakfasts will be porridge with baked rhubarb compote and a banana or banana on wholemeal toast.


These Calzone will be served with carrot and cucumber sticks and salad leaves.

Mince and Vegetable Calzone

250g beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
200g frozen mixed vegetables
4 Tblsp tomato paste
125ml boiling water
1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 Tblsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1  x 7g packet instant yeast
1 Tblsp sugar
150ml - 200ml lukewarm water
450g bread or plain flour, I used wholemeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed herbs

Make the dough first so it has time to rise whilst you make the filling. Mix the yeast, sugar and water together then add the flour, salt, a couple of hearty grinds of pepper and mixed herbs.  Mix the ingredients together well, and add more warm water or flour if necessary, until the dough mixture forms a large ball.

Knead the dough gently until it is elastic and smooth.  Grease a bowl with a little oil, put the dough into the bowl and turn it n the oil.  Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170 Fan.

Now make the filling.  In a frying pan over a moderate heat, saute the onion and peppers until they start to soften then add the minced beef.  Brown the mince well, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add the frozen mixed vegetables, tomato paste, water and chives then simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Remove the filling fron the heat.

To make the calzone, take a small piece of dough and roll it out into a small circle shape. Put a large spoonful of mince mixture on one side of circle, leaving a 1cm clear edge. Top with a tablespoon of grated cheddar cheese.  Fold the empty side over the filling to make a crescent shape then pinch the edges together to seal the calzone.  Repeat until all the dough and filling has been used.  I can usually get about 18 - 20 small calzone from this recipe.

Put the calzone onto lined baking trays. Brush with a little oil and bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.



125g butter
125g sugar
175g rolled oats

Preheat your oven to 160C/140C Fan and line a 20cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.  Put the butter and sugar into a large saucepan over a moderate heat and stir until the butter has melted and everything is well combined.

Take the saucepan off the heat then tip the rolled oats and stir together ensuring that the oats are thoroughly coated with the melted butter and sugar mixture.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and press down firmly to form an even layer, I use a potato masher to do this bit but you could use the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and score slices to make cutting the flapjacks easier once they have cooled.  Leave the flapjacks to cool completely in the tin.

Rice Pudding

600ml milk
65g long grain white rice
50g white sugar

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice.  Place saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender. This usually takes about 25 minutes. Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

Once the rice is tender, cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the rice pudding thickens.  Spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool and cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming.  Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.


Vegetable Pie

I love making this for dinner, it's quick, easy and filling. Just what you need for a stormy weekday evening. You can use whatever vegetables that you have available, even leftovers work well. The cheese sauce is quick to make and you cover everything with tasty mash.

Creamy Sauce:
50g butter
50g flour
600ml milk
150g grated mature cheddar

Vegetables, use what you have available:
500g frozen mixed vegetables
small bunch of chives, finely chopped
3 or 4 large potatoes or sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 min. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth with no lumps, then keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens to a creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, then stir in the grated cheese, leaving some aside to sprinkle on the top.

Heat your oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Cook the broccoli for 5 minutes then add mixed vegetables and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes. Drain all the vegetables well. Add the cooked vegetables to the creamy sauce with the chives. Cook and mash the sweet potatoes or potatoes and season to taste as this will cover the top of the finished pie.

Tip the mixed vegetables and sauce into a deep ovenproof dish, carefully cover with the mash and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake for 20-25 mins until the topping is golden and the cheese is bubbling, then serve.
Salmon Fish Cakes with Vegetables

1 packet of salmon trimmings
500g large potatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs or 1 Tblsp fresh herbs
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water until soft.  Drain well and mash until smooth, then leave to cool. Finely chop the salmon trimmings and mix into the cooled mash potato along with the herbs.  Shape the mix into fish cakes.

Coat each fish cake in a little plain flour, dip into beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs.  Fry the fish cakes in a little oil or butter for 2 minutes on each side. Then put them on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes on 175C. Serve with cooked mixed vegetables or spinach.
Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto – 2 nights

50g unsalted butter
500g pearl barley
1 vegetable stock cube
500g frozen mixed vegetables
Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, chopped
150g grated mature Cheddar, a vegetarian alternative

Melt a knob of the butter in a medium pan. Add the pearl barley, stir it around so it's coated with the butter, then cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in 600ml of boiling water, then pour over the pearl barley.

Simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Keep topping it up with another 800ml hot water, ensuring the barley is covered.  When the pearl barley is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until it starts foaming. Add the mushrooms and fry for 5-10 minutes until they're golden brown. Season to taste. We you're ready to serve, combine the pearl barley and vegetables with the mushrooms, herbs and cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then spoon into bowls.
Rice and Vegetable Bake

2 cups cooked rice
2 onions, finely sliced
1 Tblsp butter or spread
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
2 cubes frozen spinach, defrosted (or use 1 large bunch of fresh spinach leaves)
6 eggs
1 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC. Grease a large baking dish.

Cook onions in the butter until soft and slightly caramelised.

Combine all the other ingredients except ½ cup of cheese. Spoon into prepared dish and flatten. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until firm in the middle and lightly browned.
Shopping List

20 items: £24.39

Packets and Cereals
2x   ASDA Wholegrain Scottish Porridge Oats (500g)                     £1.36
1x   Whitworths Granulated Sugar (500g)                                        65p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                 40p
1x   Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g)                                                64p
1x   ASDA Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)          65p
1x   ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                         £1.28

2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                              £1.54

Dairy and Eggs
3x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                      £3.00
1x   ASDA Smartprice Salted Butter (250g)                                     98p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Mild Grated Cheddar (500g)                         £2.21
1x   Suffolk Farm Medium Free Range Eggs (6)                              £1.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x   ASDA Smartprice Smoked Salmon Trimmings (120g)               £1.25
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (250g)                £1.75

Fruit and Vegetables
20   ASDA Bananas by Weight (150g)                                            £1.97
2     ASDA Onions by Weight (230g)                                              34.5p
1x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                                 £2.00
3x   ASDA Whole Cucumber                                                          £1.50
1x   ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                             75p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x   ASDA Tomato Puree Double Concentrate (310g)                      72p
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Vegetable Stock Cubes (12x10g)          40p


  1. Fabulous Michelle, a really well thought out and frugal plan:-)

    1. Thanks Camilla, hubby doing without chocolate for 5 days means it will be a long and grumpy week ;o)

  2. Well done on the plan Michelle, and for budgeting for free range eggs!

    1. Thanks Helen, I could never use battery eggs and would rather scrimp on other things than compromise my principles. :)

  3. Wow, I'm surprised at how well you can eat on so little. I always like your meal plans for their thriftiness, but this one is especially impressive.

    1. Thanks Kirsty :) It is possible to eat well cheaply, just sometimes more work and a little tricky to plan.

  4. Good luck with the challenge, your meals sound lovely! x #MealPlanningMonday

  5. Good luck with the challenge..Everything sounds so good...It's so well thought out x

    1. Thanks Kim :) The challenge is a little easier if the food is tasty and there's lots of it.

  6. I'm really impressed and actually I think I remember seeing this last time around too. You've devised a really nutritious meal plan, well done.

    1. Thanks :) We took part the year before last so I thought it was about time we reminded ourselves that others are less fortunate. The kids enjoy the life experience despite it being a challenge.

  7. What a great menu plan for that budget! I'm so impressed that your whole family has taken up the challenge - Good luck!

    1. Thanks Annie :) We're determined to see the challenge through, it is a great learning and life experience for us all.

  8. A brilliant menu plan, it must be really nice being able to do it as a family. I hope your week goes well.

    1. Thanks Sue :) I think doing it as a family helps as we can support each other through the week.

  9. Best of luck to you and your family with this brave challenge, Michelle. Remember to look after you and bubba first. Your food is always frugal yet plentiful and your meal plans reflect just that.


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