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Live Below the Line Meal Plan

Sunday 26 April 2015
We're once again taking up the Live Below the Line Challenge as a family raising money for Save the Children UK.  We'll be living off £1 per person per day for food.  As bubs is on solids now and I'm still breastfeeding him I've included him in the person count.  This means we will have £30 to spend on food for 6 of us for 5 days.  It is SO much easier for us with this amount than it is for one or two people who would have £5 or £10 to spend of food for 5 days.  Total respect to those people as it requires much more savvy planning and work to live on that little food money.  I have managed to include coffee in our shopping.  If I did without coffee for 5 days, as I did last time we took part, it would be hellish for my family as coffee is what keeps me going and helps me be a polite and functioning human.  It is however budget instant coffee so hopefully it will at least be drinkable. I shall once again embrace my cafetiere and freshly ground coffee once the week is over. 

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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, juice or squash in this Meal Plan. I have included coffee though.


We'll all be having porridge with bramley apple and sultana compote.  I'll also bake scones with sultanas in should we need/want them.  Bubs will have porridge as well, blended/mushed slightly to be smoother and easier for him to eat. 


These Versatile Scone Swirls will be served with carrot and cucumber sticks and salad leaves with a piece of fruit.  Bubs will be having some scone swirl along with steamed carrot sticks and some fruit, steamed and mashed if necessary.  This is double the usual recipe to last us for 5 days lunches.

600g self-raising flour
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
100g butter
360ml milk
1 Tblsp tomato paste, diluted with 1 Tblsp water
2 peppers, finely diced
1 onion, very finely diced
100g grated cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. 

Put the flour and mixed herbs into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and add the milk. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough has formed. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured surface to a rough 30cm/12 inch square. 

Spread with the tomato paste, finely diced peppers and onion, and half of the cheese. Starting from the side closest to you, roll up the dough firmly to form a log. Cut the dough into even portions. Put the swirls cut-side up on to the baking paper lined tray. Sprinkle the swirls with the rest of the grated cheddar cheese. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until they're lovely and golden.



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

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

Vegetables, use what you have available:
500g frozen mixed vegetables
1 pepper, finely diced
small bunch of chives, finely chopped (from our garden)
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 mixed vegetables for 3 - 5 minutes. Drain the vegetables well. Add the cooked vegetables to the creamy sauce with the diced pepper and 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.

Baked Fish and Potato Wedges with Mixed Vegetables

Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto – 2 nights

50g unsalted butter
500g pearl barley
1 vegetable stock cube
500g frozen mixed vegetables
2 peppers, finely diced
Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, chopped (optional)
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 and diced peppers, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes.

When you're ready to serve, combine the pearl barley and vegetables with the 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
300g frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted
6 eggs
100g 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 and half of the cheese. Spoon into prepared dish and flatten. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until firm in the middle and lightly browned.

Shopping List

24 items: £29.94

Packets and Cereals
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Wholegrain Scottish Porridge Oats (500g) £1.36
1x   Whitworths Granulated Sugar (500g)                                           49p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                               45p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                    40p
1x   ASDA Good and Balanced Pearl Barley (500g)                            64p

2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                                  £1.54
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Cook from Frozen Whitefish Fillets (500g) £1.97

Dairy and Eggs
4x   ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                                     £3.56
1x   ASDA Smartprice Mild Grated Cheddar (500g)                            £2.21
1x   Wood Farm Free Range Medium Eggs (6)                                   89p
2x   ASDA Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                                   £1.76

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x   ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g)                                 25p
1x   ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g)                       49p
1x   OXO Reduced Salt Vegetable Cubes (12 per pack - 71g)             £1.19

Fruit and Vegetables
1x   ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)                                              84p
25   ASDA Bananas                                                                            £2.20
2x   ASDA Carrots (1Kg)                                                                   £1.14
3     ASDA Red Onions by Weight (130g)                                           29.3p
1x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                                     £1.69
3x   ASDA Whole Cucumber                                                              £1.47
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                               £1.17
1x   ASDA Bramley Apples (800g)                                                     £1.10
3x   ASDA Smartprice Pears (500g)                                                   £2.37

1x   ASDA Smartprice Instant Coffee Granules (100g)                        47p
Prices and  special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and  are correct as of 26 April 2015.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

I undertook a price comparison of our shopping using My Supermarket:

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  1. Good luck!! Such an impressive meal plan for this week considering the limited funds.

  2. I'm full of respect for those of you who take on this challenge - I imagine it must be hard work to stay within such tight budgets and really brings home how hard it must be for so many in this country. The rise of food banks makes that so clear. Well done to you!

  3. What a great project and clever recipe ideas on a budget! By the way Asda's 47p instant coffee is drinkable with pinch of gingerbread spice, if have on hand ;)

  4. Wow. I take my hat off to you. I think it's easier to save money on food shopping if you have cookery skills but as you've shown in your splendid meal plan, the margins are still very tight indeed. Best of luck!

  5. I'm amazed at what healthy, wholesome meals you have created with your budget. I'm feeling ashamed that we spent nearly that much today purely on lunch at a farmers markets having a couple of filled rolls, two crepes, water and coffee.

  6. Well done Michelle. Your meal plan sounds very tasty.

  7. Your recipes, though using cheap ingredients, fail to take into account the prohibitive expense of electricity supply - most of these (if not all?) require extensive use of hobs (25mins) and/or oven - which would make them a no-go for me at the moment.

    1. I know that fuel/energy poverty is a major issue for many, however food poverty is the focus of this campaign. Energy costs vary widely between tariffs, companies and areas of the country/world. it would be very difficult to calculate energy costs for each recipe which is why most blogs, recipe books and cookery programs do not attempt to.

  8. Your recipes, though making use of cheap ingredients, fail to factor in the significant costs of extensive use of hobs and oven, which would make these prohibitively costly for me or anyone on a genuinely low income. Recipes need to take into account the electricity/gas costs to be actually useful for cooking on a low budget.

  9. You are a great inspiration for frugal recipes Michelle. Good luck with the meal plan. x

  10. Brilliant meal plan. I'm one of the ones doing it solo, it's difficult with just £5 to spend on whole packs but I've managed pretty well...... I think :-)

    I think it's fantastic that you all do it together. Hope it goes well, you have a good selection of ingredients and are well organised, so it should.

  11. Such a great project to be involved with, but such hard work to do! I admire your willpower to tackle it as you know just how hard it is going to be!

  12. Great meal plan I hope you have a successful week #mealplanningmonday

  13. Thanks for linking up to Fabulously frugal. Wow for doing this I am not sure my family would embrace it but it would certainly teach them a thing or two.


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