Living Below The Line 2013: Meals Day 1 of 5.

29 Apr

Day 1 of this challenge started pretty well. I prepared a few things yesterday so budget-wise I was sure to hit my target. Also, this time around I was mentally prepared for caffeine withdrawal.

I got op a bit earlier than usual so I could cook lunch and bake some flatbreads. In addition to my shopping list yesterday, I decided to “buy” a carton of UHT milk from my pantry to help fullfill my protein requirements for the week. At current prices that’s 53p, so my total spendings amount to £2.36 as of this morning, with £ 2.64 left in cash.

Breakfast, then, was a fresh (apparently levitating) flatbread with about half a cup (100ml) of milk.


I was certain that I’d be using half of the swede for lunch. Gordon Ramsey’s Swede and Cardamom soup seemed like it could be nice (By the way… no swearing at all. Are we sure that was really Chef Ramsey?). For my low-budget version, I used about 15 grams oil, left out the butter and substituted the cream with a splash of milk (about 100ml). I used a whole oxo beef cube (9p) from my pantry, as well as 7 cardamom pods (about 1.25 grams worth) from a 50 grams bag of cardamom pods, just 3p worth. Nutmeg must have been in the same region, probably less. As I targeted 100 grams of lentils for the day, I added some into the soup to boost the protein content. Gordon didn’t disappoint me – this stuff tastes pretty good. Only thing was the brown colour imparted by the lentils, making it look a murky brown.

Thinking of a hot drink, I nipped out to try and find some chamomile, unsuccessfully I might add. Still, if you’re looking for edible stuff, there’s food growing everywhere. During just a short walk I spotted nettles, dandelions, daisies, lavender, ribwort, and more interestingly cow parsley, garlic mustard and even wild onion. I picked some garlic mustard and wild onion to garnish my lunch.


That was one bowl of proper comfort food. But I had planned something more special for supper. A lentil curry was the obvious candidate. A nice curry comes with a few sides though. Lentil curry, naan, rice and a poppadom sounds pretty good to me! Oh wait, one pound per day, right?

The actual lentil curry was the least of my worries. A flatbread would have to do instead of a naan. Rice… trickier. I made a cous-cous by running some flour in my foodprocessor, slowly adding water, then adding a bit more flour and finally a spoon of oil. I then toasted this in a skillet until dry, and added some cumin, fennel seeds, pepper and salt for flavour.

For the poppadoms, I ground down some lentils in my coffee grinder to s flour similar to gram flour. Added a bit of water to make a stiff dough, which I then rolled into balls, which I subsequently flattened with a rolling pin and left to dry overnight. I won’t keep you any longer- here’s my supper.

Far from being the best curry I’ve ever had, it was certainly palatable. The cous-cous got a bit too sticky and I’d have liked the lentil poppadoms to be a bit crispier, but I certainly felt I ate rather well, considering the budget available. The poppadoms tasted a bit like roasted peas, by the way… not quite the same as your usual poppadoms, but certainly not unpleasant.

The cost breakdown for today looks something like this:
Milk 200ml -> 11p
Flour 250g -> 7.5p
Lentils 100g -> 20p
250 gr swede -> 10p
3/4 onion -> 7p
oxo cube -> 9p
salt -> 1p
vinegar -> 1p
pepper -> 1p
20g oil 14p/100ml -> 3p
7 cardamoms -> 3p
nutmeg -> 3p
cumin, fennel -> 3p
garam masala -> 3p
82.5 p

In other words, I saved about 17.5p. It’s a pity the rules state that the total price of meals on any given day can’t surpass 1 pound, as this implies that I can’t take the 17.5p that I saved and use it to make tomorrow’s food. This week I’m poor, I *need* that extra space!


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