Feeling a little scared

When we first decided to take part in live below the line we thought ‘this will be really easy’! Up until last week we held the same opinion! Just a few days to go and Team Pugh (well the grown up girl member) is starting to feel a little uneasy.

scared 2So…… as you know we are not meal planners (heck we are not planners full stop!) but even we admit that our live below the line shopping needs some thought and planning! EEEKkk! So what better way to start than to see what the guidelines say and what others who have done it before say! That done and we feel slightly sick. In most other people’s mentions of it are the words ‘supermarket’ and ‘basics’! For obvious reasons this is not an option. Becksie starts to feel worried that she will not be able to feed Team Pugh 3 meals plus snacks for 5 days on £15! She feels an actual cold sweat and then……. she sits back, tries to plan and….. feels worse!live below 3

From this panic comes some realisation that she is making the assumptions that many people make when they hear about our year without supermarkets and this is very silly given the fact that we have so many times answered that in actual fact supermarket free life doesn’t mean more expensive. We guess this is a real test of our theory. As we have said before there are  items that are more expensive in our way of shopping but…. there are also options that are cheaper so…… if we box clever we will be ok.

The hardest part of this experiment for us is that we like to add lots of flavour to our food and this luxury will need to go next week but…… this is meant to be hard. Just as Becksie was mulling all this over we got an email of encouragement from the charity that we have chosen to support – Child Hope! The email said the following:

‘Before you embark on your challenge, we wanted to share a reminder of why you decided to take part, and why we are so grateful!

scared 1A childhood spent working in Uganda     

At the age of 12, David is the breadwinner for his family.  His father died. His mother earns what she can by selling vegetables.   Unable to afford the fees, he does not go to school.  Instead, he earns a living by drying fish and unlocking fishing nets.

I normally get around 2,000 Shillings (50p) a day which I take to my mother at 3pm so that she can prepare our food. Sometimes I do not even get this money because the people I work for do not give it to me.  If mother has not earned anything, we will go to sleep on empty stomachs.”


ChildHope is supporting David and thousands of children like him to escape the daily experience of hunger, poverty and abuse’

Wow! Ok…. We are doing this for David and the thousands of other children like David. This is going to be hard we might feel hungry but….. we are doing this for David!

Some of the girls in The Gambia who received our dress a girl dresses

Some of the girls in The Gambia who received our dress a girl dresses

The next thing that hits Becksie is that there is no way that we can let this mission impact on Lizzie!  How? Should we not include Lizzie? No we very much should include Lizzie and we should very much make sure that Lizzie doesn’t feel the impact of this – this means only one thing – Ian and Becksie must make sacrifices of their food to ensure that Lizzie has enough. As Becksie makes this pact it hits her that for lots of parents this is a stark reality. This actually makes her feel sick to the pit of her stomach.

Lizzie eating as much as she wanted

Lizzie eating as much as she wanted

So….. we haven’t even started yet, we haven’t shopped for this, planning it seems hard, we’re not yet hungry but…. this is already having a huge impact on us! Add to the mix the changes that our year without supermarkets has had on our food shopping conscience and we are in for one hard week next week!

Yikes! Ok regroup – we need a plan!

Time to think outside the box…… as we’ve mentioned before Beckie is interested in wartime food and this was a time of living in a hugely resourceful way! Time to consult the war cookery books, Rose Higgins might offer some help. Ok what do we need?Rose 1

Milk – An ongoing source of supermarket free stress – we like to buy what has become termed ‘good’ milk from happy cows and cringe when we have to purchase what we term ‘cr@p’ milk) – so here’s our first dilemma? Consume less, pay more! Buy the cheaper milk and feel the guilt! Wow – this is very stressful!

Flour –  We think if we purchase one bag we can make lots of things….. self raising / plain! Our heads are spinning! Plain wins as we can then make bread and will have to box clever should we do any baking.

Eggs –  Ok….. easy – we have chickens who are laying but……. we have to work out the cost per egg and include this in the budget – so not even eggs are easy as eating them involves sums!

Meat – what to do? Now we do have a pheasant and some venison in the freezer which were free meat! Somehow eating venison on this week feels a little decadent and we can’t seem to find out what the rules of Live Below the Line state about ‘free’ food…..anyone  know? Should we spend some of the budget buying a small chicken from the butcher and then making it last for lots of meals?

Butter – well we need some kind of fat / oil in order to be able to bake bread (or other cakes) – how much should we buy or…… should we buy cream and make our own!

Fruit and Vegetables – phew this one’s ok – off to market we go and we’ve decided that half our budget will go on fruit and vegetables – actually half our budget might not be possible if we buy happy milk, a happy chicken etc etc! Flip flop what are Team Pugh to do!

Carbs – ok another issue – Rice? Pasta? Potatoes? Pulses?

Salad – we totally should have grown some ready – epic fail! We can however factor in the cost of cress seeds and hope that they grow really really quickly!

Tea / Coffee – after careful consideration it has been decided that for one week both Ian ad Becksie will…….. go without tea and coffee as they are an unnecessary  expense.

Sugar – we were also thinking that this should go but then we remember that if we want to make bread we need sugar.

Salt – We need this for bread as well and we feel we should have a little bit of flavour.

Yeast – or……should we just make and eat flat breads?

Ok – we’re in a pickle so…… after careful thought and trying to plan…… we are giving up and are going to market tomorrow with our £15 and a healthy dose of optimism! Wish us luck!

Sorry we know this has been a long old post but….. just a few more things:

A)     It’s not too late to get involved in Live Below the Line

B)      If you have a spare few pennies and fancy sponsoring us we’d be very grateful

Ps – don’t forget to head on over to the BiBs shortlist page – if not to vote for us in the Inspire category then simply to find some amazing blogs that are totally worth a read.


24 thoughts on “Feeling a little scared

  1. you could try making sour dough bread – no yeast involved – just bread flour, salt and water (and time) – it usually takes 3-4 days to prepare the starter mix and get the natural yeasts going. I don’t like sour dough bread but it’s great making the starter and watching how that works. I can email a recipe if you need it.

      • A sourdough is a natural yeast that is used to make bread and other yeast related products. It takes about 5 days to make a fully active sourdough (I have done it in 3 days).
        1. Mix 1tsp (2grams) bread flour and 2tsp (4g) water together in a clear jar/container with a lid.
        2. Leave to stand for 8 hours or overnight in a warm place.
        3. Day 2 – Add 1tsp (2grams) bread flour and 2tsp (4g) water to the mixture and leave to stand for 8 hours or overnight in a warm place.
        4. Day 3 – Add 1tsp (2grams) bread flour and 2tsp (4g) water to the mixture and leave to stand for 8 hours or overnight in a warm place.
        5. Day 4 – Add 1tsp (2grams) bread flour and 2tsp (4g) water to the mixture – there should be little bubbles forming in the mixture and it should smell vinegary or like nail polish. Leave to stand for 8 hours or overnight in a warm place.
        6. Day 5 – Add 1tsp (2grams) bread flour and 2tsp (4g) water to the mixture. Leave to stand for 8 hours or overnight in a warm place.
        7. Now you can build up your sour dough.
        8. Put the sourdough that is in your jar and 100g white flour or 100g dark rye +/- 100g warm water into a large bowl and mix together.
        9. Cover and leave the ferment (the above mix) overnight in a warm place.
        10. The next day take what sourdough is needed to make your bread (150g) and put the rest back into the jar. You can keep feeding this daily or store in the fridge. There sometimes is a brown acidic liquid on the top after removal from the fridge – this can be thrown away or used as part of a vinegar salad dressing mix.
        11. Mix 500g strong white flour and 8g salt in one bowl.
        12. In another bowl mix the 150g white sourdough with 300g water. Dissolve the sourdough.
        13. Add the flour mix to the water and mix to form dough.
        14. Cover the dough and leave to stand for 10 minutes (I use a shower cap to cover the bowl).
        15. In the bowl knead for 10 seconds then cover for a further 10 minutes.
        16. Repeat 15 another 3 times.
        17. Allow to rest for 1 hour.
        18. Remove the dough from the bowl and portion into sizes needed.
        19. Shape the loaves.
        20. Proof for 3-6 hours (until double in size)
        21. Heat the oven to 250 degrees C (have a deep tray in the bottom of the oven).
        22. When the bread is ready you can slash the top.
        23. Place in the oven and put a cup of water in the hot tray to form steam ( and a nice crust on the bread) and lower the oven temp to 220 degree C
        24. Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

  2. I am going to buy 1 big bag of bread flour and use it for bread and cakes (I have been told it’s fine for cakes) and biscuits. Also, I am not buying flavourings/salt/yeast etc. but going to use the small amounts I will need from what we already have (the rules say this is ok as long as you factor it into the price of what you are making)
    Have you seen these £10 a week food shop recipes from A Girl Called Jack? http://agirlcalledjack.com/category/10-a-week-food-shop-recipes/ Some great ideas there.
    Good Luck!!

  3. My local farm shop sells bags of chickens carcasses for £1, with lots of meat on. Enough to make a risotto, say, chicken-y and still happy meat. The same for beef bones, and I saw a recipe online for braised beef tendons- the kind of stuff butchers will either give away or only charge small amounts for. Might be worth chatting with your local butcher/farm shop.

    Good luck!

  4. Do you want a recipe for lentil soup? I made it this week and just involves green lentils (I used a tin but dried would work and they are very cheap), onion, carrot, stock (maybe use veg water instead. . . ?), passata (or small tin tomatoes – or leave out). I made 4 portions but you could eek out to 6. Very filling and tasty! Also buy oats and eat lots of porridge made with water? I will be sponsoring you. I wanted to do challenge too but can’t this year – too risky for me. Maybe next 🙂 !

    • Thank you ever so much, watch this space, you may see this recipe on the blog with a few…substitutions and thank you so much for sponsoring us 🙂

  5. Have you had a look at the “Change 4 Life” website, they have lots of great recipes on there/ meal ideas, most of them are meant to serve four but you could half quantities or tweak as necessary and serve little one from your portions, also I’m not sure what the growing conditions for cress seeds are but just a thought, cut the bottom off a pop bottle or similiar and you have a greenhouse, or if someone you know could lend you a cloche/propagator (??)

    Good Luck!!

  6. I’ve been thinking a bit more about this and I think other than the maths (scares me!), the other problem for Western families on £1 each per day is that we still expect variety. If you live in the developing world and are that impoverished, you’ll eat fufu or dahl or whatever the local pulse/carb is every day, I imagine. I’m not suggesting for one minute that’s the way to go, but it does make buying the food on a budget harder if you want to avoid too much repetition.

    I suggested to Jen that she goes foraging. Not sure if it’s within the rules, but I’m sure any family would pick wild greens etc if they could. Nettles are good for soup/gnocchi/bakes/pasta sauces/pizza toppings and wild garlic/garlic mustard is out in force at the moment, as are the dandelions.

  7. Eggs cost 16.6p is my working out. I buy six free-range eggs for £1.00 (the lowest price I can find). So you can have egg and soldiers, which is very yummy for only like 26.6p. (I work on bread being 10p) So you’ll have some left over for snacks / a bigger meal later…

    • Well as we have chickens we have worked the cost down to 3p per egg (based on veg scraps being free and some pellets), so they are definitely in next week!

  8. I agree with Hazel, when doing any budget plan, extreme or not, people still crave variety. Repetition is key when every penny counts. Buy the right things and there can still be reasonably nutritious. You don’t have to like it, you just have to eat it!

  9. Firstly good luck with the challenge! A suggestion for bread – check out Artisan bread in 5 minutes per day, just 4 ingredients, plain flour, water, salt and yeast. You mix a big batch to store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and bake bread as needed. It’s cheap and delicious.
    Hazel has it right, you probably need to decide on your staple, maybe rice and lentils and accept that variety will come from vegetables, herbs and spices. It is possible.
    As for Lizzie, does she drink milk from a beaker? If so she will be fine on a diet of rice and lentils ( pulse + grain = complete protein) with any fruit and veg you can add.
    If you want a quick tutorial on the bread get in touch, it is cheap, quick, easy and delicious. I didn’t believe it could work!

  10. Hi Becksie, ive been experimenting with WW2 diet and found that pulses(which Ive never bothered with much) are a really good nutritional replacement for meat, a veg stew made with pearl barley and a meaty stock cube tastes and looks like mince. Spicy lentil burgers are really good ,.. I was put off by all the soaking and precooking lark but now I just do a batch of each one , portion up and freeze ready to drop straight in to stews or defrost for mock meatloaf etc, Good quality dried milk is fine in everything Ive tried about (£1 a box 4tbsp makes a pint) Turn any leftovers into a pie or flan with some extra veg for a next day lunch.
    Soda bread needs no yeast or proving…use wholewheat flour for bread, cakes, pastry, lasagne..add baking powder for cakes, baking soda for bread. Use half mashed potato in pastry to eke out flour and grated carrot to replace sugar in a cake….Good luck with the challenge I know you can do it but give us all a shout if you are stuck for ideas,Im sure collectively we can come up with a recipe for whatevever you dont have left in the cupboard!

  11. only me again!…was intrigued to do some maths on some ingredients in my cupboards….so for 100g(4oz).. Pearl Barley 10p Lentils 35p
    Rice 18p Wholemeal Plain Flour 15p , Dried red kidney beans 20p, chick peas 35p,cannelloni beans 21p dried marrowfat peas 19p dried split peas 11p ….might be helpful for costing up a meal … 100g of pulses with additional veg will feed 4 people in a stew or make 2 pints of soup

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