I’ve spent a fair chunk of this weeks in meetings. And to get to meetings there’s travelling time. And travelling time gives me a chance to think.
It’s fair to say that I’ve become a bit obsessed about Live Below The Line – a challenge to live on £5 for five days. And driving round has seen me obsess on it that little bit more.
The stories that we’re featured on it in previous years have all talked about living off lentils and oats and making it sound an utterly miserable eating experience. Surely there has to be a way of getting your chops into hearty meals that won’t break the bank?
But after trailing round several supermarkets and shops it looks like those lentils will be a smart option.
One tip I’ve been given has been this:
You’re going to have to start thinking outside the box, you can buy a bag of flour for the same price as bread and make your own. You don’t need yeast either, flour a bit of salt and oil and make a dough with boiling water. Roll flat a cook in your frying pan you have flat bread, use the bones from your chicken and boil with a stock cube some herbs and a can of sweet corn. You have chicken soup and homemade bread
The rules of the challenge state that everything has to be bought from the £5 – no raiding the back of the cupboards for flour or roasting a chicken the day before starting to make the soup.
So what about a quick look round the Co-Op to see if I can buy some flour? The last time I bought a basic own-brand bag, I swear it was around 15p (this may have been a few years ago) – and it wasn’t that long from when supermarkets were flogging cans of baked beans at 3p each.
My jaw hit the ground – and my £5 would be quickly scrobbled up – if I bought McDougalls’: a 1.25kg bag (that’s even a weight reduction!) is now £1.95.
The own-brand version is £1.25.
When you add in the Co-Op’s own brand oats at £1.45, I’d easily spend half my budget on two store cupboard staples.
My local Co-Op, like many supermarkets, has its own reduced section, but even these bargains are out of my league: a medley of prepared vegetables for ‘just’ 75p? That’s three quarter of my daily budget busted.
Even powdered milk is out of reach: £1.99 for a can.
£5 is a tough yardstick … but I don’t want to reach for the baked beans and lentils yet.
I wonder if I can get better deals in a local shop? Clearly I need another meeting