Skip to content

Reader Recipes: Clare’s Kind-of-Ratatouille

My budget is not as tight as it once was, but when my son was small there were days when I was reduced to searching the cracks in the sofa for change so that I could buy milk. You don’t forget things like that in a hurry. Anyway, here is my modest offering. I’m not sure it really counts as a proper recipe. But it is, I have found, a very good way of getting even vegetable-shy toddlers to eat things they can normally detect and reject at fifty paces. You can adapt according to what’s in the fridge. On toast, it’s great comfort food, with rice or pasta it’s more substantial. It’s a kind of ratatouille, I suppose. I call it ‘rats on toast’, but I thought that if I made that the title of my e-mail you would probably think I was some kind of troll. This easily serves three of us, and although I’m small my son is now over six feet tall and puts away a lot of food. His dad doesn’t do so badly, either. Ingredients: 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 clove of garlic, chopped (optional) 1 onion, chopped (you could certainly use less, but I like it good and onion-y) 1 small courgette (again, adapt according to what you have), chopped fairly finely 1 tin chopped tomatoes 6 medium mushrooms (or whatever you can spare), sliced 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (the squeezy stuff […]

Read More →

Reader’s Recipes: Laura P’s Chickpeas n Cheese

I was very excited to receive your invite for recipes, I am sure you will be inundated, but here’s one of my own. Possibly my favourite lunch though I would happily eat for every meal of the day. It serves as a sandwich/toastie filler, topping for crackers/oatcakes or a baked potato, or in cold cooked rice or pasta. I haven’t ever considered giving it a name, and I’m sitting right now trying to think of something clever, but nope nothing’s springing to mind and its shortly going to become 9 o’clock so I better go and hit send before the working day begins…. This will suffice for approximately 2 sandwiches, generously. I am not exact as to the weight of the chickpeas – I tend to shake into a bowl what looks right – but this won’t be far off. I soak and boil 125g dried chickpeas for various purposes and use roughly a quarter of that. Ingredients: 30g cooked (or tinned) chickpeas 25g cheese (Asda smartprice, I find it very tangy and flavourful, so you don’t need much, for this or any other recipe) ½ a medium onion, thinly chopped (preferably red, if you happened to have one) 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (Asda smart price, tastes very nice, I find and not too bad calorie-wise either) Roughly mash the chickpeas with a fork. Add the chopped onion, grated cheese and mayonnaise and stir to combine. All done!! If you were […]

Read More →

Reader Recipes: Laura’s Sausage Pasta

One of my recipe suggestions is sausage pasta. Buy cheap pack of port sausages – you can get about 12 for £1. Cook some of the sausages and when cool, chop them up and put them in the fridge. Next day, cook the pasta with onion, carrot, passata or chopped tomatoes and a bit of tomator puree and some marmite or vegetable stock cube. Any other veg left over can be chucked in. To finish, sausages can be thrown in and the dish warmed up with grated cheese on top (if no cheese, then yoghurt or coriander) Delicious! Good for leftovers. Keep up the great work Laura (mother of two very hungry children and skint!) To see your favourite recipe here, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk

Read More →

Reader’s Recipes: Maria’s Crespillos

Here I send you a recipe my mum used to cook when I was little, it is not expensive at all. it is a Spanish recipe, although I’m from Chile. It’s very easy and low cost, I make it to treat my self from time to time. I gave you approx quantities cause I’ve always cooked without measures, but it really depends for how many people. Make enough butter so you don’t have anything or much left. I hate to waste! Ingredients: 1 bag of spinach leaves 2tb sp flour 1 egg some milk (can be soy milk, doesn’t matter) oil 4tb sp of sugar optional,cinnamon, vanilla or any other spice if you want to add to the mix Method: Heat up oil in a pan. We mix the eggs, milk,sugar, flour and spice and we will have a liquid butter,we soak the spinach leaves in it and fry. Serve it warm and sprinkle sugar on top. Maria de los Angeles Rodriguez Correa To see your favourite recipe here, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk

Read More →

Reader’s Recipes: Marie-Cecile’s Simple Fried Rice

I have a recipe for you. It is a simple fried rice I prepared for today’s lunch. I guess you may want to try it yourself. For two persons: Splash of vegetable oil – 20 ml Rice – 125g Sesame oil – 10ml Dark Soy Sauce – 30 ml 1 big carrot or 2 medium carrots 1 spring onion 50g bacon 2 eggs 1/2 garlic clove salt, pepper Cook the rice per instructions (It is best to cook the rice the previous day or use leftover rice) Cook scrambled eggs in the wok, set aside. Do not add salt. Chop the carrot and the bacon, mince the clove Put them in a splash of hot vegetable oil in the wok Let them cook a bit Add the rice and the soy sauce. Raise the heat, stir a bit and wait until the rice “pops” , then lower the heat In the meantime, mince the spring onion Add the reserved eggs and the minced spring onion Add the sesame oil (fragile, best to add just at the end of the cooking and not too much because it has a strong flavour) Add salt and pepper to taste Stir and NOM! Best regards, Marie-Cécile To see your favourite recipe here, email jackmonroe@live.co.uk

Read More →

Live Below The Line: What Would I Do Differently?

I’ve been asked a few times by different people what I would do differently if I could do Live Below The Line again. (Which could be a serious consideration, as it runs until June, so plenty of time for a second crack at it!) Firstly, in the first five days I only used up half of my food budget, with around four small meals each day. But, as it was pointed out to me by both well wishers and my own plummeting energy levels, the meals that I had were high in cheap carbs and very low in protein. So what would I do differently? Firstly, I think I’d lose the cornflakes and have toast for breakfast instead, but I’d trade the white bread for whole meal, to get more whole grains and fibre. When you’re eating such a limited diet, it’s important to maximise the ‘goodness’ wherever possible. I wanted white bread, because I thought it would be a ‘treat’, but I found myself peaking and crashing with inadequate nutrition and far too much starch. (50p) Secondly, I’d buy some meat. I did some swift calculations and the value sausages provide 6g of protein each, at 7p each (8 for 58p). The 670g bacon for £1.09 provides an average of 19g protein per day if split over 5 days, and the 650g turkey drumstick for £1.75 is the highest in protein at 44g per day if split over the […]

Read More →

Day Eight, The End Of The Line

At the end of today, surveying the £5 food shop I did last Sunday, I have left: Bread, 4 slices. Lemon curd, one third of the jar. Cornflakes, 250g. Unsweetened soya drink: 200ml. Long grain white rice: 200g. Chopped tomatoes: 300g. Kidney beans: 200g – already made into kidney bean burgers on Tuesday, and frozen in patties. Frozen mixed vegetables: 300g. Spaghetti: 400g Onion: – NONE! Finally used the blighter! Broccoli, carrot, courgette and green beans: 120g – now eight days out of date. Mixed herbs: most of the jar. I could eke this out for another three days – but I need protein, fruit and whole grains. A week is more than long enough to demonstrate what nutritional deficiency there is in such a cheap food budget. Reading friends reported experiences during the challenge, who survived on 11p noodles and cheap crackers, I know I’ve done well to work in carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, tomato, courgette, peppers, bean sprouts and onions this week. Save two days when I managed to forget my lunch at work, I ate four times a day, usually toast for breakfast, cornflakes as a snack, rice and vegetables for lunch, and rice and vegetables for dinner. I averaged around 1000 calories a day – 600 below the recommended minimum daily amount for a woman of my age, height and activity level. I managed to consume around 30g of protein a day – less than half […]

Read More →

LBL Day Six, It’s Not Over Til It’s Over.

I have received a few messages from concerned friends and strangers since I announced that I was extending the Live Below The Line challenge to use up the last of my £5 supplies, and I would like to try to alleviate some concerns. I’d like to first thank everyone for their concern for my health – it is something I take seriously myself – and to clarify that I have sought advice from a dietitian about the challenge, who confirmed what I thought about my nutritional intake at the moment. It’s lower than it would ideally be, but I’m not at any real risk to my health if I continue for a few more days, and I will return to my normal eating patterns at the end of the challenge – which is higher in fruit, dairy products and protein than my current supplies! I decided to continue with the challenge for two reasons, firstly because I am still fundraising for Oxfam, and secondly because I am finding it challenging on a personal level. People often level accusations at me about my normal food shop and lifestyle that ‘not everyone has a herb garden’ or cumin and paprika in the cupboard. I know. I have lived through worse – regular readers will know that in the worst days last year I missed meals for days on end just to feed my son. Those who don’t know the story, I recommend […]

Read More →

At least I have food to be bored with. LBL Day 5.

This should be the end of my Live Below The Line challenge. Tonight, this should be all over. But for people living in poverty, in forgotten households and pockets all over this, one of the richest nations in the world, there isn’t a store cupboard to go back to. There isn’t a shelf with paprika and garam masala on, or a trough on the window ledge with coriander and chillies in. There’s no magic cupboard of carefully built up resources to fall back on. I remember those days all too well. Scratching around in the bottom of the fridge for half an onion and yesterday’s tomato pasta, cobbling together something, anything to eat. Picking the green spots off the side of a week old loaf of bread and pretending you can’t taste the sour yeasty tang that kicks at the back of your throat, because mouldy bread is better than no bread at all. I have raised well over £2,000 for Oxfam as I sit on my sofa and type this. But is it enough? How can I stop now? I have got left the following items from my original £5 food shop on Sunday: Bread, 11 slices. Lemon curd, less than half the jar left. Cornflakes, 390g. Unsweetened soya drink: 650ml Long grain white rice: 485g Chopped tomatoes: 400g Kidney beans: 300g – already made into kidney bean burgers on Tuesday, and frozen in patties. Frozen mixed vegetables: 525g […]

Read More →

Day Four, on accidentally forgetting ones lunch.

At the end of yesterday, day four of my Live Below The Line challenge, I had the following food left from my £5 food shop on Sunday: Bread, 13 slices. Lemon curd, approximately half the jar left. Cornflakes, 390g. Unsweetened soya drink: 650ml Long grain white rice: 555g Chopped tomatoes: 500g Kidney beans: 300g – already made into kidney bean […]

Read More →

Live below the line, day one summary.

At the end of my first day of this years Live Below The Line challenge, I’ve had three meals and two snacks, which is better than I thought I would do. A seasoned frugal eater, even I have struggled today with my refusal to use my store cupboard ingredients and instead only use the £5 that I spent on Sunday for the challenge. 7am Breakfast: two slices of white bread, toasted, with lemon curd (2 slices white bread with approx 20g lemon curd). 6 pence. 10am snack: lemon curd sandwich (2 slices white bread with approx 20g lemon curd). 6 pence. 1130am snack: 20g dry cornflakes. 2 pence. 1pm lunch: 30g cornflakes with 150ml unsweetened soya drink. 11 pence. 6pm dinner: 100g plain boiled rice, 150g mixed peppers and stir fry veg, 200g chopped tomatoes and 20g lemon curd. 36 pence. TOTAL SPEND: 61 PENCE Total food left for the next four days: Bread: 18 slices Lemon curd: approx 350g Cornflakes: 450g Unsweetened soya drink: 850ml Plain white rice: 900g Mixed peppers: 150g Chopped tomatoes: 600g Kidney beans: 400g Mixed vegetables (carrot, broccoli, sweetcorn): 1kg Spaghetti: 500g 1 onion Broccoli, Courgette, carrot and green beans: 240g Mixed herbs: 13g I attended a meeting tonight about living below the line and addressing poverty in Southend – most of the attendees were already participating in the challenge. I have challenged myself to carry on beyond the five days if there is anything […]

Read More →

Live Below The Line 2013, Breakfast

My first meal for this year’s Live Below The Line challenge…. Two slices of toast with lemon curd, and a glass of water. Cost: 6 pence Calories: 288 I will also be adding my detailed nutrition calculations for the day, adding to them as each meal is consumed. The calories, fat, protein etc in the ‘left’ column are worked out […]

Read More →