Monday, 21 April 2014

Live Below The Line: Day 1: Comfort Risotto Recipe

Welcome to Day 1 of my Live Below The Line Challenge.

Did you know that over 2 Billion people have the equivalent of a £1 to live on per day?

For everything?

Food, fuel, clothes, any little extras...all have to come out of this tiny little budget.  Most of us think of a £1 as nothing -  a throwaway amount of money.  How many times have you bought something useless, something on a whim, just because it 'only cost a pound'?

I'm quite well-prepared for this (I think).

Our budget as a family for food is never very much - we over-buy at Christmas and birthdays, but other than that, we really have to watch the pennies.

This week has come at a good time for us actually.  After moving house, incurring costs like deposits, removal vans and switching energy providers etc, plus paying our usual bills and a wee trip to Edinburgh, I rocked up to the supermarket last night to find that my bank account had a lowly £10 left in it after a surprise debit by our energy company for a final bill at our old place.


That was a bit of a hit in the guts, let me tell you.  But nothing that hasn't happened to me before - so I got some staples and got on with it.

Thus, we are eating, for real, on a low budget for the rest of the month.  We'll be fine - it's not long until pay day and we are on top of our bills otherwise.  We also have some cupboard stuff for emergencies and know a thing or two about making things last. For a lot of people, however, this is a daily reality.  We are very lucky indeed.  Thus I don't have a definitive shopping list, but I have to say, our food situation is a lot like the shopping list found at Live Below The Line's Menu Guides (which is printable for anyone looking for ideas).

For the challenge, I will not therefore be bound to a strict shopping list, purely because I have to work with what I already have and cobble together what I've got.

Today's menu came to: 73.9p

Breakfast: An Apple (10p Aldi) and a cup of Hot Water

Lunch: Cheese Toastie on brown bread (9p Tesco everyday value brown bread and cheese slices)

Snack: the Foodie Market Peanut Mix from Aldi (34.5p for half a bag)

Dinner:  Veggie Comfort Risotto (serves 2)


250g Aldi White Everyday Essentials Rice (10p)
2 Tbsps of Marigold Swiss Bouillon Stock (3p)
1 Aldi Value Onion (5.25p)
1 litre of water FREE from our taps (lucky lucky us :) )
A dot of butter, or vegetable oil if you have it (about 2.2p)  If not, simply aim for a shorter frying time.  Try not to brown the onions.

A simple, hot and comforting dish, which is just what I needed after the shock of yesterday.  This is a staple meal in our house, when times are pretty dire!


 Put a pan with the water on to boil, and while it is bubbling up, measure out 250g of rice and chop your onion finely, if you please, sir.  Add your bouillon, or stock cube if preferred, to the water once at boil, and stir.

Oooh!  Steamy!

Prepare another pan and stick a wee ticky knob of butter or oil into it.  Heat it gently and then add your chopped onion. 

It took me ages to chop the onion - my eyes were streaming!

At this point you could add peppers, mixed veg or mushrooms, but we have none, so for us it's just the simple flavours of onion and bouillon tonight!

Stir, stir, stir!

Fry the onions until they become translucent and then tip a wee bit of your rice in.  Fry for about 30 seconds and then pour some the still-boiling Bouillon into the mix.  Be careful when pouring - it gets quite hot and steamy!  be sure that you are confident at pouring boiling water from a pan - I don't want any accidents!

Ooh! Dramatic!

Make sure you stir ALL THE TIME.  The trick is to pour a wee bit rice in, a wee bit stock, let the water steam away from the pan until the mixture gets thicker and then add more rice, more stock, more simmering, until you are left with an almost-sticky mixture that parts ways slightly when you push your spoon through it

My spoon path of tasty goodness

Take off the heat as soon as your spoon can make a wee path into the mixture - this is a perfect sticky, comforting texture and you don't want any burnt bits - especially after all the hard work of stirring for so long!

Mmm!  Comforting goodness.
Spoon into bowls and devour, preferably on the couch with a blanket while reading a book.

Classy eating shot.
Tasty, warm and satisfying.  better with more veg, but if you were really trying to keep costs down, not a bad wee meal.  Why not try it?

Please Donate to this fabulous cause on my Donation Page


Check out to sign up for your own personal challenge.


  1. Are you just doing the challenge for yourself or are your family joining in too?

    I'd love to try this as financially, we are a little on our backsides (I've been on SMP since December), I am desperately trying to lose my baby weight and seem to be spending a fortune on our food bills at the moment. Not to mention exercise classes! However, on reading this blog, I feel a little silly and need to have a stern word with myself. How lucky we all are to be able to take running water for granted.

    Good luck :-) I will be looking out for live below the line updates.

    1. I suppose we are all doing it this week. Obviously I'm not so structured with the kids, they can eat what I have - but for the purposes of this, it's just me trying to keep it below £1.
      Feel free to join my team if you like - I'm doing an online fundraiser and you are very welcome to join me if you'd like to try the challenge, or start your own page. The link on the page has a great menu list. It doesn't offer a lot of variety, but I'll certainly be trying my best to make some frugal food over the week! thanks for reading :) When I was on SMP I was baking my own bread by hand because it was cheaper than buying from the shop - I remember it well!

  2. Well done on a great start to your challenge Genna :)

  3. Thanks for the recipe and for making us realise how lucky we are! I remember me, my mum and my sister only had 50p to last a week once when I was little but this scenario every week of your life would be horrendous. Good luck with the challenge!


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