Monday, 28 April 2014

Living below the Line: Day 1


This week I'm living below the line to raise awareness of severe poverty and raise funds for Action Aid and UK food banks who are fighting severe poverty. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people have to survive on less than £1 a day for food and drink. In solidarity, I'm trying to see how I'll faire on £1 a day for 5 days.

Breakfast: Porridge with mainly water, and a good splash of milk. Tea with a little milk and a little sugar (7.5 p for the porridge and 20p for total milk used today, 4 tea bags - 6p)

Lunch: Improvised (read: couldn't resist): potato scone (12p) and a slice of bread (2p) with some peanut butter.

Dinner: Lentil shepherds pie. 4 portions, I only ate 1.

200gr red split lentils (30p, bought in bulk)
1 onion (10p)
7 potatoes (out of 18 in the pack I bought) (30p)
clove of garlic
1/3 of tomato puree (13p)
Garam Masala, about 1 Tbs  (2.5p)
splash of milk to mash tatties
Spinach, chard and purple sprouting broccoli from the local community garden (free!)
total for 4 portions: 85.5p, or one portion = 21.4


I did have 2 crips, 2 pieces of breakfast cereal and 2 sour wine gums to see me through the day, as well as a tiny leftover from free food that would have been wasted otherwise. Haven't priced the 3 teaspoons of sugar either. Cost for all of these negligible, but let's round it up to 75p total.

Sugar cravings weren't as bad as expected. But I am hungry. I haven't felt quite so hungry in a very long time. The kids didn't like the dinner which was heartbreaking a I spent much longer than usual cooking it and I thought they would like it.

I wondered also about energy costs. The preparation of dinner used 3 pots and pans, plus the oven, more than I usually use. So energy consumption wise, this was an expensive dinner and I don't know how this is measured or if indeed the energy needed for cooking is part of the £1 a day that people all over the world have to survive on.

For now, I'm just really looking forward to my porridge in the morning.

If you want to sponsor me (please do, to make it all worthwhile!), you can do so here.
Remember your donation will be doubled by the UK Government and I'll donate the same again to a local food bank.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Living below the line

I've taken the Live Below the Line challenge: From midnight tonight, I'll be living on £5 worth of food and drink for 5 days, to raise awareness of world poverty and raise a few quid for some worthwhile projects that combat severe poverty.

And yes, you can help me by sponsoring me or joining my challenge! Just go to

I really need some support in the form of a few donated pounds to keep me going because, you know, I luuurve my food and it's going to be a massive deal for me to say no to chocolate, sugar, cake, and basically all things tasty for 5 days. Oh and no alcohol, not even a glass of red to combat my midnight insomnia.

Today I've done the food shopping and I'm now tweaking quantities to get from £6 to £5. Not so easy because I don't just cook for myself, and I don't actually know how much of a tin of kidney beans I tend to eat when I make a vegetable chilli.

I've discovered some great bargains and I'm surprised how much food is on the table - not all part of the £5 because of tin sizes etc, but still. I think I could possibly not go hungry but everytime I think that, I realise I haven't considered the cost of something. Like spices. Like tea bags. Or butter.

So yes, on totally basic, tasteless carbs and lentils, you can live on £1 a day, but if you want some flavour, some vitamins or anything that makes things taste better (oil/butter), the budget is burst. So it'll be a choice between taste and being full.

It also helps that I can cook for 4 people, which actually keeps costs down a fair bit.

Another challenge though is that as part of my work, I will have to join in dinner that's prepared (on a budget, but the budget is a bit more than the 50p that I'm living on), so I'll have to see how to get around this.

I'm greatly helped by tips from last year's live below the liners and recipe ideas on the live below the line website. In fact, there's a few great recipes that may find their way into my staple dinners.

I'm helped by being a vegetarian, so won't miss the meat. I've included 2 luxury items, milk (kind of expensive compared to other items) and some reduced chocolates that are out of date, because I'm a chocoholic and need to be able to have at least a tiny bit. The latter still burst my budget and I decided to only allow myself half of the pack, sob.

For the fundraising, here's the deal: I've chosen Action Aid who recognise the crucial role women have in the fight against poverty. The UK government will double all donations made. And I'll double all donations again, with any money raised on my fundraising page being matched out of my own pocket to raise funds for a local food bank. So if you donate a tenner, your donation will be worth £30. C'mon, make me dig deep and get donating!



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