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 […]

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Live Below The Line 2013, Breakfast

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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 […]

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Reader’s Recipes: Patricia’s Dried Broad Bean Soup (Bessara)

I must say I use more and more pulses in my cooking now, as I am also trying to balance my budget, but I have to say that I really enjoy this kind of food. If you have a chance do try this recipe. It is absolutely delicious. Beyssara, or Beyssar, depending on who you speak to, is a street food staple, somewhere between a thick soup and a thin puree. In Marrakesh it is cooked in large, round earthenware jars which are balanced over charcoal fires in a tilted position. The narrow opening of the jar faces the cool and he ladles the soup out into bowls using a long handled spoon. Ingredients (Serves 4-6.) 250 g/ 9 ounces dried split broad beans, soaked overnight with 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda added to the water 2 unpeeled garlic cloves 1 ½ teaspoons each ground cumin and paprika scant ½ teaspoon dried chillies crushed to a coarse powder, or taste (or use chilli powder) salt to taste extra virgin olive oil Directions: Rinse the broad beans, which will have swelled to twice original size, and put them in a large saucepan. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and the spices and cover with water (about 2 litres / 3 ½ pints). Bring to the boil over a medium high heat, then cover the pan and leave to boil for 30 minutes or until the broad beans have turned into a mush. […]

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You’ve got to believe it will be alright in the end.

I stepped off the BBC Breakfast sofa this morning, said goodbye to Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt, and hello to a thousand new Twitter followers. I stepped into a lift at the hotel the BBC had provided for me in Media City, Salford, and a woman jumped in with me to say she had just seen me on the TV. With tears in her eyes, she told me she had just been made redundant, and that she had stopped to watch it, because the information about cooking meals on a tight budget had come at ‘just the right time’ for her. I had just eight floors to reassure her that no matter how horrible and awful things are, you find a steely determination and a strength you didn’t know you had, to just bloody well carry on. As I said on Facebook last night, I’m not pretending it’s ben easy. Constantly feeling like a failure, two suicide attempts, sitting with my back against the door as the bailiffs hammer on it for an electricity bill that I know I can’t pay. Applying for jobs week in, week out, with the deafening silence as not even a rejection email comes through. My ‘£1 a day food’ started a year ago, when, with just over £6 in copper coins and five pence pieces in a dish in my kitchen, I went to my local supermarket to see what I could buy. Yes, […]

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“I Do Not Intend To Die, Washing A Teacup”. Margaret Thatcher, 1925 – 2013.

MARGARET Thatcher has passed away today, aged 87, following a stroke. She entered the Houses of Parliament with drive, with ambition, and with a vision that she truly believed would change this country for the better. The daughter of a grocer, and a woman, she is often described as ‘shattering the glass ceiling’ for women in politics. She was the first, and only, female Prime Minister of this country. Many on the Left joked about having “the champagne on ice” for her passing. Although I despise her politics, I am writing this with a heavy heart. I will not be hypocritical enough to write a gushing tribute, as I disagree profoundly with a lot of what she did. I know enough of my history to know that she was a truly divisive figure, and that many suffered under her leadership. I do not dispute that, nor dismiss it. It is both history, and a legacy, an undercurrent into our current Conservative Party politicians mindset and policies. Yet Margaret’s death does not change anything. It does not turn the clock back to May 1979. It does not undo what has been done. In this, I am saddened by todays events – not the death of the first female Prime Minister of this country, although this will be in itself a historically significant day – but at the jubilation and exultation displayed by people vulgar enough to celebrate the death of another […]

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Dear George Osborne, I Am Not A Sociopath

Dear George, I would like to address your comments that have been in the national media today, Thursday 4th April. When asked whether Mick Philpott, the now-notorious killer of six of his seventeen children, behaved in the way that he did as a result of the benefits system in the UK, you replied: “It’s right we ask questions as a Government, a society and as taxpayers, why we are subsidising lifestyles like these.” Now I am not the Government, so cannot ask the question ‘as the Government’, but as a member of society and as a taxpayer, I can ask the following questions myself, and seek to offer the following reassurances that I am not a sociopath. Firstly, while we’re making sweeping assessments about what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ and what ‘should’ and ‘should not’ be funded from taxpayers money, let’s have a glance around. As a member of society and as a tax payer, why am I funding lifestyles like, say, Iain Duncan Smith claiming £39 on a breakfast, while I queue in a food bank for an hour in the freezing cold to collect a can of chopped tomatoes, some pasta, and some haricot beans? Why does 20% of my salary go towards these gross excesses, when I cannot afford to feed myself? How about Sir Peter Vigger’s £1,165 ‘floating pond feature’ for his duck pond? Or for £41,000 of furniture for the Care Services Minister, […]

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School Dinner Days Jam Sponge, 23p

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School Dinner Jam Sponge, 90p for 4 at 23p each. Ingredients:* 100g self raising flour, 4p (65p/1.5kg) 70g butter, 34p (£1.20/250g) 2 eggs, 44p (£2.65/12 free range) 50g sugar, 5p (89p/kg) 4 heaped teaspoons of jam, 3p (29p/454g) How To: 1. Place the butter in a microwaveable dish and heat on the defrost setting for 30 seconds until soft. Transfer […]

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