Live below the line, day one, mid morning snacks.

Well, it’s only half eleven and I’m already glad I had the foresight to pack some snacks for the day. After breakfast of lemon curd on toast this morning, with a glass of water, I packed two separate 20g portions of corn flakes to graze on, and a lemon curd sandwich. Normally a big protein eater, and off the back of an extraordinarily busy weekend, I find myself struggling to concentrate at my desk.

The cornflake portions cost just over 1p each, and the lemon curd sandwich was 6 pence. In total, my food consumption so far has cost 13 pence for the day – but I only have dry cornflakes left until I get home for dinner. I’m craving something fresh, something unprocessed, something that isn’t a starchy carbohydrate. I’m craving one of my own carrot, kidney bean and cumin burgers, with fresh vegetables and soft, warm rice.

Knocking a couple of quid off my usual food shop has made an enormous difference to what I have available to eat this week, and although I have planned in snacks and grazes through the day, well, you try nibbling on a fistful of dry cornflakes while you’re trying to work!

Not being able to fall back on my herbs and spices or plan a month in advance – this was the challenge I set myself as part of Live Below The Line, as commentators criticised me on the BBC website for daring to have built up a collection of herbs and spices and ambient goods over the past year of frugal eating – so I’m right back to basics. See my earlier post for my total food for the five days, at a cost of exactly £5.00.

The last time I checked, my Live Below The Line page had raised £165 for Oxfam UK, who with the Enough Food If campaign are working to tackle food poverty in the UK and abroad.


Nutrition calculations so far (for my height and weight and activity levels, not a general guideline):


To donate to Live Below The Line, a global poverty project, click here:

If you are taking part in this years Live Below The Line challenge and want to share your experience, get in touch at

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


  1. We would love you to be part of Feeding the 5000 FareShare South West are organising for 1st June? Would you come to speak at the event? Please let us know if you can?

  2. I thought you might be interested in this cheap, easy, sweet, healthy snack option – I have nick named them ‘Banoaties’. (I’ve added chocolate chips & dried cranberries to these but they taste just as great without).

    As it uses over ripe bananas I visit my local greengrocers who sell off the bananas that are ‘past it’ for a few pence each. I think I bought four for 16p! Oats are also very cheap.

  3. If I were trying to live here on five pounds for five days, that would be $7.76, which would buy me if I shopped for 30 days spending $46.56:

    6 value loaves of bread/or discounted (bought daily) loaves: $6
    Margarine/butter spread: $1.50
    Pot jam: $2 ( grape jelly is the cheapest/largest but I don’t like it so would probably buy less in Strawberry jam )
    10 bananas: $2.50 ( less if bought daily over-ripe )
    lb rice 70 cents
    lb lentils 70 cents
    can tomatoes 60 cents
    baked beans ( Campbells ‘pork and beans’ ) 3 for $1
    box tea bags $1 is cheapest for 20
    three cans evaporated milk $2.50
    raisins $1
    500g frozen green peas $1
    avocado 50 cents
    500g salad $1
    iceburg lettuce $1
    oatmeal ( enough for 10 servings ) $1.50
    grapefruit 50 cents
    discounted meat $4
    l2 emon @ 25 cents
    onion 50 cents
    bollilo roll local supermarket 25 cents
    roma tomato 50 cents
    half pound cheese( supermarket brand ) $2
    store brand yoghurt 40 cents X 5 $2
    fish sticks $1.25
    frozen spinach 75 cents
    bulb garlic 50 cents
    small piece fresh ginger 50 cents
    dozen eggs $1.25
    green pepper 75 cents
    5lb potatoes $3
    1 lb flour $2
    apple 40 cents
    lime 25 cents
    canned green beans 60 cents
    ketchup $1

    That would assume I have quite a working knowledge of home economics…recipes…how to juggle one ingredient for another depending what’s on offer- plus I already have a source of sugar/honey/spices/herbs in my cupboard to help make these dishes optimal. And that my electricity hasn’t been cut off!

    And for a family budget- no diapers/nappies, sanitary protection, laundry or dishwashing soap, bleach or cleaning products, toilet paper?

    Where I live the tap water is undrinkable taste-wise…needs filters for the jug or bottled water.

    And anyone in poverty should buy a multi-vitamin…

    It’s not practically do-able for a lot of people.

    The basics cost a lot more than we think.

  4. If you cook rice and frozen mixed veg together with half a teaspoon of lemon curd dissolved in the cooking water, you end up with quite a tasty rice salad to pack for lunches. Still lemony, but at least a change from cornflakes and sandwiches,

    Good luck

  5. I wonder if you might like cornflake porridge cooked in a small bit of water in the microwave at work?

    • I meant to also say that since cornflakes are made of finely ground corn, it would be like a finely ground polenta depending on the amount of water used to cook it. And having not tried this, I don’t know if it would be better to heat the water and then add the cornflakes and let it sit a bit, or to microwave it mixed.


  6. People used to eat bread and warm milk/water, called it ‘pobs’, I don’t remember eating it but we did make semolina, in a saucepan with water and dried milk powder, takes abot ten minutes stirring constantly, then we ate it with a dollop of jam ( or lemon curd ) It’s cheapest to buy here in the Indian markets as farina.

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