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 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 left over – and see how long I can eke out the five pound food shop.

I have found today difficult, and the following few days will undoubtedly be more so. I sat at my desk this afternoon, in the middle of a carb slump, blood sugars crashing after a binge on processed white carbs this morning. I have lived through extreme poverty, I have described in harrowing detail how it feels to go to bed starving for nights on end. I am now in full time, minimum wage employment, and still usually only spend ten pounds a week on food for myself and my son. Halving that amount has meant stripping the meat out of my diet, the peanut butter, the chickpeas, the 27p box of 80 tea bags. It has meant eating processed white bread instead of making my own. But it has also, so far, raised over £700 for Oxfam, to tackle poverty in the UK. And for that, I will carry this through the next five days and beyond, until the list of food above runs out.

When you’ve had nothing, you take nothing for granted.

I hope all of the rest of you LBL-ers are reflecting this evening on the challenge ahead – and although living on £1 a day cannot possibly accurately represent the fear and despondency that comes with living in poverty, I hope that going without treats, and thinking a little harder about how much you spend on food in a country where people are literally starving, I hope this is a movement for change. Change starts with the man or woman in the mirror. Change starts with you.

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

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