This should be the end of my Live Below The Line challenge.
Tonight, this should be all over.
But for people living in poverty, in forgotten households and pockets all over this, one of the richest nations in the world, there isn’t a store cupboard to go back to.
There isn’t a shelf with paprika and garam masala on, or a trough on the window ledge with coriander and chillies in.
There’s no magic cupboard of carefully built up resources to fall back on.
I remember those days all too well. Scratching around in the bottom of the fridge for half an onion and yesterday’s tomato pasta, cobbling together something, anything to eat. Picking the green spots off the side of a week old loaf of bread and pretending you can’t taste the sour yeasty tang that kicks at the back of your throat, because mouldy bread is better than no bread at all.
I have raised well over £2,000 for Oxfam as I sit on my sofa and type this.
But is it enough? How can I stop now?
I have got left the following items from my original £5 food shop on Sunday:
Bread, 11 slices.
Lemon curd, less than half the jar left.
Cornflakes, 390g.
Unsweetened soya drink: 650ml
Long grain white rice: 485g
Chopped tomatoes: 400g
Kidney beans: 300g – already made into kidney bean burgers on Tuesday, and frozen in patties.
Frozen mixed vegetables: 525g
Spaghetti: 500g
Onion: 1
Broccoli, carrot, courgette and green beans: 120g
Mixed herbs: most of the jar.
I have done it. I have lived off £5 for 5 days, with three or four meals a day (save forgetting lunch twice!) and judging by my calculations, I have £2.77 of that food LEFT at the end of it.
So.
I am going to continue with my live below the line challenge until there is nothing left.
Yes, I’m bored of cornflakes. I’m bored of rice. I’m bored of tiny diced mixed vegetables. But AT LEAST I HAVE THE LUXURY OF HAVING FOOD TO BE BORED OF.
Those who might balk at the thought of another bowl of rice with another bowl of vegetables – I challenge you to take this challenge.
I challenge you to walk in my worn out shoes for five days.
I challenge you to join the hundreds and thousands of people in this rich and well developed country that watches every penny as the prices of the value ranges creep up in the supermarket, to feel exhausted by insufficient nutrition and the slow consumption of your mental wellbeing as you begin to obsess about every gram of rice, making portions smaller to have more of them, juggling processed carbs and eating food almost a week past its sell by date.
The Live Below The Line challenge is open until June.
Five pounds. Five days.
A friend gave me a saying the other day, before she embarked on the challenge herself:
“Anything about us, without us, is not for us.”
Don’t claim to know what’s best for a person until you’ve walked in their shoes.
Tomorrow brings day six, a bag of untouched spaghetti, and I will see this thing through until that list runs out.
Because once upon a time, I didn’t have a shelf of herbs and spices to fall back on.
And every pound I raise, is another pound towards tackling poverty.
To donate to Live Below The Line, a global poverty project, click here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/agirlcalledjack
If you are taking part in this years Live Below The Line challenge and want to share your experience, get in touch at jackmonroe@live.co.uk
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe