Day Eight, The End Of The Line

At the end of today, surveying the £5 food shop I did last Sunday, I have left:

Bread, 4 slices.
Lemon curd, one third of the jar.
Cornflakes, 250g.
Unsweetened soya drink: 200ml.
Long grain white rice: 200g.
Chopped tomatoes: 300g.
Kidney beans: 200g – already made into kidney bean burgers on Tuesday, and frozen in patties.
Frozen mixed vegetables: 300g.
Spaghetti: 400g
Onion: – NONE! Finally used the blighter!
Broccoli, carrot, courgette and green beans: 120g – now eight days out of date.
Mixed herbs: most of the jar.

I could eke this out for another three days – but I need protein, fruit and whole grains. A week is more than long enough to demonstrate what nutritional deficiency there is in
such a cheap food budget. Reading friends reported experiences during the challenge, who survived on 11p noodles and cheap crackers, I know I’ve done well to work in carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, tomato, courgette, peppers, bean sprouts and onions this week.

Save two days when I managed to forget my lunch at work, I ate four times a day, usually toast for breakfast, cornflakes as a snack, rice and vegetables for lunch, and rice and vegetables for dinner.

I averaged around 1000 calories a day – 600 below the recommended minimum daily amount for a woman of my age, height and activity level.

I managed to consume around 30g of protein a day – less than half the required amount.

I missed cups of coffee more than I thought I would – as sitting at a desk for ten hours with just starches for sustenance took its toll very early on in the week.

I spent yesterday in a heap on my sofa, not wanting to eat, not having the energy to write, not wanting to do a thing – and I know it’s time to stop. I have a son who demands more of his mother than the occasional groan, and a whole host of new challenges at work to tackle as the newspaper is made longer with a significant price increase.

I wanted to see this to the end – but as stubborn as I am, I feel physically and mentally ruined.

The Live Below The Line challenge run until June this year – I may pick it up in a few weeks time when I’m firing on all cylinders again.

But for now, I’ve raised over £2,000 for Oxfam, who are tackling four major causes of food poverty with the Enough Food If campaign.

For everyone that worried about me this week – please, worry about the 1 in 4 of our children in the UK that are living in poverty. Please donate, participate, please help in any way you can.

And tomorrow when I wake up, I’m looking forward to my lemon curd on toast for breakfast, but I might have some chicken and pasta for my lunch! It’s the small things.

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. Your recent posts on the Live Below the Line project have really prompted me to look at my food consumption and waste. Thank you for opening my eyes to how truly wealthy and fortunate I am. I wrote about your blog on my latest post, I hope you don’t mind. Congratulations on raising so much! I have just donated 🙂
    Best wishes.

  2. Impressive. From what’s left it looks like you could have maybe gotten two more days at the minimal survival rate, but the continued cost to your work/life would have been too high and disruptive. Would you tell us some about how you decide to use the remainder of the groceries? I think this could help highlight how enough of the right foods (some fruit, whole grains, a bit of meat/cheese here and there, and a few more vegetables) although not costing a lot more make a huge difference in one’s health and productivity.

    Also would love to read your friend’s blog posts about the challenge if they were willing for you to post their links.

    Great to see that your efforts and your posts have generated enough to keep you in the top 10 on the leaderboards. That will help so many children.


    • I first came across you on that Saturday breakfast programme and signed up – very admiring ( as someone who has scrimped and eaten pretty disgusting stuff when poor (old days of sausages etc that were mechanically recovered grot – pre CJD,1980s) – My gran and aunt were in a japanese prisoner of war camp and starved for years, survived but left their legacy of thrift – hunger is a terrible thing. I also interviewed Annie McVey whose daughter was youngest to die from CJD. it is time to stop for your own health and your son – you’ve made a difference bigtime -well done and enjoy that chicken dinner! xx

  3. Well done Jack – and glad you are ok – was worried about you! Take care of yourself x

  4. You have done amazingly well! You should be very proud of what you have achieved. Enjoy your chicken dinner tomorrow! You deserve it.

    You have inspired so many people and raised awareness of what some people are having to do day-in-day-out, as you have done yourself in the past.

    Again well done!

  5. Well, my first thought on receiving your post was “thank god she’s stopped”. You’ve done marvellously well, Jack, truly. But, as you so rightly point out, your son needs you to be on top form. And, yes – I remember when the kids were little feeding us all on rice and beans because that was *literally* all there was. I admire you for going there when you didn’t have to – and for raising all that money, too. Shouldn’t be necessary in this day and age. Those posh boys have a lot to answer for.

  6. Well done to you Jack you have done extremely well in the challenge I do hope you haven’t lost too much body weight (I wish I could at times ) but to make folk aware of the plight of people whose daily way of life is to live on at most a dollar-a-day.My late husband worked during the 1980s in the Sudan and when he came home on leave every three months he said how people would do well to visit a third world country to see how really bad things were for thousands of ordinary people.and that was thirty years ago I don’t suppose life has improved for many of them since.Your son will grow up with the knowledge that his Mum really cares about people and he will be rightly very proud of you.Good luck to you both,when I see some Mums in the shops moaning about how they can barely manage to feed the children on £100 + a week and then see whats been put into the trolley I could shake them ,but if they have never been taught as I was to make a shilling do the work of five then its hardly their fault I understand from the media that you are hoping to have a cook book about how to make your cash steeetch on very little I will certainly buy it as I like the way you ‘cost’ up the price of things.Too many cook books and celebraty chefs assume that folk have unlimited resouses to buy stuff,which often is unheard of outside of central London.Try buying wasabi in deepest Kent (I’m not even sure what it is let alone if I would like it )
    best of luck from one Jack to another

  7. Congratulations on surviving the eight days and producing some thrifty recipes and thought provoking writing. You are a shining star in an increasingly tough times.

    I have had to survive on a limited budget many times and thought you might find the following helpful – home made pop corn makes inexpensive breakfast cereal and you can add what you like to it. Nettle soup is highly nutritious although not entirely free as you need garlic ,onion , a couple of small potatoes and a splash of milk or cream. Dandelions and chickweed grow in most places and can be added to salads. I make a great elderflower cordial and in summer forage for wild fruit to turn into puddings and jam.

    Keep up your good work and especially those inspiring recipes.

    • Kristel, sounds like you are a great at foraging. Another thing to look for now is young mugwort (or ssook if you are near a Korean community). See if you like it though before adding it to your other food as some find the taste too unusual. Most people like purslane in the summer and rose hips in the fall.

      Another great project is to see if your local town might follow in the steps of Todmorden and plant as much food as possible in public places for people that could use some.
      (take out the space)

      Todmorden has food growing all around town including at the fire station, rail station, several orchards, social housing, schools. They promote local food in other ways such as through working to increase the local eggs, herbs, a fish farm and lots more.


      • Todmorden is a great place and the incredible edible project is enabling people to have fresh food who otherwise might struggle to afford it. I hope other places adopt this example as there are plenty of derelict urban spaces in many towns and cities.

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