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Broccoli, carrot, courgette and green beans: 120g – now eight days out of date.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

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