Live Below The Line: Take Two

I’ve decided to reattempt the Live Below The Line challenge, taking on board my previous experience of white rice and lack of protein, and advice and comments from readers.


The challenge is open until June – so I thought a second attempt would be an opportunity to raise additional funding for Oxfam, as well as awareness about poverty and food poverty in the UK.

Since my explosion across the national media, the most common criticism I have received is that ‘it just isn’t possible’ – as though a year of living on a stringent budget is not evidence enough that it is.

Anyway – for the next seven days, I will be closing up my store cupboard again, shelving the fancy spices that Schwartz so generously sent me, and creating a minimum of 21 meals from the following items:


4 fruit yogurts, 33p
Wholemeal loaf, 22 slices, 50p
5 peaches, 30p (reduced from £2)
1kg frozen mixed veg, 75p
2 apples, 41p
1 baking potato, 24p
1 courgette, 22p
400g kidney beans, 21p
411g lemon curd, 22p
400g chopped tomatoes, 31p
10 beef stock cubes, 15p
Sage and onion stuffing, 15p
1kg rice, 40p

Total spend: £4.85


As before, I will be documenting the days on my online blog under the category “Live Below The Line 2013”.

I am doing the challenge for seven days – as most people do a ‘weekly’ food shop – I never understood the five day part of the Live Below The Line challenge!

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

Categories: Blog, Live Below The Line


  1. Jack, I commend you. I am embaressed to say I could not come up with one meal from the list of ingredients. I am a mother if two and cook from scratch every day. I will watch closely to see how you manage this. I obviously need to rethink my purchases etc. good luck.

  2. Looking forward to what you make from this collection of food. Can envision many possibilities including:

    Beefy Rice Vegetable Soup
    Soup thickened and flavored with the sage and onion stuffing
    Sage and Onion Ongiri
    Peach Rice Pudding
    Hot Beef Broth Tea
    Apple Peel (or core) Tea is pretty tasty if you can save a peeling or two for that(just don’t eat seeds/pits)
    Peach Peal tea over ice is good too, if a bit fuzzy
    Beefy Beans over Rice
    If you cook rice in extra water and pour off the water, the hot rice water is a tasty beverage
    Rice cooked and flavored with a bit of the stuffing
    Yogurt and Peach Parfait
    Peach Yogurt Smoothie

    Some of the peaches may need to be sliced, blanched, and frozen to make it very far into the week.

    Some of the food challenges are for 7 days. My guess for this one is that the organizers have discovered that if people do it for 5 days, they then go out with their friends on the weekend and talk about the challenge, so the results are more effective. If they do it for 7 days they usually stay home all weekend unless some friends are doing it together, planned ahead, and saved food for a group meal.

    If people are doing the LBL challenge for 7 days though, they would have £7 to work with as it’s £1 a day. A few people do it for a month, so they have £28-31 depending on the month they choose.

    It’s true that people who won’t do something, can’t succeed at it. And certainly this is a difficult challenge. If people genuinely want to give it a try, it is worth looking at your two lists and also the discussion here about what you/others would do differently to increase their success. And most likely if they replied here with their proposed list of foods for the 5 days, the generous readers here could give them ideas about what to cook with their food or perhaps what to swap out that might make their meals more workable and enjoyable.


  3. I am fascinated! I am trying to make my own list of how I would do it. It’s not easy at all. However half of that potato is calling to be sliced and sautéed with some sliced up sausage! Ha ha! Sorry I am sure you have a plan for it all. Good luck.

  4. I have been an avid reader of your blog for about 2 weeks now and have been using you as inspiration to try and cut done my food bills and use the pantry more. I have to admit though living in Australia it seems that the food in the UK is much cheaper than over here. Having lived in the Uk several years ago I remember how cheap the store brands were. I would be interested in comparing some of the basic items to see if we could do it as cheaply with conversion rates maybe we could cover a few different countries other readers from the blog and we could all post a basic list? It might just be me that finds it fascinating. 🙂

    • Emma, since you are in a different season, different vegetables may be cheaper for you now compared to the UK such as fall and winter squash.

      Agreed that we could all learn from each other’s frugal food lists. We also may be able to post recipes for each other that aren’t cheap where we are, but are cheap where you are.

      And we can all learn from the basic principles such as using a flavorful item in different ways like Jack’s lemon curd or a bit of one of the exotic spices.

  5. Dear Jack I am so glad that I have found the information that you have given us all. I have started to shop at Sainsbury which is my local store and I love it. I walk the 1.1/2 miles in to town and have been looking at the Basic range of goods which is a complete eye opener. I would have been too snooty before to have purchased them but I am changing. Thank you so much for helping me. My credit cards are up to their limit, my bank account is almost to overdraft max level and I want to get out of debt. You are helping me. Thank you again. Regards Isabel

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