LBL Day Six: Beige, bland, muck.

Day Six of my ‘making a £5 food shop last seven days’ challenge, in line with this years Live Below the Line challenge. This is my second attempt at LBL this year, and I decided to go for seven days as most people do a ‘weekly’ food shop, instead of a ‘five day’ food shop.

Well it’s been difficult not to grouch to myself today that this could have all been over yesterday if I’d stuck to the ordinary challenge and just done five days. It’s been difficult to silence the grumpy little voice in my head as I mash up my last ‘sausage surprise’ in the fridge (made on Monday, I don’t even want to consider the bacterial implications of cold rice in the fridge for five days…), and spoon it in between two slices of value whole meal bread for my lunch. Mm, sausage and stuffing and rice, in a sandwich. Neither my culinary skills, nor my photography, could make that beige, bland, muck into anything remotely appealing.


17p, by the way. You too can eat beige, bland muck for just 17p.

There was a time when I would have given anything for some beige, bland muck, though, and I chomp determinedly on what I can safely say is the most revolting thing I have eaten in a long time. I scoff the penultimate peach immediately after, apologising to my taste buds, but six days after buying it on a yellow Whoops sticker, the peach is wrinkled and bitter. This is not fun any more, and what’s more, there’s a whole day left to go.

Breakfast was a sausage sandwich, at 24p.


I shall add dinner in later – but it will be sausage based too as i start to use up the last few bits in the fridge. I’ve unwittingly had a ‘sausage day’ today, and looking at my notes realise I was saving the first sausage sandwich for a celebratory breakfast tomorrow. Oh well. I suppose that means tomorrow will be lemon curd on toast again. God knows, there’s half a jar of it left.

Thankyou to everyone who has sponsored me so far – and to new readers, I just want to make it clear that this is not my normal diet, it’s a challenge to raise money for Oxfam!

To sponsor/donate, visit

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Categories: Blog, Live Below The Line


  1. How can they make lemon curd for 22p? I made some myself (Hairy Bikers recipe) which was supposed to give you 4 jars but I only got 2 and that worked out at around £2.50 a jar!

  2. Hi you are tough.

    Suggestion, it wont really be any “more” food, but it might make it seem more.

    Make a Large pot of soup, which (of course) is mostly water. The Lemon Curd (which yu say yu have lots left), will give it some real flavor, and add in any bits you can spare of your meagre supplies left…bit of veg/bit of rice/dried out anything in back of fridge/cupboard…Can’t recal do you use pepper in this challenge? Pepper would go good with the lemon flavour in soup..etc.

    As I say, it wont “really” be more food, but myself, I find something so soul satisfying about looking at a large pot of simmering soup, and it feels good/fills good. Even a large pot of soup flavoured with lemon curd (if no other bits available) would likely taste pretty good……

  3. Oh, dear Jack – beige is the “it” colour in this season’s fashion, but they call it “flesh”.

    I am reminded of WW2 rations with this post – what on earth did they do with the bits left over before they could go off and restock? Waste was considered a crime, if not a sin .. but oh, boy, what boring foods they had day after day, year after year .. no wonder the 60s exploded with colour and creativity.

    And, yes, that’s the thing about living below the line – it’s possible, but oh, so boring, uninspiring and depressing.

  4. Oh dear, sounds awful. Hope your budget runs to some mince and a tin of mackerel next week. And eggs. I think you need a bit of protein in there. Also bananas for potassium.

  5. Good for you for sticking with it! I think it’s *meant* to be hard, so that people get some idea of what poverty is like, although I imagine you’ve had quite enough of it to teach you that particular life lesson!

    When you are glorying in next week’s non-beige “plenty”, I shall be starting my unofficial 5 days in aid of animal shelters in Serbia and Romania (Tuesday to Saturday inclusive). I have an almost pathological fear of hunger, dating back to childhood, so this is going to be a real test. I did my non-perishable shopping today and am surprised at how anxious it has left me. To have to choose between potatoes and parsnips, rather than just buying both as usual is uncomfortable. I will need to keep reassuring myself that this is temporary, a challenge, because i have become as complacent as the next person about my full cupboard and fridge.

    I am not even remotely concerning myself with eating healthily. As a vegan I am well nourished and lacking nothing in the vitamin/mineral department, so 5 days is not going to hurt me physically if I just live on peanut butter sarnies.

    I am also going to cheat. I will not go over the £5 for 5 days, but I do intend to take ingredients from packets/bags/sacks that I already have. I can’t see the point in that rule, when the official site goes on to say that you can split packets etc between yourself and friends that are also doing the challenge. I can’t see the difference between that and splitting a packet of (say, pasta) between yourself on the challenge and you after the challenge. It serves no purpose that I can see and eating on £1 a day is challenging enough without denying yourself 50g of red lentils just because you can’t afford to buy the whole bag (95p for 500g at Lidl’s).

    Good luck for your last day, I hope it’s not as awful as you expect it to be. And I hope that first gloriously extravagant meal tastes just wonderful. :o)

  6. Hi Jack,

    I’m really enjoying your LBL posts, they are so inspiring!

    I had a thought about the peaches, how about slicing and freezing them at the beginning of the week? That way you could defrost them on the days you wanted them and they would be tastier and more nutritious than when they are a week out of date.

    I don’t know how well peaches freeze, I know from experience this works with things like apples and berries, but maybe if they defrosted a bit mushy you could mash them and have them as an alternative toast topping? Just a thought!

    Keep up the great work,

  7. Spare a thought for those with conditions like coeliac disease on very low incomes. Up until now most could get gluten free prescriptions but these are being increasingly restricted and the freefrom foods in the supermarkets are up to seven times more expensive than normal food products. Fail to comply by eating cheap non gluten free food just once will result in damage to the gut that will take 3 months to recover, to say nothing of the distressing adverse effects, nausea, severe diarrhoea, fatigue, a short time after consumption. This can last a week. To get by safely every food item has to be scanned forensically for the gluten allergen. This means that all those basic cereals are out, there is no such thing as cheap bread, bought or made. In supermarkets a huge value pack of custard creams can be bought for very little. Our gluten free pack contains just ten of these and costs a whopping £1.40! And worse, it will be very hard for coeliacs to get much choice at a food bank.

    • Custard creams are hardly essentials and Jack doesn’t do this for anyone else to follow, she did it first through necessity and now to be economically savvy and through an example of what you CAN do, adapt it!
      If you can’t have gluten, don’t pick essentials with gluten, use pulses instead. That is your responsibility as a coeliac sufferer. My son is Dairy intolerant, so I would not place natural yogurt as is in one of Jack’s recipes but that is for me to adapt it.

    • It is not up to Jack as the author of this to consider specialist dietary requirements as she does this only to apply to herself as an example to others. She does not tell you what to eat but merely shows what is capable.
      If you are sensitive to gluten then use pulses as a filler for your meals instead of bread etc. No one comes and tells you how to shop before having to budget, why would they now? You still have to use your own common sense and I don’t consider custard creams as an essential.

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