I’m taking the Live Below The Line challenge again this year; from 28th April to 2nd May I’ll living on £1 a day for 5 days, to raise money for Oxfam. No donated food, no sneaky spices from my store cupboard, battening down the hatches with just five £1 coins to spend for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I did it last year and raised a staggering £3,500 – and you can read about it here on my blog.

I’ll be blogging about it this year too; the shop, the meals, the challenges, the low points and the triumphs. I remember last year a particularly beige sausage (6 for 80p) and stuffing (15p a packet) sandwich (22 slice loaf for 50p…)

To sponsor me this year, please go to – I want to help tackle extreme poverty in the UK and across the world, will you help me?

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


  1. I just looked in my cupboard and it really annoys me! So many half eaten boxes of cereal or wraps. Stuff that’s been hidden at the back of the freezer for yrs! How wasteful and frivolous. I think I am getting better now, but I hate chucking food away!!

    • I think the idea behind what you are up to is fantastic and may well support you and join in. However you have such a wide ranging network of people and followers I wondered if you had considered if Oxfam was the best charity to throw yourself behind. I mean not to diminish your endeavour but I wondered if you might consider a smaller charity where the chief executive isn’t paid over £100,000. I wish you the best of luck with it and hope you find some good bargains in your 5 days.

      Just a wee piece about what I am on about.

      • I do have sympathy with this view xailsax. I am very concerned about overheads of big charities – huge salaries, posh offices and paid fund raisers but I am told they can be more efficient. There are economies of scale. I think anything that rises the issue of world poverty and food waste in the affluent is really important. Good for you, jack. Please how to contribute or register.

  2. i think its easy for a adult to live on less than £1 a day i do it most days but would never expect my daughter to ….by easy i mean you do what you have to but its not good

  3. Well done Jack, I did this a couple of years ago, my health doesn’t allow for a repeat, sadly. I managed to add a bit of variety by picking up some reduced items in supermarkets, though apparently that was ‘cheating’ (Not sure how!).
    The weather was really warm during my LBL week and hot, thick porridge for breakfast was less appetising than it would have been otherwise.

    Value items all the way, fruit and veg from the cheapest shop in the North East, lots of pasta and very basic stir-fries bulked out with 7p noodles. The only meat I had during the week was a slice of reduced belly pork, thinly spread with value mustard and grilled.

    The 7p noodles are 20p now,I note, but the amount you have to live on hasn’t changed, which makes it even harder, On the plus side we have a discount supermarket to save the pennies rather than having to use one of the big four – though the only affordable foods on the £1 budget from there are dried and/or tinned.

    • Buying reduced price items isn’t ‘cheating’ at all. It’s only a cheat if you buy part of a pack of something you already have in your cupboards. Any foods you buy with your five pounds should be whole packs of things with the exception being salt, pepper and a splash of oil which most of us budget around 20p out of our total £5 for.

  4. I think the idea behind what you are up to is fantastic and may well support you and join in. However you have such a wide ranging network of people and followers I wondered if you had considered if Oxfam was the best charity to throw yourself behind. I mean not to diminish your endeavour but I wondered if you might consider a smaller charity where the chief executive isn’t paid over £100,000. I wish you the best of luck with it and hope you find some good bargains in your 5 days.

    Just a wee piece about what I am on about.

  5. Last year I read some news items about the Live Below the Line challenge and I recall some of the comments on the BBC. People had missed the point entirely – they thought it was some new measure aimed at making people live off less money. The BBC hadn’t really explained the concept very well, though. I am glad you’re doing this as it raises awareness of the fact that 1 in 8 people in the world live in extreme poverty, having less that £1 a day for everything (not just food).
    Personally I have tried fasting, but it makes my illness worse. On the other hand, this may be do-able. I’ll do some research. I’m thinking oats and maybe rice. Meantime, I will definitely sponsor you and share your posts. Thank you, Jack 🙂

  6. I’m about to start mine tomorrow as I’ve been asked to post earlier to help publicise this. A brilliant Challenge every year. Well done to you for signing up again, and I really look forward to reading your posts, no doubt you will be much more inventive than me …. although I do consider myself head and shoulders above the lad last year that simply bought 5 huge Mars bars and a six pack of Coke, but good luck to him he got us all talking about it 😉

  7. So Jack does it mean that ur friends can’t invite u for dinner this week either? I mean I know people do struggle with very little byt if I saw a friend or neighbour in this position is be horrified and would cook them a meal – but understand you’re doing it to raise money xx

  8. like xailsax i have decided to support smaller local organisation whose leaders do not have anything like the salaries taken by the big ones – and yet they do marvellous work locally both here and abroad

  9. Good luck with it. I looked at some of the things you and other bought year and could not believe how the prices have gone up! However, it seems obvious if 4 share then you have a really good choice! So I chickened out and am part-way through a 4 x 5 days. Its not too bad once the caffeine withdrawal headache has gone! And at weekends all that fresh fruit and veg not to mention a glass or 2 of wine and coffee in moderation – not enough to start the next 5 days with a headache!.

  10. Well done in advance Jack. It certainly focuses the mind on the difference between real daily hunger, and what many think of as hunger (peckish) Have sponsered you 🙂

  11. Good for you Jack, I’ve donated £10.

    It only takes 2 minutes to click on the link and sponsor Jack, so please give a few quid if you can.

  12. I’ve just signed up for the first time! I’m a teeny bit nervous as I’ll be feeding my daughter and husband ‘normal’ meals during my challenge, but this also makes me more determined to succeed!! Any helpful hints???? x

  13. Onya Jack, as ever behind pretty much everything you do.

    I just wanted to raise my head above the parapet though and make a point to those having a bit of a crack at Oxfam for paying their staff and having a “posh office.”

    I could rant about this at length but I will try and be concise and to the point.

    Oxfam – and other large charities – are huge, multinational organisations with hundreds if not thousands of staff working across dozens of locations, on projects that, I’m sure we can all agree, are of amazing benefit to those most in need. In the eyes of most decent people, surely, this work is more important and of more direct benefit to more people than, for instance, shifting invisible money around on the stockmarket. Yet the CEOs and CFOs of large City companies will regularly be paid ten times the quoted figure of £100,000 (+bonuses & benefits, of course). Being the CEO of Oxfam can’t be a walk in the park. I imagine it’s quite hard work and a lot of responsibility, not to mention public scrutiny and incredibly high stakes if you stuff it up. Where did this attitude come from that just because you are working for a charity you must operate like one yourself? How do we expect our charitable organisations to perform at their best if they cannot use, amongst other things, attractive salary packages and working conditions to attract the best people to the job? There are many stories of talented and passionate individuals who start working in various arms of the not-for-profit sector but wind up moving to the corporate sector after 3-5 years because the conditions are not just more attractive but more realistic in terms of compensation for the hours worked and responsibility held. If you think that organisations like Oxfam do great work, I cannot understand why you would begrudge their staff being appropriately remunerated for that work.

    Of course, this does not mean that it isn’t true that, as you say, there are many smaller charities operating on much smaller budgets and doing great work. That is of course also true. But imagine one of those small charities, whose staff are currently paid, say, just barely a living wage, suddenly had an incredibly successful campaign, or a generous bequest, or whatever, that raised them… Let’s say £100,000. Surely you wouldn’t deny that those hardworking staff on their threadbare salaries, in a rather cramped office, with the Administrator and the Marketing Manager sharing a computer two days a week, and a kettle that doesn’t work… Surely it would make sense for them to spend part of that £100,000 on raising the wages of their staff to be vaguely commensurate with their effort, and/or maybe renting a space that allows them to store all their materials appropriately and hold meetings with stakeholders and potential donors, and/or buying a second computer, and/or buying a kettle so that in between saving the world the staff can have a well deserved cup of tea. And then if they got even more money, and wanted to save the world even more, they’d probably need to hire someone else to help with that, and they’d want it to be someone really good, so it would make sense to check and see what kind of salaries are being offered for similar positions in the for-profit sector, and see if they can compete with that in any way… and thus secure a genius project co-ordinator, or media manager, who would help them raise more money, and save the world more, and… I think I’m making my point, yeah?

    Sorry for hijacking the conversation a little Jack, it’s just a major bugbear of mine and hopefully I’ve saved you twenty minutes of having to defend the organisation you so ably represent. 🙂

  14. I must say that I second what ‘rebeccaspeaking’ has so eloquently put. As one who has worked for a few charities Oxfam, British Heart Foundation and Scope to name just the larger ones. When you are controlling a charity that is so large you DO need the best people for the job at the top and this unfortunately DOES cost money. However the skills they bring to their posts makes the outlay so worthwhile.

    I also, in the not too distant past, took up the reins at a couple of small charity shops which had never had a paid shop manager before much to the disgust of the volunteer workforce, but within six months I had doubled the regular daily takings and also more than covered my salary for the year in extra takings through extra earning revenues for the charity. So even on a small scale this works.

  15. The one thing that strikes me is that that £1 a day hasn’t been raised at all since the few years ago this challenge started and I wonder whether it should be raised in line with inflation (at least food price inflation, which has probably gone at a faster pace than inflation as a whole). I guess some people would come back on that and counter with “Many people haven’t had cost of living rises on their income for several years now” argument. Hm….who knows? But I would probably have found it too difficult to even think of back when it started and definitely wouldn’t be trying now that £1 is worth even less.

    • I agree Ceridwen. I really wanted to do it, but one on their own and not get sick, (a few health issues), meant I decided to do 4 x5 days and that was OK. It meant I used nearly all the food, rather than just a bit of it.

  16. i have a problem.i live on my own,i have no cooker,but have a microwave,i live on crisps and junk food and i admit when i did have a cooker i could not even cook a chicken without giving myself and others food poisening in the like me and others just cant cook food to save are lifes and that is being honest.

  17. As somebody who actually lived for that magical $1 a day for real (and so did quite a few members of my family) I always get agitated at such attempts as I am not sure whether to call it plain ridiculous or preposterous or just silly. Trying to live on $1 a day in a land of Tesco instead of in a world of self-sufficiency, is comparing apples and pears. Of course in the first world you cannot survive on that for long, in the other you can! All it shows that the way we live here requires more money for basic survival compared to let’s say Romania or Pakistan. It is easy to become food poor in this country, because we do not produce any food, we have no herb gardens, we don’t know how to cook using the basics and we have to buy everything. We even think that cereal is a basic food??!!!!
    Sorry, I support your activism and fundraising and so on, but some things are probably emotionally too close to home and I find it almost insulting when I see people here ‘playing at’ being the majority world poor however good their intentions are.

  18. I am also doing the challenge again this year. My husband an four children are joining too- never to young to teach them about the importance of food, budgeting and poverty! My girls are aged 3-10 years and are all healthy. We’re fundraising for The Hunger Project. I’m using my Instagram account to share what we will eat- mummy2my4girls. Feeling a bit nervous now!
    Good luck with your challenge x

  19. So, you no longer live in Southend? Nice little flat is it? Still scrabbling to feed your family?
    Funny how a little bit of fame and money means you have to give up what you believe in.
    Of course you can subscribe to the live below the line challenge, you now have money to fall back on. Remember when you castigated MP’s last year because they had somewhere warm and comfortable to go back to. Hmmmmm ………

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