Live Below The Line: The Whole Week

                                           Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe This was my Live Below The Line challenge to raise money for Street Child United – I’ll blog all of the recipes I haven’t got around to over the next couple of days. In the meantime you can read about it (and sponsor me!) over on […]

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Live Below The Line: Day 4 breakfast, 14p

This breakfast is so simple it hardly needs a recipe, but in ‘normal life’ it’s one of my favourite quick breakfasts anyway, so as soon as I had the peaches in my basket and realised the breakfast potential, I started looking forward to this. Imagine if the grapefruit had been in stock, I would have denied myself the small pleasure of tucking into this this morning – funny how things work out.   I used 80g from my rapidly-diminishing 500g natural yoghurt, which came in at 9p (the yoghurt was 55p for 500g in the Monday shop) and 50g of peaches, which worked out at 5p (they were 40p for 411g). So all in, a 14p breakfast that wasn’t as big as I’d have liked it to be, but I’m rationing remaining ingredients now – if I’m careful I can have this again as a snack or dessert today or tomorrow!  So far, with the generosity of friends and readers, I’ve raised £3,768 for Street Child United by doing this challenge – nearly double my target, and quite overwhelmed at all of the support and kindness. If you haven’t donated or want to check the page out, head over to http://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/agirlcalledjack Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

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Live Below The Line Day 3 Dinner: Broccoli stalk and yoghurt soup, 29p

Day three, dinner three, sees me over the middle hump of this year’s Live Below The Line challenge. In previous years, I’ve found myself at the end of the week with the scraps and scrag-ends of my £5-for-5-days food shop, exhausted, cranky, and willing it to be over as I try to be inventive with whatever bits and pieces there are left. I’m trying not to let that happen too much this year; in the same way I gently encourage my 5 year old not to leave the ‘green veg’ on his plate until the end for a dragged-out, miserable dinner experience (if anyone finds the answer as to why small boys are totally happy to eat their own bright green bogies and lick their radioactive-looking snot from their noses but abhor anything green that might be good for them, please, I’m dying to know) – I decided to shoehorn some of the ‘scraps’ into the week, rather than drag my heels and pouty lower lip all the way to Friday. So here we are, Wednesday, and a broccoli stalk soup. Rather this than the mushy peas, anyhow, that are glaring at me passive-aggressively from the worktop and filling me with fear. I decided to dice and slightly char the broccoli stalk – there’s no real knowledge or science behind this decision, I just figured it needs all the help it can get to take it from ‘thing I would […]

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LIVE BELOW THE LINE 2014

This week, I’ve been taking part in the annual Live Below the Line challenge, living on £1 a day or less to raise money for Oxfam (you can sponsor me here). People say I should find it easy, considering my history of living on a tight budget for myself and my son. But I survived those periods by growing herbs […]

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HOW MANY CALORIES FOR A FIVER?

Last night I decided to work out the nutritional value of my Live Below The Line challenge. In previous years, I have felt in turn tired, lethargic, bloated, hungry and had carb spikes followed by huge crashes. My blood sugar is a bit bonkers at the best of times – I avoid lactose and too many unprocessed white carbs – […]

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SHOPPING AND PREP: LBL 2014

Well, the Smalls went back to nursery this morning, so I dashed to the shops afterwards on an empty stomach, clutching my fiver for this year’s Live Below The Line challenge. I no longer live in Southend on Sea next to the big orange supermarket that was my lifeline when I was living on an excruciatingly tight (and often non […]

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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 […]

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LBL Day Five: Fed up and grumpy,

Day Five. Friday. Day Five. Fed up and grumpy. Breakfast was lemon curd on two slices of toast. I don’t think I’m going to eat lemon curd again for a long time after this… 7p. Lunch was a leftover cold rice salad with courgette, and lemon curd stirred through to make a cold sauce. I’d left it at home by […]

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£5 for 7 days challenge – Day 3

Day Three. I was sent home from work this afternoon with a migraine. Well-meaning friends have suggested that I quit the challenge to look after myself, but I’m not a quitter. I get migraines every now and again, usually stress related, but I’m going to be okay. I went home, lay down in the dark for the afternoon, drank lots […]

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£5 for 7 days challenge – Day 2

I come to the end of Day 2 of my second take on the Live Below The Line challenge, or this time I’m stretching my fiver over seven days and I’ve tried to up my fruit and protein intake. So here goes: Breakfast, 2 slices of whole meal toast with lemon curd, 7p. ….and an apple, 21p: Lunch was a […]

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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 […]

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Live Below The Line: What Would I Do Differently?

I’ve been asked a few times by different people what I would do differently if I could do Live Below The Line again. (Which could be a serious consideration, as it runs until June, so plenty of time for a second crack at it!) Firstly, in the first five days I only used up half of my food budget, with around four small meals each day. But, as it was pointed out to me by both well wishers and my own plummeting energy levels, the meals that I had were high in cheap carbs and very low in protein. So what would I do differently? Firstly, I think I’d lose the cornflakes and have toast for breakfast instead, but I’d trade the white bread for whole meal, to get more whole grains and fibre. When you’re eating such a limited diet, it’s important to maximise the ‘goodness’ wherever possible. I wanted white bread, because I thought it would be a ‘treat’, but I found myself peaking and crashing with inadequate nutrition and far too much starch. (50p) Secondly, I’d buy some meat. I did some swift calculations and the value sausages provide 6g of protein each, at 7p each (8 for 58p). The 670g bacon for £1.09 provides an average of 19g protein per day if split over 5 days, and the 650g turkey drumstick for £1.75 is the highest in protein at 44g per day if split over the […]

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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 […]

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LBL Day Six, It’s Not Over Til It’s Over.

I have received a few messages from concerned friends and strangers since I announced that I was extending the Live Below The Line challenge to use up the last of my £5 supplies, and I would like to try to alleviate some concerns. I’d like to first thank everyone for their concern for my health – it is something I take seriously myself – and to clarify that I have sought advice from a dietitian about the challenge, who confirmed what I thought about my nutritional intake at the moment. It’s lower than it would ideally be, but I’m not at any real risk to my health if I continue for a few more days, and I will return to my normal eating patterns at the end of the challenge – which is higher in fruit, dairy products and protein than my current supplies! I decided to continue with the challenge for two reasons, firstly because I am still fundraising for Oxfam, and secondly because I am finding it challenging on a personal level. People often level accusations at me about my normal food shop and lifestyle that ‘not everyone has a herb garden’ or cumin and paprika in the cupboard. I know. I have lived through worse – regular readers will know that in the worst days last year I missed meals for days on end just to feed my son. Those who don’t know the story, I recommend […]

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At least I have food to be bored with. LBL Day 5.

This should be the end of my Live Below The Line challenge. Tonight, this should be all over. But for people living in poverty, in forgotten households and pockets all over this, one of the richest nations in the world, there isn’t a store cupboard to go back to. There isn’t a shelf with paprika and garam masala on, or a trough on the window ledge with coriander and chillies in. There’s no magic cupboard of carefully built up resources to fall back on. I remember those days all too well. Scratching around in the bottom of the fridge for half an onion and yesterday’s tomato pasta, cobbling together something, anything to eat. Picking the green spots off the side of a week old loaf of bread and pretending you can’t taste the sour yeasty tang that kicks at the back of your throat, because mouldy bread is better than no bread at all. I have raised well over £2,000 for Oxfam as I sit on my sofa and type this. But is it enough? How can I stop now? I have got left the following items from my original £5 food shop on Sunday: Bread, 11 slices. Lemon curd, less than half the jar left. Cornflakes, 390g. Unsweetened soya drink: 650ml Long grain white rice: 485g Chopped tomatoes: 400g Kidney beans: 300g – already made into kidney bean burgers on Tuesday, and frozen in patties. Frozen mixed vegetables: 525g […]

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