Day 5

Day 5


Well here we are then, the end of the 5 days of Live Below the Line.  It’s been an over-whelming week both in terms of encouragement and in sponsorship from our friends and family.

As I write this, the total you have donated to Tearfund stands at £362.  I’d set myself the target of £200.  Like I said, it’s over-whelming.

I haven’t been hungry at all this week but today I think because the end is in sight I have found it especially difficult to stay focussed and to stop thinking about that Easter Egg of mine sitting on the side, just waiting to be eaten.  I am craving fresh fruit of any kind, and did enjoy the smell of our youngest son’s Cadbury’s frog on his breath this evening.  I am also looking forward to breakfast cereal and cold milk, sandwiches and tuna, which I couldn’t afford on the challenge.

I think what I’ve found this week is that it is certainly possible to eat “enough” on £1 per day, but it is very difficult to get a balanced diet with the recommended 7 portions of fruit or vegetables per day, and to get protein into the diet without associated salt e.g. from baked beans.   Meat has been limited to the tin of Irish Stew and the tin of Meatballs, whilst the only fish I have had was today’s fish fingers.  Next week I shall do a post-challenge analysis blog looking at the nutritional content of what I ate, to see if really was a “bad” way of eating.  What I can say is that the negative press Sainsbury’s get as an “expensive” retailer just is not true if you’re prepared to use the Basics range.  There has been nothing this week that I wouldn’t eat again, and has all been truly good value.

What I have also realised this week, however is that once I’ve got some of the vitamins and minerals back in my diet, I really don’t need all the calories I usually eat;  I can’t do, otherwise surely I would have been more hungry this week?  So I’m hoping for some changes of habit – perhaps having treats when I really fancy them in the evening rather than throughout the day, not finishing the children’s meals just because I’m too mean to put the food in the bin, and thinking how much I eat at each meal time, having something extra later should I feel I need it. 

So, what’s been on the menu today?

Carried-over from Day 4 £0.13, making today’s available spend £1.13 

Sainsbury’s Basics Pitta 6-pack £0.22 (A somewhat strange breakfast; I was intending to have pancakes again at £0.20 but unfortunately they were out of stock)

Basics Baked Beans £0.25

Basics Fish Fingers £0.60

Total £1.07

Remaining after the 5-days £0.06

If any of this week has inspired readers of this blog to think differently about food, money, poverty and shopping habits, it will have achieved so much more than I could have hoped when I started.

Thank you to those wonderful people who have sponsored my efforts on behalf of Tearfund.  We are able to take donations all the way into June, so if you would still like to donate, you can do so directly with me, or on-line at

Your likes and comments on Facebook have been so encouraging.  I thank you.

Day 4

Day 4


Today has been a great test of will-power as a group of friends came to our house and were treated to tea and biscuits whilst I had water.  But being for such a fabulous cause, and it leading to more conversations about the whole food and money issue made it all worth-while; it’s amazing what temptations one can resist!  Later today was a little more difficult as we visited a friend who had birthday cake – the boys enjoyed it whilst my eldest son kicked my glass of water over said friend’s lounge carpet!

The thing is, I still have half a tin of peaches to eat today, and only have one more day to go.  I can then return to my “normal” life where in reality I can buy whatever I want from the shop, get as fat as a house, and still not be worrying about the bailiffs knocking at the door.  What an enormous privilege and one of which I am very much aware.  The reality for over a billion people around the world, and for hundreds of thousands in the UK is that THIS WEEK is their “normal” life.  If this challenge not only raises money for charity partners who are working in the poorest countries of the world to bring people permanently out of poverty, but also gets people like me talking about the impact of how food, money and financial choices (or lack of choices) affect all of us in the UK too, then it’s been a worthwhile week.  If it helps with our understanding of the national and international issue and perhaps as a result increases our compassion, who could complain at that?

I write this tonight with a full tummy – boy, a tin of potatoes is REALLY filling!  But I am also aware how tired I am and how thirsty I’ve been, suggesting that whilst I haven’t been hungry, the overall “diet” this week, whilst affordable is not as ideal as it usually is; I have drunk over 5 pints of water each day, which is great, but I have had at most 2 portions of fruit/veg per day, nothing vitamin and mineral-fortified such as breakfast cereal or bread, and no milk.  I take all of these for granted, because I can afford to.  Once again, this has been a humbling and eye-opening experience.

So, what have I eaten on Day 4?

Carried-over from Day 3 £0.23, making today’s available spend £1.23 

Sainsbury’s Basics Tinned Peaches £0.35

Basics Chicken Flavoured Instant Noodles £0.20

Basics Meatballs in Tomato Sauce £0.40, mixed with Basics Tinned Potatoes £0.15

Total £1.10

 Carry-over to Day 5 £0.13

 If you would like to sponsor my efforts, I am raising money on behalf of Tearfund.  You can donate off-line directly with me, or on-line at

 Once again I thank you so much for your donations, encouragement and support and for taking the time to read this Blog.

Day 3

I am seriously trying to rationalise that if the last Mini Egg stays in Sebastian’s bowl for too much longer without getting eaten, is this the same as me scrabbling in the bins for free food? – So therefore I CAN EAT IT?!!

Needless to say, I am finding it a little trickier to focus today than Days 1 and 2.  I had another disappointment this morning when I went to the shop.  I had re-costed everything again only on Sunday night, so imagine my mood dive when I saw that the Basics Mandarins I was intending to buy for breakfast, costing £0.26 on Sunday night had by now (only Wednesday) gone up to £0.35 – that folks is a whopping 34.6% if my maths is correct!!  I was particularly gutted as I had hoped the money I would save today would cover what I wanted to buy tomorrow and Friday.  How familiar does that sound on the bigger scale when it comes to hoping you could cover Bill A, only to find that the repair on the roof/ car breakdown/ children needing new shoes/ and so on is going to take 34.6% more out of your purse than you originally thought?

So anyway, back to breakfast.  On the basis that the Mandarins were now the same price as Basics Peaches which I had previously rejected as too expensive for today, I decided that I would rather have the larger tin of peaches, as I know from using these a lot with the children that I could survive on half a tin for breakfast and have the rest as an evening sweet treat during my afore-mentioned snacking Danger Zone.  I have never tasted fruit so sweet; every bite was a delight.  I usually eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and I hadn’t appreciated quite how much I would miss them this week. 

What else have I eaten today?








Carried-over from Day 2 £0.08, making today’s available spend £1.08 

Basics Tinned Peaches £0.35

Basics Tinned Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce £0.25

Basics Savoury Vegetable Rice £0.25

Total £0.85 

Carry-over to Day 4 £0.23 

Now, about that Mini Egg……. 

If you would like to sponsor my efforts, I am raising money on behalf of Tearfund.  You can donate off-line directly with me, or on-line at 

Thank you so much for your support and for taking the time to read this Blog.

Day 2

Day 2


Day 2 started with thanks for thriftiness on Day 1!  Having decided on today’s meals I was gutted to find the intended breakfast item, Basics Low Fat Yoghurt 4-pack at £0.33 was out of stock.  With three little boys needing to get to school and only 15 minutes in which to buy the day’s food or go hungry until after the 11.30 am pre-school pick-up I had to decide……pancakes as per Day 1, which I could afford and had enjoyed……….or use some of the carry-over money from yesterday and have almost what I had intended.  The latter won out and I spent £0.40 on Basics Fromage Frais which we use all the time with the children and I knew would give me the energy and the sweetness I would be craving through the day.  Phew!! 

Today has had both highs and lows, which I know sounds terribly dramatic!  The highs have been as sponsorship money has been promised, which makes the whole week have a purpose.  Additionally, as last year I have been touched by the level of interest of friends and workmates who have wanted to know more, and begun to think of the impact of food and money in their own lives.  For anyone who wants to know more about the eye-openers of those who have the money in their pocket being able to get the best deals, you will be able to find last year’s blogs on the D. G. Controls website Blog page.  Essentially, those with the least pay the most per kilo and are excluded from many of the promotional deals because of the up-front cost of BOGOF, Buy 2 get 3rd free, etc. 

Food can be really EXPENSIVE!!! 

But today has also been a bit tougher than yesterday although I say that in the knowledge that at any time I am so surrounded by food in my house that I could survive for weeks without buying any more, besides the fact of carrying it around my midriff, which it wouldn’t do any harm to lose!!  I don’t know if it’s the mix of foods, the lack of stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolate) or that I eat so much normally I live on a sugar high, but I have felt a lot more tired today, so much so that I grabbed the last 10 minutes before this afternoon’s school run to lie on my bed.  How ridiculous to be moaning about such things when 1.2 billion people around the world live like this EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THEIR LIVES. 

And THAT’S what brings the reality check, the “quit your moaning” statements, and the humbling of the soul. 

So what have I eaten today? 








Carried-over from Day 1 £0.10, making today’s available spend £1.10 

Sainsbury’s Basics Fromage Frais 6-pack £0.40 (eaten throughout the day) 

Basics White Pitta 6-pack £0.22 (eaten throughout the day) 

Basics Tomato Soup £0.25 mixed with Basics Tinned Potatoes £0.15 

Total £1.02 

Carry-over to Day 3 £0.08 

If you would like to sponsor my efforts, I am raising money on behalf of Tearfund.  You can donate off-line directly with me, or on-line at

 Many thanks for reading.

Day 1

Day 1

So today was the day, the first of the 5-day long Live Below the Line challenge. 

An initiative conceived by The Global Poverty Project, the idea is to eat and drink on just £1 per day per person, the World Bank’s definition of “extreme poverty.”  It is estimated that today 1.2 billion people worldwide live in “extreme poverty”.

Having done the challenge in 2013 with our boys I wanted to tweak my approach a little, inspired once I calculated that the menus from last year were un-usable because prices had hiked over 6.5%. 

Therefore there are two big differences from our participation in last year’s challenge.  This time I am doing the challenge alone, and that is primarily because of the way I’m taking part.  Instead of the recommendation of the organisers to spend one’s allowance of £5 up-front for the 5 days of the challenge, I am looking at the issue from the perspective of those without anything to start with………..if I had to beg for the money to start the day, what would I buy for that day?   Also, if I had nowhere to go, I wouldn’t be able to store my food, it would have to be eaten that day. 

The second big difference therefore from 2013 is that I am going to the shop each day with my £1 plus any money left over from the previous day,  but  I am not carrying any food over to subsequent days.  This has posed a challenge when choosing what to eat this week, as it rules-out being able to buy a bag of rice, pasta, potatoes, carrots, etc., etc. to make a set of meals through the week.  Therefore I looked at what I could afford to buy that gave a reasonably balanced selection of protein, fat, carbohydrate and fruit/ vegetable for the day, but importantly as complete meal solutions which only needed a flame to cook (were I on the streets I’m assuming I could make fire somewhere).  I also needed to be aware of my danger time, the evening, when I usually crave something sweet.  On the plus side, given that I love drinking water and would rather have food than coffee, I haven’t costed in any drinks at all.  Ask me if that was a good decision after a couple of days without caffeine!     

So what were today’s goodies then?

For breakfast I had two Sainsbury’s Basics Pancakes.  Nibbled and savoured!  For lunch I had Basics Instant Chicken Flavoured Noodles followed by another Pancake.  Tea was a tin of Basics Irish Stew, a surprisingly potatoey, carroty stew with chunks of mutton (yeah, mutton sounds a bit grim, and I didn’t realise when I bought it; but actually it was very tasty and tender).    Notably, for £0.50 it was a great meal, quite nutritious and very filling, a real find for those on a tight budget.


Pancakes £0.20

Noodles £0.20

Irish Stew £0.50

Carry-over to Day 2 £0.10.

I have now entered my danger zone, blogging whilst watching TV.  But there are no worries as I’m now heading into the kitchen to collect my remaining three Pancakes to snack on before retiring to my bed.  All is well with the world.

If you would like to sponsor my efforts, I am raising money on behalf of Tearfund.  You can donate off-line directly with me, or on-line at

Many thanks for your interest.