Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Day 3

Ladies and gentleman, I'm pleased to report that £1 was spent on foodstuffs today.


Poached egg - 12p
Toast (no butter) - 12p


Porridge - 6p
2 custard creams - 2p


Egg friend rice and veg - 57p
2 custard creams - 2p


½ Banana - 6p
1 custard cream - 1p


Hot water - 0p
Cold water - 0p


Headache gone. Significant hunger this afternoon.

Why am I doing this? Let me explain.

Picking up the pieces

The hum of the microwave is disturbed by a muffled pop. Uh oh. I spring the door and am greeted by an eruption of porridge.

Panic. What will I eat? It’s a long time until dinner.

My colleague continues her half of the conversation. She’s oblivious to my stress.

I pick up the dish. Ouch. It’s still hot. I put it down.

I dart across the kitchen for paper towel. I wrap my hands and gingerly lift the dish from the microwave. Give it a stir. The porridge is glue-like.

I assess my options. My last food was 6 hours ago. Nothing but water lies between now and dinner at 8pm.

When you’re living at this level mistakes mean more. If you burn the toast, undercook the pasta, or misjudge the egg, there’s no backup. You can’t pop out for a takeaway or find an alternative in the freezer.

Would you sponsor me? Every pound matters, and is matched by the Government. Money raised goes to Action Aid and is used to help poor people around the the world. Go here.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Day 2

Today I spent... 95p on food and drink.


Baked beans - 12p
Toast (no butter) - 12p


Porridge - 6p
½ banana - 10p*


Tomato Pasta sauce - 22p
Pasta - 7p
Poached egg - 13p
Toast - 0p (covered by money from breakfast)


½ Banana - 10p*
Custard creams - 3p


Some fatigue at various points. Headache continues.

*Regular followers will note that bananas have risen in price. Curses.

Why am I doing this? Let me explain.

Day 1 Report

The figures are in from day 1.


1 Fried egg - 14p

Toast (no butter) - 12p


Porridge - 6p


Pasta - 7p

Tomato Pasta Sauce - 22p (might drop to 15p if I decide to use this 3 times this week)




Cold water

Hot water


Total for the day = 61p


Constant mild headache

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ten things I won’t be eating this week

It all begins tomorrow: a week of living on £1 a day. It’s clear that some shopping basket regulars will be absent this week:

  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Coffee
  • Cake
  • Chocolate
  • Celery
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Butter (or margarine)
  • Cereal

There’s nothing to enjoy about living like this.

Would you sponsor me? Your money gets doubled by the UK Government and is used carefully to help the poorest on the planet. Make a difference

Off the scale

The point of Live Below The Line is to empathise with, and support, people in the poorest countries on earth. Of course, the UK is clearly not one of the poorest countries on earth.

This is abundantly clear to me as I plan my meals for next week. You see, the food in the shops is packaged to match our relative riches. Rice, for example, is only available in the local supermarkets in 1kg bags. I imagine that in poorer countries, where the population has less money, smaller portions are more readily available.

If I have to buy 1 kg of rice, in order to get 300g, the challenge acquires a whole new level of difficulty. I’ve been musing on this and have formulated some rules keep the spirit of the challenge.

When I shop for groceries I buy large amounts of food to be consumed over several weeks. I’m sure you do the same. It’s a better use of time and money, isn’t it? I would follow the same regardless of the budget that constrained me.

However, this ability to bulk buy is constrained by cashflow. You have to earn enough to buy a month’s worth of a particular item. You also need to have the ability to store what you’ve bought. For example, we regularly freeze bread. But in the poorer parts of the world would the electricity supply be reliable enough to run a freezer?

Part of this approach to shopping is driven by the monthly pace of my pay. In other jobs, or other parts of the world, pay may arrive weekly or daily. It may arrive in an adhoc fashion as items are sold to buyers. So, it’s within the spirit of the challenge to place some boundaries on bulk buying.

  1. I can’t freeze food in order to make it last longer. For example, any bread I buy can’t have the cost spread over multiple weeks, as it’ll go stale.
  2. For items that are measured in teaspoons or tablespoons, I can spread the cost over many weeks. For example, I can use oil at a rate of 5p for 1 tablespoon with no need to buy larger amounts.
  3. For items that are measured in larger amounts I can spread the cost over two weeks. So I can buy 1kg of rice for 40p, and use 500g this week at a cost of 20p.
  4. I can only spread the cost of items that will keep for two weeks. Once I’ve opened a tin then I’ll have to use it within the week, so the cost can’t be spread.

Let buying commence.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Carrot and, er, banana

Carrots and bananas. Unusual bedfellows, I’m sure you’ll agree. But united by one key attribute: value for money.

Earlier this month, I inspected the fruit and veg options that are feasible during my challenge. It transpires that celery is a luxury. And apples are mostly beyond my reach.

Image: Nicholas Noyes

The cheapest option that Sainsbury’s had to offer was a carrot for 7p. I can spend a penny more and upgrade to a (Fairtrade) banana. Living the dream, my friends, living the dream.

I appreciate that 5 pieces of fruit and veg a day is a health target beyond the reach of many of the poorer countries in the world. But this my weekly plan needs to be a relatively sustainable to be in the spirit of the challenge. I don’t want to get scurvy, do I?

Carrots and bananas it is then. Maybe both in a day for a treat.

At the end of April I’m attempting to survive on £1 a day for food and drink for 5 days. Would you sponsor me? Every pound is gratefully received. Go here: sponsor James

Friday, 4 April 2014

Food for thought

How much do you spend on food and drink in a day? £5? £10? £20?

At the end of April, in a fit of reckless folly, I’m going to try and spend only £1 a day, for five days. Would you sponsor me? Every pound is gratefully received.

Photo: William Warby

Why am I doing this? To understand more about living in extreme poverty, as one sixth of the world’s population do. And to raise money to help them with Action Aid.

Stay tuned as I eschew pizza, calculate the cost of cake and bemoan the price of apples (28p in Waitrose, as you ask). Sponsor me? Please. Go here: sponsor James.