• Tom and Anna join the Live below the line campaign

    On Monday we started to support the Live #BelowTheLine campaign, this campaigns raises money and awareness of global food poverty.

    1.2 Billion people live on less than £1 a day and so the challenge is to go for five days with only £1 to spend on all food and drink. There is six of us in our family, so we are benefitting from volumes! It’s a great opportunity for our kids to understand food poverty in a very real way.

    Today it has high lighted how prone we all are of constant grazing, for Tom and I it’s nuts (expensive) and for the kids it’s fruit and anything carby they can find in the cupboard. Today the only snack on offer has been bread.

    Our day started early with Tom getting up to make soda bread for the kids packed lunches. The Soda bread is traditionally made with buttermilk, but gone-off/soured milk is just as good and in this instance we made the soda bread with a mix of milk and water with a squeeze of lemon [a splash of vinegar would also do] to achieve a lighter loaf.

    The kids were allowed a scraping of marmite in their sandwiches and then the budget was rather blown with an 18p pack of twiglets and a piece of fruit each.

    Whilst the Soda bread was baking I got on with making the porridge, we regularly have porridge as a family in an attempt to lure the children away from expensive nasty cereals. We overcame this a while ago with the invention of fire porridge.  We make a simple porridge using 1 portion of oats, to 2 of liquid, normally one milk, one water, today just a splash of milk the rest water. A very light sprinkling of sugar on the top is then bruleed with a blow torch, but would equally work under the grill.

    Tom and I suffered a little at lunch with a shared tin of soup, will get more organized and make some tomorrow.

    An everyday part of our life is having the kids and ours friends around, it’s today that you realize how hard that could be. Suddenly realizing there’s no cake to go with a cuppa or the dinner now has to go seven ways would make all the difference on this budget.

    Fortunately we were selling off hot cross buns that had been frozen at just a £1 for 6, so we shared two of those, toasted with a scraping of butter.

    For dinner I made a pared down version of one we frequently have. Brocolli and rice.

    Basmati rice


    2cm fresh ginger

    1 clove of garlic

    2tbsp soy sauce

    Cook the basmati rice. Steam the brocolli. Chop the garlic and ginger finely and fry in a little oil, add the steamed brocolli and soy sauce, serve with the rice.

    That’s it £1 each spent without a penny spared, all going to bed a little peckish, but to the smell of another freshly baked loaf.

    Day 2

    Last night I made my first ever wholemeal loaf, I was pretty impressed, it was moist and very tasty.

    For breakfast it was porridge as of yesterday. The smallest couldn’t wait so had a scraping of jam on soda bread toast first.

    Packed lunch was the wholemeal bread with houmous and three thin slices of cucumber each, a 10p kiwi and a ration of 1 bourbon. Tom had the same sandwich, I made a rather wholesome leek and chickpea soup coming in at 25p a portion.

    The children came out of school starving so I made a marmite sandwich and cooked some popcorn, topped with a sprinkling of sugar. I attempted making some salt and vinegar popcorn for me, bit soggy, quite tasty.

    For dinner I made a £1 dinner for us all using a clove of garlic, tin of tomatoes and pasta. I lightly fried the chopped garlic in a splash of oil, then added the tomatoes and reduced right down so almost no moisture left. Stir through the cooked pasta.

    The children seriously protested about the lack of cheese.

    Post swimming lessons more cries of hunger resulted in another marmite sandwich and more popcorn.

    Baking our own bread is all that is making this regime possible. That only comes to £3.75 therefore my guilty treats of an avocado, orange, five cherry tomatoes and houmous with a carrot and a stick of celery keeps us under £6 a day.

    Day 3

    Porridge again for breakfast.

    This morning we hadn’t made any bread so Tom threw together some soda bread rolls using water not milk risen with baking soda, the addition of oats added to flavour but they were pretty heavy. The kids seemed to like them. The starving youngest had one immediately with marmite to go with her porridge.

    The rest were filled with houmous and taken for packed lunch along with a kiwi and bourbon, no variation here!

    Tom was at Tearfund for lunch and shared lunch with lots of other people eating Below the Line.

    I had soup again.

    An early dinner meant that we avoided too many cries of starvation.

    For dinner we had baked potatoes with Moroccan chickpea stew.

    Moroccan chickpea stew.

    1 onion

    2 carrots

    1 tin of chickpeas (I cooked a whole bag of dried for my soup so I am still using these up)

    1 tin of tomatoes

    Pinch of paprika

    Fry the chopped onion in a little oil with a pinch of salt. Once softened add the chopped carrots and chickpeas. add the paprika and stir. A after couple of minutes add the tin of tomatoes, always swill the tin out with some water. Simmer until the carrots are cooked.

    After dinner we went to Cheltenham jazz festival with a jar of homemade salted popcorn and a large bottle of tap water.

    Day 4

    Today has definitely been my hungriest day I stupidly skipped the porridge the rest of the family had so by 10 am I was starving. I had to do an emergency shopping trip and got a banana and a bourbon biscuit (24p), this just got me through to lunch time.

    Tom made delicious wholemeal pittas, so for lunch we all had houmous pittas, with very finely sliced carrots, cucumber and celery. The children had their bourbons. I was rather alarmed how light their lunch boxes felt when I dropped them off at school.

    I made houmous with the left over chickpeas that I had cooked. I whizzed them up with water, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil and a heavy dose of seasoning.

    I had to take the kids to the shops after school, which I knew would mean they wanted a treat. Two were happy with a 5p budget on penny sweets, it was too much for the youngest so she got away with a 20p ice pop she was made to share.

    Everyone was still hungry, so we made a massive bowl of popcorn(49p) drizzled with golden syrup and toasted the last of our bargain hot cross buns. Amazingly this still left us £2 for dinner.

    Tonight was the turn of one of our favourite dinners, the Urban Rajah’s Tadka Dal, we even had enough money left to top it with Stan’s tadka. Hopelessly I burnt the rice which was fairly distressing, we ate it anyway. We shared couple of pittas too, a feast indeed.

    Today has definitely been the hardest day, the hunger doesn’t get easier. I do continue to be surprised how far you can make a £1 go though.

    Day 5

    So we made it through to the end, the last day was spent eating up any leftovers from earlier in the week.

    Once again porridge for breakfast for the kids, I discovered a scraping of homemade marmalade on pitta was really good.

    The kids took pittas for lunch, topped with homemade houmous and a tiny bit of grated cheese, grating made the cheese go a really long way. I had the leek and chickpea soup.

    After school we had a gaggle of hungry eleven year girls so we made sticky sticks for them, wonderfully cheap and a massive hit.

    For dinner Tom and I finished off the Dal with added cauliflower but no Friday night booze.

    What was extra alarming was our inability to eat again, on Saturday I just felt totally overwhelmed by food and couldn’t really eat. It took me until the following Tuesday for my energy levels to return, a totally shocking reality for so many people.

    Thank you Below the Line for making a difference.

    Please donate to this amazing campaign 

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