Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category


Final day, thank goodness! And with the sun shining brightly, my mood was lifted for the final 24 hours of the #BelowTheLine challenge – although the thought of having to miss out on the monthly Boilershop Steamer event is rather depressing…

No matter, who needs pulled pork, lamb shwarma and charcoal grilled monkfish, when there’s a potato, half a carrot and some week old mushrooms to be eaten? Ready, Steady, Cook has got nothing on this!

Potato and Parsnip patties with garlic mushrooms

1/2 Potato – 4p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1/2 Parsnip – 3p
1/2 Stock Cube – 1p
Plus a sprig of oregano from the garden and a splash of oil

2 Cloves Garlic – 4p
Handful Mushrooms – 11p
Plus a few slivers of carrot for garnish

Total Cost – 28p

Grate the root veg and crumble half a stock cube into the resulting mush. Season with salt and pepper and form into two round patties. Fry in a little oil over medium/low heat until browned on the bottom and firm enough to turn over. At this point add the chopped garlic and give it a stir until it takes on some colour. Add chopped mushrooms and warm through – by which time the other side of the patty should be done.

I decided to treat myself to a little home made green tomato chutney as an ideal accompaniment. It’s not really cheating, as I grew the tomatoes, and was given the onions from a friend’s allotment. And I tell you what, as cheap lunches go, that was really good!



Dhal, greens with ginger and chilli, flatbread

For my last supper, I decided on more dhal (recipe as per Day 1) to finish off the lentils and dough, and the last of the cabbage, ginger and lemon went into a simple stirfry on the side:

Shredded Cabbage – 10p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1/4 Lemon – 4p
Sliver of Ginger – 2p

Chop, season, stir fry and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s it!

Total Cost – 52p

And again, I’d be happy to serve that to a guest, it was tasty and quite nutritious.

Total cost for the day is 80p and I’m feeling quite full and contented!


Saturday Morning Postscript

Firstly, special thanks to everyone who has donated, and also to those who have followed and supported across the various social media channels. Without the words of encouragement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and G+, I wouldn’t have made it through the week – and knowing you were watching has kept me honest. Apart from about 15p worth of cooking oil and a couple of teaspoons of spice, I’ve had nothing to eat or drink apart from what was in my initial shopping.

Even counting that, I’ve come in just under budget, and amazingly enough, there’s half a pan of dhal, 150g of spaghetti, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, a potato, 4 stock cubes and some mushrooms left! That’s enough to have kept me going another couple of days, at a push. No way – I’ve enjoyed the challenge, but I’m going for bacon, cheese, coffee and beer!

A few people have asked if I’m wasting away, and unfortunately the answer is no. I’ve not felt particularly hungry, and neither gained nor lost any weight. What calories I’ve saved from having no beer, chocolate and cheese have been counteracted by the huge carb load. I wouldn’t normally eat pasta or potatoes more than once a week – but you can’t afford fresh salmon and asparagus on a pound a day. Oh, and I don’t feel any better at all for having no alcohol all week…

As of this morning, I had reached, in fact slightly exceeded my target of £250, so thank you – from me, from the good people at #BelowTheLine, and Malaria No More who are my chosen charity partner. I know you get bombarded from all sides with requests for donations, sponsorships etc. these days, so I’m very grateful.

I promise there will be no more food photos for a while too, although I must admit I’ve quite enjoyed doing them!

Cheers, Paul 🙂



And finally, although I’ve reached my target, it’s not too late to chip in with a couple of quid if you haven’t already sponsored me!




Well, I’m past half way, and with a bit of imagination I’ve managed to coax some quite acceptable meals out of less than a pound a day so far…

…but I’m not about to say it’s easy. Leaving aside the 3rd World for a moment, there are millions in this country living in or near to food poverty – and don’t even get me started on the socio-political aspects of that in such a rich nation – and I certainly couldn’t imagine having to do this every day of every week, every month. I’ve been craving a good coffee, some dark chocolate, roast lamb, a cold refreshing IPA… but most of all, cheese. The sharp salty tang of Roquefort, the gooey goodness of melted mozzarella, mmm…

Anyway, this was brunch:

Leek and Potato Soup

1 Potato – 8p
1/6 Onion – 3p
1/4 Leek – 11p
1 Stock Cube – 2p
Plus a handful of parsley from the garden – and half a flatbread (see day 2)

Total Cost – 28p

I basically just boiled a diced potato in stock until it fell apart, then added some chopped onion and leek, reserving a bit for garnish. Despite the lack of cream or milk, with the addition of some fresh ground pepper this was actually really nice. The bit of flatbread dough I had made up earlier in the week has started to develop a sourdough tang, and the tart lemony flavours contrasted with the heavy soup nicely. That should see me through until the evening just fine!



Patatas Bravas and Lemon Slaw

1 Potato – 8p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
2/3 Chilli – 4p
1/3 Tin Tomatoes – 7p
Plus herbs from the garden, a pinch of paprika and a splash of oil

Cube and parboil the potatoes, drain, then drizzle with a little oil and fry until golden browned. If you were really on a budget, you’d do this in one pan to save on fuel and washing up – so remove the potatoes to a warmed plate or dish, then add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli to the pan, stirring until they take on a bit of colour. Add tomatoes, paprika and herbs, warm through and pour over your crisp patatas.

1/2 parsnip – 8p
1/4 Onion – 5p
Cabbage – 10p
1/2 Carrot – 7p
1/4 Lemon – 4p

Grate or very finely chop, season and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s it!

Total Cost – 60p

Very tasty, if I say it myself 🙂

My most expensive day yet, at 88p – but still under the £1 limit

Sponsor me please!



The day dawned gray, as did my mood – the day pretty much stayed that way and I couldn’t be bothered with anything more for brunch than a bit of dhal left over from Day 1, bulked out with a boiled and cubed potato and a few slices of leek…

Total Cost – 12p

I didn’t feel hungry after it, just a bit dissatisfied. I then had a fun couple of hours cutting up slate tiles – by god that was messy, but you have to do these things for friends sometimes 🙂

So it was, by the time I got back from a late meeting near 7pm I was pretty much ready to eat a scabby horse and come back for the jockey, as my dear mother says. I reckoned the quickest way to make something filling and palatable was to rehash my simple bowl of spaghetti idea from the other night, using some leek for extra flavour and crunch.


Spaghetti with Leeks and Tomato

Dried Spaghetti (150g) – 6p
1/6 Onion – 3p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1/3 Chilli – 2p
1/3 Tin Tomatoes – 7p
1/4 Leek – 11p
Plus a handful of herbs from the garden

Total Cost – 31p

It was pretty good actually, as quick suppers go, all it really needed was my usual excess of parmesan with spaghetti. Mind you, I could have murdered a cold beer with this, or even hot strong shot of espresso, but alas no. Still, that’s 3 days down…

What I’d spent on food for the entire day – 43p

And I had to refuse a home made cheese scone – so sponsor me please!



Amazingly enough, I wasn’t massively hungry when I woke up, so my 52p worth of dhal and spaghetti yesterday had obviously hit the spot. But getting through one day was easy, as I knew from the last time I did this…

…the second day of living #BelowTheLine gets harder. I wanted to keep things varied and interesting, as it’s the boredom of a poverty diet that grinds people down just as much as the hunger – so this was brunch:

Miser’s Mushroom Soup

Handful Mushrooms – 11p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1 Stock Cube – 2p
Plus a bunch of herbs from the garden and a pinch of paprika

Poverty Flatbreads

70g flour – 8p
Plus some tepid water and a pinch of salt

Total Cost – 28p

That really does make the most basic of flatbreads, but it cooks quickly in a dry hot pan, and provides a bit of textural contrast to the soup. I think I’ll add some rosemary from the garden next time, and they could even be quite palatable!

The soup was just as simple – boil the ingredients until cooked, and wizz up with a hand blender. No yoghurt or creme fraiche on this budget, so it looks as black as pitch. And while I wouldn’t serve it up at a dinner party, it actually tasted quite pleasant. Lunch done, and I had enough energy for a bit of gardening when I’d finished work.

By 7pm I was really fancying a beer, and the photos of BBQs being posted by friends on Twitter and Facebook didn’t help much. Oh, a juicy burger would have hit the spot…


Stir-fry Greens and Carrot

Shredded Cabbage – 10p
2/3 Carrot – 10p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1/3 Chilli – 2p
1/3 Leek – 15p
Plus parsley from the garden, salt and pepper and a splash of oil – I’ll allow myself the luxury of a teaspoon of sunflower oil, as I came in 30p under budget for the week 🙂

Total Cost – 39p

Again, simple but quite tasty, and a lot less saturated fat than barbecued sausages…

Sponsor me please!



I woke up with a slightly thick head today, after indulging in my last beers for a week. Normally that would be the cue for a bacon sarnie, strong coffee and a can of red bull…

…but not today. A pint of cold tap water it is, then. At least I don’t have to trek 5 miles to the nearest well for clean water, unlike millions less fortunate than ourselves. Anyway, I’ve always been fond of a nice dhal, and thought it would be a tasty and quite filling way to kick off the week of living #BelowTheLine. So this was brunch:

Split Pea Dhal

Yellow split peas (125g) – 13p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1/4 Lemon – 4p
1/3 Chilli – 2p
Sliver of Ginger – 2p
1 Stock Cube – 2p
Plus a handful of parsley from the garden and a pinch of cumin

Total Cost – 30p

Of course, that doesn’t include the cost of fuel for cooking, something that is a major consideration for those living in poverty. However, the rules don’t expect us to figure out a portion of our gas bill, so I’ll set that consideration aside for the duration. There’s not really a recipe, as such – you just soak the split peas overnight, and boil them up with garlic, onion, ginger, cumin and stock cube. Squeeze the lemon juice in just before serving, and garnish with chilli, parsley and lemon zest. We don’t need to let presentation slip, just cos we’re on a budget 🙂

It was pretty tasty and quite filling, and got me through to 7pm without much of hunger pang. I considered my motley collection of ingredients, and decided on a simple bowl of spaghetti dressed with some tinned tomatoes, again using some garlic and chilli for flavour, and a herbs from the garden.


Simple Spaghetti

Dried Spaghetti (150g) – 6p
1/4 Onion – 5p
1 Clove Garlic – 2p
1/3 Chilli – 2p
1/3 Tin Tomatoes – 7p
Plus a handful of rosemary and oregano from the garden

Total Cost – 22p

Again, simple but quite tasty, and filling enough to get me through…

Sponsor me please!



As I explained in my last post Live Below the Line is an innovative campaign which challenges thousands of individuals across the world to live on £1 a day for 5 days. I’m about to embark on that challenge tomorrow…

The shopping

Parsnips – 22p
Potatoes – 27p
Mushrooms – 23p
Leek – 44p
Carrots – 40p
Onions – 40p
Garlic – 20p
Stock cubes – 20p
Dried spaghetti (500g) – 20p
Tinned tomatoes – 24p
Yellow split peas (500g) – 53p
Lemons – 34p
Plain flour (200g) – 25p
Chillies – 10p
Cabbage – 45p
Ginger – 22p

TOTAL – £4.70

I can only say thank goodness for our fabulous Grainger Market, as you can buy small amounts cheaply, without the excess packaging of the supermarkets. I did give in and go to Tesco for some value spaghetti, and a box of stock cubes – they were too cheap to ignore, and I’m going to need every bit of help to get through this week.

Considering that I quite often spend over £5 just on one meal, eating for five days on a fiver is going to be rather different. I don’t expect to starve, but I know I’m going to be hungry, and often bored with a plain diet of root vegetables and lentils. Thankfully, the rules say that I can use small amounts of salt/pepper/spices if the price is accounted for, so I’ll be generous and award myself the 30p that’s left over for some cumin and smoked paprika. I have fresh parsley, oregano, mint and rosemary thriving in the kitchen garden, so those flat breads and potatoes are starting to look a bit more appetising 🙂

OK, I’m going now, to have my last cup of coffee for a week, and maybe a few beers. There will be no chocolate, no cheese, no fruit, no eggs, milk, meat or fish. But don’t feel sorry for me, just…

Sponsor me please!

And I’ll be back tomorrow with a report on the first day.


Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project,

an education and campaigning organisation whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty. Live Below the Line is our innovative campaign which challenges thousands of individuals across the world to live on £1 a day for 5 days, to deepen understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives.

The Rules

Are transport and other costs included in my budget?

No. Your £1 is only for your food and drink. You can drink tap water for free in your budget

Can I accept food ‘donated’ from family, friends or colleagues at a meeting or event?

You cannot accept food donated to you for free – we encourage you to ask for a donation instead!

Can I grow my own food?

Yes, of course you can! However you must account for any production costs.

Can I use things already in my cupboard?

You may use items you already have, however you must factor the full price of these items into your budget. For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices you can simply work out the cost of each item per gram and budget your shopping proportionally. However with items such as pasta, rice, eggs etc., the full cost of the packet must be included in your budget.

The Challenge

Anyone who knows me, knows that I like my food – you’ve no doubt groaned at yet another photo of tonight’s supper or a tasty lunch in the garden – and then there’s craft beer, oh, and good coffee, artisan chocolate, French cheese…

Well next week there will be none of that! It’s not so easy to find manioc and millet, the staples of many poor Africans, so it’s likely to be a diet of lentils and root vegetables – certainly no meat or fish, unless I can catch them myself!

I hope to do a daily blog, including some recipes, to keep you all informed. I’m never going to swim the Channel, or run from Lands End to John O’Groats, so this is probably the most challenging thing I’ll do for charity. So…

Sponsor me please!