We were going for a big fry up this morning – but Jonathan needed to be out at Huxley’s Magic Hub by 10.30 and we fancied a more relaxed start.

It was some lovely local eggs boiled with soldiers :-). Just as the eggs were ready a very good friend a turned up with some freshly baked cinnamon buns which had apparently been started at 5am. This was a lovely breakfast full of flavour and texture and very local 🙂

Strangely some people preferred the option of pancakes to the eggs, and had them with banana and yogurt.

It certainly felt like an extravagant breakfast today.

So we are on day 5, food is difficult today as people are all over the place at all different times


Porridge and jam (again)

Onion soup and bread
(those out had bread, biscuits, satsumas, apples and crisps)

Rice and value curry sauce – with pepper, onion and leftover pork



Cost £2.69

Then we went to Youth Nite at church and as we had spent less everyday we used some of the money we had left over to buy some treats there:

Coffee – 40p
Crunchies – 50p
Sweets – 50p
Cake – 50p

Total for the day £4.59

So total for the week is: 17.64

So we had £7.36 extra that we could have spent – we could have had a piece of fruit and some more pulses everyday.

Martin says he will blog more reflectively about the week later.

I’m looking forward to some lovely local eggs and toast for breakfast tomorrow 🙂


If you’d like to support what we’re doing, you can help us raise fund for Tearfund to combat poverty – donate online at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/gibsonfamily

We’ve managed to stay under budget all week so we decided that this evening we could go and buy some extras – some fruit!

Porridge – again
Value Jam

Soya Sauce

Spring Onion

Digestive/Bourbon biscuits
1 Maryland cookie
10p for tuck at Rock Solid
Value Crisps
Mango (very reduced!)
Fake Ryvita and cream cheese

Cost £3.81

Everyone is saying that they are feeling much more hungry today and that is despite that fact that we seem to have eaten more. It was the first day that Jonathan has even commented that he was hungry. We managed to buy some reduced things, so had some fruit and crisps.

Martin has been eating some other things than the rest of us as he is trying to avoid wheat. His fake Ryvita and cream cheese today cost 29p almost 3/10 of the daily allowance on just a snack. I did steal a few bites of it and boy did it taste fantastic – it was the crispness and the cool creaminess in contrast to a lot of the food which has been just a bit mushy!

Tomorrow is a challenge as Ruth and Rebekah are not home at dinner time and Jonathan and Rebekah are out at lunch. Lunch for them will be the daily snacks and some of the bread I have made for today, Ruth will have an early dinner and Rebekah is taking some left-over rice from today. I have found the food to be eaten out a massive problem – it’s more expensive and more difficult to organise,

We’ve had quite a lot of discussion today about how it would feel to always be eating like this and really worrying about having enough to eat and we are pretty careful anyway only having a budget of about twice as much as this – but that twice as much feel extremely extravagant just now.

Things I am missing eating are salad, fruit, yoghurt and cheese and earlier in the week I had a real craving for a jacket potato with butter and cheese but now what I really want is hummus and carrot sticks and oatcakes – blimey how middle class do I sound!


Wednesday was luxury day – we managed to get some reduced bananas and broccoli in the greengrocers and very excitingly we had a joint of pork that had been reduced from £4.99 to 70p and will do us for 2 days. We also had a break from porridge and had some scotch pancakes – with the value jam.

Porridge (Martin)

Onion soup
Home-made bread
Fake Ryvita (Martin – he is trying to avoid wheat – particularly hard on £1 a day)

Roast pork
Potato wedges

More digestives and Bourbons
Bombay mix (to keep Martin going)
Bananas (hurrah!)

Cost £3.38

I was so so so excited by the prospect of eating a banana – but even reduced that were still over 12p each which is a massive amount of the budget. But the banana was definitely my highlight. Some of the others were massively excited by the broccoli.

The dinner was very similar to what we would eat on a good day at home – we might well have had more veg and the stuffing might be value but usually we would have augmented it with grated apple or sosmix or something. The wedges would have had olive oil and paprika and turmeric and herbs rather than melted marg and salt.

We often have pancakes here as they are cheap and tasty – but I have to say I really like mine with natural yoghurt, banana and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey not value strawberry jam! But it was definitely a relief not to have porridge again.




We’ve had a lot of discussion about bulk buying as part of our £1 a day challenge (or perhaps we should say £5 a day challenge, since we are feeding ourselves collectively which is definitely cheaper and easier than a single person attempting £1/day). I’ve also been reading some other people’s views on it on another blog. I can’t say as we really have a coherent position on this. I guess few people even if living below the poverty line have an exact amount of money to spend on food on any given day. Food will often be bought when money is available, which may mean some “bulk” buying. However the reality for most people living on a low income (even if not in extreme poverty) is that full on bulk buying is beyond their reach. Many people have to buy things at higher prices in smaller quantities because they can’t manage the higher initial outlay for a bulk purchase.

In the end we have a bit of a fudge and I’m ok with that. The purpose of this is not to pretend we are actually living like people in extreme poverty – there are just too many other differences. Rather we are looking to challenge some of our thinking about what living below the line might be like, look at how we consume food and drink differently, and give up some of our spend on food to help others lift themselves from extreme poverty.

So, we have bought a sack of potatoes the size we normally would and only accounted for what we are using in the 5 days. We’ve also used “store cupboard ingredients” and accounted for the appropriate portion of these and we’ve bought eggs in a quantity that we wont get through in 5 days. Cheating? Maybe, but it’s hard to calculate what you would actually buy just for that day or week and what you might buy for a slightly longer period.

Tuesday’s Food:

Porridge with value jam.
Slice of birthday cake (approx 30p)
Soup and bread – 64p
Curried baked beans and rice (gross value sausages and rice for the fussy two) some onion and sweetcorn.
Food for Martin travelling to London: 4 Morrison’s version of Ryvita, Bombay mix, cream cheese, flapjack

3 cups of tea

Total Cost: £3.17

Today should have been much easier as I had made the bread and soup the day before. However we had a number of problems – 3 people were out at lunch or dinner time – and food for on the go is much harder to make cheaply. Martin had to go to London so was going to be around at dinner time – this meant I has to make dinner before I left in the morning so Martin could eat it at lunch time – all the weighing and calculating took much longer than usual and I was feeling quite frazzled by the time we managed to leave the house to go to Circus Skills. I also had a stinking headache which I think might be because I’ve not had any caffeine and recently I have been drinking lots of coffee!

Usually on a Tuesday Rebekah goes to Jamie’s house for dinner. That was out this week so Jamie came to us. He brought his own noodles and had them with some of our store-cupboard chili sauce. We often have friends around and in fact the bible verse “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” is one of our family life principles so the lack of funds for entertaining is something that I don’t like! Rebekah did well though – she only had one biscuit yesterday and gave Jamie the extra one today!

We went to a friend’s house for some birthday cake after Circus Skills today and we had discussed in advance that Jonathan could have a piece and we would allocate some of our food money for this purpose.


I thought I would blog a day in my life and how living on £1 affects that. Sorry for awful photo formatting, still cannot get my head round WordPress!

So I started off my day with a bowl of porridge and jam, fairly normal except I would normally have porridge with milk (today I had water) and nice jam (today value)

Then off on my bike to church. It’s been a lovely day, so my cycle ride was beautiful

I then arrived at church (4 miles away) feeling slightly hungry! I had some of my lunchtime bread allocation and got on with it. Today’s jobs included cleaning, tidying, baking and generally getting things lovely as we had the community action award people coming to see the church. We had plenty of help getting things lovely, although certain people spent a lot of time lounging in the sun! 😉
I made some tasty looking choc chip shortbread which I couldn’t eat and the lovely filter coffee was also out of the question at around 20p per cup

Then the community judges arrived and at 2pm I could finally have my lunch of soup and rice (no pic, sorry!). I then cycled back. I arrived home feeling rather tired but was very pleased to have a lie down, a book to read (Jodi Picoult, Sing Me Home) some 3p flapjack and a cup of tea. Almost as good as shortbread and coffee!
I then had to get back up as Jamie was coming over. We had a nice game of crib (unfortunately he won) and then had dinner. We had rice and curried baked beans with onion and sweetcorn. Jamie brought his own noodles.

I’m now about to go and watch some Lie To Me and eat my biscuit allocation and 2nd cup of tea (Jamie is allowed a biscuit too as I only had one of my two yesterday)

So that’s a day of me!

So this is what we ate:

Soup and home-made bread
Sausage casserole and rice
Snacks- home-made flapjack, digestives, bourbons

Cost- £2.69

This looks at face value not too dissimilar to what we might eat anyway – until you look into the details of it.

1. Porridge – we usually have with some combo of fruit and dark muscovado sugar and made with between one and two thirds soya milk – this porridge was made with all water and sweetened with Morrisons value strawberry jam (which is much nicer than the mixed fruit variety). The oats were Morrisons value which we would often eat anyway.

Fruit is just way to expensive to include in this – we are hoping that we might manage to get a reduced bag of something from Farmhouse Fayre Greengrocers but failing that there will be no fruit this week! Also no soya milk either.

2. Soup – this was much blander than usual, it was essentially carrots, onions, sweetcorn, peas, lentils, Sainsbury’s value stock – usually we have marigold stock (from a massive jar from Suma), tomato puree, curry powder, beans and more veg – actually lots more veg! We also used more salt added to it and also some value spaghetti to bulk it out. Definitely less tasty and lots less healthy.

Bread – home-made but not the Paul Hollywood cob loaf that I usually make (it has butter in it) but the very basic recipe of value flour, yeast, sugar and salt and water (cost 26p a loaf) – it’s a bit wrinkly.

3. Sausage casserole and rice – (will deal with the meat issue another time) – just to say it was value sausages (yuck!) carrots and peas (and onions for 3 of us) – made with Sainsbury’s value pasta sauce – the pasta sauce was really artificial tasting – we thought it would be the cheapest way of doing things as it would have herbs etc included but with hindsight we think a Lidl carton of pasata, some mixed herbs and some pepper would have been about the same cost and definitely better tasting.

4. Snacks – the flapjack was really good value – it worked out about 3p per slice made with value oats, value marg and the cheapest sugar I could find (Tate and Lyle – fair-trade from Morrisons 89p) – we usually use golden syrup but I actually preferred the taste of it made with sugar – this was the nicest thing I ate all day.

– the digestives were from Lidl 30p for 32 biscuits – not bad – and the Bourbons were from Morrisons 44p for 30 – We thought we could afford 2 biscuits a day.

We could have spent more on this day but I was hoping to have a bit left as the days when Martin needs to go to London will probably be more expensive and also I thought that Martin might need more food than he actually did. We also wanted some money spare as on Tuesday Jonathan was going to a friends and i wanted to have some money that we could allocate for him to be able to have a slice of birthday cake. Also we were hoping to pick up some bargain fruit from the greengrocers but unfortunately I’ve just found out there was no cheap fruit 🙁

No one seemed too hungry today – most meals were fine. Not great but fine, but no one enjoyed dinner.


It’s interesting to think about the compromised we make all the time. We can’t afford to live the life we would like to. I would love to be able to shop ethically all the time but I just can’t afford to. So we make our stand where we choose, sometimes in quite arbitrary places – but I believe it is better to do something rather than nothing. For example I would love to buy more ethically made clothes, but they are just too expensive for us (we don’t have a high income – neither of us needs to be paying back our student loans currently!). So when the kids were young I made a decision that once a year I would buy each child something from Bishipton Trading. Not ideal but better than nothing in my mind.

Other areas where we take our stand are on buying fair-trade tea, coffee and cocoa, we can’t buy fairtrade everything but we can afford this, so we had thought that tea and coffee were out of the question this week but Sainsbury’s do quite a lot of fairtrade value items – their value tea is fairtrade and only costs 27p for a packet of 80 bags so we could afford this. If you are interested they do great value instant hot chocolate and their value ground coffee isn’t bad (and all fair trade) – but all too expensive for this week!

We also like to buy free-range eggs – preferable from the garden of one of our good friends. This week we opted for Sainsbury’s value eggs which get a Freedom Food box of 18 eggs for £2.10 and will probably use about 8-10 eggs (Blogger Jax Blunt probably rightly criticises this approach of buying in larger amounts and breaking down the unit price as unrealistic – but we decided to do it based on what we used each day rather than actually spend £25 cash – partly i just couldn’t bear the though of buying/chucking out stuff unnecessarily – but the eggs were just to reduce the unit price). We are unsure looking at the info whether free-range or Freedom Food would be the better label on the eggs tbh. they are definitely better bought from friends gardens!

The cheapest sugar I could find was fairtrade so no ethical dilemma there!

During Lent a few years ago we gave up eating meat – except on Sundays which are not part of Lent. On Sundays we ate better quality meet – we used local beef (the cheapest cut and slow cooked it in stews – it was lovely) from Mottistone Manor Farm, we also wanted chicken but the local chicken was just too expensive and so we went for either the Lidl organic chicken or the Co-op Elmwood chicken (I’m not saying these are the best options but they were better options than we had been eating). After this we have never gone back to eating as much meat and we have tended to eat better meat (not always I still sometimes buy Lidl cheapest mince).

So our last meal before starting this £1 a day lark was a meatloaf using the Mottistone Manor beef – cows I can watch out on the downs before we eat them – well looked after and local meat. On the first day we had value sausages – you really couldn’t get much further apart. The sausages fell apart into a mush and no-one liked it at all. Three of us would probably have just been veggie all week and mostly lived on variations of baked beans but two of our family would probably have had no protein all week as they tend to get most of it from meat, fish, cheese, milk, soya milk etc. and we are only eating a very very small amount of milk.

We do have the odd sausage casserole but we tend to make it with Sainsbury’s Freedom Food Chipolatas (they work out between £2-£2.50 – depending on offers) and each pack will make 2 meals so it’s not loads more but still at least double what we spent.