Day 3: Live Below the Line

jess message

I got home from work tonight to find this note from my Jessie on the white board in our kitchen we use for shopping lists. It says it all really.

In case you can’t make out her handwriting, it says:

Lots of food to pay us back for doing LBL. OK? LOL Jess xxx

Yes, everyone is getting a bit fed up. It’s the lack of variety (and doing it as a family we’re enjoying way more variety than people doing Live Below the Line on their own) and the lack of snacks outside of mealtimes. The kids want apple juice and milk; the adults want coffee and alcohol. And everyone wants nice bread and chocolate. And fruit. And salad. And roast lamb with mint sauce…

We spend more and more time talking about what we’re going to eat on Saturday. The plan, as soon as Mia has been to her ballet lesson, is to go out to a really good cafe and have a cooked breakfast with sausage, eggs, bacon, black pudding, spinach, tomato – the works. Oh, and lots of fresh orange juice and strong coffee.

But then, as I’m thinking these thoughts, I start feeling guilty. It’s OK for us, isn’t it? We only have to cope like this for five days. It’s not long really. For too many people, living on a pound a day is a reality they can’t escape from.

LBL3 Collage

Today’s exciting menu was:


Two slices of toast with jam and half a very thinly sliced banana.


Bowl of homemade leek and potato soup and two slices of wholemeal bread. (Again.)


A spicy bean burger in a bun with potato wedges with a couple of slices of tomato and a spoonful of mayonnaise.

I’m well and truly bored of this cheap brown bread now, but it was vastly improved this morning by having sliced banana on top. Lunch was dull, plus there was no salt in the kitchen at work and it really needed seasoning, and everyone else in the office seemed to be eating the most wonderful smelling creations.

I have a new job in Bristol, which I’m really enjoying but it’s a long drive back to Somerset and I got stuck in some pretty heavy traffic. As I sat in the car, everything around me seemed to be making me hungry. Adverts for fast food joints on bus stops, pubs promoting their special two-for-one offers, people coming out of takeaways stuffing chips in their mouths. Cheap, fast food and yet all of it still unaffordable and out-of-reach.

Thankfully when I got home, Jason had started work on the spicy bean burgers which tasted so, so good. The potato wedges were wonderfully fat and satisfying and a dollop of mayonnaise has honestly never tasted so good. I came up with the recipe for last year’s Live Below the Line, and you’ll find the recipe here.

So what was my budget for food today?

Two slices of toast with jam and half a banana = 10p

Two cups of tea and milk = 10p

Leek and potato soup and two slices of bread = 34.5p

Bean burger and potato wedges = 35p

1 ginger nut biscuit = 2p

Day one total = 91.5p

Tomorrow’s going to be tricky. I have to go to a lunchtime staff meeting which involves a free lunch for everyone attending. But the rules of Live Below the Line say I’m not allowed any donated food, so I’m going to have to watch everyone else tuck into their free goodies, while I eat more grim sandwiches. Roll on Friday…

If you fancy sponsoring the Rees Family for taking part in Live Below the Line, you can do so here. We are fundraising for Save the Children.


5 thoughts on “Day 3: Live Below the Line

  1. I’m loving your updates – and wish you look on the last few days! I would love to do this, but as its only me I think it would be difficult not to cheat and use the “already paid for” stuff in cupboards/freezer! Maybe in a few years I will give it a go, when I have people to rope in! x

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