Friday, 2 May 2014

The end of the line

So, my week of living below the line has finally come to an end. It's been a tough week, but I'm really pleased I did it. It's made me appreciate once again, how much we take for granted, and the physical and mental side-effects of living off an extremely low budget diet.

So what did I have for my first meal after LBTL? Well it was at a motorway service station so there wasn't a huge amount of choice. M&S had also run out of lemon.cheesecake which I was quite sad about. But here it is....


It tastes good - but cost more than the last five days worth of food put together. Which really makes you stop and think. 

Thank you to everyone who's sponsored me and the Hullion through the challenge - it's really made a huge difference and kept us going through the tough times! And I'll probably be back next year, with a different shop and different meals - by all for the same £1 a day budget.

Live Below the Line - snack attack!

I feel like I have spent pretty much all my non-working, waking hours this week cooking! That's the thing when you only have a £1 a day - it doesn't just have to cover 3 meals a day, but all your snacks in between. I'm used to cooking my breakfasts, lunches and dinners, but tend to rely on fruit, dried fruit/nuts and cereal bars for snacks. Not this week...

In addition, despite eating monster portions at meals, they just haven't been keeping me full for long enough, so snacks have been vital to try and keep me going.

So, here are some of the snacks I've been having this week:

First up, lemon biscuits. Well, kind of biscuits...really noticed the lack of butter and sugar in these. They were quite nice fresh out of the oven, but not so great a few days later.

I made some split pea dip out of leftover dahl on Tuesday (extra ginger and some olive oil) which was delicious. The salt crackers were ok, but not quite crunchy enough (poor bake!). The second batch I baked on Wednesday were much better and helped get my salt intake up a bit.

These may be the winner! After I had my windfall of bananas on Wednesday night, I then needed to work out how to use all the battered bananas....the answer - banana cakes! With a heavily adapted recipe as had no baking powder, sugar or much fat. But I bunged some lemon curd in and they didn't turn out too bad - a nice treat to end the week.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Mmmm rice pudding...

One of the hardest things about budgeting for my Live Below the Line challenge was giving up my morning porridge. So one of of key reasons for including milk in my budget (although its had many other uses this week!) was so I could make rice pudding for breakfast. 

What I didn't realise was quite how much milk rice pudding uses - I mean, there's hardly any rice in it! And of course most recipes use full-fat milk and involve a host of other tasty ingredients such as cream, nutmeg and (most importantly) sugar - all of which I don't have.

But I gave it a go anyway - here's my rice pudding, made with half skimmed milk, half water and with a few generous spoons of lemon curd stirred through instead of sugar:

I appreciate that looks rather like a fried egg, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the best part about it that it was delicious! Pretty creamy even with the low fat content. And super-easy to make on the hob (despite a boiling-over disaster). So if you fancy a lower fat version of this classic pudding try experimenting! Though I think if I had the choice I'd replace the lemon curd with honey...mmmmmm.

Don't forget - still time to sponsor us here! 

Live Below the Line - dinner 4

There's no getting away from it - trying to make the most of what few ingredients you have takes time - I didn't get round to eating this lot til 10pm! But it was pretty good and actually felt like a proper meal rather than rice and veg...

Lasagne LBTL style ( homemade attempted pasta, nettles and tomato/mixed veg layers, white sauce and breadcrumb topping), roast (tinned) potatoes and foraged dandelion leaf salad.

Two more days to go - this week is dragging...

Live Below the Line - jackpot!

So what did I spend my last 30p on? Well this lot...

I happened to walk into Asda at exactly the right moment to grab these bargains - I've never seen this good reductions in London supermarkets before but it couldn't have come at a better time. One bag of bashed bananas, one bag of satsumas and a leek and potato soup mix to bolster my diminishing supplies!

I just wish I could send some to the Hullian :o(

Live Below the Line - the half way point

Well, we're almost half way through our week of living on £1 a day, and already feeling the effects of our restricted diet. I think we're both struggling to engage our brains fully at work and whilst I haven't been feeling that hungry, I also haven't been feeling, well full...or satisfied by what I've been eating, apart from my excellent curry dinner on day 2. I'm no nutritionist, but I wonder if this has something to do with the lack of fat in our diets. We also both have really dry mouths - all the time. I had put this down to the cold I'm still suffering with, but I think it may also be something to do with just drinking water - and perhaps, lack of salt/sugar to balance this fluid intake.

I have to admit to hitting a bit of a wall yesterday evening, after abandoning my session at the climbing wall after I came over rather dizzy. Still felt pretty light-headed on the walk home and sent a melancholic text to the Hullion, bemoaning the lack of cheesecake in my £1 a day diet. Suspecting that I actually needed a) food, and b) salt, I fried up a quick snack of rice-dal balls, with a healthy sprinkling of salt as a pre-dinner snack. Heaven. And it gave me some much-needed energy to make dinner, which was this:

Baked bean and veg pot, tasty rice (I.e. with added stock) and veg. I admit it doesn't look that exciting. And it is basically beans-on-rice-with-a-bit-of-veg.  But it was quick to make and filled a hole!

I feel I must make an apology for the quality of the photos on these blogs - unfortunately as it tends to be dark when I've finished cooking, the lighting isn't great and I don't have the energy to get out my proper camera, upload and edit the photos. So they're just quick phone snaps! But you get the idea of what we're eating...

Incidentally, here's a pic of the Hullian's baking efforts yesterday afternoon:

Impressive, huh? Though the yummy looking cake was sadly not made from ingredients in his £5 shop - it's to flog to his work colleagues to raise some pennies for LBTL. Talking of raising funds, a bit thank you to the generous cake-mad members of my team for raising more than £43 by buying my baked goodies. And well done me for resisting both chocolate buttercream and carrot cake (not together I hasten to add). 

Well, on with another day - I'm counting the hours until this evening, when I get to spend my final 30p! 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


I was missing having anything green on my plate, and just drinking water loses its appeal after, oh, 5 hours...let alone 5 days. Now the rules of Live Below the Line are fairly strict in terms of home grown veggies and accepting donations of food, but foraging is totally allowed. 

The Hullian was ahead of me on this one, and went on a foraging outing in the Yorkshire countryside at the weekend, returning with dandelion, nettles and elderflower. I figured I was out of luck on this score, living in the big smoke. Then I did a bit of Googling and realised how wrong I was! Apparently there are hundreds of edible plants in London's parks (presuming you can avoid those that have been 'watered' by the local canine population) - you just have to know what you're looking for. 

Which I don't...but figured I couldn't go wrong with nettles. So I armed myself with full body cover, rubber gloves and scissors and walked all of 100m from my flat to a small wooded area packed with fresh, juicy nettles. Five minutes later I returned with a bag full and wondered what I could do with them...

First up, nettle tea. This seemed pretty easy; add water to nettles, boil, strain, drink. It tasted....odd. But not totally repulsive. And having made a thermos of it to bring to the office today, it is definitely growing on me, so to speak.

I also figured it may work as a spinach substitute, so tested it in last night's curry dinner. Again, it was odd...but not too bad, and it was nice having some greens to add to the mixed frozen vegetables that I'm supposed to try and get my 5-a-day from. 

So another nettle-picking expedition may be in order this evening, and hopefully a lot more green on my plate!