frugal challenge


Here’s my meal plan for the Live Below the Line challenge:

B) Porridge with peanut butter and jam
L) Kitchari (onion, carrot, rice and split peas)
D) Baked potato with baked beans, tinned peaches
S) Toast, peanut butter and jam

I’ll repeat the same plan daily except for the fifth night I’ll have tinned tomatoes and rice as I only have four potatoes!

As I only have one tin of peaches I’m going to be having 1/5 of the tin each day which is a meagre portion but is the best I could manage in terms of getting in a little bit of fruit. Likewise I only have 2 carrots and an onion so that’s my entire vegetable intake for the five days! Anyone who knows me at all, will know this is going to be the toughest aspect of the challenge for me. I also have just one tin of beans so will only have ¼ of the tin per day with my dinner which a little on the small side. Other than this, the quantities I have in terms of carbs and protein (and overall calories) are ample, according to my calculations.

The plan is vegan as that was the only way to get the most decent nutrition at rock bottom prices. I personally would much rather eat no meat, fish or eggs at all than buy the kinds that are sold cheaply but have unacceptable animal welfare.

I was really pleased I could buy wholemeal bread in the value range. I don’t usually eat bread very much but it seemed like a ‘treat’ to have some bread with the peanut butter and jam, so I thought I’d give it a try. I would have loved to buy brown rice instead of white but that was far too expensive and the white rice was a real bargain. I’ll have loads left after my five days for next week- and ditto the yellow split peas which are an excellent whole food.

The porridge will be made with water instead of almond milk and there will be *gasp* no cinnamon! In fact there will be no herbs and spices at all except, because I am a few pence under budget, I am going to let myself have some turmeric and cumin from my cupboard to put in my Kitchari- just a little shake! The rules state that so long as you work out the price per gram, you can use herbs and spices from your cupboards or garden.

I’ll post again tomorrow to report back on my first day ‘Below the Line’!

This is going to be my breakfast each day of the ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge. Oats cooked with just water are quite plain-I usually use half and half water and almond milk- but it really wasn’t an issue and the jam and peanut butter did improve them. The peanut butter and jam tasted fine; just like you might get in a standard cafe for example. I was perfectly sustained after this breakfast, it kept me going as long as anything I’d have had normally in the morning. So thumbs up!

On the negative side, without my usual unsweetened almond milk I’m missing out on some calcium, vitamins and protein and the jam is well, just fruity sugar so it’s not exactly optimum. The peanut butter has pretty rubbish ingredients too- aside from the peanuts the other 13% of the jar is rapeseed oil, palm oil, sugar and salt 😳 I don’t buy peanut butter usually but have bought nut butters in the past which are 100% or at least 97% nuts.

Things I’ve noticed on my first day:

-being very aware that I can only drink tap water, no sparkling water from the fridge, no herbal tea at work, no soluble vitamins. I really enjoy those things each day.
-when cooking, I’ve felt very ‘precious’ about every oat and every grain of rice, knowing that if something goes on the floor or is burnt or spoilt, I still have to eat it or go without. I felt really sad when I realised that must be a very common experience for people. I also thought of the times in the past I got home from the shops and cut open a potato or apple and found it spoilt inside; if I couldn’t afford to just throw it away and eat something else, I would have to go all the way back to the shop to complain and it would be awkward and probably a bit embarrassing to be fussing over a potato…
-I was enjoying brushing my teeth then realised that people who were really LBTL would be unlikely to have the luxury of branded toothpaste that tastes really nice.
-When I got home from work I saw a perfect speckled banana in the fruit dish and thought “ohhh perfect” but then remembered I couldn’t afford it 🤦🏻‍♀️
-being unable to have coffee with my husband after work like we always do! It’s our special ritual and tonight I had to make do with a mug of hot water. But there’s no leeway in my budget to afford coffee.
-I’m perfectly satisfied with the foods I’ve eaten today, and I’ve not minded the simplicity of my meals at all. Let’s see how I feel after a few days of exactly the same thing, however!


This has been my dinner each night during my Live Below the Line challenge this week.

It’s simple but good! I could only afford four baking potatoes and one tin each of baked beans and peach slices, so the tin of beans was split into four portions and the tin of peaches, into five portions. On the fifth night I had a strange dinner of a tin of tomatoes and some rice which was… ok I suppose 😂. Not as sustaining as a potato and beans despite the fact I made sure it was about the same number of calories; no doubt because there was virtually no protein in the meal.

¼ tin of baked beans is actually a nice amount on a baked potato but I’d love to have had some crispy salad alongside as well. Salad, however, by very definition requires the purchase of a variety of salad vegetables and that is not something I would be able to afford on such a tight budget.

1/5 tin of peaches is a really small amount-about five slices, which is half the amount designated as a portion-although I have definitely been grateful for it each evening because it’s so nice to have something sweet and fresh-tasting. It would never be my preference to have tinned peaches in syrup over a fresh peach, but a whole tin is about the same cost as one fresh peach so it was an obvious choice and meant I was able to get at least a little fruit in each day. Otherwise it would be just the strawberries in my jam… 😂

I think if I continued the challenge for another five days, or did it again in the future, I would do without something else in my shopping basket in order to have a proper portion of fruit each day-even just one full portion would make a real difference.