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Food diary: living below the line

Baroness Anne Jenkin, Conservative peer and co-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group, recently took part in the ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge - to live off £1 a day on food for five days with the aim of raising awareness of poverty and highlighting wastefulness

Saturday, day 1: Baking bread

Shopped yesterday, mainly in Aldi. As this is my third year of participating in the ‘Live Below The Line’ (LBTL) challenge, I know the secret is to plan carefully and not deviate at all. If you do this strictly, you can spend just £5.

I take the easier and less authentic option of buying, say, a full packet of rice or porridge and measuring each portion so that I stick to £1 a day.

With a calculator, I established that making my own bread was about the same as buying a cheap loaf (49p). Well within budget were bananas (12p each, reduced from 24p); vegetable soup (15p a portion); two slices of my home-made bread (5p); and a large plate of spicy lentils and rice (18p).

Sunday, day 2: Sponsoring a rival

Egg and toast for breakfast (11p). More soup; salad, including beetroot (6p); and, surprisingly, a chocolate mousse for 5p.

On Sunday night we were having dinner with Indian friends to meet the High Commissioner and I did not think it was right to force the challenge on them. So I sponsored Labour colleague Lord McConnell, which was painful because we are competitive on the fundraising front. I will also add two extra LBTL meals at the end.

Monday, day 3: Bargain bananas

Porridge made with water and half a banana (9p) for breakfast. Lunch was egg on toast (15p). Meals are beginning to feel monotonous and, despite a small apple (10p), I was very hungry by 6pm.

Tonight there was a charity dinner in the House of Lords. The organiser was also doing LBTL, along with 20 colleagues, so I brought supper for two: more soup, a sandwich made with cheap soft cheese and Marmite, and another bargain banana.

Total for the day, 72p, but I should have planned for a snack in the afternoon.

Tuesday, day 4: Resisting temptation

Another charity literary lunch at Fortnums. Wine flowed and it proved difficult to get hold of tap water. Envious of the halibut main course and elderflower pudding as I unwrapped my meagre sandwich and 5p chocolate mousse.

The upside: the entire table offered to sponsor me. I have raised more than £17,000 for Restless Development, and think I am leading the fundraising globally thanks to generous friends.

Home to prepare a 36p meal I am hosting tomorrow for 15 donors and other colleagues who are living below the line too. Menu: soup - 1kg frozen veg costs 75p and goes a long way with an onion (10p) and a couple of stock cubes (1.5p each) - with spicy lentils and followed by banana custard. I think there will be enough for a cracker (1p) with a scraping of soft cheese from the Basics range. Very hungry.

Wednesday, day 5: Final hurdle

Almost over! Morning cup of tea (one teabag easily makes two cups), plus porridge and a packed lunch to take with me on a trip to Bronzefield Prison. Usual sandwich (9p), banana and chocolate mousse. I doubt I’ll be jealous of the competing offer.

So how was the LBTL challenge? Well, it gets easier each year. Eating the same food is boring but you know where you are and what it costs. I do not waste food anyway - I’m not known as the Budget Baroness for nothing - but many people who take the challenge do change their habits once they realise how much they waste in their normal life.

The challenge is open until the end of June. Find out more at: www.livebelowtheline.com/uk

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