The Live Below The Line Challenge

FDbloggers Below The Line: Meal Plan & Shopping List

Live Below The Line

As I explained in this post, the official Live Below The Line campaign is on hiatus this year, but I thought it was such a valuable experience that I wanted to do it again, so I rounded up some of my most intrepid food blogging chums from the #fdbloggers online community, and we’re going to do our own unofficial campaign. As I did last year, I’ll be blogging my shopping list, recipes and a daily diary so you can follow along with the experience – and if you’d like to support me, that would be awesome. We’re not asking for donations to a specific charity as this is an unofficial campaign, but what I’d really like to encourage you to do is start donating regularly to your local food bank. Most big supermarkets have a donation point so it couldn’t be easier – just stick something extra in your trolley when you do your big shop. Often there’ll be a list of the things they’re low on, so that’s worth checking out. Just spending an extra pound each time you go to the supermarket could make a huge difference.

Meal Plan & Shopping List

This year we’re going for a different approach. 2015 was the first time we’d done Live Below the Line, and my instincts were to focus all the money on getting three meals a day (no snacks or drinks apart from water) and trying to get a bit of variety in those meals – you can read more about it here. This time, I’m trying to learn a bit from last year’s experience.  Instead of trying to cook different meals for dinner each night (they ended up being fairly similar anyway, to be honest, as you need to bulk-buy certain ingredients & use them again to save money), I’m going to make the same thing – a vegetarian bean chilli, which was our favourite budget meal last year. By cooking the same thing each night, I’ve freed up a little money to use elsewhere.

Speaking of breakfast not being good
enough: last year this happened. We
ran out of butter.

One of the things that just wasn’t good enough last year was breakfast. We’re not really big breakfast eaters in this household, so we just planned to have toast, but we quickly realised that you need more of an energy boost in the morning, when the other meals are smaller and there’s much less snacking! So this year we’re going for porridge, made with water, but with a bit of honey mixed in. We really missed sugar last year and our energy levels dropped through the floor, so I’m hoping the combination of sugar and a slow-releasing food like porridge will provide better fuel. I’m also planning to use a bit of the honey, along with lemon juice, to make a hot drink now and then. Last year we completely ruled out anything to drink except water, because stuff like tea is nice but definitely non-essential. However, we definitely missed that caffeine boost – so I’m hoping a little sugar will help.

The other thing that’ll be different this year is snacking – again, last year we defined this as totally non-essential. This year, though, I’m taking advice from a chum of mine who does LBTL every year and always has snacks – I think the psychological benefit will be really important. So we’ve managed to find enough pennies in the budget for a packet of Sainsbury’s own-brand biscuits, which we’ll be savouring very slowly over the week. As I did last year, I’ll be relying heavily on Sainsbury’s own brands, which I’m always really impressed by.

 Bean Chilli
Our favourite budget meal from last year:
vegetarian bean chilli.

The Meal Plan

It’s pretty simple – breakfast will be water porridge with honey. Lunch for me each day will be beans on toast, and for my husband Mike, who needs something he can take to work, I’ll make a tomato & roasted pepper soup. For dinner each night we’ll have bean chilli, and to keep us going between meals there will be (a few) biscuits, and hot water with honey and lemon.

As I did last year, I’ll be using butter for cooking, as it’s cheaper than oil and will add flavour. Also the same as last year, I’ll be picking two things from my spice cupboard – oregano and curry powder – which I’m allowed to pay for at 1p per pinch, as well as salt (see our suggested rules here).

The Shopping List

This is a plan only – it may change slightly depending on what’s available.

From the supermarket:

Sainsbury’s Porridge Oats, 500g

Sainsbury’s Basics Honey, 1 jar

Sainsbury’s White Sliced Bread, 1 loaf

Sainsbury’s Salted Butter, 250g

Sainsbury’s Basics Chopped Tomatoes, 3 cartons

Sainsbury’s Tomato Puree, 1 can

Sainsbury’s Basics White Rice, 1kg bag

Sainsbury’s Mixed Beans in Chilli Sauce, 1 can

Sainsbury’s Basics Kidney Beans, 1 can

Sainsbury’s Aduki Beans, 1 can

Sainsbury’s Basics Digestive Biscuits, 1 packet

From the market:



1 head of garlic

1 lemon


Phew! Okay, I think this post is probably long enough.  I’ll be blogging my recipes for the soup and the bean chilli on Monday the 11th of April, the first day of the challenge. If you fancy joining in or you have any questions, give me a shout at, and if you’d like to leave an encouraging comment on this post that would be most welcome!

PS joining in? Feel free to use the FDbloggersBTL image at the top of this article in your own posts.

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  • Reply
    Charlotte Oates
    10th April 2016 at 11:41 am

    Good luck Sal (and everyone else joining in) I'm looking forward to reading how you do x

  • Reply
    Sus Davy
    10th April 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Good Luck Sal! Will be putting some bits in the food bank this week 🙂

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