Breadline Challenge Day 1

Step away from the coffee…

Two minutes to midnight yesterday saw me trying to down a scalding cup of coffee, knowing that it’d be my last one for a week. No matter how prepared I thought I was after doing last year’s challenge, that sudden realisation that I wouldn’t be able to just go and stick the kettle on or open the fridge to see what I fancy eating still resulted in a mild panic.

I’ve planned thoroughly, coming up with three meals a day and no repetitions.  No porridge either (that really started to grate after a while last year).  Yes, I might have had to forgo my beloved marmite and coffee, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve come up with.  I’ve got cheese, after all.  Two types this year.  Mind you, it’s only Monday so this optimism might be misplaced.  Better save the blue cheese for that inevitable Thursday/Friday slump.

Breakfast: Mandarin breakfast bircher (38.7p per portion)

Oats are cheap, healthy and filling so it should have been a no-brainer to include them on my shopping list, right? On the other hand, the endless porridge last year topped with either apple or banana or – if I was feeling really extravagant – both, was a real low point.  Especially when the milk went off and I had to make the damn stuff with water.

I spent a lot of time this year thinking about alternative cheap breakfasts.  My older, porridge-hating sister suggested bircher muesli so I did a spot of googling and found this recipe from Jack Monroe’s Cooking on a Bootstrap blog.  Apart from forgetting to put it in the fridge overnight, it was really good.  I’m a bit worried about running out of milk and yoghurt mid-week, but it’s definitely one breakfast I’d eat again. A third of a tin of mandarins (leaving some for a snack later in the week), a handful of oats, milk and yoghurt – simple, tasty and a bargain at 38.7p. Check out Jack’s recipe here.

Lunch: Spaghetti with crab, chilli and lemon (39.3p per portion)*

Normally I’d have left it later in the week for a treat like this, but the crab was about to go out of date so it needed eating up.  This was absolutely delicious, and I’m so glad I spotted this absolute bargain right at the end of my shopping trip.  I’d been working in the WOUP kitchen all morning so I was absolutely starving (despite the oats for breakfast), and this really hit the spot.  I even gave half to Zoe (my business partner and a former FoodCycle hub leader).

Finely chop two spring onions, half a small red chilli and fry gently for a couple of minutes.  Grate the zest of a third of a lemon, then toss through cooked spaghetti with the vegetables and the crab.  Return to the heat for a minute or two to warm through then scarf it down like there’s no tomorrow.

Dinner: Lentil, tomato, spinach and paprika soup with yoghurt scones (46.4 per portion)

If you read the blog last year, you might remember the case of the missing spinach when I did my shopping online and Asda *kindly* substituted it for methi. Not this year.  I’ve made sure I’ve got plenty this time around.  1.3 kilos of the stuff to be exact. Expect to see it cropping up everywhere, even in recipes where it doesn’t belong! I’ll be interested to see if I get bored of it.


This soup is one we made at FoodCycle two weeks ago when we had a disastrous food pickup and had to rely on our storecupboard (and a couple of bags of very sorry looking watercress and spinach).  You can’t go wrong with lentils and tinned tomatoes, can you?  Anyway, it went down so well that I thought I’d make it again this week using a simplified version of this recipe.With added spinach, naturally…

The yoghurt scones from last year (7.3p each) have also made a welcome return – so welcome, in fact, that I ate three of them almost immediately.

Cups of tea: 4

*I bought a chilli for 10p with some of my contingency money

Written by Alex, Communications & Outreach Coordinator


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