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spicy-peanut-butter-and-vegetable-soup // food to glowNOTE: If you are just here for the recipe, that’s fine. Scroll on down! But hopefully you are okay reading about my week living below the poverty line. ūüôā

My week living below the line, on £1 a day, is almost at an end.

In a weird sort of way I have almost enjoyed the experience. It has been very interesting to try and come up with ways to keep the tastebuds tempted and belly relatively full on such a meagre allowance and sparse cupboard. But I think I’ve done pretty well.

I was surprised how, once it sank in that I wouldn’t be having my daily avocado, my beloved matcha green tea, the sliver from¬†cakes made for others – just to test of course – that I got used to the repetitiveness. I have found¬†a¬†comfort of sorts in knowing that I don’t¬†have a dazzling choice of ingredients with which to play. In fact, my latent pioneer side has come¬†to the fore when faced with my week’s rations; I can’t¬†feel more Little House On The Prairie¬†if I had a gingham pinafore and pigtails (and Laura Ingall’s¬†cute freckles, at least as seen on the tv show).

But really, I am play acting. I know that at any point Рand that come Saturday morning РI can have a slurpy, veg-filled tofu curry, a big-as-my-head cardamom bun (steady on girl!), brain-freezing, freshly blended frozen fruit smoothie. Anything at all.

I’ve never really had to worry too much about a budget, never mind one that is restricted to ¬£1 a day. For a staggering 1.2 billion, this is¬†course a daily, unremitting reality. And health and opportunities suffer – usually permanently – as a result. Me doing this exercise from the comfort of my well-insulated, safe, gas- and electricity-powered home hasn’t been about trying to pretend that I can live like the many, many people¬†that his campaign wishes to support. It has been about me keeping these marginalised communities in my¬†mind, and perhaps encouraging my readers, friends and those who follow me on social media to give¬†to my chosen¬†charity, or perhaps take part themselves. Doing this exercise has made me more aware that not only am I spoiled (I knew that) but that I need to be much more¬†grateful to have health, money, education, stable government, access to affordable, safe food, clean water and really everything I need. If I am hungry I can immediately sort something out by grabbing a bought sandwich, picking something from my fertile (ish) garden, or filling up a shopping cart. Others don’t have that luxury – through no fault of their own.

My charity, Health Poverty Action is just one of the charities taking part in the Live Below The Line campaign. Health Poverty Action works in the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America supporting projects that tackle a range of factors affecting health: weak and non-existent health systems, communicable diseases, lack of health education (a cause very close to my heart),  harmful traditional practices, gender-based violence, lack of nutritious food and income, and poor water and sanitation. Things we often take for granted. HPA%20logo%20small

The official week of living below the line is April 27-May 1. I would be absolutely over the moon if some of you decided that you wanted to take the challenge too. Remember, it is only for one week. The campaign is about raising awareness, and of course raising money to support projects that help¬†the globe’s poorest citizens. If you wish to donate, could you use the¬†link on my sponsorship page. And to sign up to take the challenge, use this link.¬†Thanks so much.

Now that I have hopefully tugged at your heartstrings just a little, I’ll tell you what I got with my ¬£5 for the week. But first, a¬†‘helpful’ preamble. Of course. ūüėČ

I bought and used only what you see below, but I did keep¬†some money back to account for the few spices I used, and also a little cooking oil. Also, I was able to add some fresh greens into this very un-fresh diet because I grow them. I accounted for the seeds that would have been used¬†to grow my kale, chard and burgeoning herbs. You will see that there is no tea or coffee on the list. These aren’t things I drink regularly so I happily did without, but most folk find that one or the other has to be bought and very much rationed – 1 tea bag for 3 uses kind of thing. As for salt, I used the stock cubes for any thing I wished to season. The cheap ones – 20 pence in my case – are very salty! All of my products were Tesco Value range or similar. Many of you can probably go even cheaper by buying at local vegetable markets, Aldi/Lidl, and Chinese or Asian grocers. Bargains on bread, fruit and vegetables can usually be had just before major supermarkets close for the day. If I had been able to find the baker at the Tesco bakery counter¬†then I might have been able to get some free fresh yeast. I waited for ages but to no avail – so roti it is! Oh, and don’t expect to be able to afford dairy or any animal products other than eggs, although some folk (hello Ceri) have blagged free chicken carcasses to make stock! I am feeling very bloated and carb-bound right now, and certainly miss a variety of protein. And my beloved avocado! Like I said, spoiled.


Rice (1.5 kg) – 45p

Peanut Butter Р50p (it was reduced from 65p)

Baked Beans, 1 tin – 24p (I ate half as is, and rinsed the other half to add to homemade soup!)

Flour – 45p

Stock Cubes – 20p

Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1 kg; these were surprisingly good) Р£1

Porridge Oats (250g) – 55p

Bananas (brown and spotty, so reduced) – 10p

Eggs (1/2 dozen) Р£1

TOTAL SPENT: £4.49, leaving me with 51 pence for spices, accounting for my homegrown veg, some oil.

Next time I will post my menu for the week to give you some ideas if you fancy doing this yourself, or if you are just curious as to how anyone can make three meals a day on the above ingredients. You may be in for a surprise!

I turned these ingredients into a meal! See the next post for the recipe, and more.

I turned these ingredients into a meal! See the next post for the recipe, and more.

Meantime, here is our favourite thing I have made all week. Andrew, although he wasn’t doing the challenge with me as he was not around much this week (by design?), did have this quick and cheap version of a stew that I already make and we love. He absolutely loved it and said no one would be able to tell it was a budget soup. And the roti¬†as accompaniment is¬†a must. I made up the dough twice this week, twisting each¬†portion into little snails for rolling out as I used them. One batch makes 4-6 roti/flatbreads. This is what I used for my bread, even having at breakfast with either a smear of peanut butter, or underneath a fried egg. Oh, btw, if more than one of you is doing the challenge you will obviously¬†have more to spend and the money will certainly go further and give more variety. Club in with friends or¬†colleagues if you wish. That is what the staff at Health Poverty Action are doing.

I hope you are tempted to give this challenge a go. It’s not easy but I have honestly found it a very rewarding week. And as my extra reward¬†I am going to have another bowl of this soup. Slurp!

spicy-peanut-butter-soup // food to glow

Spicy Peanut Butter and Vegetable Soup with Roti

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I made this for my week-long Live Below The Line challenge Рsticking to a £1 a day budget Рso the recipe reflects these restrictions. Please feel free to add beans or leftover meat to this dish for more protein. And to garnish as you please. Hard-boiled eggs, herbs, chopped lettuce and even bananas are fairly traditional toppings for this West African-style soup. The cost per serving works out at approximately 20 pence per bowl, max.

1 litre hot vegetable stock – I used a stock cube in this instance

3 cups frozen mixed vegetables – I used a value brand and it was fine

4 heaped tbsp (more to taste) of smooth peanut butter

4 tbsp oats (these thicken the soup and make it heartier)

1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, turmeric and cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or similar (optional)

Method: Add all of the ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. This tastes even better the following day.

roti-flatbread // food to glowRoti/Flatbread

I think this is the best way to enjoy bread on a very restricted budget. Make a batch and only roll out what you wish to use at that meal, storing the rest of the dough for the next day’s meal(s).¬†Don’t skip out the “oiling and coiling” stages as this is what gives these breads their surprising flakiness. If you leave out the stock cube (my budget restrictions meant that I didn’t have salt so used stock cube to cover any¬†salt “duties”) then these roti¬†can be used for sweet¬†purposes, as you would, say, toast and jam.

2 cups plain or bread flour (I used plain)

1/4 tsp fine salt or pinch of stock cube (leave out the stock cube if you wish to have the chapatis with anything sweet)

1 tbsp oil



1) Add the flour and salt/stock cube crumbles( or use none¬†at all) to a large bowl and stir. Add in the oil, stirring with one hand while you hold the bowl with the other. Open your fingers out and ‘rake’ through the flour as you stir to distribute the oil. Really drag your hand around the bowl.¬†Then use your fingers to¬†‘pinch’ the clumps out, as you would for pastry.

2) Add a small amount of water  Рabout 1/4 cup Рand stir again with your hand, gradually adding water until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Work it in the bowl until it is smooth, kneading it a few times.

3) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a fat sausage shape, long enough to cut into 4-6 even pieces. Roll each piece to about 3 mm thickness, brush with a little extra oil and roll each up like a fat snake. Now coil each into a snail. Rest the dough for 20 minutes or in an airtight container, refrigerated, overnight.roti-flatbread // food to glowroti-flatbread // food to glow

4) Press flat each piece of dough that you wish to cook and roll as thinly as you dare.

5) Heat a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron one – brilliant) and slick with a tiny bit of oil. Lay on a rolled out piece of dough and cook on each side until bubbled and browned in places and it seems cooked through. Carry on with the remaining, and eat warm. If you are feeling decadent, brush the breads with melted butter before serving…




46 thoughts on “Spicy Peanut Butter Soup, Easy Flatbreads + My #LiveBelowTheLine Challenge So Far

  1. superfitbabe says:

    I would totally have a never ending bowl of hot, melted peanut butter! This sounds so good!

  2. docyost says:

    As an Iraq war veteran struggling to feed himself, I must say I really appreciate people like you who make a sacrifice in order to serve others. These things really have an impact! My struggle is that I have celiac disease, so I have to be careful with gluten. Eating the bread would cause more harm than good, but I will say that it all looks amazing!

    1. Thank you for your thought-provoking comment. I imagine gluten-free foods trying to imitate breads are very expensive and would almost always be unaffordable if you had very little money. Mealy meal, cornmeal would be a staple food in many areas and this would automatically get around the issue of gluten. But not if you want a reasonably fluffy light bread perhaps. I’m glad you like the soup!

      1. docyost says:

        Indeed, we live in interesting times! People are starving, yet unable to eat the food in front of them. I literally do not know what I would do if I were to live in a third world country with little resources available. I’d like to think that I would have never developed the illness in those settings!

      2. I think just be grateful (as I know you are) that you live in a time that makes this condition a little easier to deal with. But, yes, our modern ways and production methods probs have contributed to an increase in auto-immune disorders such as coeliac. Thanks again for commenting here. I appreciate it very much. ūüôā

      3. docyost says:

        Yes, I am most grateful knowing that people struggled before me without the benefit of the Internet to help guide them. Gluten free eating has become easier in the past two decades! My experiences have changed my perspective on food. I’d rather have some healthy vegetables to eat than a pile of greasy hamburgers. It’s the complete opposite of the way I was raised in America. I was always grateful for the junk food, because I didn’t know any better. Now I have real food to be thankful for. It’s not easier, but so much better!

  3. narf77 says:

    An excellent post. I must say, if you had to do that challenge here on $5 for a week you would be hard pressed to eat anything! Peanut butter here is at least $2 for a small jar and bread is $1 a loaf for something that you most probably shouldn’t eat as garden soil would be more nutritious ;). Seriously though, as someone who lives on the lower end of the scale I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a first world country. I can afford to eat, and eat well. I am able to grow my own food as well as supplement it with reasonably priced food from supermarkets and fresh food markets. If I lived in a third world country it would be an entirely different situation. I can’t believe how cheap food is in the U.K.!

    1. Hi Fran. I think you guys have $10 a week so perhaps we aren’t as cheap as you think we are! I’ve heard other people who move your way say that Australia has a lower cost of living but I have no idea. You guys certainly are able to grown more of your own food but of course that doesn’t always translate into lower prices. PS Our bread at ¬£1 is seriously dire. Once reason I chose to make my own!

      1. narf77 says:

        The “bread” I am talking about is now 80c but you wouldn’t actually eat it on a regular basis if you wanted to consume nutrients ;). Tasmania is a lot more than the mainland when it comes to food prices and the cost of living is higher, especially for fresh fruit and vegetables (apart from potatoes, carrots and onions that are grown here and apples). We eat really well but then we don’t eat a lot of meat (I eat none, Steve doesn’t eat a lot) and as a vegan, I am pretty inventive about using all kinds of lower cost pulses and veggies etc. so our costs are pretty low compared to the average person. People living on welfare (of which we are representative) usually have a much worse diet and mainly because nutritionally devoid food is cheaper than nutrient dense. $10 a week still isn’t much for Tassie but I could do it comfortably. You did an amazing job and I love this soup. ūüôā

      2. Thanks so much, Fran. And, btw, I have done the chickpea liquid trick that you highlighted to me, and it is AMAZING! Blogging about it soon. May I give you a namecheck and link?

      3. narf77 says:

        I was just the messanger. A man called Joel Roesell (I think that is how you spell it) actually invented it. He is French, and an American man, Goose Woldt, are the real innovators. Glad you liked it ūüôā

  4. What a great idea and I love your cause!

  5. oh my gush, its been quit long since i ate something like dis, coming down to ur blog reminds me of it. Am not going to waste any more time am gonna make it for myself, thanks dear for dis wonderful post. Hope to see you in my blog at,

    1. Make it! Lovely blog, btw. ūüôā Your fish stew looks lovely!

  6. @narf77
    you can say that again, things are so cheap over at the U.K
    but down here they are expensive

  7. mary says:

    This is great idea… I should try this campaign in Canada — there are so many living on this sort of budget worldwide. Perhaps I will take part at the end of the month.

    1. Do, Mary! I think you guys have $2 to play with. Not sure though.

  8. S∆°n says:

    look so nice and delicious ūüôā

  9. Peanut butter soup is one of the things that is quite cheap to make for Sierra Leoneans too so we make it a lot. Esp when you have to live below the line like this. Great that you are taking part in the challenge.

  10. Great post and a great experiment! Thanks for sharing!

  11. lyf says:

    I don’t know how the challenge works in the UK, but for the Australian version we are not allowed to account for bits of spices, oil and garden produce on a pro-rata basis – it has to be as if you were buying the items in full (because realistically speaking, stores don’t tend to allow you to buy one tablespoon of oil or one lettuce leaf, you have to buy the whole bottle or whole head, for example). Still, well done!

    1. I asked what to do about it and the organisers said to account for the seeds as many people who live in extreme poverty do grow their own if they can rather than buying any vegetables from a non-existent shop. But the oil, no don’t grow that! But from what I have seen of others taking part in UK and elsewhere oil is not usually purchased (I haven’t seen any Australian bloggers tbh). I admire your obviously pure approach to the project. Well done you!

  12. Kellie, you are giving everyone, whatever their budget constraint is, hope and inspiration with your recipes and your compassion. Love this soup and the pairing with easy homemade flatbreads.

    1. Thanks so much Katie. It’s been an interesting week. I’m glad it is almost over. ūüôā

  13. Oh and by the way, I love this genius way to create flaky layers in flatbread. Must try!!

    1. It is pretty cool. Let me know if you try it.

  14. Wow you’re so creative with your food, living on a budget clearly doesn’t mean compromise on taste in your kitchen. I really must try making roti as I love them. I’m always a little scared of making breads as they never turn out as nice as i’d like them to. Must keep trying!

  15. You could make amazing meals with 1p per day!!! You are a true inspiration xx

    1. Aw, thanks hon. ūüôā

      1. You know I’m your number 1 fan!!! (Along with a whole heap of other people!!)

  16. sakinah says:

    Reblogged this on Cappuccino.

  17. I so admire you for taking this challenge on! It’s incredibly daunting and very humbling to think that for many, it isn’t just a challenge, it’s trying to stay alive. I was so interested to read how you got on. As for your recipe, it sounds delicious – and does prove that it is possible to eat nutritious food on a budget if you know how to cook. Thank you for sharing a healthy, nutritious and frugal recipe but especially for sharing your experience with #livebelowtheline

    1. Thanks so very much April for your very thoughtful and kind comment. ūüôā

  18. nazima says:

    A great post Kellie, and a great way to bring some lovely flavours into such an economical recipe. An interesting time for you and great to raise awareness of such important charitable work

    1. Thanks Nazima. It’s been a challenge but of course it was only for 5 days. I’m so lucky. *We* are so lucky

  19. The challenge sounds like a great idea will have to convert in Canadian dollars!!! As for your soup it looks delicious!

  20. Well done for doing it. I remember when I was living on not much as a student it was beans on toast, pasta with tomato sauce and soup that were cheap staples. I wouldn’t like to do it know and appreciate being able to buy any ingredients I like. It’s hard work to come up with a varied and nutritious diet on so little and it’s sad to think this is how so many people in the UK live. I try to support my local food banks, but you’ve reminded me it’s been a while since I contributed.

    1. Yes, I’m remembering to buy a little extra to pop into the food bank tubs on the way out of the shop. I can’t believe we are having to do this i 2015 Britain… But it is much worse elsewhere. I guess it is all relative though. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comment. ūüôā

  21. Sally says:

    Your inventiveness has been inspiring – but you are so right to highlight how hard this would be day in day out. A brilliant series for a good cause Kellie. Bravo

    1. Aw, thanks Sally. If I have highlighted even a little tiny bit of the difficulties that someone surrounded by good food, fertile land and all the rest has had then I think I have done okay with this. I’m taking these lessons forward. It was porridge for breakfast today and a soup made from freezer stuff tonight!

  22. Thrilled to see another blogger taking on this challenge and cooking from scratch with natural ingredients along the way. You’ve done a sterling job at creating some tasty meals, and getting as much variety in as possible. I am impressed you found such cheap peanut butter and if I can when I find the challenge in a few weeks time I’ll certainly think about adding in this recipe. Well done Kellie raising money and awareness for a superb cause xx

    1. Best wishes for your week, Ceri. I had a look (belatedly) at your recipes from the Live Below The Line site and wasn’t sure if/how I could share the pdf. They look fantastic, and such thought put into them. Good luck finding the peanut butter. I think I had said to you Aldi, but it was Tesco value, and reduced at that! (it had a torn label and looked a bit bashed). Anyone reading this that is doing the challenge, look out Ceri’s recipes – link from the main page!

  23. What a challenge. Even though standard of living is lower in Malaysia, KL is getting quite expensive with rising inflation. With ¬£1 (RM5) a day, I won’t be able to eat what I’m eating everyday (though I’ve been rather careful with budget this year). No more organic ingredients. I think it’s achievable with simple vegetarian meals.

  24. Reblogged this on Devijayantiii.

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