Living Below The Line

This year, Mike and I are taking on the Live Below The Line challenge – for five days, from the 27th of April to the 1st of May, we’ll be spending just £1 per person per day on food. We’re joining in with loads of other people doing the same, so that we can appreciate just what life is like for the huge portion of the global population who live in poverty – and hopefully raise some money from you lovely lot, to help.

£10 for two people, over five days, for all our food and drink… it’s a pretty big ask. I decided to plan my meals in advance, to make sure I’m getting the absolute most out of the money, and I set myself the additional challenge of coming up with meals that are tasty and nutritious, which is no small thing with so little to spend! Something I’ve noticed already, when I’ve been trying to work out what to cook, is how difficult it is to afford as much fresh fruit and veg as I’d like – and how tempting super-cheap shortcuts are. It would be much easier to buy a mountain of Sainsbury’s Basics noodles (11p per serving – if we spent the whole £10, we could each have 3 packets for every meal…) than to try and cook balanced meals from scratch. If this is the struggle you face every day of your life, I can completely understand how you’d end up eating a much less nutritious diet. To try and keep our meals at least relatively healthy, I’m going to be supplementing fresh veg with dried and tinned beans & pulses.

Another thing I’ve found is that it will be almost impossible to eat between meals. Of course, I didn’t expect to be able to afford biscuits and sweets, but I was hoping to squeeze in a bit of dried fruit for snacking. No can do, I’m afraid. All the money will go on making sure we have something reasonably filling for each meal. Fruit, unfortunately, is probably going to fall by the wayside.

Finally, there’s the problem of herbs and spices. Normally, I couldn’t live without my cupboardful of magic ingredients for making anything delicious – both fresh and dried herbs, spices, oils, vinegars, and all sorts of other things I’ve accumulated. If I was able to dip in to these ingredients, my £10 for the week would go much further, because just a few ingredients could be made into something really tasty. That’s why I’d always encourage people who want to save money on their food shop to invest in the spice rack. A little goes a long way, so the initial spend of £1 or so on each pot is spread out over many meals.

When it comes to the challenge itself, I’ll be blogging a daily diary, with the recipes I’ve used and the challenges I’ve been struggling with – so keep an eye out for that! In the meantime, do give us some encouragement by donating to our page here.