Could you live on a pound a day for food?

For five days. Could you do it for just five days?

I’m not sure we could. There are five of us, so if I look at ??5 for a day for the family it does make it easier. Today while I was shopping, just top up food, I paid careful attention to prices.

5 apples – 79p per lb. They came out at ??1, so there’s a fifth of it gone on one piece of fruit each.

We could buy the really cheap bread, at 47p a loaf. We usually make our own, but to buy the flour, the yeast, the butter would probably push us over the limit for one day.
47p loaf of bread

No butter. Dunno what we’re going to put on the bread 🙁

Let’s skip on to the main meal, and see if we can make any savings there we can carry backwards as it were. Cheap pasta. 20p for a packet. So we could chuck in a decent sauce, at 80p to make a main meal for five for a pound.
cheap pasta
80p pasta sauce
(I’d use a can of tomatoes and just make up a sauce, but you’d need some herbs, and again, that would push me over the limit.)

So let’s see, we’ve spent ??2.47 so far. No fruit juice for the kids, can’t afford that, they’ll have to drink water. (Which we all do as well, tbh, but it’s alongside our other drinks.) But we’re short breakfast, drinks and something to put on the bread for lunch. Tesco do a value cooked ham for 0.62p which would cover most of us for lunch (I’m vegetarian), taking us up to ??3.02.

Milk. We’d have to have milk. It’s 89 pence for 2 pints, or you can buy 8 pints for ??2. I’d do that if I were doing several days shopping tbh, as that would last us the 5 days with some left over.

??3.91. Leaving ??1.09 for something for breakfast, and something for me for lunch. And I guess neither dp nor I are getting our coffee or tea today. Tesco used to have value cornflakes for 31p, but they aren’t listed on their site atm. Shame. I can have a value jam at 38p though, which gives me lunch at least. 71p left. Tescos cheapest cereal appears to be 75p now, so I can’t quite do it out of one day’s budget, but there would be some to carry on to the next day. That would be the only way to come anywhere near this.

Why am I even thinking about this? It’s down to a blogpost I read over at fuelmyblog’s blog. The Live Below the Line Campaign is asking ppl to consider living on ??1 a day for food and drink for 5 days this May, and blog about it, to raise awareness of the 1.4 billion ppl on this planet living below the extreme poverty line. It’s a thought provoking experience – I challenge you to see what you could buy for ??1 per person in your family. Can you live that way? What gives first? Let me know.

This is not a sponsored post

ETA I thought this was a blogging campaign to raise awareness. When I’ve gone through via the links on fuelmyblog to the underlying charity site, Live Below the Line, it appears I’ve signed up to fundraise too. I’m not going to actively fundraise – you are very welcome to contribute if you wish to, but as I’m already fundraising for Oxfam build a library on here, I think it would be confusing to add another charity. I did set up as a team though, so if you want to join the Liveotherwise team, blog your achievements and fundraise, I’d be very interested to hear how you go on with it.

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  1. I’m starting my 30dayplan today and one of my goals is to reduce my spending – especially on food. For me it is a question of eating less as DD has breakfast, lunch and tea at Nursery.

    • @MSM Gosh, that’s a lot of eating at nursery. Mind, Big and Small went through that for a couple of years too. Looking forward to hearing more on your 30dayplan.

  2. chrisotherwise says:

    Interesting idea. Would perhaps buying a week’s worth of food at ¡ò35 or even a month’s worth at ¡ò140 make it easier? You could (say) buy a very large chicken and use it over several meals?

    The only thing that bothers me a bit is that this is incentive to use big supermarket own-brand products, which may well be exploiting the very people that the original blog talks about – as opposed to fair trade or independent produce.

    Lots to think about there indeed 🙂

    • @Chrisotherwise It’s always easier to buy in bulk ahead of time, but I suppose part of the issue with global poverty is that these are often ppl who are living hand to mouth and never get the chance to save up to buy in bulk. So I’m not sure what version of the challenge is most realistic, or most enlightening at least.

  3. This is an interesting one, I was thinking it’s time I looked long and hard at our weekly budget so maybe this is the incentive I need!

    As for your tomato sauce etc, once you have your herb garden established they will be free. Also don’t forget that a cheap packet of seeds will produce a good ammount of veg/salad and breakfast would have to be porridge – dead cheap although not much flavour unless you had some milk/sugar/jam to spare!

    @Chrisotherwise, I think the problem with eating v cheaply is that there has to be compromises. Cheap and nasty own brand stuff is a huge compromise but I actually don’t think it’s possible to eat “on the breadline” and keep any sort of ethical standards.

    • @Tbird – you might want to check out the guardian as well then, Jen aka Mum the Madhouse had a feed the family for a week on ¡ò50 article in there this weekend. And I do believe that growing your own salad was in there. I’d forgotten about porridge, thanks for that. Only problem is that my bigger two offspring won’t eat it. Though I suppose they would (eventually) if it was all that was on offer.

      And yes, compromise would be the name of the game. I will be doing some pricing up in the coop as lots of their own brand stuff is fairtrade or local etc, but I’m not sure it will be possible to eat within budget from there.

  4. Looking forward to your conclusions! I am about to find out if we can live off $100 for the week for a family of 3!! Should be simple, but then why is our grocery bill every week $200-$250!? And where has that money gone this week?!
    Aroha recently posted…A Tragic BlessingMy Profile

    • Hi @Aroha Would be interested to hear your conclusions too. It’s easy for the money to just slip away if you aren’t paying attention, isn’t it?

  5. chrisotherwise says:

    Whilst probably not in the spirit of your original post (sorry!) I’ve had an interesting debate about what both “live off” and “a pound” actually mean. For example:

    – If you drive to your supermarket do you count the petrol? Or the parking charges (if any?) What about maintenance for your car etc etc? Suppose you don’t live near a supermarket so you *must* drive? If you don’t take petrol into account can you drive between Tesco and ASDA choosing the cheapest food at each?

    – If you cook your food do you count your electricity/gas costs? What about lighting and other costs for your house?

    – Does “live off” really mean “live off”, or must your family actually enjoy the food? By working out exactly what calories, protein, carbs, vitamins you *actually* needed, you could probably feed yourself incredibly cheaply – perhaps by picking a staple such as value baked beans at 20p a tin and supplementing it with only what you need on top of that to keep you healthy. For a starving family in the third world, this would mean survival, but we could probably never sell it to our families here.

    Once again, thanks for such a thought-provoking post…

    • @Chrisotherwise I was thinking about most of this stuff as I walked to the coop today. I could have walked to Lidl (it’s a mile) to buy cheap milk, fruit, veg, then stopped off at Tesco on the way back for cheap pasta sauce – but I only knew that that’s the order I’d have had to do it in because I’ve been in both shops independently (one via car) in the past week. So what about the time taking walking from place to place to price check? (Although I suppose in the places we’re talking about there may well not be nearly so many shopping outlets.)

      No problem – I’m glad you found it interesting, the topic has certainly been thought provoking for me.

  6. I wondered also about the other costs involved but i thought perhaps a way of bulking out the shop would be to use things you’d grown or picked yourself as these would be free? We grow our own herbs, so an easy pasta sauce would have been fine, same with veg – we grow tomatoes so no need for a tin of them and we could have added sweetcorn, carrots and courgettes to the sauce (well, in a few weeks we could have!).
    Would that count, or would the initial cost of the seeds have counted? What if you have chickens/livestock? Does that count as free milk/eggs or would the initial cost and upkeep of the animals be included? Not trying to pick holes, im genuinely interested. Also, you could save on the homemade bread costs if you did this xxx

    • Ooh, I’ll check that bread link out, thanks.

      I’ve started growing my own herbs. I’m not doing very well. *blush* Or with my tomatoes. And my sweetcorn didn’t germinate. Didn’t try carrots. I’m really not sure what counts and what doesn’t, but at least it’s causing us all to think about it very carefully. I’m also not sure that charity fundraising off the back of it is the way to go. This isn’t going to be fixed with a few pounds here and there. It will only be fixed when the whole world starts working together. (Could be waiting a while then :/)

  7. It’s a brilliant challenge, though I suspect you’d need an iron will to achieve it, especially when it comes to resisting the constant demands from the kids for an after-school bag of crisps or ice lolly. It will be very interesting to see how you get on.
    Reluctant Housedad recently posted…In the hotseat- 3 things about JoJoMy Profile

  8. I just don’t know how one does it. There’s only two of us but our bill usually looks something in the region of ¡ò40-50 per week. I suspect we’re not as careful as we could be though. We’ve been trying to buy in bulk and eek things out to see if it would help but I won’t know the results until the end of this month. It’s quite a thought-provoking topic. By the way, about the gardening – the best go might be courgettes as they are such hardy happy plants and it’s not hard to get them to the stage where you have so many you don’t know what to do with them. Courgette crumble, anyone?

  9. Having just done our weeks shopping order online, it’s a good question. I very much doubt we could stick to it. A task for me over the next few months is to look at our grocery orders and work out how we can start to make savings. We don’t currently need to, but we do overspend and we shouldn’t – we need to re-train ourselves to be more economical as our daughter’s lifestyle becomes more expensive and also because one day number two might come along and that’s definitely going to change the finances!
    Mother Badger recently posted…Silent Sunday – 1 April 2011My Profile

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