Live Below the Line…

Live Below The Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, and from the 29th April to the 3rd May will see over 20,000 people in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, all voluntarily spending 5 days living below the poverty line. The challenge is to survive on £1 a day for all your food and drink for 5 days, with the aim that you raise money for your chosen charity, as well as raising awareness around global poverty.

live below the line

One of my lovely readers bought this campaign to my attention, and I immediately thought “Is that even possible?” But then I did a bit of research, and decided it would be a great thing to do. Hubby was, however, a little less keen.

I did then point out to him, that as I would be doing all the meal planning and shopping and cooking, apart from having to eat it, it wouldn’t have that much of an impact on him. And he knows by now that I am always right…. (nearly always – lovely hubby) So he came round to it after a while.

The budget is set at £1/day/person, so for 5 days, for our family of 4, we have a budget of £20. What we have decided to do is to then give the remainder of our usual weekly food budget to our chosen charity (we have picked Save the Children)

This is obviously going to need some thought and a bit of planning..! What I really want to try and avoid is eating processed cheap crap for 5 days. I want to see if it is possible to eat well, and cheaply without having to resort to horse meat sausages…

So I have come up with a meal plan, and a shopping list, and I am sharing it with you guys, in case anyone else wants to join in!


Porridge-made with milk, raisins, or stewed fruit to sweeten

Toast-homemade bread-with butter or homemade jam


Soup-whatever is kicking around in the veg basket-mixed veg/leek and potato/curried carrot/parsnip

lazy soup1

Rolls-cheese and homemade chutney, egg, tuna


Pasta bake

Pizza-homemade bases, and tomato sauce made from tinned toms-cheese/egg/roasted veg toppings

Macaroni/pasta cheese-with added veg

Frittata-with any leftover bits of veg, and homemade baked chips

Bean burgers



Stewed fruit

Baked apples

Natural yoghurt flavoured with stewed fruit


Cheesy feet

Homemade cake-like a tea loaf or similar

Homemade biscuits-hobnobs maybe?

Shopping list (supermarket):

Value porridge oats -65p/500g
Value raisins-£1.54/500g
White bread flour-£0.80/1.5kg
Caster sugar-£0.90/500g
Eggs x6-£1.00
Kidney beans-2 tins-£.054
Chickpeas-1 tin-£0.62
Stock cubes-£0.78
Value pasta-£0.30
Milk-2L green, 2L blue-£2
Butter-2 packs-£2
Frozen mixed vegetables-£0.75/kg
Natural yoghurt-£0.45/500g
Tinned tomatoes-£0.31

Total £14.97 (Prices from Asda on My

Shopping list-market/greengrocers

Whatever is cheap or reduced at the end of the day, but I am on the look-out for:

Any other fruit

Crikey. I was a but blase about this, and thought it would be easy, but starting to actually look pretty hard….

Anyone else joining in? Please….!!

29 thoughts on “Live Below the Line…

  1. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Bigs school lunch alone costs £1.80 and that is bulk produced food provided by the council. Yet again I am in awe with what you are doing and will try so very hard to join you…..!

  2. Good luck 🙂 i assume you will be sticking to just drinking water? Or is the 4ltrs of milk to drink from or to make meals with? Xxx

  3. I keep thinking about it- rest of the family is a bit of a sticking point.

    I strongly recommend a bit of foraging. Not sure if you’ve tried nettles?They’re everywhere at the moment- you don’t need to be rural.
    Find a clump that are a bit out of the way- pick from the middle/back if it’s on a dog walking route 😉
    Using rubber/gardening gloves pick the top inch or so until you have a bagful . Wash well and cook like spinach. Chop up and season. Soup is tasty with some potato.They go down well in cheese sauces here- add a layer to Macaroni Cheese or mix with cheese sauce, top with baked beans (will the budget stretch to them?) and then mashed potato and bake until hot and bubbling. That’s actually my 14 year olds favourite meal 🙂
    A bit of a faff but v tasty is to make into gnocchi (Small entertainment?!).
    I’ve even put it on pizza 🙂
    I have a whole board on Pinterest about them if you want more ideas!

    Sorry if I’m teaching you to suck eggs…

      • Wild garlic is around too if you have some woodland nearby. Good luck, I don’t think I could convince my hubby, he gets very upset if I give him a small portion of meat let alone try to serve up a veggie meal.

  4. There is just the two of us as we have been married for 47 years, we have been through feast and famine. When I read your blog my first thoughts were that it was easy,but then I rememberd your smalls .So to make it harder for me, I am going to just use what is in my cuboards and freezer and give my shopping money to age concern.

    • I think the more there are of you, the easier it would be. To manage on £5 for 5 days on your own would be really hard, as so much of what you would need to buy would be in bigger quantities than you needed. Your plan sounds great-good luck 🙂

  5. Sadly I am sure I would not be able to persuade the family to join me to do this. Interestingly I learnt last night that Save the Childeren for the first time ever have started supporting children in this country…Good luck:) Will be interested to read how you get on:) Vicky

  6. Well done! I’m not sure if we’re going to do it again this year or not yet. As you know me and the family did it last year. My youngest was only 18 months and so we did cheat with milk. I also didn’t stop my older two girls visit a friend each for tea. It’s worth letting pre-school or big school know what doing to make sure they get the full quota of ‘free’ milk and fruit.
    My kids wouldn’t eat porridge so they had flapjacks for breakfast.
    I swapped a homemade loaf for 12 free range eggs from a friend.
    Final tip would be a huge roast on Sunday before you start, you may get some illegal left overs!
    I’ve written this on a phone so apologies for bad grammer! Good luck 🙂

    • Fab, let me know how you get on. We are bascially having macaroni cheese twice (just disguised it as ‘pasta bake’) so not that diverse really…

  7. You may have to start shopping later in the evenings or very early mornings to get the real bargains but if the kids can stay in bed while the other half babysits you will save them asking for things outside your budget. Once I came home with a whole basket full … 2 packs veg, bag of salad, sliced wholemeal loaf & 4 Eccles cakes whole lot came to 90 pence !!! The benefit of shopping after working the late shift and its heaven when its quieter in the stores too :o)
    Don’t forget to check for coupons & special offers, but mostly just knowing your regular prices so you know when a “bargain” really is a bargain. Good luck !

    • I was planning to go on Sunday afternoon just before they close! And also check out the market close to closing for the bowls of cheap fruit and veg!

  8. Oh my goodness, looking at those food prices makes me realise just how expensive food is here in Australia. Even buying the very cheapest generic brands we would be paying at least twice that, sometimes more. I cannot see how your farmers make any money – although I imagine it’s the supermarkets making the money here, not the farmers. Anyway, I will stop being gob smacked long enough to wish you well for your week, and to think about what I could do here for the cause..

    • I know Jo, and everyone here still complains about the cost of food. I have no idea how the farmers make money either. I think there is a Live Below the Line AUS? You could check it out..?!

    • Planning to! Have just had to sit down with BigSmall and try end explain it to him (mainly so that we don’t have melt-downs when he can’t have weetabix in the mornings next week!)

  9. £20 for a week looks impossible for a family of 4 – i was amazed to see that bread is 30p. I know if i was doing this i’d have a lot in the store cupboard, for a long time. It would take a while to run out of food – but i spend £70 a month on a weekly bag of organic mostly UK veg and fruit and I’m guessing if I could only afford £20 a week I’d have no cash to buy in bulk or make those kind of savings. The thought of having nothing spare is terrifying. I can’t being to imagine the emotional impact that must have on an adult struggling to make ends meet for their family. I also assume that £20 a week is un-doable in the long term unless you participate in a swap/barter culture. My conclusion: of course you can survive on £20 for one week (if you forget about the school lunches costs), but a lifetime of surviving like this would have horrible impacts.

    While I’m thinking about this I meant to ask what your rules are on buying things for mending – you seem to have an enviable supply of glue/paint etc. I find these things often make my mending projects quite expensive. How did you manage to get a bean bag chair filled with beans for just 45p (I think that’s what you said) – astonishing value!!! I had some boots reheeled for my 12 year old last week and it cost £16…

    • I agree Nicola that £1/day is nigh on impossible to survive on but one of the things I am finding is that it would be cheaper to but a huge bag of potatoes, but we only need a small one for the 5 days we are doing this, and same goes for porridge oats and pasta etc. I don’t know if people who are on such tight budgets are able to pool their money for several weeks to buy in bulk as you suggest. As you say, a lifetime of surviving like this doesn’t bear thinking about, so if we can do it for 5 days, and raise a bit of awareness, and a bit of money, then maybe things will slowly start to change.

      The Rules state that we can buy things that we need to fix things-like glues etc. Hubby does seem to have quite a stash though, and I have a big stash of craft supplies and fabric that I amassed (not on purpose I hasten to add!) before the year started.
      The beanbag-I got two empty ‘shells’ from the Scrapstore for 90p (!) and the beans to fill it with were from Freecycle 🙂
      It is frustrating when you have to pay almost as much to get something fixed (like your child’s boots) than it would be to buy new 😦

  10. Pingback: Live Below The Line-Prep | My Make Do and Mend Year

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