One day to go: Live Below the Line

live below the line
Could you live on just £1 a day?

Today I’ve been busy getting ready for the Live Below the Line challenge, which kicks off tomorrow, Monday 28 April. I’m taking part along with my family – my husband Jason and our two daughters Jessie (9) and Mia (6). The aim of the challenge is to spend just £1 each a day on all our food and drink for the next five days. For more on why we’re putting ourselves through this, read my earlier post.

Along with eating as much as humanly possibly in an attempt at stock piling, the first job was to sort out a meal plan. With a little help from some blogger friends (such as the lovely Louisa at Eat Your Veg who suggested the Chicken Brodo to make the most of the free chicken carcasses donated to me by my favourite butcher in Wells) and a bit of online research, I came up with a plan and then a shopping list and headed off to my local(ish) Aldi over in Shepton Mallet.

Here’s what I bought:

Frozen garden peas – 89p
4 pints semi-skimmed milk – 95p
Cream cheese with garlic and herbs – 55p
Blackcurrant and apple squash – 99p
3 leeks – 69p
10 onions – 69p
7 bananas – 68p
2.5kg white potatoes – £1.89
14 carrots – 59p
1kg porridge oats – 75p
9 apples – 89p
1 kg penne – 58p
Packet of ginger nut biscuits – 25p
4 cloves of garlic – 39p
1 kg long grain rice – 40p
Strawberry jam – 29p
2 tins of red kidney beans – 50p
1 cucumber – 39p
6 free range eggs – 89p
6 tomatoes – 39p
3 loaves sliced wholemeal bread – £1.35
6 wholemeal rolls – 55p

Total spend at Aldi = £15.54

I couldn’t find any cannellini beans or redbush tea at Aldi, so popped into Tesco for these. I was also convinced I’d be able to find some cheaper chopped tomatoes at Tesco compared to the ones I found at Aldi. It turned out I was wrong, but I couldn’t be bothered to go back again. So my mini shop at Tesco consisted of:

4 tins chopped tomatoes – £1.36
1 tin of cannellini beans – 50p
Redbush teabags (Jason and I are allowed two each a day) – 50p

Therefore our family’s total spend so far comes to £17.90. When you divide that by the four of us, that comes to £4.48 a day, equating to just over 89p each per day. I’ve left ourselves a little wriggle room as we will also need to factor in proportional costs for things like cooking oil, spices and seasoning.

I’ve never shopped at Aldi before, as I do most of our grocery shopping online (I’m not a fan of supermarkets) and Aldi don’t offer an online service, but I was pleasantly surprised at how far our budget stretched. I didn’t expect to be able to afford much in the way of fresh fruit or vegetables for instance, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be coming away with free range eggs, or biscuits.

live below the line

I was adamant though I wouldn’t buy any meat, and instead I’ve spent this evening boiling up the free chicken carcasses from my butcher and picking off a surprising amount of meat to use in Tuesday’s evening meal. That will be the only meat of the week.

So here’s our Living Below the Line meal plan for the week:

live below the line meal plan

People on Facebook and Twitter have commented that it looks quite a tasty menu and I must admit to being quite chuffed with what I’ve come up with. But it was bloody hard work. It took ages to come up with the plan, making sure ingredients required for one dish would be useful on another day, and then it took ages to do the actual shopping, adding up the cost of every item as I went along and looking out for all the cheapest offers. I really wouldn’t want to have to do that every week.

I should also point out that I’ve only included lunches for Jason and I. Jessie and Mia normally take packed lunches to school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and have hot school meals the other two days. I’ve decided to let them carry on with this. My reasoning is that if we were on the poverty line in the UK, then I’d hope the girls would be in a position to receive free school meals. So I’ve taken their lunches eaten at school out of the equation.

It’s getting late now. I’ve just cooked up the leek and potato soup for mine and Jason’s lunch tomorrow, plus a big pot of veggie chilli, along with the chicken stock, and there’s a large pile of washing up awaiting. I’ll be back tomorrow to let  you know how our first day goes.

Oh, and if you fancy supporting our efforts, you can do so at the Rees Family’s online fundraising page.

11 thoughts on “One day to go: Live Below the Line

    1. Thanks for that! Not sure how ‘pumped’ my girls are actually feeling about the week ahead to be honest. I think they’re reluctantly putting up with another of their mother’s food-related whims, to be honest. But I’m still holding out they’ll learn a valuable lesson by the end of the week…

  1. I think you’ve come up with a brilliant menu. And I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you talk about the amount of planning necessary. It is a real headache. A couple of years ago, as a result of unemployment, my partner and I were living on a massive budget of £22 per week – which compared to yours, sounds massive! But I found it really difficult, particularly when it came to buying things like spices and staples like tea (which I cannot do without). Of course there were compromises (quality olive oil went out the window, but hey ho) and I was lucky to find a whole food store that sold small amounts of herbs and spices by weight. It really made me realise how lucky I had been up until that point, and how lucky I am now (we are both working again!) Ultimately I learned to shop a lot smarter and I think we’re better for it, but my word it was hard work and sometimes a little depressing . . . but I think you’ve proved you can eat well on a lot less. Good luck, I shall be watching out for you!

    BTW, love the megadarra recipe 🙂

  2. That does look like a darn good menu on such a tight budget! I feel your pain on the planning side of things – I do that most weeks anyway, not so much for money reasons but because there’s just two of us in our household, it’s cheaper (or sometimes the only option) to buy bigger packs of things and I hate waste, so I’m always trying to think what else I can make in the same week to use things up. I tend to have ‘set menus’ for particular weeks incorporate different ingredients. Good luck with the challenge!

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