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Could you live on £1 a day - Second Attempt

Saturday 21 April 2012
I blogged about the Live Below the Line Campaign and devised a £35 Menu Plan which means that all 5 of us could live on £1 a day for food for 7 days.  It was a hastily cobbled together plan and I knew I could do better if I gave it a bit more thought and time.  I of course tweeted about the Meal Plan and Monika who blogs at Mum on the Brink tweeted a couple of nutritionists to see what they thought.  All in all they liked the Meal Plan but advised me that it needed more wholegrains and Omega 3.  I've made sure that the plan includes wholemeal bread flour and some salmon to cover the nutritionists recommendations.  There is loads of food so no danger of going hungry.  Normally we would eat loads more fruit and vegetables but the purpose of this plan is to try and Live Below the Line spending £1 a day each on food and doing your best with that, which is what I've tried to do.

Here is the amended Meal Plan:

Drinks will be either water, milk or cheats cuppa soup made with some vegetable stock cube dissolved in hot water. There is no tea, coffee, juice or squash in this Meal Plan. I have included mixed herbs and stock cubes though. We grow fresh herbs and salad so I haven't included that either.  I will of course be baking our own bread, rolls, tortillas and other baked goods needed for the Meal Plan.


Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto – Monday

50g butter or spread
500g pearl barley
300g frozen mixed vegetables
2 cubes of frozen spinach, defrosted
1 vegetable stock cube
boiling water
Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, roughly chopped

Melt a knob of the butter in a medium pan. Add the pearl barley, stir it around so it's coated with the butter, then cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in 600ml of boiling water, then pour over the pearl barley.

Simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Keep topping it up with another 800ml hot water, ensuring the barley is covered. When the pearl barley is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and spinach, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes. When you're ready to serve spoon the into bowls and top with chopped fresh herbs.

Salmon Fish Cakes with Vegetables - Tuesday

1 packet of salmon trimmings
500g large potatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs or 1 Tblsp fresh herbs
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water until soft.  Drain well and mash until smooth, then leave to cool. Finely chop the salmon trimmings and mix into the cooled mash potato along with the herbs.  Shape the mix into fish cakes.

Coat each fish cake in a little plain flour, dip into beaten egg and coat in the breadcrumbs.  Fry the fish cakes in a little oil or butter for 2 minutes on each side. Then put them on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes on 175C. Serve with cooked mixed vegetables or spinach.

Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti– Wednesday

This is so versatile! It can be served with pasta, baked potatoes, polenta or homemade gnocchi. I sometimes made double because it freezes well and is great to have in your freezer as a quick fix meal option. If you really have to you could add some beef mince or soy mince to bulk it out more.

2 cups red lentils, uncooked
2 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Pour in the lentils and stir them around to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Boil the lentils for 8-10 minutes or until soft.

Heat the oil in a medium pan and sauté the carrot, celery, onion and garlic until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and mixed herbs, then stir in the lentils. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve with coooked spaghetti (400g for 5 of us).

Bean Patties with Potato Wedges and Vegetables - Thursday

2 cups cooked mixed beans
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

Sauté the onion and pepper in a little oil for a couple of minutes until it softens then leave to cool for a bit. Mash the mixed beans with a potato masher, leave it a little lumpy – not too smooth. Add the cooled sautéed onion along with the breadcrumbs to the mixed beans and mix everything together thoroughly. Shape into 5 burgers and fry in a little oil for a couple of minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown. Then put them in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes until completely cooked through. Serve with homemade potato wedges and cooked frozen spinach or a salad.

Root Vegetable Soup- Friday

1 swede
2 parsnips
2 sweet potatoes
2 potatoes
2 carrots
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups cooked mixed beans
1 tsp dried mixed herbs or a handful of fresh herbs
1 litre boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tsp butter or spread

Peel the root vegetables and cut them into a 1cm/half inch dice.  Finely dice the onion too.  Heat the butter or spread in the saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the crushed garlic and all the chopped vegetables.  Cook, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes.  Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and add to the saucepan with the cooked mixed beans.  Stir in the dried herbs. 

Lower the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are soft.  Blend the soup until smooth in a blender or with a hand blender.  If the soup is too thick add a little more boiling water to thin it out.  Serve with homemade wholemeal rolls.

Rice and Vegetable Bake – Saturday

2 cups cooked rice
2 onions, finely sliced
1 Tblsp butter or spread
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
2 cubes frozen spinach, defrosted
6 eggs
1 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease a large baking dish.

Cook onions in the butter until soft and slightly caramelised.

Combine all the other ingredients except ½ cup of cheese. Spoon into prepared dish and flatten. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until firm in the middle and lightly browned.

Minestrone - Sunday

If you have any vegetables leftover at this point in the week that need using up, put them in this soup.  It is a great way to ensure that nothing is wasted and adds more flavour to the soup.

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
2 cups cooked mixed beans
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
100g dried pasta (any shape you have is fine)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs

In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion and garlic over a low heat until the onion softens and becomes transparent. Throw in the chopped carrots, celery, and any other vegetables you have that you need to use up or want to put in.

Make sure that the vegetables are all cut to the same size so that they cook evenly. If some vegetables are denser than others, dice them a little bit smaller. Cook all of the vegetables over a medium heat until the carrots start to soften.

Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable stock and bring it up to a gentle simmer. Add cooked mixed beans and whatever pasta you are using. Simmer everything gently for at least 20 minutes or until the pasta has softened.


Versatile Scone Swirls made with Vegemite and Cheese

There is enough flour to make loads of bread/rolls, scones and tortillas (made with melted spread instead of oil) for lunches or snacks. I have allowed a piece of fruit each to have with lunch and some carrot sticks too. We can use salad greens from our garden to bulk out wraps and supplement the lunches. 

There is enough rice to have rice and vegetables for lunch on the weekend.  Cook the rice according to packet instructions in vegetable stock instead of water.  Add some cooked frozen mixed vegetables and spinach as well as some herbs.  Serve warm.

There are enough supplies for an uniced plain Traybake Sponge and some Flapjacks using the following recipe:


170g butter or baking spread
225g rolled oats
170g sugar

Melt butter in saucepan over very gentle heat. Mix in the sugar and oats. Stir well and tip mixture into a greased swiss roll tin. Press lightly together, I use either a spoon or potato masher to do this bit. Smooth the top and bake at 190C for 30-35 mins.

When the flapjacks are golden brown remove them from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before marking into squares. Cool completely before you turn it out and cut into portions.


Breakfasts will be porridge and a banana or toast with vegemite, plain toast with butter or banana on toast. There is some yoghurt which could be used with grated apple or chopped banana and the porridge oats for an alternative to porridge.  Two mornings during the week we will have either omelettes or boiled eggs and soliders.

Shopping List

The cost of all 33 items used in the Meal Plan was £34.98 online from Asda on 21/04/2012.  I used My Supermarket as usual to compare the price of my shopping list at other supermarkets, at Sainsbury's my shopping would've cost £35.74, a and at Tesco would've cost £36.71.

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 35p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 98p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g) 58p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g) £1.10
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
1x Great Scot Salad Bean Mix (500g) 98p

1x ASDA Chopped Spinach Leaves (1Kg) £1.12
1x ASDA Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.10

Tins, Jars and Cooking
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.24
1x ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g) 19p
1x Kraft Vegemite (220g) £1.97
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p
1x Knorr Vegetable Stock Cubes Low Salt (6x11g) £1.00 was £1.38

Dairy and Eggs
5x ASDA Semi Skimmed Milk 2 Pints (1.14L) £4.45
3x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Weight Eggs (6) £2.55
1x Anchor Butter (250g) £1.00
1x Deli Cheese Company Mature Cheddar (350g) £2.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Smartprice Smoked Salmon Trimmings (120g) 90p

Fruit and Vegetables
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
20 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.48
7 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 53.2p
3 ASDA Parsnips by Weight (100g) 45p
3 ASDA Swede by Weight (100g) 25.5p
1x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £1.35
4 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) 51.2p
1x ASDA Celery 68p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 26p


  1. More meal plans like this should be available. It shows how much can be achieved with so little money. Well done for this quite varied meal plan at a fantastic budget.
    (Thx for the mention too)

  2. I wish more budget blogs had something like this! This looks great and I look forward to trying it all out!

  3. Hi my daughter wont eat fish, what would be a good substitute please?

    1. You could use another form of protein like meat, cheese, tofu, etc. One of my daughters isn't that keen on fish either.

    2. As the salmon only costs 90p meat would probably go over budget.

  4. What are spinach cubes?

    1. They frozen spinach cubes. Most of the frozen spinach here in the UK comes in cubes in a bag. :)

  5. Love that, apart from the salmon fishcakes, these meals are suitable for vegetarians x


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