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Could you live on £1 a day?

Monday, 16 April 2012
Could you live on £1 a day? I've devised a £1 A Day Each Meal Plan for our family for a week.  That means that all 5 of us are only allowed to spend £1 a day for all our food and drink.  This is to draw attention to the Live Below the Line campaign which runs from 7th - 11th May 2012.

Living on £1 a day is the daily reality for 1.4 billion people around the world who are forced to survive below the poverty line, approximately 1/5th of the worlds population.  This includes all food, clothing and everything else needed to live.  The Live Below the Line campaign asks people to live on £1 worth of food a day and you can sign up to be sponsored to complete the challenge over 5 days

I decided to see if I could cobble together a Family Meal Plan for £35 to feed all 5 of us for a week, 7 days worth of food spending £1 a day each.  I devised this Meal Plan in about 90 minutes this evening.  It's a Vegetarian Meal Plan, that's right, no meat at all.  There isn't quite enough fruit for my liking and the lunches are a little less than usual but I think it's not a bad effort.  If I bought fruit and vegetables reduced for quick sale at the supermarket I could do it cheaper, especially if I could pick up eggs and cheese that way as well.  I have bought 1kg of beef mince and a 2kg chicken for 50p each, a 2.5kg bag of potatoes for 10p, and 2 kilos of bruised bananas for 5p a kilo  about 1hr before closing time in our local Asda.  SO I believe it is possible to include meat and get loads for you rmoney if you are savvy and have the time to search out mega-bargains everyday or two. Oh, and having a chest freezer also helps. ;o)
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.

So here goes:

Shopping List

29 items: £35.00 from Asda online on 16/04/2012.

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 98p
2x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) £1.04
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
2x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 60p
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

Tins, Jars and Cooking
4x ASDA Smartprice Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (410g) £1.16
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.24
1x ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g) 19p
1x Kraft Vegemite (220g) £1.97
1x Knorr Stock Cubes Vegetable (8x10g) £1.00 was £1.25
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p

1x ASDA Chosen by You Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.18

Dairy and Eggs
6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £6.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Weight Eggs (6) £1.70
1x Stork (1Kg) £1.90
1x ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g) 55p
1x Cathedral City Mature Yet Mellow Cheddar (350g) £2.00

Fruit and Vegetables
15 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £1.50
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
19 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.48
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 76p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Celery 68p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 26p


Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto – Monday and Tuesday

50g butter or spread
500g pearl barley
500g frozen mixed vegetables
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, 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.

Lentil Bolognese – 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.

1 cup 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 spaghetti (400g for 5 of us).

Bean Burgers - Thursday

1 cup cooked mixed beans
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
100g fresh 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 in homemade buns or tortillas with grated carrot, grated cheese and a little herbed yoghurt.

Potato Wedges with Baked Beans and Eggs - Friday

Rice and Vegetable Bake – Saturday

2 cups cooked rice
2 onions, finely sliced
1 Tblsp butter or spread
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
5 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

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
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.

Rice Pudding – Make this 3 times for lunchboxes or pudding

600ml whole milk
65g long grain white rice
pinch of salt
50g white sugar

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice with a pinch of salt. Place saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender. This usually takes about 25 minutes. Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

When the rice is tender (al dente) take the saucepan off the heat and sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Mix well to combine. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool and cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To make this into more of a Mullerice type treat add some jam or golden syrup to swirl through the rice pudding. You could also add sultanas, dried apricots or dates.

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 some yoghurt which can be mixed with chopped fresh herbs, again from our garden, and used as a salad dressing.
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.

So what do you think?
So there you have it!  Will you take the Live Below the Line challenge? Could you feed your family on £1 each per day?  Give it a whirl, you'll be surprised at how much food you can purchse if you try and are savvy about it.  I might give the Meal Plan another go and tinker with it to include more fruit and less baking/flour.  Let me know your hints, tips and tricks to improve this Meal Plan.


  1. Eeep! Not sure I could do it in my house as there is only two of us (unless I count the cat?)

    We budget £40 a week a often fall below that.

    £14 would be a stretch! Well done though, some great tips and recipes here.

    1. Thanks :) I do enjoy a frugal challenge! Keeps my budgeting skills sharp.

  2. Wow, that's fabulous and a lot different from my plan. Must give it another go.

    1. I could do better if I worked on it for longer & used reduced items from supermarket. I would prefer more fruit & veg in the plan though. If you give it another go, let me know and I'll link to yours :)

  3. That's amazing. Inspiring and humbling. Just shows how much we take for granted. Huge well done in taking it on.

  4. Im sure we could do it in my house if we had cheaper supermarkets in jersey but theres rarely a bargain to be had here so it would be impossible but i certainly admire you for coming up with a meal plan on such a tight budget.
    I think we all take food for granted and its discgusting the amount of food ppl chuck out when there are ppl starving all over the world :(

  5. Well done you. We too often have to live very frugally, and I love the challenge, I also grow my own salad veg and herbs so that helps, and beans & pulses play a large part in Spanish cooking which are filling and nutritious. Not sure I could give up the wine though, fortunately that is cheap here too ;)

  6. what a super idea, i try to budget for about £3.00 per day got some great ideas thanks

  7. I am doing this next week, and I have my doubts, although I think the more of you there are the sightly easier it becomes.

    Certainly it is really easy to eat too much meat and animal protein. I pad everything out now with lentils and pulses.

  8. How much does it total to each day?

    1. I used £1 per person per day for 7 days, there are 5 of us. I think it is much easier to budget if there are more people to feed as you can take advantage of bulk buying and using all of a packet of something rather than trying to buy smaller items. I didn't calculate the cost of each meal but you probably could using the grocery list and prices provided should you want to. :)


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