back to article Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?

Last year, I rather recklessly signed my self up for the Live Below the Line quid-a-day nosh challenge, which involves surviving for five days on £1 per day for food. Here are my supplies at the beginning of the week... My supplies for five days My Live Below the Line 2013 supplies ...which kicked off with fried egg sarnies, …

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I don't get what all of the fuss is about £1 per day

I live below the domestic poverty line according to the standards used by all of the major charities, but I don't feel impoverished. If you are prepared to forgo meat, and eat mainly bread, butter, milk, bananas, rice and brussel sprouts, tomato purée and chickpeas, which are all fairly inexpensive, it's perfectly possible. A large proportion of the population, especially in the UK and the USA, could do with losing weight, but it seems to be in the interest of these charities to create the impression that hunger (which is itself a highly subjective thing) isn't a normal part of the human experience (even right before breakfast, lunch or dinner), and that we should banish it from our society to right a terrible injustice. If eating three or four conventional "square" meals (delivered in a convenient form) is important to people (like me), they should use this as a motivation to earn (more) money.

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Re: I don't get what all of the fuss is about £1 per day

For me, you'd need to remove the bread (allegry) and the butter, tomato purée and chickpeas (purine).

A loaf of gluten free toast bread over here costs around 4€! That would be the most part of the week's budget gone right there! :-(

Hmm, time to get Sainsburys and Tescos to have another fight over the price of baked beans (although some sites say yes to eating them and some no, because of the purines)... If you can get them back down to 1p a tin, you'd be laughing (and farting) your way through the week.

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Re: I don't get what all of the fuss is about £1 per day

Per day? Well, if you're working full-time away from home then that's not a big budget.

On the other hand, if you're working from home, or not working, £1/day is plenty for not merely a basic survival diet, but a tasty and varied one. My baseline is what I lived on when in genuine poverty in 2002/3: a diet you could get for under £2 per week at today's prices. One meal per day of pulses (85p for a bag that'll give a week's protein), plus value-line pasta to bulk it out. Any more is a bit of luxury: an onion, a mushroom, a chilli, a tomato ... whatever is going cheap. Plus what you can pick wild: in this season there's wild garlic and nettles.

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Good luck Lester

Swap the tea bags for loose tea and your eating could improve a bit. The tea will also taste better.

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Re: Good luck Lester

The only problem with that is having to take a teapot to work. Going without tea at home would be bad, but not having any at work would be far worse.

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

An in-mug infuser works well enough at work. No need to take a teapot unless you really want to.

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JDX
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Re: having to take a teapot to work

An in-mug infuser would use up his whole budget, you mug.

Also, it won't really taste better unless you buy expensive tea. Which is rather not the idea.

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

JDX,

I already have an in mug infuser, now I come to think about it. So that's no problem. It's a rather fetching yellow plastic duck, with a basket that clips onto the bottom for the tea.

I also don't agree on the expensive tea thing. Sainsbury's Red Label is about 80p a packet. Which lasts me something like 3-4 weeks. It's not the finest tea in the world, as it's obviously blended to be non-offensive to people who don't like the more 'perfumy' notes in their tea. But it's still very nice. I haven't yet found another tea that I like more for every day (although I've been trying different ones for the last 6 months or so). I have about 6 different types of tea I have regularly - all lined up by the kettle, along with my tea duck and several different teapots.

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@JDX Re: won't really taste better

Loose tea is always better quality than the finings used in bags, unless you buy those ridiculously expensive premium bags (in which case it's roughly comparable.) It is always better value too. Go back to your coffee, you mug.

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

"I haven't yet found another tea that I like more for every day (although I've been trying different ones for the last 6 months or so)."

Try Keemun or Russian tarakan, sorry Caravan.

Won't fit into the pound-a-day budget, though, I think...

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

Vladimir Plouzhnikov,

Thanks. I will. I've been looking at getting some of those glass mugs for my tea, so I guess it would be appropriate to drink Russian tea out of them.

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Joke

Re: having to take a teapot to work

But taking a samovar to work would be even more hassle than a teapot.

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

You can't use teapots at my work. Every time someone tries they get a 418 error

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

But taking a samovar to work would be even more hassle than a teapot.

You could always try making and selling a brew on your train to work. Or maybe barter the tea for chocolatey snacks your fellow passengers might have. I think it would probably be within the spirit of the exercise, if not the letter.

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JDX
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Re: @JDX won't really taste better

"better" tea doesn't neccessarily taste "better" - it's all about preferences and taste. Many people actually prefer the taste of Fosters to some £5-a-bottle craft lager!

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

Well, it's obvious that you attempted to use a coffee pot for brewing tea. Make sure that you use the correct device and protocol (HTTPCP instead of HTCPCP).

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Anonymous Coward

where are the lentils?

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Coat

Tesco.

I was in Tesco the other day, and they have a 'going out of date' section. I bought a trifle that had about 1100 calories in it, half my daily needs. It cost 27p and had all the major food groups, i.e. dairy, fruit, sponge and jelly. Lovely.

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JDX
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Re: Tesco.

Knowing the best time to visit when they dump loads of food in the reduced aisle, you can get crazy deals - as long as you don't mind eclectic dining.

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Re: Tesco.

I've been in my local Tesco late in the evening when they put the stuff out on the reduced shelves. Loads of people hovering suddenly turned and pounced on the poor lackey trying to load the shelves from his cart. It reminded me of the sort of thing you see in movies when someone chucks some live bait into a pool full of piranhas

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Re: as long as you don't mind eclectic dining

Mmm, lemon curd and spam sandwiches (yes, my sister actually ate this once.)

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Pint

What???

"...all the major food groups, i.e. dairy, fruit, sponge and jelly..."

But everyone knows the major food groups include cholesterol, caffeine and brown sauce...

...oh, and beer!

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry - not where I live

Looking at your 'basket' above, that 5 quid (or rather just shy of 6 Euros) won't be able to buy that stuff - IF I pay fair prices to the producers.

Those 12 eggs alone, from the farmer, would cost me 3.84 Euros. Add another Euro for one liter of milk, and I'll have 2 Euros left for rice, tea, chickpeas (which are hard to get over here at the best of times), meat bones and bread.

Without talking in any way about salt, pepper, herbs, water and gas (or other preferred energy) for cooking that stuff.

Yes, buying eggs, milk, bones, tea, rice at discounter prices would help - but this way, that stuff can't be produced even remotely sustainably.

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Re: Sorry - not where I live

I've never got the reason why buying from farm shops is dearer than the supermarket.

You've cut out the transport, the packaging, the middleman's cut and the retailers cut and a mass of other inline losses.

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JDX
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Re: Sorry - not where I live

But you do have to pay for the salary of people running a very small shop.

Plus, it's a novelty - buying directly from a farm is not best done in a fancy "farm shop".

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JDX
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Re: Sorry - not where I live

Um, so buy the things you CAN get cheap locally.

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Re: Sorry - not where I live

Which would mean

- eggs from battery chickens

- milk for which the producers barely break even

- tea is completely out of the question (as is coffee, for that matter)

- factory bread

Maybe Lester might ask local farmers what they get for the tomatoes, salad and strawberries that are currently sold in the Supermarkets here - and how much they can afford to buy from that.

I'm not saying that this challenge doesn't tempt me - but not at a time of the year where I still have to pay ~80 cents for a head of lettuce (at the discounter). Ask me again when local vegetables are in season, or even better, when I can get them from our garden (at what price do I have to position our own pumpkins? If I can get them for free, or at the price of the seeds, the 5 quid would let me make enough pumpkin soup to last me through the week. No sausages, though.).

This 1-pound-a-day challenge might be a good idea to get some publicity for the people who can't afford to pay more for food - but even on German social security, which really isn't much, the daily allowance for food is 4,23 €. Then again, you'll need to live for quite a long time on that level, whereas for one week (ok, 5 days), you really could get by on chips and chocolate. Or spaghetti and tomato purree.

As for the price difference between farm shops and supermarkets: 'our' farm shop probably doesn't pay its employees, which is the farmer's wife on two afternoons each week. But even in a supermarket (if you get the possibility to choose), you'll pay differently for eggs from battery chickens and eggs from freerange chickens. Same with milk - milk from caged cows that are optimized for feedthrough is cheaper than milk from free-range cows. At that farm, I can watch the cows on the pasture (or ask to see them in the stables), I can see (actually, I cycle past each day) the potatoes growing and I can ask from which part of the plot that salad came from.

And they do sell their apple juice at least 30% cheaper than the same quality stuff (i.e. made from local apples, unfiltered) in the supermarket.

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I must admit, I'm quite tempted. A good, fun bit of fund-raising. And gives me a chance to think about budgeting food, and how much stuff costs. I've been hearing a lot of people talking recently about how poorer people in the UK can't afford to eat healthily - which I'm not sure I buy. I barely budget for my food, but I do sometimes work out what meals cost. And it's almost always much cheaper than ready-meals, and with better quality ingredients too. So it would be fun to see what's possible at this price - and whether I can get something vaguely approaching a balanced diet.

I thought that the figure was now supposed to be $2 a day - which is more like £1.20? Although from my memory of shopping in the US that should really be closer to £2 - as stuff in the US is cheaper. It's all supposed to be worked out on a PPP basis, and I'm not sure what year it's based on either, but I bet it's much more £1 a day - accounting for inflation and purchasing power.

With a budget of £5, I think the answer is a few giant family bags of crisps. Quavers for breakfast, Walkers ready salted for lunch, prawn cocktail for starters and smoky bacon for main course. Who says that's not a balanced diet?

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@ I aint Spartacus

"With a budget of £5, I think the answer is a few giant family bags of crisps. Quavers for breakfast, Walkers ready salted for lunch, prawn cocktail for starters and smoky bacon for main course. Who says that's not a balanced diet?"

Aldi do a multipack of 30 packets of crisps for £3. So that's 6 packets per day, or 2 per meal stop. With the remaining £2 I go for a Double Decker 5 pack from Co-Op.

It wouldn't be pretty - but I'd survive.

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Re: @ I aint Spartacus

Ah but would those Aldi crisps be as good quality?

:Also I question your budgeting skills on the chocolate. I'm sure you can do far better than that for £2. The Wispas in my fridge were £1 for 4 in Sainsbury's. As they know from my Nectar history I only buy Crunchies and Wispas when they're £1 for 4 (about every 8-10 weeks) - and never the normal £1.68. So we can certainly get you a few more bars.

Particularly as if you're in Aldi/Lidl they often have the bars of decent continental choccy. Usually German I think. So you could probably get 400g of 70% cocoa stuff for £2. Or the fake Mars 'chocolate caramel' bars, that are usually 5 for £1 in the supermarkets.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Well get on with it then.

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what would my equivalent € budget / day be?

Amsterdam is hugely expensive (famously so), but I'm curious to see... (plus I could shed a few kgs)

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What exactly the point of that ?

To prove how hard it is to live in poor countries on 1 quid a day ? Mind you 1 quid somewhere in Sri-Lanka would buy you waaay more food comparing to UK and probably much better quality too.

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As I recall the figure is now $2 no longer $1. To account for inflation, and the fact that the world has got richer. It's probably meaningless anyway, as lots of the people on it will be in susbsistence farming economies, and often not using money anyway.

But the figure is worked out in mythical inflation-corrected, purchasing power parity dollars. So they've accounted for the fact that dollars go further in poor countries. At least as much as is possible to work out.

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Already there...

Big electricity bill following winter, four tyres for the car, road worthiness test plus stuff it needs fixed, blah blah blah. My food budget isn't much more than that proposed by the challenge. The secret? Cook your own stuff instead of spaffing a tenner on processed ready meals...

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From what I understand, Mr Haines is living in rural Spain. With the economy the way it is in Spain right now, I would bet local farmers are the way to go.

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Anonymous Coward

chickpeas

Chickpeas, gotta love em. Maybe you could make some tahini-less hummus with it and veggie oil and slather on the cooked rice. Buy one lemon, a clove of garlic. Get the oil by taking sample packets from a sandwich/salad joint or something.

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Re: chickpeas [gotta love 'em]

Definitely my favourite pulse. I make tomato-based stews fairly regularly... mostly with split yellow peas or chickpeas. Makes for a very hearty and cheap meal. I used to be vegetarian, but these days if I'm making such a thing, I'll chop up some chorizo and put it in the pot at the start to crisp it up a bit and release the oils (which stay in the pot and give a really nice flavour to the rest of the dish---it's crazy, but I sometimes see recipes telling to to throw out these delicious oils after cooking ii!). I take the chorizo bits out at that point and float a few of them on top of the stew when serving it, but sometimes I leave them in. In fact, I had a version of this for dinner today and yesterday, but I poached a ray wing in the stew for about 5 min at the end of cooking, then added some pre-packed crayfish.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it's actually dead simple to make (recipes for this sort of thing abound, but I've evolved my own as I went along) a very tasty and nutritious dinner very cheaply using simple ingredients: mainly onions, garlic, spices, tomato, celery, carrots, potatoes and pulses. I haven't calculated it, so maybe it's not a pound-a-day cheap, but I'd say it's close and probably a lot better for you than some of the things people are suggesting (like Mars bars!).

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Pasta, pasta, beans, pasta, pasta, pasta, beans and pasta

It's never so much that one can't live for a £1 a day but that one can't retain the will to live for very long when doing so. I am sure that if we had to most of us could, but I'm sure a supermarket shoplift would be heading towards the top of the 'to do' list. That and a visit to the doctors for some deficiency or problem caused by cheap but unhealthy foodstuffs.

The main problem for anyone on a lean budget is trying to buy variety when small quantities are near impossible to obtain and pricing drops with quantity. It's far easier on £30 a month up-front than when given a £1 a day. That's a typical 'poverty trap' of having to live for the day and not being able to save to make your life more comfortable than it is.

Doing it for charity is a poor simulation of the real deal but it's worth the experience and if it raises money for those who don't have it so good when the week ends all the better. And perhaps consider giving the money one would have spent on food to someone more in need - That's usually quite a shock; how much you did live on against how much is usually spent!

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Re: Pasta, pasta, beans, pasta, pasta, pasta, beans and pasta

"It's far easier on £30 a month up-front than when given a £1 a day. That's a typical 'poverty trap' of having to live for the day"

Thankfully, a solution is at hand! Get a payday loan! Only 2,000% APR!

If you can't repay - get a new loan and repay the old! Easy!

If you still can't repay - we will break your legs

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Re: Pasta, pasta, beans, pasta, pasta, pasta, beans and pasta

No one in the UK would have to live on £1 of food a day. Indeed the campaign seems more focussed on extreme poverty in 3rd world places.

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Re: Pasta, pasta, beans, pasta, pasta, pasta, beans and pasta

No one in the UK would have to live on £1 of food a day.

Been there, done that and unfortunately so have many others. The cosy ideal of it should or would never happen is not always matched by the cold reality of the real world.

I agree this is mostly about third world poverty but that doesn't mean there isn't some similar suffering closer to home.

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What are the rules on freebies?

Waitrose give a free tea/coffee with each visit when you have one of their cards...

Also free tea/coffee/milk provided at work.

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JDX
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Not to mention all that good food thrown in bins, or kebabs dropped on the street by drunk people after closing time.

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Windows

I've been on diets that would make your toes curl!!!

But the damn supplements! That is what cost good money mate! I got tired of peeing battery acid though!

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Bacon is a vitamin

Lester, me and the missus are in. With added diabetes... you have mail.

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not my cup of tea but

I can find you about a hundred Korean immigrants who pull this off even with the prices and taxes of California's Silicon Valley.

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Been there, done that, ate mashed potatoes every day for two months. On Sundays, mashed potatoes with baked beans. Yummy!

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Where I live, I could eat very well for a pound a day, so I am not sure that me doing this would really prove anything.

A donation is in need here I think...

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Anonymous Coward

Does home grown count as free?

Can I sacrifice a suckling pig and live on that and free range eggs? Also my brother in law has just given me about 20 kilos of leeks, can I save them for next week?

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