Live Below the Line Challenge 2015
The Live Below the Line Challenge is an annual event that's been growing in popularity. When it first came onto my radar 6-7 years ago it was almost an underground movement. The purpose of this global event is to create greater awareness of people who are living below the line, it highlights poverty across the world - which, for the purposes of the charity challenge the organisation have had to define. In the UK the target is to live on £1/day. The "line" referred to is living below the Poverty Line.
Now, the food challenge budget is for food only, it doesn't include the cost of anything else. Interestingly, the fuel cost of making some meals (e.g. a casserole in an oven) can be greater than the ingredients! But this isn't in the scope of the good challenge.
Participants have to feed themselves on £1/day for a set duration. This year it is for 5 days. But there are winners and losers and rules! In other years it's been for a full week - much better as a single person as the budget's £7/week, making it easier to get more choice into the box of groceries! Five days for £5 is harder for one person
If you live alone then you start with £5 - that's your total food budget for the week. But, you have to think about the little things that are budget busters - you don't have the chance to bulk buy at all. e.g. can you afford to use up 1/5th of your budget on a tub of cheap margarine? And how annoying it is to buy 6 eggs as they're cheaper than 12, but not such a good bargain. For those doing it as a couple, or a family, your budget at £5/person for five days means you can club together and really do quite well!
I've got a whole bunch of recipes for single people who are doing the challenge - and there's not a lentil in sight as I don't like/use lentils :)
Many people have tackled the budget and challenge in their own way - many relying on what foods they can find reduced, others using "free" produce from their garden. When I do the Live Below the Line challenge it's always by taking £5 and putting that food into a box and only eating out of that box for the duration.
For those in couples and families, the challenge is almost a luxury-fest as they can really get a good spread of groceries for their £10-£25 budget. For those in big cities, close to supermarkets, they've got the option of digging around in the supermarket and seeing what's reduced, but for most people these bargains don't exist. So my challenge budget has always been based on £5 of food at full price.
With a £5 budget you even have to question whether you can spend £0.70 on the smallest/cheapest tub of margarine or not, or how else you can spend the money better so you've more actual food! Something else that has to go is coffees - I spend under £2/month on instant coffee, but to drink coffee during the 5 day challenge would mean investing too much of the budget just on coffee, so there's no coffee for those 5 days. A family could still have their jar of coffee as each person would be putting in just 35p each or so!
It does make a lot of people think about it a little more, but they're blessed in that they know it's only for 5 days and come the 6th day they can order their favourite takeaway with all the trimmings and a fat bar of chocolate :)
As I write this I'm eating £0.04 of toast, with some margarine on it - if I were doing the Live Below the Line challenge this week I'd have probably been jam on toast instead as I might not have had margarine. What's in the shopping basket and what's excluded is something I do at the last minute as prices change from year to year for goods. Later today I'll probably have a jacket potato and cheddar cheese, these nearly always feature in my Live Below the Line menu, so we'll see this year if I try to change my old favourites and cook some new meals and snacks this year.
Image Credit » My photo of Live Below the Line menu items. My potato, my cheese, my camera!