What food I bought to Live Below The Poverty Line: What my family will live on for the next 5 days

The Ingredients that will feed my family for the next 5 days

What food I purchased for living below the line for 5 days

It’s taken so much planning to get my shopping for the next 5 days within budget but I’ve finally managed it.  I actually came in under budget which allows me the use of some herbs and spices in my meals and some extra emergency snacks in case any of us are in need of some more food.

Here is a list of what I bought for the 5 days to feed the 3 of us in our family.  Our budget was £15 for 5 days which works out at £1 per person per day.

  • 1KG Rolled Oats: £0.75
  • 1KG Frozen Spinach: £1.20
  • 20 Bananas: £1.97
  • 250g Flaxseeds (Linseeds): £0.99
  • 1.5KG Wholemeal Breadflour: £1.39
  • 1KG Onions: £0.63
  • Tin Kidney Beans £0.21
  • 1.3KG Cannellini Beans: £1.09
  • 1KG Mixed Frozen Vegetables: £0.75
  • 2.5KG New Potatoes: £1.90
  • 500g Passata: £0.29
  • 16 Apples: £2.00

Total : £13.17

This is a fair bit under budget but I do want to allow for some more just in case food if I feel like this won’t be enough to keep us from getting hungry.

When I look at the ingredients I can’t believe this is all we’re going to be living on.  It looks so boring to me, but I think my meals are a lot more tempting than the raw ingredients.  That’s the thing with ingredients, you can be creative and no 2 meals have to look the same.  But when you buy ready meals you have no option but to eat it exactly as it is.

What food I bought for living below the line

I planned my shopping for the week based on the Tesco online prices and when I got to my local Tesco store a few of the ingredients were 10 or 20p more than the figure quoted online.  Normally I may not even notice these kind of things, but the odd 10 or 20p can make the difference between affording to come in under budget or not.

Another 2 things that I found difficult about buying my food for this experiment at Tesco were:

  • Almost all my bananas had black and bruised chunks on them.  Luckily I found this out before I actually needed to eat them.  I had to buy my bananas about a week in advance so they would have time to ripen.  I was lucky that I had more bananas so I could replace the bruised chunks but if I truly didn’t have any extra money I’d have to take them back to the shop for a refund which may cost some people more bus fare and wouldn’t be worth it. 
  • When I was trying to price up the apples in the shop, I couldn’t decide between the bag of value apples and the bags of apples on special offer.  I was told how much each apple cost per bag but it didn’t seem right to me so I got out my calculator and worked it out myself.  It turns out the apples were much cheaper per apple than they were actually quoted for some reason.  In the end there wasn’t much in it but the apples on special offer were twice the size so I went with them.

Although there are 2 packs of flour in the photo I have only planned to use one for my meals and the other will serve as my emergency food in case we need it but hopefully we’ll be fine on what I’ve already planned.

Can you guess what my meals are going to be based on my ingredients?  What would you make with these ingredients?  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog where I’ll show you our food for the day and tell you if we’ve felt at all hungry on our first day on the challenge.

You can read all about this challenge and my first post about it here, and read about my preparations here.  If you read yesterday’s preparations, you may have seen my little quiz where I asked which you thought were better value, the tinned beans or the dried beans I’ll give you the answer now.  There was actually very little in it at all, they were pretty much the same price for the quantity of beans in weight.  So basically if you have more free time I’d opt for the dried beans, but if you have limited time then opt for the tinned beans. I do perhaps have more free time so I chose the dried beans.  I also like to use food that has had as little processing as possible and the dried beans will be a healthier option.

Besides which, my little girl is allowed to ‘play’ with dried beans and hold them for me in the shop, but she doesn’t get to play with tins.

My toddler stealing my Live Below the Line Beans

My toddler stealing my Live Below the Line Beans

My toddler stealing my Live Below the Line Beans

I’m already really enjoying preparing for this challenge as I’ve been reading some very inspiring blogs from other people.  I’ll be sharing more of these in the next few days.

Katherine Kyle @ Green Thickies

Founder at Green Thickies
Katherine lost 56 pounds and recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Green Thickies.
Read Katherine's inspiring comeback story, From Fat and Fatigued To Lean and Loving Life In 4 Months.
Send Katherine a message on Instagram, Facebook, or email here.


  1. Gabby @ the veggie nook says

    Wow, so much planning has to go into this! It’s mind boggling! I’m curious though- are you able to eat anything other than this food? Like what about salt or sugar?

    Anyway, I’m trying to imagine what you’re going to make! Apple oatmeal or apple crisp? some kind of soup with the frozen veg, beans and carrots? Can’t wait to see!

    • Congratulations, you got the right answer about the cheapest beans. For most beans we can buy here the dried beans are much cheaper.
      Yes I really should post the rules for the challenge as I’ve not explained those anywhere. I’ll do that on my post today. Yes we’re allowed to use herbs and spices, small amounts of store cupboard ingredients as long as we cost them out too, so that will make food taste a lot better. I wish I could make apple crisp! I’ve not planned any desserts, wanted to keep most of the calories for main meals. I’ll be craving apple crisp by the time the week is out I’m sure. Thanks for your support.

  2. Bag of carrots in photo but not included in price list.

  3. Other things missing as well, oil, spices, peppermint extract, almond extract. Not a hope in hell of this actually being under £15 without dipping into a storecupboard.

    • It is true that there is a need to dip into the store-cupboard, however, having personally existed on less than £15 a week for several years it is possible if you shop around and buy one high price item per shop. Also items such as oil vary so much in price, but a 79p bottle of rapeseed oil will last a long time. You can get big tubs of spices for less than £1 if you shop around or of course grow your own herbs from reduced price living plants which if well tended will live on for a long time (I have 3 year old chives in various places in my garden from one 10p plant bought reduced from Tesco!) However, you are right, there is a massive difference between a 5 day experiment and actually living under the poverty line. Kindest Regards Cathy (Green Thickies Customer Satisfaction Manager.)

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