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Thread: Menus and Recipes for Live below the Line Challenge

  1. #1
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    Menus and Recipes for Live below the Line Challenge

    Next year when they do the Live Below the Line Challenge, I'd like to particpate. In this challenge you live for 5 workdays on US$7.50 of food (or NZ&AU$10 or 5 poundsUK). It's a hunger and poverty awareness challenge. You can split packages of items with other people to get more diversity in your food.

    So far the challenge has been done in May, so foods that are usually frugal that time of year would be good to focus on.

    In looking over the food choices of some of the other participants, some common favorities were rice, legumes, eggs, potatoes, pasta, oatmeal, flour, cornmeal, onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, canned corn, carrots, greens, pumpkin, bananas, salt, pepper, curry.

    The strategy that people seemed to most want to change for a future year was cooking a big batch of something and then needing to eat it repeatedly. So more variety of form or combinations of items would help there.

    Any advice from people who have participated previously or who are thinking of participating in 2012 on shopping lists or menus?

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    Does this mean $7.50 per person per day to equal $37.50 for the entire 5 days?

    If so - and I really don't mean any offense here! - but I find it sort of funny when people take a "challenge" to live on a grocery budget bigger than the one I live on normally!
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    I tried it a while back. What surprised me was how much a cup of coffee with sugar, a pat of butter or a glass of milk 'cost'.

    I made a simple sourdough bread that was supposed to cost $0.50 per loaf to make, then figured $0.05 per slice. I also made homemade yogurt which cost less than a dollar a quart.

    Edited to add: No, she means $7.50 for the five days, or $1.50 per day.
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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I don't know which challenge you're talking about, but my DD worked for New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and they did that challenge--I think it was last May. I couldn't participate because I was traveling on business, but DH did. (oops, ETA my mistake, DD's challenge was living on a food stamp budget--can't remember what the weekly allotment was, but I'm pretty sure it was more than $7.50 for 5 days)

    He did it, but really didn't plan it well. He ate off of Cambell's soup and saltines and peanut butter.

    happystuff, sure enough, this challenge isn't as extreme for many of the people on this board, but it certainly is for most people. When I argue for the ability for people to eat healthily for a very small amount of money DH always comes back to, "What, haven't you shopped at Whole Foods?" My point is always that if you stick to the basics with little meat, good soups and stews, basic whole grains, and no processed foods, you'd be surprised at how healthy you can be, and how much financially better off. I was bummed that I wasn't there to prove that point at the last challenge--maybe I'll try again next May!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marianne View Post
    Edited to add: No, she means $7.50 for the five days, or $1.50 per day.
    Okay, that would make it a bit more of a challenge. Thanks for the clarification!
    To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. - Anon.

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marianne View Post
    I tried it a while back. What surprised me was how much a cup of coffee with sugar, a pat of butter or a glass of milk 'cost'.

    I made a simple sourdough bread that was supposed to cost $0.50 per loaf to make, then figured $0.05 per slice. I also made homemade yogurt which cost less than a dollar a quart.
    Wouldn't figuring the cost of the food you eat per day be cheating? I mean, it's way different pricing/buying a single cup of coffee than it is buying a can of coffee on sale and then calculating how much it costs per cup for 5 days. Making sourdough bread and calculating a per slice cost doesn't take into account the entire bag of flour you would have to purchase to make that one loaf - even though you may not have used up the whole bag of flour, you would still have to buy it to get what you would need to make the bread. Wouldn't the real challenge be in actually purchasing 5 days worth of food for $7.50?

    I'm really not trying to be difficult - lol. I find grocery budgeting to be quite fascinating, actually. It's the only type of shopping I really enjoy and about the only aspect of our budget that I feel I have some amount of control over. :-)
    To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. - Anon.

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

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    $7.50 a day would be difficult for some people as their bought lunch at work each day would be more than that. But that's probably a challenge for a different board.

    Setting up the parameters of a challenge like this is always difficult. When the challenge is constructed to assume an empty cupboard, usually it's for a longer time with more money per day. But then there are lots of complaints about its artificiality as almost no one has an empty cupboard unless they have a fire or Katrina type situation. So this makes it more normal as people usually have some food and spices left over each week. And people often split bulk purchases with friends. The one constraint that differs from a true western situation is that people would be eating free food at work or events. Avoiding that makes it more like the situation in a poor region though where there would be virtually no free food under those circumstances. So that gives a bit more sense to participants of the pervasiveness of the situation.

    Happystuff, would the challenge be more interesting to you if you had empty cupboards and $7.50? I'd be intrigued to hear about your shopping list and menu. If I was doing that I'm thinking I'd start out with rice and beans or potatoes and beans and then see what the best vegetable and fruit loss leaders for the week would be.

    Marianne, what did your family do for the challenge?

    Catherine, I'd be interested in hearing about what your daughter and husband did for the food stamp challenge and what you would have done if you had been home. It would be interesting to try that one too. Since there is quite a bit more money for that and they are usually starting with an empty cupboard, would you start a dfferent thread for it? That way we could brainstorm strategies most suited to each situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amaranth View Post
    Happystuff, would the challenge be more interesting to you if you had empty cupboards and $7.50? I'd be intrigued to hear about your shopping list and menu. If I was doing that I'm thinking I'd start out with rice and beans or potatoes and beans and then see what the best vegetable and fruit loss leaders for the week would be.
    I always find these challenges to be interesting - lol. Personally, I think it would be more challenging to do the project "empty cupboard", simply because if an individual was really living on $7.50 for 5 days, it would be difficult to have anything but empty cabinets!

    I would probably do as you and also start out with rice and beans.
    To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. - Anon.

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

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    Amaranth, at the time, it was just DH and me, plus he was out of town for a couple days. When he got home, he just ate whatever I made, but more of it! :o)

    Happystuff, you're correct. It would have been much more difficult to start with an empty cupboard. I have hens, so plenty of fresh eggs, lots of stuff stocked up and a freezer full of food. I tried to be as honest as I could by noting prices when I went to the store so I could get an idea of how much a single egg would cost, or a bag of split peas, etc. I didn't eat anything from my stash that didn't have a dollar amount associated with it. BUT I already had salt, pepper, sugar, etc. Figuring 5 cents for seasoning, 15 cents for a tsp of sugar, etc, is still different than having none of it and having to buy a container of it. I would have blown the whole amount just on a can of coffee.
    Marianne
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    Eco Friendly Tightwaddery and the Fine Art of Substitution

  10. #10
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    We did the challenge a couple years ago, or at least most of it. Some unexpected company showed up so we quickly raided the pantry and freezer. What I found in planning for us was that it became easier the bigger the group that went together pooling resources. It makes sense because you can buy items in quantity. A good example is that 25# of rice from the Vietnamese grocery store only costs a couple dollars more than 2# of rice from our regular grocery store. If $7.50 was all you had in your pocket you wouldn't have any option, but when several people threw in together it was much more doable. What I discovered I'd really miss other than variety to simply balance a diet was the spice cabinet. I'm not sure how much we have invested in spices, condiments, vinegars, etc., but its easily well over a years worth at $7.50 per week. With that at our disposal it wasn't as tricky to give humble ingredients a lot of flavor and variety. Paring it down to iodized table salt (at about $.30) and pepper packets from a fast food joint made my cooking a lot less appealing.

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