how to eat for $2 a day [5 ingredients]

$2 day no-knead bread $2 day potato omelette

When an email popped into my inbox the other day with the title ‘What would you cook for $2 a day?’, my curiosity was immediately piqued. I mean $2 can’t even buy you a coffee these days, how could it be enough for food for the whole day. And why $2, anyway?

Delving in deeper, I discovered that the international poverty line is $US1.25 a day which today equates to $2 Australian. And that 1.4 billion people currently live on less than this. An organisation called The Global Poverty Project has started an awareness and fund raising initiative in Australia. ‘Live Below the Line’ invites people to live on $2/day in August to raise money for a program to educate Australian school students about the issues of global poverty.

The aim is to inspire students themselves to become leaders in the movement to end extreme poverty. Funds raised will also be allocated to open three schools in the poorest areas of Cambodia.

To help inspire anyone interested in taking the $2 challenge, on Monday I had a go at feeding myself on less than $2 for the day. While it did take quite a bit of thought and planning, I’m happy to say that I did not go to bed hungry, and better yet, enjoyed and was very thankful for my food that day.

The thing that surprised me the most was just how cheap some food can actually be. I couldn’t believe that the cheapest battery farm eggs were just $2.29 for a dozen or that you can get 250g butter for $1.29.

Unfortunately, this exercise did confirm by comparison how expensive fresh veg can be. I normally wouldn’t think about having an omelette for dinner without a salad or some greens. But with even the cheapest lettuce costing $1.95, it was a no-brainer to fill up on eggs and potatoes instead.

For more details on how you can help end extreme poverty, visit the Live Below the Line website.

$2 day peanut butter on bread

$2 day menu

a slice of homemade bread 11c
25g homemade peanut butter 20c
tea with milk 9c
broccoli soup (recipe below) 60c
slice of homemade bread 11c
butter 2.5c
potato omelette 85c
TOTAL – $1.985

important update!

Please see the follow-up post to this article How to eat for $2 a day WITHOUT resorting to battery hen eggs.
And a big thankyou to everyone who pointed out the error of my ways in the comments. Really appreciate it!

$2 day broccoli soup

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
broccoli soup

serves 1

I’d normally serve this with goats cheese, but to be honest it is lovely all on its own. The most surprising thing is just how delicious broccoli can be, without onion, or stock or butter.

The key to this soup is not adding too much water and being generous with the salt and pepper.

1 head broccoli 60c

Bring enough salted water, to just cover the broccoli, to the boil in a medium saucepan.

Cut broccoli into individual little trees and simmer until the broccoli is bright green and tender. You want to be able to cut it easily with a butter knife.

Drain, reserving the cooking water. Pop the hot broccoli in a blender and add a little of the cooking water. Carefully cover the blender with a tea towel and hold the lid on. Whizz until you have a soupy consistency. Add a little more water if it seems too dry. Taste and season generously.

Total cost per serve 60c.

$2 day potato omelette

[5 ingredients]
potato omelette

serves 1

The secret to this omelette is to cut the potato into very fine slices and cook the potato through before adding the eggs. I used the easier method of finishing it off under the grill, but you could also use the more dare-devil approach and invert the omelette onto a plate and then slice it back into the pan top side down.

You can serve this hot on its own or if you need to make it stretch further, use the omelette as a sandwich filling.

10g butter 5c
1/2 brown onion, peeled & finely sliced 15c
1 large potato, scrubbed and finely sliced 25c
2 eggs 40c

Melt butter in a small frying pan and add onion. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the onion is soft and golden brown. Add potatoes and a few tablespoons of water. Cover and cook stirring occasionally until the potato is soft but not broken up and mushy. If it starts to burn on the bottom add a little water and stir more freequently.

Mix eggs together with a pinch of salt in a small bowl for a few seconds then pour over the potato mixture. Gently stir so the egg gets well distributed under the potato and smooth the top so it looks pretty. Cook for a few minutes until the egg at the sides looks set then pop the whole thing under a hot grill and cook until the top is set all the way through and the omelette looks a little puffy.

Total cost per serve 85c.


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jules May 15, 2011 at 5:44 pm

good for you amy!
all the best with your $2 challenge

JOANN GILLAN March 29, 2012 at 8:19 am

okay seen the 2.00 a day meal plan and yes it can be done if you go to the market and get say one potatoe 23cents 1tomatoe 21cents a banana 30 to 50 cents and bulk beans just a cup 42 cents add a hand full of spinich bulk 22cents you can make alot of soup s like bean soup banana is for your breakfast . take 4 cups water and i cup beans dice potatoe and tomatoe and spinich boil for about 1 to two hours and add more water as needed and there you go it comes to $1.58 and makes four cups

Ntengsico April 28, 2012 at 1:18 am

Did you include the cost of power and water and fuel in your per serve computation?
Here in the my country, people living below the poverty line do have to live on two dollars or much less and that’s for all expenses. Cost of living is proportionately cheaper tho (a dollar can get you a kilo of veg or a few pcs of fish).
Thanks for writing this article, it’s wonderful and I think maybe awareness is the first step to ending world hunger.

George April 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm

You stated you used salt and pepper but didn’t factor either into the $2 cost. Salt and pepper is a bit expensive and a luxury (i am doing the live below the line challenge) i simply cannot afford into the budget. That potato omelette looks delicious though!

kitty April 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

This is great. Also good idea’s if you are a bit low on funds one week!

One thing I do not understand is the relationship between income and spending power. $2 AUD has very little spending power in Australia, but if you had $2 AUD in a poorer country you would be able to buy more food.

I totally agree with the cause though, and the discrepancies between quality of life in developing and developed nations is appalling.

monica May 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I’m on $2 a day from next Monday, and I’ll be honest, I’m getting a little anxious. How did you come to those prices next to your ingredients? like, 20c for 25g of peanut butter. Can I buy a whole tub of butter, say 500g, for $1.95, and then if I were to only use 25g, can I say I’ve only spent approximately 10c (after doing the maths)?

Ella May 4, 2012 at 9:52 am

I like the idea of this campaign and actually googled it to look for cheap meals to cook for myself and my daughter. However even though I understand that people in the countries who will be recieving the donations are in need of them I feel charity starts at home and there are many people living below the poverty line in Australia myself and any one else on government benefits or low wages especially not to mention those that dont have access to benefits.

BeingHungrySux August 18, 2012 at 12:20 am

I have been struggling now for over a year due to layoffs & medical conditions they now keeps me from being hired. Went thru all savings, lost thousands thru 401k when stockmarket crashed . Wow going from 50 to 65k a year to under 7k a year is tough.
I have been using the food banks for help & I am so grateful for them! If u have a local food bank they will supply you with enuff food for up to 2 weeks if u stretch it out. Then I use the 2 dollars a day when I have the 2 dollars to spare because the bus fare is $1.75 which I have to use to go to dr & get to stores. But, after u get suppli7ed from your local food bank & have the 2 dollars to spare u can use to get salt, pepper, those travel supplies like toothpaste ect.. I had 3 dollars & some change yesterday to get some items but I gave it away to this lady ederly lady that was short $2.98 to get her medicine at the store pharmacy.. oh well I will try again when I get 2 dollars again lol..
GL everybody.. be blessed..

jules August 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thanks for sharing your story
I’m so glad to hear your local food bank is being helpful
All the best

Dustin September 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I don’t know if this is sustainable. I think you could eat for under $2 per day, but this menu doesn’t seem like it’d produce enough calories or protein for the average individual. The average male needs about 2,500 calories per day, while the average female requires nearer to 2,000. We also require about 60g of protein per day.

Martin April 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Hello Dustin,

The whole point of living on less than $2AUD is to realise how difficult it is for those living in extreme poverty. It to realise how fortunate we are to be able to afford such luxuries.
And about the daily avg intake of calories and proteins. People living in extreme poverty don’t get enough nutrients, vitamins, and proteins in their diet. And hence we see malnutrition in kids which leads to almost 5 million children dying from malnutrition every year!

And yes this is not sustainable. Ofcourse it isn’t. This is why there is such a high death rate in developing countries. See awareness about world hunger is the first step to eradicating it.

Kris Erskine January 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I think we’re going to have broccoli soup with potato omelette for dinner this week… trying to let the grain fiesta go so potato omelette might just meet the kids’ need to have something carby with soup… wish me luck.

Melanie Bester February 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm

The $2 is calculated from the equivalent poverty line averaged over numerous third world countries. I’ve done LBL for numerous years now, and perhaps, people may think it is better to start at home… But isn’t it better to try starting SOMEWHERE, as opposed to nowhere? People in third world countries have identical human rights to us, so it shouldn’t matter where we start, as long as we do.

Pam May 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

Made the broccoli soup, loved it as everything was in the pantry and it tasted fantastic, loved the splash of lemon.
Pam, Australia

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