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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

breakfast
a slice of homemade bread 11c
25g homemade peanut butter 20c
tea with milk 9c
lunch
broccoli soup (recipe below) 60c
slice of homemade bread 11c
butter 2.5c
dinner
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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{ 64 comments… add one }

  • Jarkko Laine 8 July, 2010, 4:42 pm

    Great idea!

    And your no-knead bread looks delicious. I’ve been thinking of trying that recipe some day too as my family finds my normal bread baking sessions a bit too time consuming ;)

  • Wei-Wei 8 July, 2010, 5:00 pm

    Wow, what a great movement! I can hardly imagine eating for less than $2 a day – I’ve realised that it’s more expensive and time-consuming to eat “healthy”, too. :S

    Wei-Wei

  • Simon Food Favourites 8 July, 2010, 5:09 pm

    $2 a day is quite a challenge. i don’t think you could include meat although depending on the cut and how many days you cook for maybe it’s possible. there’s always the soup kitchen to go for a free meal or dare i say it, have you considered dumpster diving to supplement the ingredients. where there’s a will there’s a way. in terms of culture there’s plenty of free events to supplement the $2 a day eating challenge and if you visit a gallery opening you’ll be sure to get a free glass of wine or beer :-)

  • Alex 8 July, 2010, 5:50 pm

    I agree that living on $2 a day is a challenge – but it is the reality for alot of people. Even in Australia there are families living on a food budget of $50 per week for 4 people. As far as fresh fruit and veg go – turning up at the large markest you have there (like flemington in lidcombe/felmington) or Queen Vic Or Footscray markets an hour before closing on a Saturday doesn’t ensure the best quality fresh produce, but it does mean that you can pick up stuff that looks a bit funny, slightly bruised or wasn’t sold and has to be moved quickly. All of it is edible – and if youthink about it is a bit insulting and wasteful to throw it out.

    Meat is also pricey – but going to the butcher and getting a beef bone cut up or a few chicken carcasses to boil as a stock or using the marrow for a tinned tomato based sauce is another way of stretching out food on a low budget. Fish head curry is also an inexpensive and cheap source of protein. Other cheap meat would be ox tail, funny cuts of bacon, chicken wing tips, and also things like trotters/various ‘interesting’ offal like lungs eyes and cartilage/chook feet but I know many people don’t really like those these days or know what to do with them so we leave those out for now (but really, some of this stuff is great, tasty and really good for you!!! so Buy a lambs head one time this winter and honestly, give it a go).

    Milk – buy full cream milk and water it down (sounds terrible, but it is not bad if you are used to drinking skim milk!), or buy a bag of oats and mix some with water to make oat milk (and you can eat the oats as flap jacks to mop up your meaty marrow sauce, or for breakfast, or as porridge (living in scandinavia, I have fully embraced porridge as something you also eat with savoury sauces/pepper/salt, not just fruit/honey for breakfast!).

    Bread: Some of the bakeries used to (ok 4 years ago when I last lived in Sydney) sell day old bread at a substantially redcuced price which was great for toasting, using as croutons for salad, as a serving bowl for soup, for bread salad, for soaking and stretching out veggie burgers if you forgot to buy potato, for turning into a pizza base or as bread and butter pudding for dessert!

    For one person, on $14 in Australia you can buy a small bag of rice, pasta, flour (you could even make your own pasta one night), some oil, onion, salt, pepper, bread, eggs and meat and veg. You should also be able to buy 1 treat so you don’t completely feel like you are depriving yourself of everything. It takes a bit of time to plan and to coordinate the shopping, and you might find yourself eating things you might not normally have tried, but if I have a look at some of the flikr albums of people’s test weeks, I don’t think it all has to be noodles and carrot and broccoli, if you are just doign this for a week, that might be ok, but in the long term really really boring! If you really plan what you will eat that week, you might even be able to save your cents and afford a coffee as a treat at the end of it all!

    Given the price of best quality produce and how much organic stuff costs you won’t be eating that type of food. Skipping treats and social beverage drinking really reins in the food budget. The hardest part might be having to juggle work, and also being home in time to prepare those meals. Planning the week’s food means you will have a better chance of having a great week – and if there are more than 1 of you takign the challenge, there is nothing wrong with sharing/swapping stuff!

    I think this is a great initiative.

  • Claire 8 July, 2010, 7:03 pm

    I’m very impressed. I have a strict (ish) budget for the family shopping and find the cheapest way to eat a variety of fresh foods that all the family will find palatable is to ensure that almost everything we eat is home made – including things like biscuits, cakes etc.. The only thing I don’t make is bread – but then yeast based things scare me somewhat.. I don’t have to stick to $50/week but a list certainly helps prevent impulse buying which can really bump up a bill!

  • kylieonwheels 8 July, 2010, 8:20 pm

    I am reading this straight after I have just divvied up my pay and looked at the remainder, wondering how I will go with my new savings plan and a weekend away in Melb before the next pay day. Talk about timing!

    And talk about inspiring.

    I am a bit of a health nut, so planning is a big thing for me. It’s the only way I can avoid naughty temptations and lazy purchased meals/snacks. Since I recently started this savings plan (who buys a house anyway??), I have to plan even harder, because takeaway is so so so expensive compared to a home cooked meal.

    I can’t participate in Live Below The Line because I’m going to hospital for that time, but I reckon I’ll have a go at planning a week of it after I’m back on track. I think it’d be a great challenge, and the lessons you learn could probably have a lasting effect on the way you prepare food in the future.

    Nice one!

  • amber 8 July, 2010, 9:44 pm

    Jules, thank you for sharing about this initiative! My dad was a humanitarian aid worker when I was growing up (we lived in New Guinea) and I think he would be so interested in this awareness campaign. I am not sure I would have the resourcefulness to get through a day on less than $2.00. Your blog has really prompted an interest in me regarding the minimalism movement, and I can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

    Meanwhile, re: the no-knead bread — what if you don’t have a le creuset? What else could you use?

  • amber 8 July, 2010, 9:51 pm

    I just read that you can use a ceramic or enamel pan. Phew! Le creuset are too exy for me at the moment. Your bread looks crusty and divine.

  • Emily 9 July, 2010, 3:44 am

    What a great initiative, I think I want to try it.

  • Erin S. 9 July, 2010, 6:47 am

    Thank you for a fantastic post. We all probably spend too much on food. A meal out can easily cost an entire weeks food budget for some.

    The $2 menu is beautiful and healthy. Great job. Makes us think about this and want to get involved. I want to try this as well.

  • Hilary 9 July, 2010, 10:40 am

    I started making this bread a couple of years ago and haven’t tried anything else since. Easy and delicious!!

  • YardEdge 9 July, 2010, 10:40 am

    Thx. for the great simple recipes and great pix!!
    And esp. for the tip about the tea towel with the blender…I’ve made a mess so many times!

  • tina 9 July, 2010, 11:34 am

    i agree that the fruits and veggies are what drives up the food price. it doesn’t make sense to me…carrots are more expensive than doritos! but…after watching Food,Inc. i’ve actually increased my food budget and opt to eat healthier, organically farmed foods that i cook at home. i avoid the traditional grocery stores at all costs. that being said, even though i now spend US $3 for a dozen eggs, i can pick a large bucket full of blackberries along a trail in the park for free so i suppose it all evens out.

  • Gabi 9 July, 2010, 11:56 am

    I was able to feed myself and a friend on $20 for a week once, but it involves a lot more time cooking than people with jobs usually have.

    You pointed out a great issue with eating on such little money though: the focus on starchy carbohydrates. As someone else mentioned, getting in meat at that price point is difficult, but fresh vegetables are really an issue. Canned vegetables and beans are not a bad alternatives, but you never know what it is in them in terms of additives.

  • Julia Janzen 9 July, 2010, 2:32 pm

    Just a thought but you know you could probably add some free foods through foraging that might keep your costs down while providing extra nutritional value. Here in the states there are so many different things to choose from. You could of had a dandelion greens, blackberry & walnut salad with your dinner for free. I think the best way to figure out what’s available to eat that grows locally in the wild is to look into what the indigenous people ate in your area. Somehow they managed to survive without a supermarket so it’s got to be possible, right?

  • Alex 9 July, 2010, 7:01 pm

    Hi Julia – yes there is alot of edible stuff in the forest in Australia, but one of the big differences (at least in the forest areas around the capital cities) is that you are NOT ALLOWED to pick fruit/berries/fungus/flowers in areas of natural vegetation. It is a pity but I can understand why they do it!

  • Martijn Reintjes 9 July, 2010, 9:16 pm

    I just came back from 6 months in Central America and people there stretch their food budget by eating rice & beans. But when you cook them with a stock or some unions they become really tasty!
    The problem with this is, that if you eat it for 2-3 meals a day, each day of the week, it become quite boring.

  • Melody 10 July, 2010, 12:30 am

    Is there a way to share your individual blog posts on Facebook?

  • madelaine 10 July, 2010, 2:25 am

    i agree with above comments about this fantastic initiative and the travesty of how many people go hungry in the world- but i’m mortified that battery chickens would be a consideration knowing the incomprehensible suffering these animals “live” (i must put it in quotes as that is not a life, merely a tortured existance) thru. as alex commented, there are many inexpensive alternatives- ie, different cuts of meat, beans- for those who have the luxury of dining on $2/day as a matter of principal rather than a lack of choice. for an additional $2 you can get eggs humanely raised and i’d like to encourage people to consider a small shift in finances to create change in a cruel industry. and it’s easier to do with creative sites such as this to inspire and guide :) off my soap box- a lot of renowned gourmet chefs use frozen veg as an alternative and it’s usually less expensive than fresh while still maintaining nutrional value. you can also see if your area has co-ops and direct purchasing from farms- these can offer great variety and value.

  • Red Icculus 10 July, 2010, 6:07 am

    This post has inspired the wife and I to try to eat simple (and cheap) at least once a week. Your dishes are well thought out and still look delicious. Great post and keep up the great content.

  • Kimberley 10 July, 2010, 9:05 am

    I adore your website!
    Thank you for sharing the information about Below the Line. I’ve shared it with a few friends and family members as well.

  • Terry Elisabeth 10 July, 2010, 10:02 am

    Wow this is interesting. I can’t believe people can live on 2$ a day when I spend 4$ on a latte. You are opening my eyes.

  • Catherine 10 July, 2010, 2:03 pm

    But they’re battery hen eggs! Totally unethical in my book.

  • Forager @ The Gourmet Forager 11 July, 2010, 12:42 am

    I saw this challenge in my inbox too – but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to achieve it. Even a small bag of rice would cost more than $2! Good on you for this 5 star $2 effort!

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana 11 July, 2010, 10:29 am

    What great challenge. Even trying it for one day highlight the extreme challenge. I guess we have the luxury of comfort and fresh produce (even if at a cost). Unfortunately simple awareness of extreme poverty will not go far with solving the problem. We need to try some different methods and employ some inovative thinking to address this issue world wide.

    BTW I love the look of that bread. It is so crusty, I would like to eat it with some butter.

  • Xanthus 11 July, 2010, 11:02 pm

    Hi all.

    I made this bread today. Turned out well. Bit like sanoma or iggy style sourdough (for those that live in Sydney, they are bread makers here). I let it sit for about 20 hours, and used only half the salt. Also, recipe says cook in oven with lid on for 30 min, then another 15-30 with lid off. I only did 10 min with lid off, and it was already cooked.

    Next time I might try oven a bit lower than 450F (232C), as it may have been a bit dry from too high temp for first 30 min.

    But otherwise – bread very delicious, easy, and tasty.

    Might try it with no salt next time. Even do a fruit loaf perhaps, or an olive bread for when friends are over for dinner … mmmm …

  • Katie&Wags 11 July, 2010, 11:41 pm

    Bread looks amazing and I do love reading but endorsing battery eggs! Ouch.

  • Marathon Mama 12 July, 2010, 5:25 am

    I’m new to your blog and am so glad to have found it. This is a fantastic post– one I will be mulling over. Thank you for sharing!

  • jules 12 July, 2010, 8:52 pm

    alex,

    katie & catherine
    was by no means endorsing battery eggs – just pointing out the options when you have a very limited food budget. but I guess I should have thought beyond this to something that wouldn’t use eggs at all. good point.

    melody,
    if you click on the share button at the end of the post it should work – let me know if you have problems

    julia
    great idea but for some reason the organisers of below the line have prohibited foraging, or food from the garden or free food from any source.

    alex
    big thankyou for your detailed thoughts – really appreciate your input

    kylie – how the hospital trip isn’t anything serious. take care

    xanthus
    glad the bread worked well for you… mine was no where near iggys league – the appearance wasn’t bad but there’s no lovely sourdough flavour – working on a sourdough version though so watch this space

    mark
    agree that awareness alone won’t cure the problem. but it’s the first step I hope

  • mark 12 July, 2010, 10:02 pm

    hey, i saw this on the telly one night recently and have taken it on. Today i spent 13.75 on my food for the week. Yes a single bag of rice is over 2 but when you put the whole 14 together it evens out quite well. Ive made a lentil dahl that ive spiced up with a curry paste that cost 95 cents and cooked a weeks worth. Them added my rice and oats for breakfast

  • Go vegan! 13 July, 2010, 1:24 am

    Consider that the only reason eggs, butter, and other animals products are so cheap is because the government subsidizes them. It is imperative that we know the true cost of the items we buy. How much money would they cost without government interference? How many lives were lost? How many babies orphaned? How many children slaved away? What is the effect on the environment? How does this food impact our health?

    I’m very disappointed to see animal products listed as cheap ingredients, as they are the most destructive of all. According to the UN, the animal agriculture industry creates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry! There is no justification for using and discarding animals as if they were cardboard boxes. They are sentient beings and deserve equal consideration to humans.

    Dried lentils, beans, etc., should be included in this article, as they are one of the cheapest and most nutrient dense foods of all time!

  • Mattias Petter Johansson 13 July, 2010, 4:12 am

    @Go Vegan!

    While I agree with many of your points, I think that you are being helluva negative against a free article written for a good cause. I suggest that you do a writeup yourself about how to do the Below The Line Challenge on a Vegan diet instead of aggressively belitteling the work of others – you’ll get your point across much better when you make it constructively.

  • Erin S 13 July, 2010, 6:41 am

    Some of our Vegan can be a little cranky. I don’t remember seeing you make a commitment to only write vegan recipes here. I am wondering if most folks who live on less than $2 a day eat 3 meals?

  • Lisa 13 July, 2010, 1:03 pm

    Love your recipes! I tried to bake bread for the first time ever with your no-knead version – it turned out absolutely DIVINE! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Ella 14 July, 2010, 10:27 am

    Hi Jules,

    Great recipe and superb idea! Thanks for sharing it! I sent you an email about Sears Chef Challenge a few weeks ago – we are contributing to local book banks and charities in a number of cities in U.S. which gives free food to the poor and children. For the purpose of charity, would you mind share this wonderful recipe on our blog as a contributing blogger? http://searschefchallenge.com/blog/

    Thank you very much and I enjoyed your posts! Keep up the good work:)

    Best,

    Ella

  • Majeeda 18 July, 2010, 6:53 pm

    Jules this really caught my eye! $2 a day is not much – but – I can see how it could be done. I like the recipes you posted and I have often thought of this type of thing. Being a keen Indian cook I thought if I needed to I could live quite well on a diet of rice or home made flatbreads (chapatis etc) + various dahls + vegetables (either just steamed or cooked up with some spices) + some natural yogurt as a condiment. It would be cheap, healthy, tasty and easy.

    Another idea which I’ve had only since I married is a more north African style of eating: varied couscous dishes (not always meat of course), or soups (called shorba, there are many varieties) served with homemade breads.

    Thank you so much for making me aware of the ‘Live below the line’ campaign btw! Perhaps I’ll give it a go.

  • Benjamin Bankruptcy 19 July, 2010, 12:41 pm

    You can eat $2/day but you can’t meet your the recomendended daily intake of vitamins and minerals on $2 a day. The Healthy Food Access Basket (http://www.health.qld.gov.au/ph/documents/hpu/33125.pdf) is a study in Qld, Australia on the cheapest way to feed a family of 6 for 2 weeks, and then it measures the “access” to healthy food by measuring the price difference between the capital city and rural areas.

    In 2006 (the last study) the cost was $446.37 AUS Dollars, for a family of 6 for 2 weeks. So that’s about $5.31/day. Unless you’re growing your own food $2/day can’t be done without damaging your nutritional status

  • Xanthus 26 July, 2010, 2:54 pm

    Hi. An update on my second attempt at the bread recipe.

    I again made some slight tweaks to the recipe:

    – an extra cup of flour (my cast iron oven dish is too large, so my first attempt at bread came out a bit flat)

    – extra water (for the extra flout, plus to make the dough wetter, and hopefully get a moister loaf – see my previous update above on dry loaf)

    – no salt this time

    – let rise for 23 hours, then second rise of 4 hours

    – lower oven temp of 180C for first 30 min, then lid off for 15 min (but preheated it to 220, then turned to 180 when I put the loaf in)

    Result: larger loaf, lighter texture from a higher rise, more moist from the lower oven temp and more water.

  • Monique in TX 3 August, 2010, 6:28 am

    Good for you for showing how this works and how we can use/spend less so there is more to share with the poor. I’ll point out, though, that the statistic of living on $1.25 per day does not equate to spending that amount on food. That $1.25 has to cover everything–food, shelter, clothing, fuel, transportation, clean water, education, medical care, etc. Which is why so many people on the planet go without adequate food, shelter, clothing, clean water, education, medical care, etc.

  • Rosalie Bell 3 August, 2010, 10:03 am

    I like the above comment. Having just spent 4 yrs living in a remote part of PNG – I know the reality of poverty. No clean water and sanitition. No protein -no milk, meat, eggs on a daily basis or even weekly. Children never get milk. Limited resources – cash crops. People resort to noodles, cracker biscuits & fried flour balls. Rice and tin fish is the best they get – never daily. Cooking needs fire wood. Fire wood cost K10 a bundle. $2 in Australia does not equate to those places. Chicken and pig meat is for very special occasions only. As far as recipes go -people there do not have recipes -many are illiterate and there are no cook books. People generally live on a high carb diet and no protein. Lots of fat, salt and sugar content.

  • Maria 12 August, 2010, 10:40 am

    Hi Jules!

    I haven’t read many of the comments above, but just want to say what a humbling thought it is to think that anyone HAS to live on that amount of money. Right now I have my family on a 75% raw diet due to some health issues. At the moment that means visits to farmers’ markets and spending a bundle on organic produce. Clearly we are not living on $2.00 a day!!! Believe me, when spring comes around, my once-pretty, non-functional garden will be teaming with vegetables and hopefully, some fruit. Maybe then I might get close to twenty!
    Thinking about Rosalie’s comment above, what saddens me about life in PNG (and yes I have lived and worked there!) is that the indigenous people have access to the garbage that we caucasions introduced them to, crackers, biscuits, pink bubble gum, sugary lollies, tins of fatty corned beef, etc.
    What I noticed when I was there was that the locals knew what grasses to eat. They had access to bananas, pineapples and nuts which they all ate – much more nourishing in my opinion. I think that sometimes we westerns introduce what we think people should eat, not necessarily coming from an informed perspective.
    I hate to say this Benjamin B. ,but there’s one helluva lot of living in Australia whose eating standards would be well below the ideal ‘nutritional status’. As a teacher I see some atrocities masquerading as ‘food’!

  • jules 13 August, 2010, 9:12 am

    thanks for sharing maria
    interested to know why the need for a 75% raw diet? and is it helping? I’m planning on planting some veggies this spring as well. can’t wait!

    rosalie
    wow thanks for sharing your insights into PNG. you’re right – $2 australian doesn’t translate to some places

    monique
    good point that there’s more to it than just food.

    thanks for sharing the stats benjamin. I’m not saying that one should want to live like this, just trying to offer options to make the most of things if one is really strapped for cash.

  • Claudia 12 October, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Great post, it’s good to raise awareness about how little most people have to live on. There’s a couple in Brooklyn, USA, who have a whole blog about eating for US$30 a week (http://thirtyaweek.wordpress.com/about/). The interesting thing is that they show how easily it can be done by giving up meat and cooking most things from scratch.

    There’s also a terrific cookbook called “Vegan on the Cheap” (http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Cheap-Recipes-Simple-Strategies/dp/0470472243/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286851781&sr=8-1). The cost of most of the meals ranges from 50 cents to US$2. Best of all, they are all quick and easy to prepare.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I used to spend $300 a month just at Starbucks, but nowadays I cook much of what I eat, so I spend less than half that on groceries per month. I could probably knock that back another 50%, except I like eating organic whenever possible and I’m a big fan of fresh produce. That said, frozen food is an excellent option for those on a budget.

  • Claudia 12 October, 2010, 1:22 pm

    Oops, sorry forgot to mention that the other reason my grocery bill is still on the high side and why I could see knocking it down to $20 a week is because I also quite like prepared foods. For example, it costs about 25 cents to make a big bowl of hummus if prepared from scratch (using dry beans that have been cooked) as opposed to $6 for the equivalent from the store. I’m often lazy and go for the storebought stuff, because it’s healthy (organic, plus no horrible additives, preservatives or colourants) and I justify the expense by reminding myself that I used to spend more than that on junkfood every day!

  • Claudia 12 October, 2010, 1:28 pm

    Just to clarify, it costs about 50 cents to make hummus in the wintertime when lemons are more expensive. And the assumption is that the beans, spices and tahini are bought in the bulk food section of the grocery store and that the parsley is grown at home :-)

  • Sarah 6 November, 2010, 8:10 am

    Ours is one of those families who live with this reality. We have a grocery/food budget of $45 dollars a month…and that is to feed a family of 5. That works out to $.30 per person per day. We can’t afford the luxury to be picky but we always have the opportunity to be creative.
    We make everything stretch as far as we can. I make everything from scratch, from bread to yogurt to noodles to condiments. I even make our soap including bath, and laundry. We grow what we can as far as fruits and veggies in window boxes and jugs on the porch.

    We eat a lot of beans, bread and eggs when we can get them. It’s not the healthiest diet on the planet but we rarely go to bed hungry either.

  • Tiffany 22 April, 2011, 6:58 pm

    This is a really goood experience for people to engage in as it makes you really value what you have.

    I think it is important to point out to some people that have posted here that for the actual fundraising challenge people are only allowed to eat $2 worth of food a day. That includes foood that can be retieved from friends, soup kitchens even by dumpster diving. If you get a packet of rice from the dumpster you have to consider how much it would have cost in the shop.

    So it is a great idea to consider these alternatives but for the fundraiser there is the major challenge to reflect the international poverty line wehre people have no access to these alternatives.

    Good lluck everyone :)

  • Linda 3 May, 2011, 5:02 pm

    I actually thought this site was a joke until I read through. Thank goodness I have more than $2 a day, because I would starve on this few calories. Right on with the broccoli–one of the most nutritious vegetables. But for those who try to eat just these 5 ingredients *every* day, remember that variety is healthy for balanced nutrition, that raw veggies and fruits have enzymes that are good for health, and 14 eggs a week is a very high amount of cholesterol.

    Even occasional substitutions would increase the healthfulness of this diet. For example, sweet potatoes have more nutrients and fiber than potatoes, and far more vitamin A than you get from egg yolks. Wheat and peanuts make complete protein, but brown rice and lentils are even better. A potato has vitamin C, but less than half what you need each day. An orange now and then will help, and a single kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange. Walnuts and avocados have good fats. The point being, please don’t restrict your diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and legumes unless you really are living in poverty. And if you’re in the United States, there is help for you–welfare, food stamps, disability benefits, job assistance. No one is expected to live on $2 a day. If you can afford it, vegan, organic food is the healthiest–the best fats, the most vitamins, the most fiber, no cholesterol, no pesticides, good for you and the environment. It’s great to be mindful of poverty and frugal with money, just don’t compromise your nutrition for the sole purpose of taking on a challenge. Otherwise, over time, it could take more than $2 a day to pay your medical bills. If I’m coming across strong, I guess I wanted to counter the strong notion that 5 foods provide a healthy diet for the rest of your life.

  • Jen 5 May, 2011, 5:56 am

    Hey, has anyone actually tried this for more than a few days? Shes got a good point its like 900 calories, you would die. I bet no one here making good comments eats just this. But shes wrong about vit c, broccoli has a lot.

  • Amy 15 May, 2011, 4:56 pm

    Thanks so much for some great ideas! I start the Live Below the Line challenge tomorrow, whereby one aims to live on $2 a day for food for 5 days to raise awareness about the 1.4 billion people in the world that have to live on this for everything, every single day. I am excited to try my hand at baking some homemade bread and making soup – I will be sharing my weekly challenge with students around Western Australia who are also doing this amazing challenge. Just checked the tally online at http://www.livebelowtheline.com.au and see that we’ve raised over $700,000 nationally for sustainable educational projects in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea through the Oaktree Foundation. Thanks again for your great tips and recipes, its going to be a blessing this week to have some great footsteps to follow! :)

  • jules 15 May, 2011, 5:44 pm

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

  • JOANN GILLAN 29 March, 2012, 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 28 April, 2012, 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 29 April, 2012, 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 30 April, 2012, 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 2 May, 2012, 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 4 May, 2012, 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 18 August, 2012, 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 23 August, 2012, 12:37 pm

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

  • Dustin 14 September, 2012, 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 22 April, 2013, 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 27 January, 2013, 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 18 February, 2013, 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 9 May, 2013, 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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