Living below the line: My experience


Going hungry isn’t something I’ve ever really had to think about, growing up there was always more than enough food in the cupboard and even as a student I’ve never struggled to afford to eat. It seems nowadays we take the availability of food, and being able to afford it, for granted. This is one of the reasons I decided to take on the Hunger Project’s challenge and live below the line, which asks that I live on £5 for five days.

When I first signed up I thought ‘great this should be fun’, but it’s only as the start date has loomed and I’ve scoffed all my Easter eggs that I’ve realised what a challenge it will be. No meat, no cheese and worst of all no chocolate for five whole days. Although five days is nothing compared to a lifetime of hunger I know it will be a shock to my system.

My usual eating habits would be:

–          No breakfast

–          A lunch from campus (because I always forget to pack my lunch beforehand), a LUSU shop meal deal, Greggs pasty, a Subway or if I’m feeling fancy maybe a Fylde bar meal.

–          A few snacks mid-afternoon.

–          A ‘proper’ meal for tea: Lasagne, pasta bake, Shepherd’s pie, chicken and veg, pizza and salad or if I’m really tired Supernoodles.

–          I probably go for a coffee about three times a week and go for a meal out about twice a week.

I always end up spending far more than I’d like to on food, but the problem is it’s so easy to do. Yesterday I spent £7.45 on a Costa lunch, that’s a latte and a panini – costing more than my next five days allowance!

So how do I plan on going from binge eater and coffee shop regular to living below the line?  That was the big question. It was only when I was looking into what I could survive on that I realised quite how little £5 could buy you. That’s when I decided to cheat a little and use a meal plan that Live Below the Line suggested, ‘Full of Beans’. Considering I had never really tried kidney beans it was a bit of a gamble, here’s hoping it pays off.


Looks yummy right?

So I had my shopping list courtesy of Live Below the Line, now all I had to do was buy it as cheap as they believed the ingredients should be. This was a huge challenge. ASDA was the only place near Lancaster I could think of where I could get things really cheap. The problem was that none of the prices on my list matched those in the shop. For example, buying three large potatoes for 30p was just never going to happen, neither was four cloves of garlic for 40p! In the end, I had to choose what not to get – courgettes and garlic were among the stuff that got cut along, with a tin of kidney beans.

Photo by Amy-Jane Bowden
Photo by Amy-Jane Bowden

This what my £4.94 looks like in ingredients. P.S. the flour is for the flat bread, just to avoid confusion!

My tactics to avoid hunger are a) drink lots of water b) beg if I run out of food.

 Wish me luck!



You can follow my battle with hunger through this blog where I’ll be updating you every day about how the challenge is going.

You can donate to the LUSU Gives team through and follow the rest of the team’s progress through #LUSUGivebelowtheline

Similar Posts
Latest Posts from