Living on a pound a day for all my food and drink

Hi everyone! My name is Anna Kerby and, I have decided to take on the challenge of living off £1 per day for food and drink for one week. I am a student at Manchester University and I want to do as much as possible to raise money so that S.A.L.V.E. can help get more children off the streets, back home to their families and back into education.

For me, one of the hardest things is knowing and seeing how many homeless people there are in the world. Living in Manchester where there is a huge homeless crisis, I am reminded each day of how lucky I am to have friends and family supporting me, a home and – obviously very importantly – food! In addition to this, I think that education is a key way to help people increase their opportunities and learn about others in the world. This is why I am so keen to do this challenge for the children being supported by S.A.L.V.E. in Uganda and give them the rights every child deserves.

As a complete foodie and someone who loves cooking with lots of different ingredients, this challenge is going to be very tough! My aim is to raise as much money as possible and experiment with different foods to see how creative I can get with only £1 per day. In doing so, any recipes that diverge away from plain rice or pasta, I’ll make sure to send your way so hopefully you can get some inspiration too!

If you would like to donate and support my challenge then please click here. Anything you give – no matter how big or small – will be put to good use supporting children living on the streets in Uganda..

Day 0

As I sit in my family home trying to write my dissertation, I keep glancing at the kitchen, trying to suppress my food cravings as practice for the challenge ahead. 15 minutes later and I now have an internal monologue debating whether it would just be better to gorge on everything in the fridge. That way, surely I can both get all of my cravings out of the way and stay full for the rest of the week? This, I decide, is the most logical thing to do. And so I proceed to eat everything I possibly can in preparation.

This urge to eat everything all the time is not uncommon for me. For me, cooking is enjoyable, relaxing and incredibly rewarding. Staying at my family’s house is great: there is a vast array of ingredients and obscure spices I can experiment with, and my brothers and mum are much better at cooking than me, which means I always look forward to dinner. In comparison, cooking at university is interesting and can be a challenge: you have to be inventive, using few ingredients and constantly finding substitutes for particular sauces, herbs and spices. Further, in a paradoxical student mindset where my friends and I do not have money to spend but also want to ‘treat’ ourselves, I too often try not to spend money on a food shop but then go out for dinner or drinks. This, for me, is what I think will be the biggest challenge this week. I am proud of being a foodie, and I would much rather spend money on food than anything else.

Some of my friends have brushed the challenge off as easy: ‘just do a big food shop in Aldi at the beginning of the week and you’ll be fine!’ is the most common remark. I agree that Aldi is affordable and if you cook sensibly and in bulk, you can reduce your food expenditure drastically. Usually, I spend around £20 per week on a big food shop and then cook large vats of dahl, chilli or curry to be frozen. Then, when I get bored of eating the same thing, I make stir fries, pasta or try something new and more exciting. However, with only £1 per day for a week, I will probably be eating the same thing for lunch and dinner repeatedly.

This, and suppressing the desire to go out to eat with friends, is going to be really difficult and exactly why I chose this challenge. I realise how privileged I am being British and having grown up not only being taught to love food, but having the resources to make, buy and eat what I want. When my friends and I shy away from expensive ingredients or decide not to eat out because ‘we don’t have any money’, I know that this is a choice about whether we should be practical and realistic. However, for so many, doing these things is not even an option. Being practical about cooking, using things sparingly and going hungry is part of so many peoples’ daily lives. This disparity between those who can afford to eat whatever they want and those who cannot afford to feed themselves or their children is huge. It is one of the biggest social injustices in the world, and much more awareness about it needs to be raised. That is why I am going to try and do this challenge, so wish me luck!

Day 1

I decided it would be better to do the challenge back at university, where I can start with an empty cupboard. After arriving in Manchester in the morning, I went to Aldi, my shopping list ready in my hand. Unfortunately, I arrived hungry, which is never good when you go shopping, let alone when your budget is £7. Determined to keep the challenge in mind, I put up blinders around my eyes and made a beeline for the food on my list.



Frozen veg








I have always thought food is expensive, but this shop suddenly made every price even more daunting. After staring vacantly at the red peppers as I tried to calculate the price of fresh vegetables versus frozen ones, news reports about how much fresh food and vegetable children should eat per day flooded my thought process. How unfair is it that some parents are condemned for not feeding their children fresh food each day? Of course, children should have a nutritious diet, and there should be education about how to cook healthily and affordably. But it is very easy to criticise from a privileged perspective where there are two parents at home, earning a good income and thus having the time and money to cook decent meals everyday. My food shop is relatively healthy: there are vegetables, carbohydrates and, in my attempt to find cheap protein, eggs. Even so, I am cooking for one person and, ultimately, it is only for a week. If my situation was different, who knows how healthy this food shop would be. As I walked back to the frozen vegetables, I noted how this challenge does not just highlight the inequalities some parents and children experience in Uganda everyday, but those that are a result of social injustices in Britain too.

When I got home, hungry, tired and busy thinking about work, I made a quick lunch of eggs on toast: without butter. That was a challenge in itself. I then figured out how much seven tea bags would cost, and added that to my total. One cup of tea per day during my dissertation period? Another challenge.

Total: £6.09

Day 2

Despite my sadness when I realised I couldn’t have butter on my toast for lunch, my eating on day two had gone well, and I was feeling very smug about the challenge. When my friends expressed shock at my decision to do the challenge during the lead up to our dissertations, I shrugged them off, thinking about how well I had managed so far. This arrogance was clearly premature, and by the time the evening came, I was hungry, irritable and craving snacks.

On my way home, I walked past two supermarkets. Both times, I began to walk inside before remembering I was doing the challenge and had to save the little money I had left. Each time, I was filled with disappointment, and realised how often we buy things out of habit and greed. My urge to go into the supermarkets wasn’t because I was hungry or needed a particular ingredient for my meal. Instead, it is because I am so used to thinking I don’t have enough in the fridge to make a particular meal, or reasoning with myself that I’ve had a hard day (not true) and everyone should treat themselves when their day hasn’t been perfect.

Whatever excuse I make to spend more always seems reasonable to me, even though it’s unnecessary and usually results in me wasting the food I do have at home.

Breakfast: porridge with milk and a banana. One cup of tea.

Lunch: two fried eggs on toast (no butter, disappointingly)

Evening meal: spiced rice with chilli, paprika, turmeric, onion and frozen vegetables. This was surprisingly delicious and I made enough to last me three meals.

Days 3 and 4

These two days were difficult because I was invited out for dinner, and the weather was beautiful so people were going for drinks after the library. Not drinking or eating out is definitely where I’m saving the most money. Since the weather has been nice, trips to the pub before heading back to the library or going out for dinner have become far too frequent. The skies clear for a moment in Manchester and everyone suddenly starts venturing outside in t-shirts and sunglasses ready to interact with each other.

Disappointed I couldn’t go for dinner and craving chocolate, I considered starting smoking again. This was obviously a stupid idea, not just because I had quit over a year ago, but because it seemed ridiculous to limit my food shop to £7, but then spend well over that on tobacco.

This urge to smoke, however, made me think a lot about the work that S.A.L.V.E. International does with children living on the streets in Jinja, Uganda. When living on the streets, some of the children start taking Mufata, an aeroplane fuel that can be sniffed from a plastic bottle or a cloth. Highly addictive, the children say they take it because it keeps them warm and makes them forget the pain they experience living on the streets. What always struck me the most was that many of the children buy Mufata instead of food. This, Nicola (the CEO of S.A.L.V.E) told me, can be because Mufata is both cheaper than food and suppresses their hunger.

Whilst I can never truly imagine what I would do in that situation, I can see why these children take Mufata. What would you do if you couldn’t afford food but could buy something that made you feel safe, warm and full? The thought, however, of anyone having to take drugs in replacement for food is frightening and heart-breaking.

No one should have to be in that situation, and doing this food challenge reminded me of how vital S.A.L.V.E. International’s work is. Through S.A.L.V.E., so many children have been prevented from taking Mufata or have now started receiving help in fighting their addiction. This has helped them leave the streets, get back into education or their family homes, and start being children again.

Day 5 and 6

On day five, I had leftover rice for lunch and dinner, which really wasn’t very exciting.

On day six, I made pho:


2 onions

Frozen Veg


Vegetable stock



Admittedly, I cheated a little here and used some stock cubes my housemate had in the cupboard. I justified this by arguing that if I were living off £1 per day for a month, I would have bought stock cubes. I’ve also told myself that the stock cubes weren’t mine, so my actions may constitute stealing, but probably not cheating. Ultimately, I’m probably not the best advocate for living off £1 per day. The pho, however, was delicious and a welcome break from rice and bread.

Breakfast: porridge with a banana.

Lunch: leftover (beginning to question how long it’s ok to eat it for)

Dinner: vegetable pho

Day 7

Today was crazy. I decided to have eggs on toast for breakfast and porridge for lunch. Not only this, but I scrambled the eggs, which really mixed things up. I had to buy more milk (taking my total to £6.89) in the morning, but aside from that I’m proud of how little I’ve spent. As it was the last day, I knew it was coming to an end and so I didn’t mind putting off my food cravings. This evening, I went to the pub with some friends and had (free) soda water whilst everyone else drank pints. Suprisingly, I didn’t mind. Whether that’s because I knew it was my last day doing the challenge or because I am finally getting used to being frugal, I don’t know, but it was a last small achievement!

Overall, it has been really difficult. Only living off a £7 supermarket shop is hard because you’re limited as to what you can cook, making your week repetitive and dull. The hardest part of this challenge, however, was not going out to eat or drink with friends and prising myself away from shops when I fancied buying extra food. Originally, I hadn’t thought this would be a problem because most people were inside working instead of socialising. But then obviously the sun came out and, in hindsight, I was naïve to think that any part of this challenge would be easy.

I would definitely recommend trying it though. Regardless of whether you do it for charity, it’s very revealing to see how much food you usually waste and how much money you can save.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog and donated to support my challenge. Everything you have given is greatly appreciated and will help S.A.L.V.E. to help more children to leave the streets.

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