Diet & Nutrition

‘How I lived off $9 for five days without going hungry’

Budget-eating may seem like a formidable challenge, but 23-year-old student Poppy Barr, reveals just how doable it can be after she lived off $9 for five days without completely sacrificing taste or nutrition.

There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has made 2020 a particularly difficult year in a myriad of ways for many people. Many have unfortunately lost their jobs, with the unemployment rate in Australia (as reported in September) climbing to 6.9 per cent, and 14.5 per cent in youth, meaning every cent really does count.

While a lot of us are learning to be more frugal in these financially dire times, UK student Poppy Barr, showed it is possible to live off a small $9 over five days.

Whilst taking part in the Live Below the Line campaign (a now international campaign aiming to combat poverty and aid those afflicted by it, that originated in Australia in 2010), the 23-year-old decided to challenge herself.

Telling UK money-saving site Vogo,”I wanted to save as much money as I could while wasting as little food as possible, spending only £5 in the process.”

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Sticking to home-brand items

Posting on Vogo, she itemised the ingredients she bought for £5 (equivalent to AUD$9).

  • Oats
  • Soy milk
  • White bread
  • Pasta sauce
  • Vegetable stock cubes
  • Peanut butter
  • Spaghetti
  • Baked beans
  • Frozen mixed veg
  • 2 bananas
  • Butter beans

“For the most part, I was pretty happy with my choices… I stayed with own-brand items as these were a lot cheaper than the more well-known brands.

“This reduced my costs significantly.”

She admitted that meals became quite repetitive but did make the most of her $9 pantry, and found ways to recreate her favourite foods with the limited amount of ingredients she had.

“I even attempted a homemade pizza one night using blended oats and water for a base, pasta sauce and frozen veg – honestly not as bad as it sounds,” she wrote.

Picking the right staples

Speaking of the importance of picking versatile yet nutritious staples to not sacrifice health, Barr told Vogo:

“I decided that as much as I needed to be economical, I also wanted to make meals that tasted good and gave me some nutritional value, which is why I picked up the stock cubes for flavour and soya milk, which is fortified with vitamins.”

“Planning meticulously”

“I’d rely on cheap staples such as pasta, and planning meticulously for the week – there is no way I would’ve had enough food for over five days if I hadn’t put so much thought into my meals beforehand.

“Overall, I found the week challenging, but in ways that I didn’t expect.”