How much food do I need?

28 Apr

So, the idea is to spend all of five pounds on five days worth of food.

I can charge salt, and herbs/spices proportionally this time around, based on what I already have available. That’s convenient, and I probably won’t need to worry much about that at all. (In fact, I still have some salt left from a year ago. I don’t generally eat particularly salty).

At a bit over 250 grams per day, I’ll be needing in the neighbourhood of 1.25 to 1.5 kilos of carbs. That’s probably the least of my concerns, budget-wise. As always, carbohydrate is cheap.

Fruit and vegetables, that’s trickier. To hit my five-a-day for five days, I’ll need 400 grams of fruit and veg per day for a total of 2 kilos (I’m feeling so metric today).

And then there’s protein, the most expensive part of the challenge. Meat and eggs are the obvious sources, but since I can use my entire budget at once, this time around, lentils are within reach too. Pulses count towards my five-a-day as well. Wikipedia says that “Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods”, but also that “if over-eaten can cause intense and prolonged bouts of hallucinations”. Who knew? Eat them while they’re legal, kids.

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3 Responses to “How much food do I need?”

  1. chrisryman April 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    I’ve just done some number crunching and used the nutritional content figures and prices retrieved today from http://www.tesco.com.
    £4.99 will buy you a Medium Sliced Wholemeal Bread 800G, 36 slices, Strawberry Jam 454G (not their cheapest), Crunchy Peanut Butter 340G, Semi Skimmed Milk 2.272L/4 Pints and Free Range Eggs Large Box Of 6. (If you weren’t fussy about FR you could get a box of 15 small “battery” eggs for a few pence less.)

    That little lot will provide nearly 1400 Calories a day (a long,long way from starvation,!) and a reasonably balanced Protein/Fat/Carbohydrate mix.

    Protein intake is a good mix of amino acids at 60g a day – quite adequate for most people.

    • kleinebre April 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      I find it an interesting shopping list, but I feel it’s not overly realistic for those actually living below the poverty line.

      The least of it is the free-range vs. caged-hen egg debate. When every penny counts, mere survival trumps idealism, so it’s a no-brainer to go for the caged-hen eggs in such a situation. Agreed, it may not be the “right thing” to do; but it’s a lot easier to be ethical if you can afford it.

      What strikes me most about the shopping list above is that there’s not an awful lot you can do with peanut butter, jam, bread, milk and eggs – other than PB&J sandwiches with milk and eggs. For a few days in a row, it’s probably fine, but it would likely get too repetitive pretty soon. I can’t see anyone sustain themselves on such a diet for any length of time. Same for the total caloric content. 1400 kCal per day is fine for five days, but if it’s a more permanent thing, ultimately unsustainable. Nice going on the protein content though. I’m having a good bit of trouble matching that.

      • chrisryman April 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

        Ethics are a luxury. Or a stick to beat yourself with. Or sometimes – I think – a stick to beat others! I was curious to see though, that it is *just* possible to come in below £1 and still use free-range eggs.

        Agreed! 1400 kCal is not ultimately sustainable – but for the duration of the challenge emminently doable.

        One can ring quite a few changes with the list over five days and those ingredients – eggy bread, egg on toast. scrambled on toast, but without spices and flavourings it would soon pall. My partner pointed out there was no hot drink provision – and we both know the morale value of that.

        As far as the protein goes, I ran the https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk-guidance
        Recipe Guide menu 1 through my spread sheet, and although the Tesco prices come out just over the £5 today, I was impressed with the nutritional content:
        Daily Protein: 76g (16% of energy supply)
        Daily Fat: 25g (12% of energy supply)
        Daily Carbs: 330g (72% of energy supply)
        Daily energy: 1924 kCal
        (figures rounded, but within 1% error)
        That’s high on the Carbs – by whatever regime one might follow, but much more nutritionally complete than my lazy bachelor approach Fruit and veg even! I’ll plug the other menus in when I have time.

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