About

Who?I’m just a guy with a passion for cooking.

What?To see if it is possible to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner on a budget of one pound per day. To raise the bar even further, I’ll be starting off with nothing but an empty cupboard. I’ll allow myself to use normal kitchen utensils, as well as to carry forward any budget left-over from previous days, but not to borrow from the future.

EDIT: The above was the challenge I set myself in 2012. Now, in 2013, things are a bit different. I’ve joined the “Living below the line” challenge 2013 to raise money for charity. It’s still eating for one pound per day, but the rules are slightly different than those I previously set myself. Please support the cause!

Where?

In the United Kingdom.

How?

By almost any means possible – by using my knowledge of cooking and food, by reducing waste, by thinking out of the box. The purpose of the experiment, however, is to be realistic, to look at actual money spent and to see if one could sustain oneself on this tight budget. Eating only potatoes for a month isn’t balanced and not realistic. Neither is spending a pound on fuel to save 10p on food.Starting from zero poses an extra challenge. It requires more than just thinking about how to get by on a pound per day- it requires figuring out how to actually build up from there. I expect this will put me in some interesting situations.

Why?

Because I can (maybe).I’ll need to think about waste. I’ll need to think about nutrition. I’ll need to stretch my comfort zone. I’ll probably need to walk more (see “The Rules” below). Regardless of how the challenge ends, I’ll learn something. Maybe I’ll end up a better person because of it.

Supposedly we’re all so worried about the environment, but about a third of all food produced in the UK ends up wasted. Many of us take for granted that life is expensive. By setting myself this challenge, I’ll need to keep waste to a minimum to pull this off. I might need to walk a bit more to get better deals, which isn’t a bad thing – I could stand to lose some weight. I hope at some point I might be able to show that even on a tight budget, varied eating is still possible.

The Rules
– The challenge starts without ANY pantry items and lasts for 1 month. Only foods obtained during the challenge are permissible.
– The challenge will assume three meals a day. Thus, skipping a meal will incur a 1/3 pound penalty. That is, no fasting to save money.
– Attention should be paid to variation, nutrition, health and safety. By the end of the month, I hope to be able to structurally serve nutritious meals, showing sustainability and permitting long-term health. If health issues arise, the challenge is over.
– Availability of a fridge/freezer and basic kitchen utensils is assumed.
– Any money not spent on one day is carried over to the next. Meaning, at the end of a 30-day month, the total balance on the bottom line shall not surpass 30 pounds.
– The budget for any day is available from 8pm on the day before.

To save money, I might do things such as, but not limited to:

– embarrass myself (cross your fingers!)
– grow/ferment/prepare my own food (cheese, yogurt, beansprouts…)
– think out-of-the-box (porridge for supper?)
– reduce waste (use those carrot peels in a soup next day)
– plan meals ahead
– forage
– hunt
– beg
– etc

Driving far for the purpose of getting food at a discount will increase my fuel bill and is therefore considered cheating. I’m free however to cherry-pick any shop that I can reach without incurring obvious, direct additional costs. If I can convince someone to offer me a ride to a farm where I can pick up a bag of corn for free, that’s fine.

I’m not counting food preparation cost (gas, electricity) – regardless of the price of the food, I’d have to cook it anyway. This is not a raw-food challenge but a cheap-food challenge.

UPDATE –

If driving more than usual to save money is cheating, then it stands to reason that driving *less* than usual (by car pooling, for instance) saves up miles that can be used freely as needed. It would also make sense that miles can’t be used before they’re saved. Either way, it seemed to me that starting to get into such an energy-saving habit during this month might not be a bad idea.

UPDATE 2 –

Regarding “the budget of a day becoming available from 8pm at night”; When I wrote “8pm” in this rule, I had two things in mind, being:

  1. To permit (mostly breakfast) shopping on the day before, and yet
  2. By setting the time to 8 pm, prevent supper of a given day being funded by
    the budget of the next day.

On Sundays, the local supermarket closes early (4 pm) which would make it impossible to shop for monday breakfast (or lunch, for that matter, as mondays is a regular working day) on a sunday, which is against the spirit of the rule as I originally intended it. Rather than making a big, wasteful detour to find a supermarket open between 8 and 10 on a Sunday, it’s probably within the original spirit of the rules to get groceries just before closing time on Sundays, as long as those groceries are only consumed on the day for which they were intended (Monday) or after.

I know what you’re thinking – I’m changing the rules as I go along to make things easier. If you think it’s an unreasonable “change”, leave a comment; I’m open to discuss it. Next thing you know, I’ll be raising the budget 😉

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10 Responses to “About”

  1. anotherboomerblog March 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    I’m so glad you clarified about the “One Pound A Day” in the About section, since I thought, egads, he is either trying to gain or lose a pound a day! I was about to send for the food police! (laughing)

    If you are in an area where you can forage that’s always good. When I was a girl we had wild asparagus behind my house and all summer I picked it. In August I let several of the plants go to seed so we’d have more in the spring. These days such largess is hard to find and one would wonder (here in the states) if it had been ruined with pesticides.

    Perhaps a garden would help. It takes a year to get sets like asparagus going, but if you are willing to work on a little garden for a few years you should have things such as asparagus, strawberries, and the like. Even container gardening is possible.

    Blog on!

    • kleinebre March 11, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      It seems I wasn’t blessed with green thumbs, I guess all of those genes went to my brother. So far I’ve managed to kill every plant that’s been so unfortunate as to have me as its carer.
      When I try to let nature run its course instead, they get eaten. One particularly audacious year, it seemed like a good idea to plant lettuce indoors. The lettuce actually thrived, and as they grew into little plants I worried what on earth to do with 48 heads of lettuce. Then the cat ate all of them.

      I guess I’ll stick to cooking for now. I will, however, blog on. I can’t believe a third of the challenge is already up!

      • anotherboomerblog March 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

        Oh, my, cats simply adore fresh greens. If you ever get a spider plant keep it out of range of the kitty. Perhaps you could stick to creating spouts of alfalfa seeds or the like. Or make friends with the lady next door who always seems to have an overabundance of tomatoes. Last year I invited friends over to enjoy my over supply of tiny sweet tomatoes.

  2. thegrubbyhen March 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Wowzers! I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and i’m hooked. I’m completely intrigued. I’ll be following and good luck

    • kleinebre March 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      Thanks, have fun reading! Won’t be for much longer though… the month is coming to an end! Perhaps I’ll stretch it just a little bit?

  3. E April 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    I’ve only just stumbled across this website. I think this is a fantastic blog. I have just finished living on the, currently topical, £53 a week which I expected to be a huge struggle. It included utilities, wifi, household needs and food. It was a real eye opener and shocking – not because it was a horrible struggle but because it was so much easier than I ever expected. Now I see you lived on a pound a day, maybe it’s not such a surprise after all. Thank you for publicising your very interesting experiment.

    • kleinebre April 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      Hey, thanks for your post. I noticed the same… that overall it was more doable than I thought.

      Keep in mind though that my pound a day thing was ONLY about food – other expenses were excluded from the challenge. There was a lady in the UK (a teacher) who actually *lived* on a pound a day, all in, for as long as a year. There’s two sides to that… One side is that if you can sustain yourself on an extremely tight budget for a few weeks, you’ll probably manage in the long term.

      The other, darker side is that although you may be able to sustain yourself on an extremely tight budget, it’s not scalable. Meaning, the “one pound per day” thing relied on living BELOW average means. In other words, EVERYBODY would try to be extremely frugal, then everybody would live AT average cost, rather than below it, and the “one pound per day” thing wouldn’t work anymore. If the government tells you to live at this standard, DO protest. It’s not realistic (unless you live in a poorer country!)

  4. Lesly Holliday April 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Hello Marc,

    It’s possible you are no longer visiting your blog (being a year on!) I came across it whilst perusing the BBC “How to eat healthily on a pound per day” BBC News 27th April 2013 – at the prompting of your sister’s comment (sorry, I didn’t keep the reference).

    I just wanted to say how enjoyable the vicarious experience has been! I know that wasn’t the intention, but I read it from start to finish in one sitting. It was intelligent, measured, well thought-out, amusing and inspiring! To the degree that my husband and I are planning our own “Govt. parameters” experiment when we return from an overseas trip (doesn’t that sound crass?).

    The blog could be expanded and published. Jack Monroe’s book could hardly be as eloquent. Well done! Please do more – please get a publisher!

    Best regards
    Lesly

    • Marc April 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

      Hey, I just signed up to the “living below the line” challenge. Let’s see how it turns out? I’ve got a few tricks left up my sleeve!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Meals – Day 02 « One Pound Per Day - March 2, 2012

    […] suggestion, I was planning to drop by at the True Food Coop at the end of the day. Now, by the rules I set myself, driving to the other side of town to save yourself money is cheating, as you’d spend more on […]

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