Put My Money Where My Mouth Is–Live Below The Line

From April 29th to May 3th, I am taking the challenge to survive on a $1.75 per day food budget.  Sound extreme?  It is!

Everyday 1.4 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty, surviving off of $1.75 per day for all their needs.  Live Below The Line is challenging Canadians to learn about extreme poverty by experiencing it themselves and spend only $1.75 a day on food and drink for 5 days from April 29th to May 3rd.


As you know I’m a big supporter of Hunger Charities and the work they do. I donate money, food and my time to both Second Harvest (through Toronto Taste) and Daily Bread Food Bank (through HoHoTO).  I feel that with the wastage and excesses of food in our world no one should have to go hungry. But they do. Every single day. And it’s not just people in exotic lands far-far-away, it’s our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends.

When Erin from  Live Below the Line approached me to participate in this global poverty project  to raise awareness, it felt like time to put my money where my mouth was and take the challenge.

I talked to Erin about how easy I thought it would be for me. know how to keep my food costs down and how to eat cheap. Hey, I even write a book about it. But on this challenge even the cheapest Banh Mi costs more than my whole day’s food budget.

I thought that my experience growing up, in part, on a farm filled with people and being taught how to stretch a dollar to to feed a household of 10+  through buying smart would give me a leg up on this challenge.  That my experiences stockpiling, buying 50lb bags of rice, flour, onions, potatoes and carrots would serve me well.

Tower of Rice Bags

I’d grown up making 10 loaf batches of bread every couple of days, just for our household. We’d eat vegetables out of our garden, usually the ones that weren’t pretty enough to sell at the market.  We had chickens, lots of chickens which kept us in fresh eggs and when they got too old to lay we’d have chicken stew.   Dad would make beer and barter it for sides of beef.

Chicken in my path. Literally.

That’s when Erin pointed out that this challenge is also about cash flow.

If you don’t have the cash to buy a big bag of rice, and you don’t have enough cash to pay for today’s food, let alone save to buy in bulk, what do you do?

This is going to be a challenge.

I’ll be starting the week with $8.75 to buy my groceries for 5 days, as if I got handed my pay cheque and divvied up the money and that was all I had to go to the store.

It’s going to be HARD. I might not make it. Gerry is not doing it with me, which makes it even more challenging.  Luckily the chives have sprouted on my deck, which I can harvest and eat for free, so I think I’ll be eating a lot of chive-flavoured things.

Here’s How It Works:

  • From April 29 – May 3 , no more than $1.75 a day or $8.75 a week can be spent on all food
    and beverages
  • The full cost of all ingredients consumed must be within budget
  • For items such as herbs, salt, pepper, and spices, participants must divide the cost of each
    item per gram and budget proportionally
  • Ingredient costs may be shared or pooled amongst a team as long as each participant stays
    within budget
  • Food sourced from personal gardens are acceptable as long as the cost of production is
    accounted for
  • Regardless if participants are under budget for any given day, no combination of meals can
    exceed the $1.75 a day budget
  • Drinking 6-8 glasses of tap water is encouraged
  • Donated food items from family or friends cannot be accepted, but monetary donations
    towards your fundraising goals are acceptable, and encouraged
  • Participants will fundraise on behalf of one of LBL’s partner organizations working to end
    extreme poverty: RESULTS Canada, Cuso International, Spread the Net and Raising the
  • Participants create online profiles on www.livebelowtheline.ca which they can use as a
    platform to explain their reasons for participating, who they’re fundraising for, set their
    fundraising targets and capture online donations

How you can help:

  • Feel free to support me through the Live Below The Line campaign with the funds going to Cuso.
  • Share some flavourful and cheap-to-make recipes with cheap or free ingredients in the comment below (include food costs please)!
  • Join in!


This challenge is open to all, so why not take up the challenge and join me? Sign up here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/ca?lang=en

Who’s in?

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

8 thoughts on “Put My Money Where My Mouth Is–Live Below The Line

  • April 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Best of luck, Alexa!  Some of the folks at Fife House recently ran a similar challenge, to live on the $6.65 a day that Fife House clients have to spend on food, and they found that difficult.  Their blog is here, perhaps they have some good tips: http://fifehouse.wordpress.com/

  • April 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Everyone should do this at least once – it’s absolutely horrible, and really, really hard to eat healthy. Can’t see how a kid can go to school or someone go out job hunting on such a low energy diet.

    • April 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      @Steve Harris Excellent points Steve.  It’s not easy to live hungry and actually accomplish anything you need to continue past it.

  • April 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Our team has already grown to 4 with Bridget Oland , Rhonda Hogan and Andrea Bartunek Tomkins joining in.


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