live below the line

Could you live on $2.25 a day for 5 days to change the way Kiwis think about extreme poverty and make a difference?

The Tear FundBelow the Line challenge is on from September 23-27.  Click here to join up

We live in a rich world. Yet more than a billion people live in poverty, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Charity as we’ve known it is not enough. The Live Velow the Line Challenge not only helps you to raise money for Tear Fund to help but also let’s you experience how hard it is to live on just $2.25 a day.

Tear Fund asked me to contribute a recipe or two to their recipe book for this years challenge.  This was quite a challenge and although I could create recipes for dishes that cost around $2 or $3 dollars were they practical.  You may technically only use a teaspoon of cinnamon but could I have ever been able to afford the packet in the first place?  So I decided to create a 5 day meal plan complete with shopping list.  Anyone who has had to keep to a tight budget will know this is the best thing you can do.

A meal plan also helps you utilise leftovers and minimise waste, something we should all be doing!

The plan is based on a family of four so my budget for the five days was $45.  I went over this by around $5 but justified this by having ingredients left over.

Shopping List

4x mushrooms $1.04 ($11.99 per kg)
2x Bananas $0.75 ($1.99 per kg)
1x apples $0.25 ($1.49 per kg)
½ Celery $1.69
4x Potatoes $1.99 ($1.99 per kg)
½ Cabbage $1.49
2x Leeks $2
3x onions $0.90 ($1.79 per kg)
6x Carrots $0.84 ($1.29 per kg)
500g cheese $4.99
350g pkt chopped bacon $2.99
Vermicelli noodles $0.99
egg noodles $.099
Packet Pasta $0.99
200g pork mince $2
Chicken bones $2.50
500g Rolled oats $1.79
Self Raising Flour 2kg $4.58
6 eggs $1.99
Tomato Passata $1.89
1x tin Chick peas $1.59 (even cheaper if you buy 1 cup dried)
750g Gopala natural Yoghurt $2.49
loaf bread $1.59
Oil $2.39
2 litres milk $2.99
Butter $2.69
Fresh ginger
3/4 cup Sugar $0.25 ($1.99kg)

Fresh herbs (even the most basic garden can grow parsley, chives, coriander…)
Lemons and limes (almost every second house in New Zealand has lemon trees bursting with fruit)

Total – $49.65

But you will have leftover flour, butter, pasta, oil and eggs bringing the week’s bill under $45 for 4 people.

Note the chicken soup is made from a stock using saved vegetable scraps like celery and leek tops, onion skins and carrot tops and peelings.  This is a great use of food waste!

Muffins and scones can be made ahead of time and frozen.


Meal Plan

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
Day One Porridge Noodle salad Minestrone with toast Cheese scone
Day Two Muffin Minestrone Baked Potato Cheese scone
Day Three Porridge Cheese on toast Pork stir fry Muffin
Day Four Banana Pancakes Chicken soup Pizza Cheese scone
Day Five Porridge Chicken soup Mac n cheese Muffin


porridge x3
Muffins x1
Banana Pancakes x1

Noodle Salad
Chicken Soup x2
Cheese on toast

Cheese scones x3
Muffins x 2

Baked potato
Pork and noodle stir fry
Mac n cheese


Porridge (aprox. 45c a serve)

porridge 2½ cup rolled oats
1 cup water
pinch salt
½ cup milk
Tblspn brown sugar

Slowly heat the rolled oats, a pinch of salt and water in a pot, stirring often.  When thick and bubbling serve with brown sugar and milk.


Banana Pancakes (Serves 4 at a cost of $1.72)

banana pancake 12 bananas
2 eggs
1 cup self raising flour

mash the bananas well then add the eggs.  Mix well before adding the flour to make a thick batter.
Over a low heat add a little oil in a pan and spoon in tablespoons of mixture.  When bubbles start to appear flip the pancakes.  You should get approximately 12 pancakes.


2&1/2 cups self raising flour
½ cup oats
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
½ cup Natural Yoghurt
½ cup oil
1 Apple, grated
1 carrot, grated

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Beat the egg, milk and yoghurt together and add this along with the oil and apple and carrot to the dry mix.  Mix until just combined.  (Remember over mixing muffins can make them tough).

Put into greased muffin tins and bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes.


Cheese Scones (Makes 6 scones at a cost of $1.99)

Cheese scones2 cups self raising flour
1 cup natural yoghurt
3/4 cup grated cheese
pinch salt

Mixed all the ingredients together until they are just combined.  Tip out onto the bench, shape and cut into 6 equal pieces before placing on an oven tray.  Bake at 200 degree C for 15-20 minutes.

Mac n Cheese (Serves 4 at aprox. Cost of $5 )

mac n cheese 0522 & 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni
100g butter
1/2 Onion, finely diced
1 cup leek, finely sliced
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 & ½ – 2 cups cheese

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add salt and then the pasta. Cook until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking melt the butter in a medium size pot and then add the onion and leek. Cook gently for 10 minutes or until the onion and leeks are soft.

Add the flour, mixing well and continuing to cook for 2-3 minutes before adding ½ cup of the milk, stirring continuously to avoid getting lumps. Finally add the remaining milk and cheese and continue to cook and stir until the sauce is thick. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Drain the cooked pasta and mix with the cheese sauce. Pour this into an oven proof dish and top with the breadcrumb mix. Bake in a moderate oven until the crumbs are golden brown and macaroni is bubbling.

Breadcrumb Topping
150-200g bread
hand full of flat leaf parsley
25g cold butter, chopped
Extra cheese

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until a fine breadcrumb consistency

Pork and Noodle Stir Fry (Serves 4 at a cost of aprox. $4)

pork stir fry 021200g pork mince
1cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
½ onion
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1/3rd cabbage
½ Pkt vermicelli noodles
4 Tblspn soy sauce
Dried chillies, garlic,  fresh herbs i.e. coriander (optional)

Place noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over.

In a wok or large pan heat a little oil and add the sliced onion.  Cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the chopped ginger (and garlic, dried chilli) along with the pork mince.  Cook for 3-4 minutes then add the carrot and celery and then a few minutes later the cabbage, stirring continuously.

Finally add the soy sauce and then the drained noodles* and serve, garnished with fresh herbs.

*Use a pair of scissors to chop the noodles into more manageable pieces.

Chicken Soup (Makes about 8 servings at a total cost of aprox. $5.24)
Chicken bones
onion skins, carrot peelings, celery and leek tops, plus fresh parsley from the garden if you have it.
1 onion, finely diced
½ leek, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/8th of a cabbage, finely chopped
1 packet egg noodles

Place the chicken bones and vegetable “scraps” in a very large pot and cover with 5-6 litres of water.  Simmer on low for 5-6 hours.
Drain off the vegetables and bones, setting aside the liquid stock.  If there is some flesh on the bones pick this off and add it to the stock.

In a separate pot add a little oil and carefully sauté the onion, leek, carrot and celery for 10-15 minutes.  When these are soft add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes.  Season well and then add finely chopped cabbage and the vermicelli.  When the noodles are cooked through, serve.

Baked Potatoes (Serves 4 at a cost of $4.24)

Baked potato 24 potatoes
½ leek
100g bacon pieces
3/4 cup cheese

Scrub the potatoes then prick several times with a sharp knife.  Place them on an oven tray and bake at 180 C for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are cooked through.  Allow the potatoes to cool.
In the meantime chop the leek into thin slices.  Heat a little oil in a pan and on a low heat sauté the leeks along with the bacon until they are soft.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle carefully scoop out the flesh and add this to your leek and bacon mix along with the cheese.  Season well with salt and pepper along with any fresh herbs you may have in the garden and mix well.  Stuff the mix back into the potatoes and put bake in the oven until brown and hot all the way through, aprox. 20 minutes.

Minestrone (Makes 8 serves at a cost of $5.53)

minestrone1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
½ leek
100g bacon pieces
¾ bottle of Passata
6 cups water
1 tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup dried pasta

In a large pot, with a little oil, gentle sauté the finely chopped onion, celery, leek and carrot for about 10 minutes, being careful not to brown them.  When the vegetables are translucent add the Passata and 6 cups (1&1/2 litres) of water.  Simmer gently for 20 minutes then add the pasta and chickpeas.  When the pasta is cooked check for seasoning and serve.

Pizza (Makes 4 at a cost of $5.52)

pizza 23 cups self raising flour
1&1/2 cups natural yoghurt
1 cup grated cheese
½ cup tomato passata
½ onion
120g bacon pieces
4 mushrooms

Mix the flour and yoghurt together until it forms a ball.  Divide into four and shape into four, 20cm round bases.  Place the bases on an oven tray and top with the tomato Passata then scatter over the meaning ingredients.
Bake at 180-200 degree C for 12-15 minutes


Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Vietnamese salad
½ pkt Rice noodles (Vermicelli)
1cm knob of root ginger
large handful of fresh coriander and mint
1/4 cabbage, finely sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tblspn fish sauce
2 Tblspns sweet chilli sauce
2Tblspn oil
2 Tblspns brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
Put rice noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes before draining. Stir the noodles around to ensure they all are well covered by the water.  Using scissors chop the noodles into more manageable pieces.
Next add the chopped vegetables and herbs.  To make the dressing, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the salad.

Allow the salad to stand for a couple of hour before adding the peanuts just before serving.


    • Hi Jodie
      You will see this post was put up in September last year. We re posted this story on facebook recently (26th June) along with the updated price list taken from current prices at Pak n Save Mill St, Hamilton at the beginning of June.

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