Live Below The Line Challenge: Sample $1.50/Day Menu Nutritional Information

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I’m taking the Live Below the Line challenge this week, which means eating for 5 days on just $1.50 a day. I plugged all the ingredients from my $1.50 per day Sample Menu into the food diary at, and below is a screenshot of my breakdown of total daily calories as well as grams of fat, protein, and carbs.

As you can see, I won’t exactly be starving. The “daily goal” is based on my height, weight, age and my stated desire to lose one pound per week. The total calories in my BelowTheLine daily intake are around 2,000, which a bit low for a male of my size, but may be too high for someone else. I’m actually too high in carbs, a little short on protein, and even shorter on fat. To compensate, I may add a little extra canola oil to my food with the 8 cents left in my budget. Most of my food is cooked and ready to go (pictures coming). Is it weird that my only wish right now is that I could drizzle on extra virgin olive oil instead?

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  1. We did something like this last summer, except it was for $4.50 per person, per day, and the focus was on the frugality and nutrition, not losing weight. We were trying to simulate a food stamps situation. In terms of the spending, it was totally do-able if you’re a good shopper and can use coupons. My regular food budget is actually very close to $4.50 pp/pd.

  2. Looks like a great plan! Sticking to the plan will be the great challenge. I wish you the best as I know you can do it. Simply mind over matter.

  3. Just a few questions and comments:

    1. You should probably add “snacks” after breakfast and after lunch. Eating 5 meals a day may help in increasing your metabolic rate.

    2. Why can’t you drizzle on EVOO instead?

    3. If you can, substitute the white rice for brown rice and white flour for 100% whole weat flour (or white-wheat flour which I believe is still whole-grain).

    Your body will break down simple carbs faster (into sugar) and leave you feeling hungry faster than eating complex carbs.

    I am no expert on these things. I’ve just been reading a lot on the topic since I’ve been trying to slim down as well. It’s amazing how much easier it is to lose weight through diet alone than through exercise. Of course a combination of the two would be better overall.

    I think I’ll join this challenge as well.

  4. Robert–I don’t think snacks or EVOO are in the budget.

    These are pretty good stats for spending such little money. I think the reason most people on SNAP don’t eat this way is the portions are pretty small and there is a lot of labor involved in preparing these meals. Someone with a couple of kids and two jobs who is faced with this kind of budget constraint may not have the time or energy to research and prepare similarly cost effective meals each and every week of the year, so they revert to less healthy/more processed convenience foods.

  5. This is such a great example in so many ways: you’re eating on a very low budget, your meals are most likely healthier and more balanced than if you were eating high-cost, processed foods, your food selections are compassionate (animal friendly) and environmentally friendly too!

    Of course there is a cost in the time it takes to prep these meals and they may not be as “exciting” as what we’re used to eating, so it’s not without sacrifice.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this challenge!

  6. @Susie – Very cool! These types of challenges really have opened my eyes a bit. I couldn’t read the entire thing because the yummy picture of salmon was making me hungry and I haven’t had dinner yet 😉

    @Free Money Minute – Thanks, five days should be easy, every day for the rest of my life would be very different.

    @Robert – I may try to spread the food around, but eating big meals just works better with my schedule these days. Whole grains would be a better buy and I could have probably done so at the same or similar price from the bulk bins, but I bought my initial ingredients from the supermarket and didn’t think it all the way through.

    @Andy – I agree it’s a mix of time, convenience, taste, and just having to break the habit of eating salty, processed foods. The actual prep time for this menu wasn’t that bad, more on that in a future post.

  7. @Michelle – Thanks for the positive words!

  8. You can try this site for menu ideas. They have mung bean soup recipe that ends up being $0.61 per serving.

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