My experience with Live Below the Line

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I’m back!

I’ve been so slack with posting on here but I would like to make a commitment to posting more frequently in the future. If I recall correctly, I started my last blog post somewhat the same, so let’s hope I can actually stick to it this time..

If you know me personally or follow me on Instagram you would know by now that I recently took part in a challenge called Live Below the Line. In short, LBL is an initiative that aims to raise awareness for the billions living in poverty every day, whilst also raising funds to help them. Aside from raising money, it involves eating a diet consisting of $10 worth of staples for 5 days straight. For me, this meant a whole lot of rice, oats, pasta, frozen veggies and carrot.. Exciting (I know!)

I heard about Live Below the Line through a friend who took part in it a few years back but I didn’t really know what it involved at the time. When I came across it this year, I wanted to find out more. Initially, I knew it involved raising money for those in need, but I honestly wasn’t aware of the amount of people poverty affects daily and how easily we can help the harsh and unfair balance in our world.

To say that this challenge has been an eye opener would be an understatement. It has made me truly appreciate my life in ways I never have. Our lives are incomparable to those living in poverty, and although this challenge has allowed me to gain a small insight to what it is like to live in poverty, I will never fully understand the struggles they experience each day.

The lead up

I began researching a few weeks before what I could buy for $10. I actually gained a lot of enjoyment out of this planning and devising a meal plan. It soon became the best procrastination tool for university study. It didn’t take me long to realise that it was going to be a lot more difficult if I had to do it alone, so I finally persuaded a lovely friend to participate meaning we could spend $20 between the 2 of us and split some of the bulk items such as rice and oats as they are a lot cheaper to buy in big quantities.
* By persuaded, I mean she agreed to do it if we included coffee in the budget. I was willing to sacrifice a few dollars if she was in it with me.

After a couple of weeks of online browsing supermarkets, catalogue hunting and sourcing out the cheapest bananas possible, we came up with this…

1 kg long grain rice $1.80
750g rolled oats $0.99
750g small spiral pasta $0.65
1kg bag of carrots $1.88
1 packet of corn, linseed and chia thins $1
1 x 55g dairy milk chocolate $1
200g of (the worst) instant coffee $
2 x 1kg bags frozen veg $3.18
357g brocoli $0.70
2 brown onions $1
2 x can chickpeas $1.60
2 x can tomatoes $1.20
200g instant coffee – $2.90

I wasn’t going to do this challenge unless I thought I could maintain some sort of healthy diet for the 5 days without having to consume a heap of processed foods. I was pretty happy with what we came up with. When you think about it, it is pretty cool that you can actually live off just $10 of food for 5 days.. that is one way to budget!

Pasta was a last minute decision instead of milk or more chocolate and I am so glad we bought it. It was a complete life saver as we both were so sick of rice after day 1. Chocolate was a treat, also being a huge life saver. Same goes for the rice cakes, perhaps the only salt we consumed for 5 days – heaven!

Although it was tough, we did have enough food to keep us well and alive and whilst I wasn’t bouncing off the walls, I did have enough energy to function in my day to day life.

What we ate

Oat porridge cooked in water with half a slice banana

Rice or pasta with frozen veggies (my least favourite meal of the day)

I made up a big soup with some onion, frozen veg, pasta, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes and water, I portioned it up, froze some and had this every night.

plain corn thins, carrot sticks, coffee, SO MUCH WATER, 1-2 chocolate pastels a day (heaven) and more porridge for emergencies. Oh and how could I forget my beloved broccoli (I saved this for Day 4, as a treat – Milla stupidly put hers in her soup) When has broccoli ever been a treat? I can tell you, this was one of the best things I ate all week.

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How we went

To be completely honest, I was pretty excited to start this challenge. I knew that it would be hard but I didn’t quite realise just how challenging it is to follow such a boring, bland diet for 5 days. I was almost certain we would have enough food to sustain us, but boy was I wrong. Day 1 was fine because I had filled up on so much food the weekend prior but come day 2 I experienced hunger at multiple times during the day.

Every day on the challenge I felt different. Day 1 was a bit of a shock as I discovered and realised what was ahead of me. Mind you, it makes it a lot more difficult when your mum whips up the most amazing smelling Italian pasta dish with pesto, pecorino and toasted olive oil drizzled bread whilst you stick your head into a bowl of bland, mushy, frozen veg laden soup. Can’t say I was very happy about that.

Day 2 and Day 4 were the worst. Day 2 because it was still the beginning and I knew how terrible the next few days would be. Day 4, I just genuinely felt like crap, I couldn’t concentrate, my mind was foggy, I was cranky and very hungry. Day 5 was my favourite, I had found some energy, I felt so positive about the whole experience and I went around telling everyone how it ‘wasn’t that bad’ forgetting what I’d been through the last few days.

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Other weird things from LBL

I was so cold, all the time! No matter how many layers I wore, I was freezing right down to my core.

Oats are my favourite.

I have proof that carbs don’t make you fat. I lived off carbs for 5 days and actually lost weight.

Exercising is not such a good idea, especially high intensity interval training at the gym… Good tip for next year.

Although I recall saying to mum on day 2, ‘remind me not to do this next year’, I’m almost certain I will be doing it again. Considering it’s only 5 days out of my year, it is such a great and important cause that deserves more attention that it receives. I couldn’t recommend doing LBL enough. It is such an eye opening experiment and for a lot of us, it is the least we can do to help others in need.

What LBL has reminded me

I am so incredibly lucky to live the life that I live. Simple things like sleeping under a roof, wearing clothes, having access to clean water and fresh produce, transport are things I take for granted every day.

Food is amazing. Salt and pepper are saviours and milky tea’s are like warm hugs.

My family and friends are so supportive and generous

It’s so important to donate to charities and help make others lives easier. I’ve distributed some of the money I would normally spend on food, coffee (and a bit extra) to other friends LBL’s accounts throughout the week.

Speaking of donations, I managed (so far) to raise $560 from some very generous and loving people. I was blown away with the generosity of people and I forever appreciate all the donations. The website is still open to donate until the end of June so if anyone would like to give some money to Oaktree through Live Below the Line you can do so here.

As a community, they’ve raised over $1.3 million, with the support of over 45,000 donors. The money goes directly to children in Cambodia to help fund their education and learning. You can read all about this on the website too! From what I’ve learnt, Oaktree are a pretty amazing organisation.

And lastly, thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read this, I appreciate it.


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