One of the forums I regularly lurk on - if not contribute to now and again is the Old Style Forum on Money Saving Expert.com. This is a wealth of information and support for the usual household expenses that everybody has and the recipes are ones that I am not ashamed to say I copy in my own weekly menus. The generous and supportive folks there have got me out of many a pickle and it is nice to know when the pay cheque is late that you are not on your own!
One of the threads that surfaced recently was linked to a annual global charity event where you had to survive on £1 a day (or roughly equivalent currency) and the excess that you normally spent was donated to a certain charity (if I find the link I'll post it). This sparked a second thread about living on a pound a day which despite a rocky start (experience has taught us that posters are not always what they seem) is turning into a mine of information for when things really hit the fan. You would not want to follow this kind of lifestyle for any length of time of course as you would be unhealthy and bored of the monotonous food but for a temporary crisis I hope it helps others when the chips are down.
Anyway it got me thinking. Could I manage everything (including drinks) on £1 per person a day? I'm lucky in that I have a good storecupboard and a stocked freezer so a temporary crisis would not be so bad for me as for someone who did not have any backup stores. Also I have a family of 5 and so can buy larger packs which work out cheaper per 100 g than smaller ones.
So, here is what is for me (lucky person that I am) a pencil and paper exercise. Several weeks menus for three meals a day for 1 person starting from absolutely nothing. If this was real life (and unfortunately for some poor souls it may be close) you would be able to carry over stuff like oil and spices to the next week but the first week is the toughest and most monotonous food-wise. Prices will taken from Tescos website (simply for ease), this may or may not be the best prices around; if you really are in this situation use a price book or an on-line supermarket price comparison site like mysupermarket.co.uk to see if you can get a few pennies off the total. This is a situation in which every penny really can make the difference if you have a choice of supermarkets near you. It goes without saying that if you have to spend more than the price difference getting there (in fuel or bus tickets for example) it if not worth it. Also if you have all your money at the beginning of the month you may be able to do one big shop then 3 little ones and take advantage of bigger packs this way - not everyone has this luxury so I'm sticking to £7 each week (although any pennies, like the food, can be carried over to subsequent weeks). This is a worst case scenerio starting point and any thing else like stuff already in store, discount supermarkets, money off coupons, and being able to buy larger packs will bring the overall price for the week down to below the £7 ceiling (I hope)!
In order to avoid a massive post I'm going to split each week into a different post and edit the links in later.
Week 1 - no storecupboard!
Week 2 -