Lent Food Challenge

This year I am repeating the Lent challenge of trying to eat for £1 a day, more or less. A bit more on weekends. So probably a budget of £10 for a week, compared to my usual £25-30.  

Last year, facing the shelves in Asda with only £10 in cash was a sobering experience.

I set out below what the ‘rules of the challenge’ are:Basic premise is that I will try to spend £1 per day Monday to Friday, possibly £1.50 at weekends (because I am at home, eat more and let’s face it, am not superhuman)

  • This includes getting 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Things in my cupboard get costed as they are used except for tiny amounts of things (flour and Lazy Chilli spring to mind)
  • If you offer to take me out for lunch, I will accept, but I won’t solicit lunch invitations from you just to assist the challenge
  • It doesn’t include a meal out that’s already been booked without realising it was in Lent. I probably won’t include the time in Lboro mid-March when I’m in Loughborough. And the friends that are visiting the week before are going to be exempt, too.

Here are a couple of questions:
If I stay late at work and I use the dinner service here, should I count that?
We have fruit provided – should I count that, too?

I am minded not to count these but perhaps keep a track of the approximate cost to see what an added benefit they would count as. Is that cheating? I can’t decide – if this was for real, and I was in a low pay role with meals included, it would not affect my overall budget.


  1. I think on the fruit count, you shouldn’t include. You’ve been pretty harsh on yourself in setting the target of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, so to add in that this must also exclude the free fruit provided seems very harsh. However, I would suggest it would be cheating if you turned up with a large holdall and emptied the fruit bowl every morning!

    As for late night work dinners, I think that is another thing that depends on proportions. If you deliberately use that whenever you’re getting hungry or the cupboards are bare, then I think that is cheating, but if it is a genuine work need, that happens occasionally, then that is just life, so go with it.

    Overall, once again I’m hugely impressed!

    • Thanks, Mouse – I would not like to think I was ‘cheating’ – but I do tend to set the bar quite high. I suppose if I were genuinely not working, I’d have more time to do things that could cut costs more (like make my own bread) so perhaps it’s the flipside of being out of the house for 12 hours of the day.

  2. I think you have to be gentle with yourself and work out why you are doing this. Most people trying to exist on very small amounts of money a) have time to shop around and, for example, make soup based on free bones from local butcher, visit supermarket and wait for reductions etc b) don’t even pretend to eat a healthy diet.
    One apple, admittedly a nice size, cost me 35p today – doesn’t leave much for anything else.
    Hazel (aka @careersinfo)

  3. The year before last I only ate rice and beans (kidney beans) or fresh fruit for all of lent except food that was given to me unsolicited! In a vague attempt to be in keeping with a majority world diet, certainly met your spending target & was an incredible experience in many ways.

  4. Hi think this is a great idea, I personally have had to live on 40 pound a week for two adults and a child, and it is possible, that included nappies and baby milk. If you budget, and shop for the whole week it works 🙂

  5. Seem to have stumbled across this (from @orkneylibrary, because I had seen an article in the CILIP Update magazine, because I am studying for an MSc in Information Management, because…and so on back to my birth, and beyond) and felt like I had nothing better to do than comment on your blog post. The best calories for £ ratio I have found will come from stuff like lamb or chicken liver, and also starchy veg like yam.

  6. Second try to post a response.
    This is a really great idea, thank you for telling us.
    I plan to put £1 in a box for every meal I eat – as a thank-offering that I have food to eat – and if we all do that we could each give £140+ to a charity feeding the hungry…

    So these two ideas go well together..for a good Lent.

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