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Category: Blog

Survive on Five Challenge - John Warren

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When I took on this challenge, I was hugely interested to actually see how a low budget might affect me but also to possibly discover how careless I may be with money, so basically all I thought of was the financial aspect... Little did I know that this challenge would open my eyes to so much more about myself but more importantly about how someone on a low budget may feel on a daily basis.
So, here’s a short insight to how my week went and some of the ups and downs I encountered.

John's Diary: Day 1

The day started good where I decided to have Weetabix and an apple for breakfast, pretty good and only 84cent, that day I was in the office for the morning but had to drive about an hour for work, this is where the first realisation hit home, I didn’t have time to arrange a lunch at home so I quickly grabbed three homemade sausage rolls and headed off, this worked out at €1.80 for lunch but it definitely wasn’t healthy option or did it feel like a proper lunch, the day carried on but I found myself facing an 90 minute journey home where the automatic reaction would be to get a coffee and bar of chocolate for the journey, but not this time simply because I could not afford it, well I could but then my budget for dinner would have disintegrated.

So, I struggled on without my chocolate and began to wonder how I took things like take-away teas for granted. Again, with dinner I had not planned anything and took my usual approach of heading to the super-market after work and seeing what caught my eye, obviously this was different as I had €2.56 to spend. So here when another realisation hit home, I ended up buying a ready-made lasagne and garlic bread though it totalled €3.79 I decided that this could be my lunch too for the following day, so essentially my dinner that evening cost me €1.89, then again you say could say that if I only had €5 for that day I then could not have bought that particular meal, but as I mentioned I decided to use half that meal for the following day.

So that was day one, I definitely fed myself, under budget but regarding nutrition I don’t think it was a positive day.

John's Diary: Day 2

Day 2 I woke up feeling good and determined to plan my day better, I began with Weetabix and fruit again costing .93 cent and off I went to work, I had lunch and dinner planned to hopefully remain beneath the €5 barrier. Then came a call in work to say it was a colleagues birthday and that we would have tea and cake during the morning, immediate panic for me as I had not budgeted this into my day, luckily the cake was bought and I didn’t have to contribute any money, but the challenge does state that each piece of food is accounted for within your budget. So, I ate the cake……. I think from habit but also because I felt I could work it into the budget and yes, I was wrong. For lunch that day I finished the lasagne for the previous day costing me €1.89 again, this again was fine but probably not the healthiest option and again only suited if I had somewhere to heat it etc. so then dinner time arrived I decided to make a curry which costed me €6 to make again ,miles out of budget but I ate a third of it costing me €2. This brought my tally to €4.82 but that’s not including the cake that morning and like I mentioned before if I didn’t have the price of the curry ingredients, I would have struggled to make a decent meal!

John's Diary: Day 3


Same breakfast as usual costing 93 cent and surprisingly I really enjoyed it, then lunch was planned as two eggs and toast which I planned to have at home as I live close to work, this did not go plan…. Work got too busy and I was unable to leave so I then had a five-minute window to go get lunch with a budget of €1.50, this was not easy. I decided to go to a ‘Lidl’ and really found it hard to h=get any sort of lunch, this was a huge eye-opener for me, in a circumstance where I would have normally just grabbed a sandwich or wrap I basically couldn’t. I ended up with a pitta bread and a tin of tuna which was okay, not great but okay, it did give me lunch for €1.49 but left a lot to be desired. It just shows how inconvenience can cost money! Dinner ended up being an omelette which cost €2.10 but I will say it was really good, then again if I didn’t have the kitchen facilities or know-how then maybe this meal was not an option, I rounded off the day with a cup of tea and cookies from Lidl, total cost of Wednesday was €5.57, not bad but still s serious struggle.

John's Diary: Day 4

Possibly my best day, all because of planning and convenience, breakfast was the usual Weetabix and fruit, lunch was a pitta with tuna and salad and dinner was another omelette all pretty healthy and within the budget but the only issue is that most the ingredients would have been bought in larger amounts initially so again if your budget did not allow to buy these items you may not have had the option to eat these meals.

My biggest issue that arose on this day is that I did not have any tea/coffee or snacks, it felt like 24hrs between dinner and going to bed as I was craving something sweet and I simply could not have it.

John's Diary: Day 5 and Reflection

The LAST day, this day was an odd one for me as I was busy in work so I couldn’t plan as best as I would have liked, usual breakfast but then I hot the road with no food brought for lunch and calling home was not an option, I found myself starving by 11:30am and decided to call top a deli-style shop to see what I could buy, not a whole lot that would leave room in my budget for dinner, so I decided on 3 sausage rolls at .30cent each, they were fine but probably not the healthiest meal, the day carried on until I was headed for home at around 3:30pm and I was very hungry, so the hunger won and I bought a wrap with 2 fillings which cost me €3.15, this was fine but I must say that having to ask the price of each item, filling etc while being served was NOT a nice experience, to me I felt the whole world was watching as attempted to get a meal together within my budget. And to make it worse this only brought me to 4pm and I was out of money, not a nice experience!

Reflections and Realisations:

  • Inconvenience or being busy is not cheap when it comes to feeding yourself
  • Low budgets mean low quality food
  • How lucky I was to have a kitchen to prepare food in, otherwise it would have been almost impossible.
  • The energy it took to live within the €5 really showed that how lazy I had become when eating and shopping
  • The social aspect was huge, having to ask the price of something while being served and then possibly having to walk out simply because you can’t afford it, BIG REALITY check for me!
  • I really believe that I would be constantly on high alert within social settings in case I couldn’t afford something and essentially, I would avoid most social events because of this!
  • I also can see that being on a low budget would completely take the enjoyment out of food, after the week I could see that living this way constantly would make eating a chore rather than a joy.
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