The Real Food Guide

Live Below the Line: Day 2


Live Below the Line Challenge, Day 2

Day two of the Live Below the Line challenge is now over. Thanks to “Anonymous” who gave me my first donation – I’m raising money for Raising the Village. If you feel so inclined, you can donate through my Live Below the Line page.

I realized today how many little things I take for granted – a cup of peppermint tea, a splash of hot sauce, or a bit of curry powder – none of these things made the meager budget. I would never have thought that flavor would be a luxury I’d miss with an extreme poverty budget – yet, 1.4 billion people live on $1.75/day, so I really have nothing to complain about. It’s getting harder not to want to eat more than the allotted portions too. I could have easily eaten twice the amount of food I have at each meal. I’m only two days in, and so far though, I’m not feeling too bad. Not exceptionally hungry, but I noticed today that it was harder to see other people’s (those not doing the Live Below the Line challenge) food photos in my Facebook stream.

One thing I’m glad I don’t have to deal with is caffeine withdrawal, like my friend Andrea who is also doing the challenge. I suspect this challenge is a lot easier to do when you’re not dealing with cravings. Just as difficult would be sugar cravings and the resulting dysglycemia — blood sugar highs and lows. Having given up my regular morning coffee about 6 months ago, and eating a ‘paleo‘ diet has taken care of those dependencies and probably given me an advantage in dealing with this restricted diet. While I miss my tea, hot water as a beverage isn’t so bad and seems to be a thing that my family (hi Mom!) does a lot.

Eating Real Food on a Budget - Day 2, Bone BrothEating Real Food on a Budget - Roasted Chicken Fat DrippingsThe Chicken Legs that Keep on Giving

I had started some bone broth in the slow-cooker yesterday, made with the bones from my roasted chicken legs. Today I strained and cooled it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t ready until after lunch.  The bone broth is pretty oily on the top, so I stick it in the fridge to congeal the fat and I can separate it out more easily. After removing the broth from the slow-cooker, I re-filled it with water, added another splash of apple cider vinegar and some salt.

Aside from the fat from the broth, I was also able to get a decent-sized bowl of chicken fat (aka schmaltz), and some onion-y drippings from roasting the chicken. The chicken fat will supplement my paltry 4.5 tablespoons of butter that I’ve given myself for the challenge. Good fat is key to feeling sated, so I want as much as I can get! (I’ve purposefully chosen butter and animal fats over hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated, yet cheaper vegetable oils because of the health benefits to nutrient-rich traditional fats).

Cost of broth preparation (round 2)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar: $0.03
Liberal salting: $0.05

Broth preparation subtotal: $0.08

Eating Real Food on a Budget - Breakfast, Day 2

Breakfast, Day 2

Breakfast was the same as yesterday: two eggs, scrambled with about a teaspoon of butter and about 1/10th of my bunch of spinach.

Cost of breakfast breakdown

Two eggs: $0.34
1/10th bunch of spinach: $0.10
butter: $0.03

Breakfast sub-total: $0.47

Lunch, Day 2

Eating Real Food on a Budget - Live Below the Line Challenge - Lunch Day 2

Lunch was leftover meat from half of a roasted chicken leg, along with some mashed potatoes (one potato’s worth), and 1/10th a bunch of spinach. I’m really starting to wish I’d chosen something heartier than spinach, like broccoli or green beans; spinach reduces down to barely a bite. I’m yearning for a lot more when it comes to greens. The mashed potatoes, at least, were heavenly since I mixed in a the reserved roasted chicken fat and drippings. The drippings gave the potatoes a nice mild onion flavor too.

Cost of lunch breakdown

1/2 of chicken leg: $0.43
1/10th bunch of spinach: $0.10
1 potato: $0.10
1/2 clove garlic: $0.01
salt: $0.01

Lunch sub-total: $0.65

Eating real food on a budget - live below the line - day 2, dinner

Dinner, Day 2

Dinner was leftovers from lunch, with the addition of 2 cups of broth.

Cost of dinner breakdown

1/2 of chicken leg: $0.43
1/10th bunch of spinach: $0.10
1 potato: $0.10
1/2 clove garlic: $0.01
salt: $0.01
broth: $0.00 (cost already accounted for in yesterday’s preparation)

Dinner subtotal: $0.65

Total cost of day 2: $1.85

Second day in, and I’m over (again) by 10 cents. (I’m still not too worried, as I’m eating within my allotted food ration. I’ve also been rounding fractions of a penny up to the nearest penny usually). I’ll tighten the belt a little bit tomorrow to make up for the 17 cents that I’m over so far.

I’m fairly sure that in my original calculation of calories, the online calculator didn’t take into account the caloric value of the chicken fat, since most people would discard it after roasting the chicken –there was at least 5 tablespoons of chicken fat collected. At 115 calories per tablespoon, that’s an extra 575 calories, making my total calorie count for the challenge 4280, or 856 calories per day. (And that’s not including the calorie contribution of the broth).

Two days in and what do you think? Does it give you an appreciation for how little some people have to live on, or does it seem manageable to you?

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This is the fifth post in the Live Below the Line series, where I’ll be attempting to feed myself Real Food for $1.75 per day, for five days. You can also support me in the challenge and donate to the cause – I’ll be raising money for Raising the Village. Or, you can donate to my team Bloggers Living Below the Line; make sure to check out our collective blog of our challenge experience.


Vivian is the founder of the Real Food Guide and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who believes that each individual needs to go on their own Real Food Journey to find what works. While she herself eats a diet of real food (aka a paleo diet), some people may find that they can flourish on a vegetarian diet instead. However, universal to optimal health and well-being is good quality, nutrient-dense, Real Food.

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May 1 |

2 thoughts on “Live Below the Line: Day 2

  1. Rhonda says:

    Hi Vivian,

    Hmmmm chicken – that looks amazing. I didn’t eat my full allotment yesterday – I was feeling a bit sick so I only ate $1.09 which is grossly under what I should have eaten :(. Wondering if I can make that up today.


    • Thanks Rhonda!
      I’m glad I included the chicken in my budget. I’m a little sad that I’ll be eating up most of it today, except for a little bit that I’ll be saving for fried rice.

      I hope you feel better soon :/ Doing this challenge and being sick could take its toll!

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