Around the world, 1.2 billion people are defined as living in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as surviving on less than £1.67 a day. Millions of people in the UK live impoverished lives – and it’s feared that number could drastically rise this winter as energy bills and inflation soar.
As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, millions of households are in need of help – and it is urgent. One woman has reiterated the need for help as she took on the challenge to live £7 for seven days.
On social media, we often see people claim it is perfectly easy to live on pennies – disregarding the expense of energy bills, and how people can live their lives.
It is extremely difficult to live on £1 a day – indeed, it places you below the poverty line. It’s easy to see this challenge as patronising – the Mirror regularly speaks to people who live in the dark, because they are so scared of the costs.
But it also firmly rebuts the assumption that it’s easy to do – or should be done at all. Columnist Ros Wynne Jones tried it in 2014, writing: ‘From the first minutes of starting it, it raised questions. Do you get the bus to the cheaper shops and waste 80p of £5 before you start, or do you pay more in the local supermarket?
‘How do you save money when you can’t afford bulk? How can you possibly eat healthily?’
Kathryn Leech, 26, from Manchester, set herself the challenge of spending just £7 on food in seven days – in order to prove it was not the solution to cope with the cost of living crisis.
Kathryn bought eight wraps for 85p, and two tins of kidney beans for 49p each – she stir-fried these with peppers and ate a wrap a day for seven days for lunch.
Although she said by the seventh day, she had run out of beans and was just eating peppers in a wrap.
For her seven dinners, Kathryn bought two tins of tuna at 59p each, a jar of mayo for 49p and sweetcorn for £1.19.
She made batches of pasta that lasted her the week, but she did say on the seventh day she was still hungry after dinner.
In a video, Kathryn said: “For context, I do live alone and will just be feeding myself. The entire food shop came to £6.82. We are under budget but will it last seven days?”
In the second video chronicling the challenge, Kathryn revealed her breakfast option for the week. She said: “For the week, I’m going to be having toast with butter.
“It’s now day five and I’m completely sick of bread and toast but I’m still going strong for breakfast.
“On day seven now and I think we did it! For breakfast, I ate toast every single day. Yes it’s incredibly boring but a loaf of bread is 65p!”
Kathryn told said: My aim was to try and find cheap food items and test out different supermarkets for people who may not be able to afford much.
“In conclusion, it’s not healthy and not sustainable to live on this. Even though you can buy very cheap food, it’s no way to live.
“The problem isn’t a budgeting problem, it’s an inflation problem on everything except peoples wages.
“I’m lucky I live alone and only have myself to feed and look after, I can’t imagine how hard it is for families.”
In another video from the £7 challenge, Kathryn told her viewers: “I’ve gone for vegetarian options as meat is surprisingly expensive.
“But I’m confident I can have a wrap a day for lunch and that’s going to fill me up. I am allowing myself seasonings and condiments that I already have in the cupboards.
“It’s day five and the veg wraps are just about lasting, it’s still kind of working and I’m getting through it!
“I did have it every day. There wasn’t quite enough filling to get me through the seven days. At the end I was pretty much eating a wrap just full of peppers.”
Kathryn’s fourth video of her £7 challenge showed her creating two batches of tuna pasta for dinner – to last the week.
She told her viewers: “With tuna pasta for dinner, I’m convinced I can make a big portion of this. So for the next seven days, I’ll be eating tuna pasta.
“I’m now on day five of our seven day challenge already, the tuna pasta is lasting pretty well. I’ve just made a second batch today to make it fresh and it’s still going well.
“I made it to the end of the week with the pasta. It’s a great idea to make a big pot of pasta as it will definitely last.
“The tuna to pasta ratio wasn’t the best, there was more pasta than tuna, but we still made it to the end of the seven days in budget at £6.82 .
Kathryn warned that you are unable to get all essential nutrients required on such a tight budget.
She said: “This is no way to live. It’s not healthy as there is no way to get in all your essential nutrients on a budget this small.
“You can’t buy fresh produce and get in your 5 a day for a whole week on this little.”
She added: “With the rising cost of living, inflation and huge energy price increases, it’s affecting everyone in one way or another.
“I started my TikTok account at the start of July 2022 with the aim of helping people currently struggling by giving money saving tips, finance and debt help, and also speaking on current news stories regarding the cost of living.
“I have done a few ‘living on £1 a day’ challenges to see if it is possible to eat on an incredibly small budget. I also tried a ‘living on £7 for 7 days’ challenge and tried to put a few meals together for a week.
“These challenges were a small experiment to see what food I could buy for very little money, and to see if it is possible to survive on this little.”