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I lived off one pound a day for a week, and this is what happened

Carbs are the key to survival

We all know that being a student is tough- especially on our bank accounts- so sometimes you have to budget. However, this past week I took budgeting to another level and lived off just one pound a day.

After seeing the endless vlogs of rich Youtubers challenging themselves to living off just a quid a day, I was wondering whether it could actually be done properly as a student living in Cardiff. So, I decided to give it a go this week. Seven days of carbs later, here is an account of my experience of living off one pound a day.

The vital preparation

Firstly, I had to think of the meals I could make that would be able to leave me full, whilst also being cheap. The first thing that came to mind was pasta, of course. It's the staple of every student's diet, and because you can make so many different variations, I thought I wouldn't get bored. Jacket potatoes were another item I added to my shopping list, as again, many other things can be added to them to keep them different. And for breakfast, I decided on a week of toast, as I'm usually in a rush in the mornings anyway.

The rules

With any challenge, there's rules. So in order for my budgeting to be as realistic as possible I noted down what I could and could not do. My rules were that I was not allowed to eat out and I wasn't allowed to get anything from any cafes or shops throughout the week. However, I did allow myself to use spices which I previously owned when preparing my meals, counting a teaspoon as one pence. I also didn't allow myself to buy anything else this week, including clothes etc.

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The crucial food shop

Of course once I started the challenge, the first place I went to was Lidl. Whilst shopping I decided it would be a good idea to make a veggie bean chilli, that would be versatile enough to be stirred into pasta and also topped on a jacket potato. Altogether, my food shop consisted of: two tins of Lidl's own brand baked beans, to again top on a jacket potato or to have on toast, a loaf of bread, a tin of vegetable soup, marmalade, bananas, a tin of chopped tomatoes, onions, a pot of houmous and a tin of kidney beans. All of this cost just £5.10 for the week.

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The week involved a lot of beans and pasta, but it went well overall

One of the first meals I made was the veggie chilli. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I made, considering I only had one tin of chopped tomatoes, an onion, and a tin of kidney beans. To this I added salt, pepper, chilli flakes, and smoked paprika. This on a jacket potato or mixed with pasta actually taste so good, and the amount of chilli lasted me for three meals worth. I also enjoyed having the houmous on the side of my jacket potato with chilli as this would calm down the spice if I needed it; I prefer this to sour cream as I don't eat dairy. In the mornings if I had more time, I'd make beans on toast, and on days where I didn't have the time I just stuck to marmalade on toast. Banana's were my snack for the week which I took with me on the go, to uni.

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My experience has taught me that I usually eat out of boredom and I spent way too much money on food outside of my weekly shop

Being conscious of what I am eating because of money over anything else, has made me realise that I eat when I am out, or when my house mates are eating, simply because I am bored. It has shown me that I can save a lot of money on food by planning meals.

I have never been the type to freeze my meals as I get bored of eating the same thing all the time, but planning foods which can be changed, like the chilli I made, is a much better plan. I have also realised how much money I spend on food outside of my weekly shop, so this has got to change, as lunch in the JP Cafe everyday isn't an option with my student loan.

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I've realised that I need stop spending so much outside of my weekly shop

I won't challenge myself to do this every week, but I will be making a conscious effort to plan my meals more

By planning my meals the week before, I'm going to aim to buy only what I need to. I won't be as strict on my shop as I was this week, and I will allow myself to by more treats (as marmalade got boring quite quickly). But by doing this challenge I'm now more aware of how much I should be spending on food. If anyone else were to try this i would recommend several things: buy frozen fruit and veg as it can be kept for longer, freeze meat to avoid it going to waste and make sure you have cheap staple foods in the cupboard like pasta, as these will see you survive the weeks before the next loan instalment drops.

So, Alfie Deyes take note, because this is how the one pound a day challenge is done.