Live Below The Line

By: James MacLeod - Managing Director, Tobin Brothers Funerals
Friday, June 6, 2014

A few weeks ago I was reading a Facebook status of my friend Ruben who said he was participating in Live Below the Line. Live Below the Line is an experience, and a challenge, for thousands of Australians to eat on $2 a day for five days – the equivalent of extreme poverty line.

It is a way to better understand extreme poverty whilst making a difference overseas.

The charity itself has raised over $7.5 million since 2010 and anyone can participate in Live Below the Line in May each year.

So with Ruben’s lead I decided to give Live Below the Line a go…

I first went about recruiting family members – My wife Louise is a flight attendant and works odd hours and was doing long haul shifts so she was out. My daughter Grace was away on camp so she was out. My son Gus had a number of sporting commitments through the week so he said no…but my wife’s brother Michael who is currently staying with us said he would be in it, so the two of us took on the challenge!

Michael put me in charge of the shopping, so on the Sunday morning I was travelling back from Port Campbell and pulled over at a local potato and pumpkin grower who sells produce on the side of the road. I was lucky to pick up some seconds potatoes for 40cents a kilo and the whole pumpkin that had some bruising and cuts for 50 cents. I was then off to the supermarket with a calculator in hand, to purchase a bag of soup mix, a bag of rice and a bag of oats that had both been discounted due to split packaging, two cans of tomatoes, a bag of frozen vegetables, onion, carrots, two-day-old loaf of bread for 49 cents, eggs and a roll of ham and chicken loaf for making sandwiches. After going through the cash register my total spend was now up to $19.05.

I then headed to the butcher where I wanted to buy a lamb bone to cook soups. It is the same butcher I have been buying from for 17 years. When I asked what sort of lamb bone I could get for 95 cents, they told me I couldn’t get a lamb bone for that so I then asked if I could get a few beef bones out of the bags of bones that I usually buy for my dog, but they couldn’t split the bag up. I said I am looking for a bone to make some stock for my vegetable soup, so Emma produced a chicken carcass, weighed it and said that would be 45 cents…I still had 50 cents remaining so I bought a second one.

In total I spent $19.95.

Here is the food for Michael and I for the week (the milk is not ours):

On Sunday afternoon I cooked up my chicken stock (and put some aside to make pumpkin soup later in the week) and then made up a chicken and vegetable soup – which was dinner that night. Breakfast each day of the week was oats, and each day Michael and I had a ham and chicken loaf sandwich, and soup.

Monday night’s dinner was potato, pumpkin and onion frittata. Tuesday night was a baked potato, tomato and onion on the side. Wednesday night was fried rice and a pumpkin and potato frittata. Thursday night was left over fried rice, fried egg on a piece of toast and some of the remaining ham and chicken loaf, tomato and onion.

…No coffee, no coke zero (which I have to say I am addicted to), no alcohol, and we had very little protein.

Some people have asked if it was difficult, but I would have to say it wasn’t and I was amazed at what we ate for the week. By being extremely thrifty, we got great bang for our buck. The greatest pleasure of participating was knowing that the funds raised will go to those that are actually homeless, those who have no funds for food, clothes or education, in places like East Timor and Cambodia.

To date we have raised over $2000.

You can still donate by going to the link below:

I hope next year to gather a team together at Tobin Brothers to participate in what is just a great cause.


Written by James MacLeod - Managing Director, Tobin Brothers Funerals

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