Archie & Sophie Lent 2021: Shop

Welcome to our next ‘Live on £1’ participants:

Hi Everyone, we’re Archie and Sophie. We’ve both supported Norwich foodbank in various ways for a while, and as it’s Lent we decided to do the £1 a day food challenge. 

We’re both students at UEA (Sophie is studying Natural Science (maths, physics and biology), and Archie is studying Paramedic Science). We both ‘go’ to Kings Community Church in Norwich, and at the moment Sophie is part of the foodbank warehouse teams on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. 

We’ve decided to do the challenge for 7 days rather than 5, because surprisingly we thought that this might actually make it a bit easier – there was a little bit more wiggle room for buying extra bits like herbs, and the packet sizes worked better for 14 portions of meals than for 10! 

We chose to do our supermarket shop at Asda, firstly because it’s the supermarket we normally go to (so we know where things are!), secondly because they are fairly cheap for the basics anyway, and also because they have some cracking yellow-sticker bargains on a Sunday afternoon! We are so lucky to have the means to even get to a cheaper supermarket though – our nearest Asda is 3 and a half miles away – not fun when you’re carrying tins and on foot, and we’d have had to double our shop to make it eligible for delivery. We worked out that if we had bought our £14 worth of supplies at our local supermarket (a medium sized Co-Op) it would have been much more expensive at £28.24!.

We spent a bit of time before we went looking online and budgeting what we would eat each day so we had a rough framework for when we were in the shop. We started off by listing some basics that we definitely wanted to include – onion, garlic, herbs, sugar, milk and tea bags – those came to £3.51. Then we added breakfast – a pack of cornflakes at £0.53. Lunch, which was limited to bread, butter, lettuce and cucumber, a filling and a piece of fruit came to £5.80 leaving us £4.16 for dinner, which means 29p per portion – not easy! We settled on a bag of pasta, a bag of rice, 3 tins of tomatoes, a few tins of beans and a bag of carrots, which left us with £1 spare to spend on anything we saw that was on offer. 

When we actually got to the shop we were surprised to find many cheaper options than what they advertise online. Nearly all the smart-price range seems to be absent from the Asda app / website – which is awful at the moment when people for all sorts of reasons may not want to / be able to get to a physical shop and so would have to spend more. Luckily for us this did us a few favours – we ended up £1.43 under budget, leaving us room for a few extras. We decided to go shopping about an hour before closing time, thinking that we would get better deals – which we did, but unfortunately that meant the stocks of the things we actually needed were quite low! We couldn’t get any teabags (no 40 packs in stock, and 80 packs were far too pricey to fit in), and no semi-skimmed or skimmed milk (we had to opt for less whole milk and watering it down). 

We called in at Aldi, a Co-Op and a Tesco Express on the way home but none of them had any cheap teabags (although we did spend some of the remaining money on cheese sauce, biscuits and another loaf of bread)- so an early start is in order tomorrow! I don’t drink tons of tea, but I know that when I don’t have any for a few days I get really awful headaches so we decided it was worth trying to find some because (theoretically at least), teabags are cheaper than paracetamol! 

We made a big effort to try and include enough fruit and veg to get 5-a-day but we found it really almost impossible on such a budget. I think we’ll just about manage 3-a-day if we try! We also took into account 20p for salt and pepper. We weighed this out from the salt and pepper we already have (from Asda, using their prices = 3p for 75g salt and 28p for 10g pepper) – mainly because we didn’t want to end up with another half-used pot of each – but even this is a luxury many don’t have. 


Norwich foodbank has collection points in most major supermarkets acorss the city – Asda, Co-op, Lidl in Sprowston, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose – all of which, thanks to generous donors, are empited and collected at least once a week by volunteer drivers. The charity’s website is kept up to date with what it’s needs are (currently fruit juice, tinned fruit, toilet roll and 40s / 80s teabags!) and it is incredible to see these items come in, without fail, after the website or social media has been udpated with these items. Project Manager Hannah says, ‘We are constantly humbled and delighted at the support we receive – from donations direct to us or via collection points, volunteers supporting us all day every day, financial gifts coming in by cheque or BACS and we know prayer and advocacy is being done all the time too. For ALL this, we thank you.’

Live on £1 a Day: Hannah Day 1

I had pancakes last night (well, it was Shrove Tuesday!) and I really enjoyed them, but ate too much – I think partly because I could, but also because I thought I wouldn’t have enough to eat today and so wanted to binge a little. It doesn’t work like that. I felt bloated during the evening and REALLY hungry in the morning!


I had porridge oats with mostly soya milk and a little water as already I’m concerned the milk won’t do 5 breakfasts. I had blackcurrant squash instead of my usual fruit juice and although it was sweet and added a small amount of flavour in between spoonfuls of very plain porridge, it was a bit too sugary for first thing in the morning. However, I did feel pretty full for most of the morning.

I work full time and decided that as tea and coffee is always on offer at work, if I’m offered a drink, I will have one but I won’t help myself during this 5 day period. I hadn’t advertised the fact that I’m doing this appeal, but luckily, my colleagues enjoy a cuppa as much as I usually do so, by lunchtime, I had had 2 cups of tea. Lovely.


I had lunch a little later than planned (or was it just that I was hungry earlier…?) and my vegetable cuppa soup and carrot sticks did hit the spot and I enjoyed it. I have previously attempted the 5:2 diet and my lunch was always soup and vegetables sticks so today was fine. Tomorrow and the next day…?


I got home about 5.30pm and was feeling very hungry. I hadn’t particularly planned what would go with my pasta each day, but as I’m hoping to attend the gym tomorrow, I’m saving half my fish for then and the other for the weekend when I think I’ll be flagging. So it was pasta (weighed out to ensure it would last the whole 5 days) and 2 spoons each of tinned tomatoes and chickpeas stirred in. It was tasty, but I ate very slowly trying to make it last.

My husband isn’t taking part in this appeal, so I cooked a separate pasta meal for him. This really made me think of all the families and parents who ensure their children or partner are fed first and then if there’s anything left or just if there’s enough, only then will they eat. I also thought of the scene in the film Erin Brokovitch where she takes the children out for tea and doesn’t order anything because she can’t afford it, but tells them her lawyer took her out for a fancy lunch and she’s still full. I expect this sentiment is expressed all over the country in homes, by mums and dads.

Today I was very aware of the snacks I eat during the day, especially the sweets I have in my car for if I ‘need’ something and the cost of all these things would add up to at least my £5 budget which is providing me 15 whole meals. I’m also thinking of the snacks I would normally have after tea – I don’t have pudding as such, but quite often during the evening I’ll have a hot drink and some fruit or chocolate.

If you are thinking of getting involved, please do get in touch. Or next time you do your food shop, think of donating something filling like rice pudding or tinned potatoes or long life sponge puddings to keep people who receive out support going through the day.

Live on £1 a Day: Hannah’s Shop

I am quite organised when it comes to food – not a lot else, but definitely food. My mum always made a menu plan for the week, wrote a shopping list based on this and what’s in the cupboard and then went to the supermarket. Since I’ve lived independently, I’ve done the same – and I still get twitchy when the plan goes to pot because of a spontaneous meal out!

When we were planning this year’s Lent appeal, I immediately knew which one I would do – I don’t want to call it a ‘challenge’ as this suggests that those who do it will succeed or fail and it’s not about that. It’s about encouraging empathy for those who are living this on a daily basis, being grateful for the choices we have and also increasing the awareness of food waste – if you don’t have much to begin with, you absolutely don’t want to waste any of it.

The Budget

I had a think about breakfast, lunch and dinner and the sorts of items I might be able to get and in the interest of research, costed out these items at Lidl, Aldi, Sainsburys, Morrisons, and Asda. With a little bit of juggling – sardines instead of tuna for example – I found I could get all the items on my list for under £5. Despite my comment about not calling it a ‘challenge’, I have to admit that I did feel a little excited at the prospect of doing this shop – I have a weekly budget for my own food shopping and generally stick to it (!) but this is so much more limiting, I did feel that I would be achieving something if I could manage to get 5 days worth of food and drink for £5.

I went into Lidl with my list of food items and put fresh onions and carrots, tinned chickpeas, tomatoes and sardines, cuppa soups, a bottle of squash (I don’t like ‘normal’ tea and there’s no way I could afford Earl Grey, Rooibos or even coffee during this period), porridge oats, soya milk (I don’t have any allergies or intolerances but thought I’d try and do a dairy free version for variety) and a bag of pasta. All items were own brand and in most cases, the cheapest one possible.

The Overspend

At the checkout, I was confident that I had spent just under £5, but the total came to £5.13. I hesitated for a moment – when I do my food shop, if I go over my budget even by a few pounds I just pay – and though 13p is not much, I wanted to do it properly, so decided the only item that wasn’t really essential was onions. I said ‘I’m so sorry, I only have £5 so could I please return these?’ The checkout operator smiled and said ‘We’ve all been there love, don’t worry’ and I left with my goods and change (47p). I checked the receipt and my list – I had noted that the squash on my list was 65p but it had come out at 99p. I checked the shelf and the label I’d seen was for another product so it was my mistake, but it made me think that I don’t always look at prices – it costs what it costs. In order to use my money to it’s extent, I bought a tin of baked beans for 30p so my total 5 days cost £4.83. If I’d bought ‘normal’ milk and teabags instead of squash, I would have spent less and could have had the onions. I also could just have water as a drink but I thought that was one step too far for me; someone else may make this choice.

The Choices

I thought about those who have food allergies such as gluten – I guess potatoes would be a good replacement for the pasta – or those with diabetes for whom the food I’d chosen may not be terribly helpful for their condition.

I also thought about those people who live nearest to a smaller store (I couldn’t get all the items listed for under £5 from the Coop or Waitrose for example) where the costs are more than at other shops. Spending a couple of pounds on a bus ticket might not save you any more in the shopping bill and it would also be quite a bit more time to do this which might not be an option. I have a car and there’s 4 major supermarkets all within a 10 minute or less drive. Something I’ve never really been grateful for, but I am today.

The Appeal

Norwich foodbank gave out almost 1,000 food parcels in January 2019 alone. A third of these went to children aged 16 or under. Each food parcel contains enough food to last the recipient for 3 days and the items are nutritionally balanced, in line with the Trussell Trust model. All items in the parcel are long life / non-perishable so we can make up parcels in advance and store large quantities ready for packing. If you would like to support us, our current needs are instant mash, tinned fruit, tinned meat (high meat content please), tinned fish and Easter treats. Or get involved this Lent and take part in one of our 3 appeals – Live on £1 a Day, Give up and Give (give up something during Lent and donate what you would have spent), or #40for40 (put aside 40p every day of Lent and donate this, along with gift aid if possible, and we’ll get £20).