Live Below The Line: Tips And $2 Recipes To Help You Take The Challenge

05/04/2016 4:26 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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A young Asian girl studies hard her English writing skills (look at what she's writing down).

live below the line

One cup of coffee, $3. Sandwich and a soft drink for lunch, $10. Quick shop at the supermarket for tonight’s dinner, $15.

Now, can you imagine living on just $2 a day? There would be no money for coffee, no money for lunch and you would only be able to buy a fraction of ingredients needed for your dinner.

This isn’t just a life we have to imagine, this is the reality for more than 1.2 billion people around the world.

Extreme poverty can be a difficult issue to comprehend. You might be thinking, “How can I, or anyone, possibly live on $2 a day?”, “What would I eat?” and “How can I help?”

Live Below the Line is an annual campaign and is a simple way to better understand poverty. By participating from 2-6 this May, you will take the challenge to eat on $2 a day (the Australian equivalent of the extreme poverty line) for five days, helping to raise money to fund projects overseas and spread awareness about this important issue.

While participating in the campaign is just a small window into the challenges that many people living below the poverty line face, by joining in we are able to better grasp the issue and highlight how important it is to make a difference.

The funds raised will help support educational projects -- such as building schools, training teachers and providing student scholarships -- in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

cambodia children

Along with thousands of Aussies, taking this year’s Live Below the Line challenge is Better Homes and Gardens chef Ed Halmagyi, as well as young actress Madeleine Madden, Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall and Home and Away’s Jake Speer.

“It is an opportunity to reset my culinary clock and find better balance in the simpler things,” Ed Halmagyi said. “I am thinking of Live Below the Line as a chance to learn all over again what it really takes to craft great (and simple) dishes.”

“It’s only by raising awareness of the actual impacts of poverty amongst well-off societies like ours that we can begin to solve this terrible inequality,” Halmagyi said.

Keen to jump on board? If you have no idea where to start (or feel terrified at the idea of eating on $2 a day), here are six top tips to help you kick off the challenge.

Tip One

Buy all of your groceries on Sunday, before the challenge starts, and spend your $10 in one go for the following five days. Head to the supermarket near closing time (there will be more discounted bags of produce) and take your time looking for discounted products and bargains.

Tip Two

Go for the generic labels -- it’s not the time to be buying organic brown rice with quinoa or grass-fed meat. Sticking to the generic supermarket brands means you can buy more for your money.

Tip Three

Make rice, oats, lentils, potatoes, pumpkin, pasta and bread your friends. They are cheap, filling and versatile.

rice oats beans

Tip Four

If you’re a big coffee drinker and are already dreading the caffeine withdrawals, either breathe through the pain or make sure to include some cheap instant coffee in your shop.

Tip Five

Cook and freeze most of your food early in the week. That way you have lunch and dinner ready to go, and your food will be less likely to go off during the week (which you really don't want to throw out).

Tip Six

Head to the Live Below the Line website for great $2 recipes, more shopping tips and meal ideas. For support during the week, join the Live Below the Line Facebook page and share your experiences with other participants.

If you’re not a chef and have no idea what meals to make for $2 a day (besides plain rice), try out these two soup recipes by Ed Halmagyi.

Bulgur and Pea Soup

Serves four.


  • 1 litre chicken stock, prepared from cubes
  • ¾ cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 sprigs dill, chopped


Combine the stock and bulgur in a medium saucepan and set over a low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, until the bulgur is very tender and soup thickens. Add the peas and cook for two more minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and dill, then serve.

eating soup

Lentil, Potato and Celery Stew

Serves four.


  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 1 litre chicken stock, made from cubes
  • sea salt flakes and freshly-milled black pepper
  • chopped parsley, to garnish


Wash the lentils thoroughly, then combine in a medium saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Set over a low heat and bring slowly to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until the lentils and potatoes are just tender, then season with salt and pepper. Scatter with chopped parsley.

eating soup

Live Below the Line is an annual anti-poverty fundraising campaign run by Oaktree, Australia's largest youth organisation. You can sign up for Below the Line here, or donate to Ed here.

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