A pub landlord revealed how he lived off £ 1 a day for five days to highlight the cost of living crisis.
Craig Harker, 35, from Stockton on Tees, Co. Durham, brought staples like spaghetti and potatoes, as well as store cupboard essentials like tinned soup, and used these to make his meals for the week.
The father-of-three typically spends £ 200-a-week on food but wanted to highlight the difficulties faced by families struggling with the squeeze of the cost of living crisis.
He said his experiment ‘has not been a case of living – but surviving’ on meals like jacket potatoes and rice with tinned curry sauce.
Craig Harker, 35, from Stockton on Tees, brought staples like spaghetti and potatoes, as well as store cupboard essentials like tinned soup, and used these to make his meals for the week
He is used to spending £ 200 a week on food – but this week has been feeding himself a fraction of that for £ 1 a day – £ 5 a week by stocking up on carbs and getting free sauces from fast food chains. Pictured, some of Craig’s food for the week
Craig was inspired to start this challenge following Tory MP Lee Anderson’s controversial comments a few weeks ago that people can make meals costing 30p.
Craig, who runs his chain of George Pub & Grill venues across Teeside, said: ‘The rising costs of everything has been popping up on social media and on the news everywhere.
‘People are cutting back on everything and almost every person is feeling it.
Craig’s shopping list
Long-grain rice – 45p
Soup – 27p
Curry sauce – 28p
40 Asda’s own Tea bags – 28p
Pasta sauce – 39p
Bread – 39p
Total £ 1.61
Free salt, sugar, milk, syrups and ketchup from McDonalds
1 Banana- 14p
Spaghetti hoops 2 tins – 26p
Spaghetti – 20p
Rice pudding – 20p
Jam – 28p
Instant oats – 79p
Jacket Potato – 16p
Total £ 2.27
6 Eggs- 50p
£ 4.83 total
‘Everyone is saying we need to budget – and then the Tory MP came out with his thoughts on the matter, but I wanted to find out my own answer.’
Before starting his project, Craig revealed he completed hours worth of research into supermarket costs but found the increasing cost of budget line products a issue when shopping.
From cutting out meat and diary, stocking up on carbs and getting free sauces from fast food chains, Craig stuck to his budget meticulously.
He also lost a significant amount of weight in his brief budgeting journey – at the beginning of the week Craig weighed 15st 8lb and dropped to 15st by the end of the week.
He hopes to use his large following to ‘raise awareness’ of the rising cost of prices and help families adopt the best methods possible to keep their costs low and not going hungry.
The landlord said: ‘What I’ve been doing is not a healthy diet but I’m trying to show people that you can survive on that budget.
‘Everyone is struggling to get out of this difficult financial situation but if you are on a budget of feeding your family for £ 5 a week – there are ways you can eat.
‘But luckily for me my Dad was a chef and I am not in a vulnerable position. No one in the UK or Western World should live like this.
‘This experience has made me feel really grateful and appreciate what I’ve got and it has taught me a lot of lessons I’ll be implementing into my life moving forward.’
Craig took to his pub’s Facebook page on Monday 16 May to share his experiment experiences and revelations with his quarter of a million followers.
On the first day of his challenge, he admitted: ‘After visiting the first supermarket this is already going to be a lot more difficult than I thought.
‘I knew it was going to be hard – I knew living off a £ 1 a day, £ 5 a week for food would be a struggle and that’s why I was up for the challenge.’
The pub landlord decided to take on the challenge that thousands are currently facing with the cost of living crisis and bought all his food shopping for less than the cost of a Big Mac Meal
Craig had to get creative with some of his meals even adding sachets of sauce from fast food chains
He loaded up on carbs so he could feel fuller for longer, eating a lot of bread pasta and rice with curry sauce
An average day of eating for Craig normally would consist of a full English breakfast, a packet of biscuits with tea or coffee, a burger for lunch and dinner from a fast food chain, like McDonalds or KFC.
Craig added: ‘My life is so busy – it’s always about being on the move and the drive throughs are just easy. I eat out a lot and have several restaurant takeaways a week ‘.
This week, however, he left his luxuries behind and regimentally stuck to a whole new way of eating – that even included asking for spices and sauces from drive-throughs.
Craig included a sachet of porridge for breakfast which he got for 79p from Aldi, a cup of tea, rice and curry sauce and spaghetti Bolognese.
Craig got a burger from Burger King and he took it home, diced it up and used the ingredients to make a spaghetti bolognese
He stopped buying diary and meat from supermarkets and went to drive-throughs where he asked them for salt, pepper, sweet curry sauce, sweet chilli sauce
Having finished his experiment on May 20, Craig admits a favorite meal of his this week was a jacket potato with hoops and grated carrot on the side
Craig admits a favorite meal of his this week was a jacket potato with hoops and grated carrot on the side.
He added: ‘I bought the porridge sachets because I knew I was only doing this for five days but if I was doing it for longer I would have bought a full bag of oats which would have lasted much longer.
Breakfast: Golden syrup porridge, tea
Lunch: Spaghetti Bolognese with boiled carrots as meat substitute
Snack: Toast with jam
Dinner: Curry sauce rice on toast with extra sweet chilli sauces
Breakfast: Porridge with jam, tea
Lunch: Spaghetti hoops on toast
Dinner: One toastie with rice and curry sauce and one toastie with fried egg, rice and curry
Breakfast: Porridge with jam, free coffee from Greggs
Lunch: Free Burger King Whopper
Dinner: Burger King Whopper Spaghetti Bolognese with side salad
Breakfast: Egg sandwich, tea
Snack: Half a banana
Lunch: Jacket potato with spaghetti hoops and grated carrot
Dinner: Half a tin of soup and one slice of bread, spaghetti Bolognese with carrots, half a tin of rice pudding
Breakfast: Porridge, tea
Lunch: Toasties with carrots and spaghetti hoops
Dinner: tomato soup with bread and croutons, spaghetti hoops and rice pudding with jam
‘The cup of tea was 29p from ASDA for 40 tea bags, I used the milk which I got from maccies for free.
‘I took the hit on buying diary and meat and went to drive-throughs where I asked them for salt, pepper, sweet curry sauce, sweet chilli sauce.
‘I tried to find the cheapest options possible – everything I bought didn’t look like a meal, the nutritional value was not great but it’s what you do with it that matters.
‘I also got a free burger from Burger King who were giving them out this week, and took it home, diced it up and used the ingredients to make a spag bog.
‘I was being creative and using what was there at my disposal – anyone can do any of these at any point.
‘Asda is great for budget line sauces, Morrisons do eggs for 50p and you can check out bargains online and on O2 priorities particularly.’
Craig says the ‘key is being prepared’ and the freezer is your best friend, and his advice is to bulk cook meals and freeze them.
He said: ‘If you bulk cook real dishes like soups, casseroles, curries – over long periods of time that is the best option financially.
‘There are so many little things you can change too that make a difference – like when boiling the kettle, just fill it up to one cup every time – not the whole thing’.
The father also revealed his experiment exposed not only the difficulties with food, but also maintaining a social life.
He said: ‘There are only so many times you can go to the pub and ask for water!’
He said: ‘I am a big fizzy drink lover so one of the first things I did was find the cheapest lemonade can prices – which were Tesco at 17p.
‘But when I went to buy them, they were 23p – that was not in my budget so I couldn’t afford them and these prices are going up all the time!’
Since finishing his experiment, Craig celebrated in style by buying a whole trolley of food and donating it to his local foodbank.
He added: ‘I want to help others now that I’ve experienced first hand how difficult it can be on a low budget.
‘I’m feeling so grateful for everything I have but no one day budgeting like this week could be a possibility and take nothing for granted. Its been a real eye opening and no one should be forced to survive on what I’ve had ‘.
He was able to make spaghetti for dinner using just spaghetti noodles and a jar of bolognese sauce, he added chopped up carrot for some nutrition
Craig has been flooded with messages of support, with people from all over the country thanking him for raising awareness on the subject