Recipes, tips, ideas, reviews & more …

What I learnt from the #Surviveon20 challenge

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I was challenged by Wifi Refugees to do the #Surviveon20 challenge and live on a weekly food & drink budget of £20 to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in NI. It was an eye opener and a certainly learnt a few things during the experience!

Undertaking this challenge was a privilege for me.  I thought  that it would be a great way of raising awareness of issues around food poverty but had no idea how much I would get from the experience.  It opened my eyes to my approach to food, I saved a fortune and lost a couple of pounds in the process.  That’s just the start…


Here are some of my learnings:

  • I am rarely truly hungry.  I use statements like “I’m starving” but really I’m not.  Unlike the 21% of people in Northern Ireland who have skimped on food so that someone else in the home can eat!
  • I am very wasteful- I throw out more food than I should.
  • I can be quite pretentious about food, using some fancy ingredients in my dishes.  Good simple food should not be underrated! 
  • Eating on a budget is easy if you enjoy cooking but would be a nightmare otherwise.
  • I had the benefit of using this as a bit of a health kick with no eating out, coffee, alcohol or treats.  This is not sustainable.
  • I refused quite a few social invitations during the week as there was no way that the budget would stretch.  Again, for me, this is unsustainable.
  • I have a cupboard full of essential basic ingredients.  I tried not to use these but did dip into the spices.  Not everyone has this.
  • I am a very poor planner.  I need to start planning meals and buying accordingly rather than buying what I fancy and seeing what I can create.
  • Food poverty is a serious issue in Northern Ireland, affecting 21% of the population
  • I now need to rethink my approach to food including- planning, spend, creativity and waste! 
My £ weekly food & drink budget
pennies left at the end of the 7 days

My top thrifty creations

healthy baked potato crisps
aquafaba (chickpea water) meringues
1 ingredient banana icecream
Moroccan sweet potato & lentil soup
spicy roasted butternut squash seeds

About Wifi Refugees

Wifi Refugees is a concept about helping others.

It’s about giving something back to the communities, the businesses and the people who make life so rich in our towns and cities.

It’s about giving to help the poorest people in our society too.

Those people who have had to flee their home and try and rebuild a life in a new town, a new country and often with a new language.

It’s about being human.

It works like this; a Wifi Refugees volunteer will set up a clinic in a locally run coffee shop. A business owner, or several, will show up with some marketing questions and partake in a free, mini consultation with one of our marketing experts. Hopefully, they will feel they have had some useful advice and will feel inspired to make a voluntary donation to the charities that are supported by Wifi Refugees, but that’s not compulsory. As a bonus the local coffee shop is supported too with a selection of new customers buying coffee and buns on the night.

About Food Poverty in NI

This is an area of concern. It is estimated that the following statistics apply to Northern Ireland. **

  • 21% of the population of NI is living in poverty.
  • 4% of households have reported that there has been at lease one occasion when they had not eaten a substantial meal in the last fortnight due to a lack of money.
  • Over 115.000 adults and children (6.4% of the population) are not properly fed by today’s standards.
  • 29% of people have ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ skimped on food so that others in the household would have enough to eat.
  • 7% of households are unable to afford fresh fruit and vegetables every day
  • 2% of households (over 14,000) cannot afford two meals a day
  • Reliance on food banks has increased by 6,860% over a three-year period
**** Sources: Department for Social Development’ 2013/14 poverty bulletin, The Health survey for NI 2014/15, 2013 Poverty and Social Exclusion study in NI, EU Survey on Living Conditions, Advice NI data 2014,


What Do You Think?

Recommend this content to other Eating Ideas readers by giving it a thumbs up!

Or why not tell us what you think by leaving a comment?

8 responses to “What I learnt from the #Surviveon20 challenge”

  1. Well done you for taking up this challenge. Some of your creations looked amazing so might just have a go at making one or two (Not the banana ice cream though). Don’t know that I could do it myself.

Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *