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Vanessa’s cheap n cheerful lentil soup

The challenge? 
Spend 5 days feeding yourself with $2.25 a day – the New Zealand equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The reason? 
To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make $2.25 cover a lot more than food

Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s changing the way people think about poverty – and making a huge difference – by challenging everyday people to live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line for 5 days.

So a meal for $2.25NZD? Doesn’t sound like much but when you do the figures and work out what it would cost a family of 4 (at this rate) for a week, three meals a day – you are looking at $189 per week. This doesn’t include cleaning products, personal bits and pieces, nappies, formula, kids snacks or wine! BOY has it become expensive to live these days. I complain about the cost of living and I have a good job, I send my youngest to daycare (so I can work), run a gas guzzling car and find money for takeaway coffees and sushi lunches. What about those who, for whatever reason aren’t so fortunate? Life I imagine is pretty tough. And they are not eating three meals a day.  Tearfund approached us to help come up with a recipe for $2.25 that would appear in Tear Funds Live Below The Line Cookbook and help those who take up the challenge to get some recipe ideas. My idea is hardly a new concept, its a staple food all over India. However, it’s cheap, nutritious, delicious and easy. Dahl – basically it’s curried lentils made with enough liquid to produce a thick soup like consistency. Eat it with rotis, nann bread or even toast. Add your own spin on it and add chopped spinach, carrots, potatoes – or peas – it’s extremely versatile. Vanessa

If you are taking up the challenge to spend 5 days feeding yourself with $2.25 a day and need some recipe ideas check out Tear Funds Live Below The Line Cookbook

Dahl soup
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 4

What you need
  • 1 cup red split lentils, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 x 400 g can reduced-salt chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup coriander leaves, to serve
  • ½ cup low-fat natural yoghurt, to serve

How to make
  1. Place the rinsed lentils, and turmeric in a saucepan.
  2. Add enough water to cover the lentils by 3 cm.
  3. Bring to the boil over medium heat and cook for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  4. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
  5. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and ½ cup of water and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked lentils and a further cup of water to the tomato mixture.
  8. Simmer for 5 minutes, to warm through.
  9. Stir in chopped coriander.
  10. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt.


Comments (2)


2 Responses

  1. Hannah says:

    Made this on Saturday night– perfect recipe for a cold wintery evening. It’s perfect for a ‘leftovers lunch’ at work, too! Delicious 🙂

  2. I am so happy you enjoyed it, I totally agree about it being a perfect recipe for a cold evening, I woud even say it would be a great one to have if you have a cold and feel under the weather – healthy, cheap and comforting! Vanessa

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