Thursday, 1 May 2014
In a way my task was made a bit easier because my work involved a low cost dinner on two nights (days 2 and 3), so I didn't need to cook from scratch and still had a budget meal, one of them was even costed to the penny by the kind dinner lady who prepared it.
Today though it was back to cooking.
I did a bit of thinking around the challenge and compared it to how others interpreted it. I had no qualms about buying in bulk - I do this for a number of reasons, to save money but also to reduce my waste, and I then calculate the cost by accounting for the amount actually eaten. However this assumes that one can afford the cheaper bulk purchase. I realised that I'm privileged to be able to purchase in bulk, and that the challenge would be much harder if I just had a fiver in my pocket and had to make do on it.
Similarly, I bought the cheapest produce I could find but overbought - i.e. bought for about £15 and I was flexible about what I'll use, leaving the rest for a later date. This is also a luxury, and not to be compared with someone who only has a limited amount in their pocket and can't afford to buy food for next week, or have the choice that I had to prepare my food from. Effectively, I didn't need to budget, I could focus on the challenge as a game, rather than a necessity.
I'm also lucky that I was able to supplement my food by using some items growing in our local community garden, where I (very) occasionally help out, and from a dish prepared from another garden crop. A colleague had bought fruit from a market stall which was incredible value, so I had the odd tangerine. I could not have afforded a tangerine from the supermarket. All of this is rather lucky, and improved the diet over the 5 days a lot.
If you take all of these privileges away, it would look rather dire. Nutritional value of the food would go down, I'd be much hungrier than I am (though I have been hungry, don't get me wrong, but I'm a big eater and it was more a case of adapting to smaller portions and no snacking in between meals).
And even in spite my luck, the Live below the Line diet isn't healthy. Someone commented on the photo of my shop that it looked quite healthy, but I beg to differ. There is no way I can get my 5 (never mind 7-9) fruit and veg a day. I have totally excluded meat and fish, my protein comes from beans and lentils. The rest is carbs.
This is today's food:
Breakfast: porridge with water and splash of milk, milk for the day and 2 teabags. 30.5p
Lunch: Instant noodle soup, 18p
snack: slice of bread with a tiny bit of butter: 2p, some tiny chocolates (I'm adding my allowance for the whole week today, which is 25p)
Dinner: Chilli sin carne, 4 portions
1 onion 10p
garlic clove, spices 4p
200 gr carrots 14 p
can of kidney beans 30p
200 gr rice (value) 8p
50 gr grated cheese: 28p
Total: 94p, each portion = 23.5p
Total for the day: 99p. Big phew.
Dinner was very tasty, my children once again did not agree. Serious coercing was involved, and what I saved on the cost of dinner was probably made up by the cost of jelly babies to entice consumption of dish containing, imagine, kidney beans.
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