Sunday, 4 May 2014

Day 5 - the finishing line

A belated update on my final day of joining the 1.2 billion people who live below the line, just that I had to survive on £1 a day only for 5 days.

Yes, I totally welcomed the last day. While it's possible to manage on £1 a day, even after 5 days I got more than bored of beans and lentils. The titles of the recipes sound different, but it was clear that I always used an amount of some bean (and to me, they kind of all taste the same) plus an onion, a clove of garlic, some spices and one cheap vegetable, plus the obligatory starchy food. Booooring.

In addition, I could only stay below the £1 because I cooked from scratch. This does mean that I probably used more gas for the cooker and electricity for the oven than usual, so the real cost of the food may be significantly higher. Plus while I was lucky to have had food cooked for me on 2 days, it was still a massive effort to cook from scratch the other days after a long day at work. And yes, the kids did not like the meals, which in a real life living on a budget situation would be extremely stressful for the parent.

So today it was the usual porridge for breakfast, 18 p instant noodles for lunch, and dinner was bean burgers with potato wedges. No picture today because I also rushed off straight after dinner. I then made the mistake of not asking for just tap water at the bar, but had blackcurrant in it, and because I bought it with another drink, had no idea of the cost. So I didn't drink it. Which is of course a bit daft, having paid for it and all.

So here's the sums:
breakfast and milk for the day 27.5
tea 4.5p
lunch 18p
slice of bread 2p
reduced chocolate cake 7.5p (I had a choice between this or a tangerine...)
dinner (bean burgers = 3 portion):
onion 10p
garlic clove and spices
pepper 33p
tin of mixed beans 45p
 = 88p, which equals 31 per portion
potato wedges 17p per portion

Total: 108.5p

which is 8.5p over. In my defence, I had a couple of pence to spare from previous days and probably didn't use as much milk as I calculated, and also refrained from eating my full allowance of chocolate, so it's just about possible that I stayed within the £5 overall. Should have done the calculations before eating the food... Which I didn't, I kind of hoped it would be below £1. The pepper was maybe a bit of a luxury and if I had cooked the wedges from scratch, I'd have saved another 3p. I could also not have had instant noodles but 3 slices of bread instead because the bread was just such a low price, so had I done my calculations in advance, I could well have adapted my lunch.

The bean heavy food on the last two days meant I wasn't as hungry (though I was hungry during the day, esp. as I had to fit my lunch around an extremely busy working week, rather than being able to have lunch at times most conducive for my challenge).

While I didn't miss alcohol too much (I don't drink much anyway), it was quite hard to order water on my night out. It was kind of ok because this was my choice but if one actually can't afford it, it would be rather embarrassing (having been in the situation, I know how it feels having to calculate if the bank balance is enough to buy a round, leaving out one's own drink and hoping the total is not causing an overdraft). And yes, going to a gig without being able to tuck into a cider... it's just not the same thing for me.

I'm definitely glad that I'm done with doing the sums and can tuck in to my hearts delight again. My meal planning was rubbish so I still have  a lot of the food that I had bought for the challenge, again in real life this would have been a terrible waste and meal planning is essential on this kind of budget.

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