Today is Day One of my Live Below the Line challenge, which I signed up for to raise funds for Action Against Hunger and awareness of the issue of extreme poverty. I know already I'm the one getting it easy. My £1 a day budget only has to account for food. Those in true extreme poverty living on this amount, have to account for EVERYTHING from that. And therefore, might not even eat.
Yesterday, I did some shopping in preparation for the challenge. This was mainly in Aldi because it is the cheapest supermarket for a lot of things, and though I had some ideas already of what I wanted, I decided to shop according to offers as well (like, aubergines are currently 49p each, so I thought this would make a nice basis of a pasta meal). It seemed not to make sense buying things in that I already have, so where that is the case, I am proportioning out my expenditure and budgeting it accordingly.
I already know that on £1 a day I am not going to be eating as healthily as I normally do. I like to include LOTS of green vegetables in my diet, and they seemed to be more expensive than others currently. My priority right now is filling my belly rather than eating for nutrition.
Of course, nutrition is ultra-important to me - I normally have smoothies for breakfast packed with all kinds of goodness (banana, berries, linseed, kale, coconut milk, pineapple etc) and today it was just porridge made with half a banana and water and soya mik. Not quite the vitamin boost I'm used to for starting the day.
But that banana porridge cost around 12p to make (half a banana 5p, 50g oats 4p, and then some of my soya milk daily allowance) - whereas a goodness-packed smoothie? I have no idea how much, but it's likely to eat up a considerable amount of my £1 daily budget. And please bear in mind, what I'm NOT trying to do is prove you can thrive on a £1 a day food budget, but show how difficult it really is to survive on it, AND eat a healthy, varied diet.
The one thing I really want to include is tea - my personal 'luxury'. It feels quite odd to be viewing tea as a luxury, but I guess when you're eating to stave off hunger, then it is. Two teabags (the Aldi Fair Trade ones I already have in) are about 3p, and someone suggested I reuse the bags. So this morning, I managed three cups from one bag (I brewed it in the pot, then reheated - I think it never brews again properly if you try to reuse the bag). But I like my tea strong, so it was way off par for me.
Lunch and tiredness
I enjoyed lunch, which was a sweet potato, lentil and pea curry with rice, far more than I enjoyed breakfast. It was quite tasty actually. I bought a 750g bag of sweet potato for 89p, and I already have red lentils in (which I would have bought anyhow as part of this). They are on offer in Asda - 2kg bag for £2.50 - making it cost 12.5p per 100g.
Anyhow, I decided rather than just bore myself with one huge pan of food for several meals, I would make a lentil and sweet potato base, that I would split off into two different dishes - a curry, and possibly a soup. I also knew this meant I could get away with one onion, garlic and seasoning for the large pot, thereby saving a few pennies of budget.
For the lentil and sweet potato base (which ended up being a rather hefty amount of food, around 6 portions), I used the following:
750g sweet potatoes 89p
400g red lentils 50p
1 onion 8p
2 cloves garlic 3p
½ tablespoon oil 2p
2 bay leaves, salt, pepper 1p
4-5 x 250ml cups water Free
To make the curry, I then took half of this amount (therefore 76.5p worth), and added 50g of frozen peas (4.5p - a 1kg bag from Aldi is 89p), and a few grams of cheap curry powder (2.5p). This amount will be enough for three portions to serve with cheap, cheap, rice. So I then cooked up 200g of white rice (8p, since a 1kg bag from Aldi is 40p), to be be served with the three portions of lentil & sweet potato curry.
So - the total curry and rice cost is 87p - divided by three for a portion each day, and that means one portion is 29p. Not bad going really for a healthier, tastier meal than breakfast was!
One thing that happened today though is that I hit a wall - big time - this afternoon. Wow. I was soooo tired and in a fog after lunch, and this continued through the day. I normally have far more vegetables and fruits than I do any other food, so while I haven't eaten any less in portion size, I am eating a lot of carbs that I am not used to, early on.
The 'wall' could also be partly due to having less caffeine than usual, with the reduced amount of tea that I am drinking. I generally have around 3-4 mugs by lunchtime, and maybe one in the afternoon, and it is STRONG. I can't abide pee-weak tea. I like my tea properly brewed. So maybe not having any strong tea has contributed to the huge exhaustion I feel.
And then again - maybe it is also down to having spent three days cooking, cleaning and preparing for my son's 21st birthday party! Without anywhere near enough sleep, and 5am wake-ups. So I might just be in a stage where my body has said "SLOW DOWN"! We'll see as the next few days continue.
Dinner and onwards
Dinner tonight has been aubergine, mushroom and sweetcorn tomato pasta sauce with spaghetti. Not that great really, since the sauce is a shop-bought one, but at 39p, it was cheaper than a tin of tomatoes! It's quite shocking that you can buy a processed jar of pasta sauce cheaper than a tin of tomatoes really, no wonder people have poor health when the budget option to go for the crappy, processed version.
I barely ever buy such sauces unless they are really good quality - generally preferring to make my own. I think eating this for another three meals will be grim. I had piles of spaghetti, a fifth of pack - which is a mere 19p from Aldi!
So dinner was basically:
5ml oil 0.5p
1 onion 8p
1 aubergine 49p
200g mushrooms 40p
Aldi 'Essentials' pasta sauce 39p
50g sweetcorn 4.5p
Split into 4 portions makes 35p per meal, plus 100g spaghetti at 4p
I also decided to bake a half batch of my Austerity Oat Soda Bread, but used a cheaper oil which I bought at a good price (£2 for 2 litres of rapeseed oil), therefore bringing the cost down to 32p for a small loaf, with the recipe halved. This half loaf I will divide up into 4 pieces at 8p each per slab.
I've just finished my last weak cuppa, and dinner, so it will be only water for the rest of the evening. I'm loaded up on carbs though!
Today adds up like this:
200 ml soya milk 12p
2 teabags 3p
½ banana 5p
50g oats 4p
Sweet potato, lentil & pea curry with rice 29p
Aubergine, sweetcorn & mushroom sauce 35p
100g spaghetti 4p
¼ small home-made soda bread 8p
PLEASE sponsor me as I continue on my Live Below the Line challenge: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/chocolateandbeyond