Oh my goodness. I haven’t even begun Live Below the Line and already it is messing with my head and I have already cried once. (I never cry. I can’t even remember the last time I cried. Apart from at that book last week and the film the week before that and – okay, I can’t remember the last time I cried at Real Life. What does that say about me?)
I have spent about 3 hours scribbling and re-scribbling out a shopping list and a menu plan- I have never done a menu plan before, how is it possible to spend this long decided what to buy and eat???!! I guess having a budget of £1 each makes even the most minute purchase a bit of a big deal.
I am feeling the pressure. Tim is in this really reluctantly, so I don’t want my rubbish shopping decisions to mean he is wilting; draping his usually-hulking-but-now-gaunt frame all over the furniture because all we are eating is rice and digestives. Also, I thought it would be okay to bring Ramona along for the Hungry Ride- this may have been an error in judgement because I really don’t her to be hungry! (Honestly though, she is on one of her frequent breastfeeding benders and isn’t eating that much anyway.)
Then I went and had this genuis idea of going up to East Street Market at the end of the day and scavenging amongst the bins for old fruit and veg. It was an intense experience, most Dickensian- Ramona sat up on her bike seat watching Mummy shoo the pigeons away, scrabbling around for the rotten oranges and carrots. I don’t think it happens much because people were Really Gawping.
Still, I could not BELIEVE the pile of produce I got. I was SO blinking pleased, even after spending the evening cutting out the decay and freezing it all in portions – this had freed up £2 of our week’s budget! WOOHOO! This was really where it went wrong as I may have got my gloat on a little and posted a picture to Twitter along the lines of “CHECK OUT MY HARVEST FESTIVAL!”
At which point people began suggesting that this wasn’t exactly living below the line.
I even consulted Facebook and yeah, snot allowed.Apparently everything you eat has to come with an allocated cost. I PAID WITH MY PRIDE, MAN!!!
Are the organisers missing a trick here? I reckon. A little bit. Hunger isn’t only about not having access to food, but about the things people have to do to obtain it. The time spent sourcing it, priorities shifting. The insecurity of not knowing whether they’ll be any scraps left at the end of the day.
However I guess they have to be a bit black and white so you don’t just turn up at a different friend’s house for dinner every day. “Helloooo! I’m doing Live Below the Line this week, pop over to your place for tea, yeah?”
In the interests of totally transparent blogging here is the finished list of shopping:
For £12.50 (£5 each for Tim and I and £2.50 for Ramona)
Tomatoes, Onions, Brocoli, Aubergine, Half of 5 oranges =£2 (I halved my haul and factored in the cost of what rotten veg might have been sold for)
2 Tins Tomato – 60p
1 Tin chickpeas- 30p
Dried Spaghetti – 30p
Dried Pasta – 30p
Bag white rice – 40p
Organic Milk – £1.40
Organic Butter – £1.50
Other ingredients (milk powder etc) to make 2 loaves of bread – 50p
Free range organic eggs £1.50
5 Fair Trade Bananas £1
Coffee- 50p (Tim bought green beans and is roasting them himself especially for this week. Yep, desperate times, desperate measures and all that)
Tea bags -10p
Spices etc- 10p
Some of this might seem a bit odd. (Yeah you- I see you eyeing up that lump of butter below your raised eyebrows. We loooove butter! I figure it is gonna be instead of spread for the toast, instead of sauce for the pasta, for frying things – it could well save the week. It could also be a major misjudgement.)
It has been a suprisingly hard decision chosing what to keep ethical with. We normally go for organic, fair trade etc whenever possible but there had to be some compromise this week. We have decided that where lives are concerned- human, chicken or cow- we had to keep some principles. For us, if we can’t afford to eat dairy from happy cows than we can’t afford to eat it.
Despite having been to the local supermarket 3 times in the last 3 days, scouting out prices, scanning the bargain rails I haven’t purchased any of this stuff – tonight’s final mission to buy it saw me knocking on the windows of Morrisson’s while the staff inside pointed at the opening hours. Bah, Sunday trading.
So that’s that. In my next post I’ll share the menu plan (edge of the seat blogging right here, folks) and will probably whinge about how hard it all is (stay tuned!)
PS Living Below the Line involves having £1 a day to eat with for 5 days, in order to raise awareness of extreme hunger and to raise funds. The funds we raise are going to the Salvation Army’s work with vulnerable farmers in developing nations. If you have a spare penny, please do sponsor!
PPS Normal parenting/craft/thrifty finds/nonsense blogging will resume in one week. In the meantime you get me going “I’m HUNGRY 😦 😦 :(” Again, stay tuned!!