Today I have begun my Live Below the Line challenge. For the next five days I will be spending five pounds on my food and drink. A solitary pound will provide for my food and drink each day.
There are exceptions: I'm allowed water! And I'm allowed the other things of life, medicines, a place to stay, electricity, heating - etc, etc.
But the principle is simple. To live on just £1 a day. To live below the extreme poverty line. And while this will never be an accurate thing, this week will have its own challenges.
So here I am near the end of day one.
Today I spent my pound (or 96p of it) on:
1kg budget rice - 40p
80 budget (but still fair trade) tea bags - 35p
can of mushy peas - 15p
carrot - 6p
There seem to be different ways of doing this challenge. Live Below the Line suggest planning a menu, or spending five pounds at the beginning of the five days but only using a pound of food and drink each day. The difference this makes is that you could buy a 40p carton of milk to use throughout the week, or 6 eggs for a pound, and still be able to buy other foods on the first day, so use a teabag, and an egg, and rice, etc.....
I've decided against this, I'm taking a subsistence approach. Imagining, if you like, that I'm living off a daily-labourer's pay (admittedly pay received at the beginning of the day!)
Also, the Live Below the Line website has recipe guidance that suggests things like, 'use of herbs - 2p', or 'teaspoon of oil - 4p'. Those kind of things. The idea being that a 40p pot of herbs, might only cost 2p for a portion of the herbs for use in another recipe. But I'm not sure I wanted to go down that road, to presume that there was a reserve of herbs to dip into!
As a result, food is bland!
My reflections today aren't really about hunger or tiredness, (I do feel more tired now, but I have a cold coming on too. And I can tell I've not eaten yummy chocolate!)
I've done 24 hour and 36 hour fasts before, so my reflection isn't on lack of food.
My main reflection was actually on the process of actually shopping for these items. Feeling the metaphorical weight of the money.Being in a store and being so pre-occupied with counting up the costs. Of having to put certain items back. Of saying to myself, "well I'll have to buy that tomorrow."
It's been a while since I have had to watch my wallet so closely. But in this age of Food Banks, it's probably a common experience for many. It's nearly two years since I last went into a supermarket and had so little to spend that I was using the loose change to pay for the shopping.
This will be a revealing week.