We live in a society of choice, abundance and comfort. Every week when I go shopping, I have the luxury of deciding what I ‘fancy’ to eat; I can peruse the shop at my leisure, check out the special offers and seasonal treats, decide what variety I want in my diet, and even rue the fact that perhaps I have a little too much good stuff in my diet. It is a paradigm within which it is easy to become complacent, comfortable and blind to the situations that many other people live in.
From the above paragraph, you may conclude that I am rather well off, and living on a large income; that is not the case, I can assure you. We have to budget very carefully in order to live without debt and worry, and yet we are still much, much better off than many others. We are living in difficult financial times, and there are not many people who haven’t been affected by the current economic instability. In some ways, this is a good thing, affording us some perspective perhaps on our own comfort and wealth in comparison to others. It is for this reason that I have decided, having seen the gauntlet thrown down by Christians Against Poverty, to try to live for a week on just £1.00 a day. From 20th October, Christians Against Poverty
https://capuk.org/ are challenging people to live for a ‘Week Without’, encouraging them to go without something meaningful for that time, and donate the money you would have spent to their charity. I decided to give up my food choices. My husband, Anthony, is joining me for this challenge, giving us £14.00 for 1 weeks’ meals; that’s 21 meals for 2 people.
Needless to say, I have had my work cut out researching how this could be achieved. But this has been very enlightening, highlighting for me how little thought I put into the choices I make (and I actually thought that I put a lot of consideration into shopping, given our tight budget). When your choices are severely limited, it puts a whole new perspective on things; every purchase is suddenly very important, no waste can be permitted, no wrong choices made.
I have written a Credit Crunch Cooking Column for our local magazine, The Holt Chronicle, for over 5 years, passing on recipes and knowledge, trying to help people to be creative on a tight budget. One way in which I can expand on this is to run cooking demonstrations locally, so that people can try new recipes, see them made, and taste them, before deciding to go out and buy the ingredients themselves. This is a new initiative that I hope to have up and running in the New Year.
In doing this challenge, I am trying to establish a ‘baseline’, an absolute minimum amount that you can live on and still eat relatively well. Once I have actually experienced this, I can build up from there, adding in different foodstuffs and experimenting until I have a good bank of experiential knowledge upon which to draw, to further inform this research.