For those of you who want to have a go…

Below is the list of what I actually bought, the prices, and the meals we ate last week. I shopped locally from a small farmer, at Lidl and at Tesco. My husband, Anthony, joined me in this challenge, which actually made it easier, as to formulate a budget based on £14.00 is much kinder than for one person on £7.00. You have far more options, as most foodstuffs have to be bought in quantity. You have to measure out and decide how much of the oats, rice and curry once you have made it before you start eating, to make sure you don’t run out before the end of the week. Happy Eating!

Menu Plan:

Breakfast:

Porridge, made with oats, water, desiccated coconut, and a teaspoon of honey.

Lunch:

Vegetable soup, made with potatoes, leek, swede, carrot, onion, garlic and cabbage, flavoured with oregano. Flat breads made with flour, veg oil and water.

Dinner:

Chick pea and Lentil curry, made with chick peas, lentils, onions, garlic, swede, cabbage and curry powder. Plus flat bread with lemon curd.

There is lemon for hot water and lemon drinks, plus we will try to pick some blackberries from the countryside so that we have some fruit; the budget would not stretch to buying any.

So far as I can see, there are only 2 glaring omissions from food groups; meat and dairy. Meat was not such a problem, as we had protein from the chick peas and lentils, and we were not too short on vitamin c as we had vegetables and lemon.

Shopping List:

From Local Farmer:

2.5 kg Bag of potatoes: £1.00

1 Large cabbage £0.50

2 Leek £0.20

From Lidl:

2 x 1kg Bags White Rice £0.80

1 kg Red Lentils: £0.95

Salt: £0.19

1 kg White Onions £0.59

1 Bag Desiccated Coconut £0.89

1 Jar Honey £1.35

Oregano £0.49

2 x tins Chopped Tomatoes £0.62

1 Bag White Flour £0.45

1 Large Swede £0.89

From Tesco:

1 Kg Porridge Oats £0.75

1 Bulb Garlic £0.30

2 Lemons £0.60

Curry Powder £0.85

Vegetable Oil £0.75

500g Dried Chick Peas £1.15

0.43kg Carrots £0.32

Jar Lemon Curd £0.22

TOTAL FOR WEEK – £13.86

This brought it in under budget, leaving us 14p, with which to allow 1 tea bag per day between us, at 2p per tea bag (from a box of Lidl Fair trade tea Bags, at £1.35 for 80).

Day 7 and Beyond – A ‘Week Without’ Completed!

Week Without Logo

There can be no doubt that hunger and deprivation sharpen the taste buds; not that I consider for one minute that this short experiment can be compared to the very real hunger that exists in our world, and even in our own country. I have had the luxury of knowing that this is only for a week – you can put up with a lot for only a very short amount of time. I have also benefitted from having a car and computer, with which to determine where the best bargains are, and to travel in luxury to buy them. I have a very good kitchen, filled with equipment to prepare and cook my food, a dining room table upon which I can serve it, and family members with whom I can share it. Doing this week has brought all of these luxuries into sharp focus, not to mention the lavish food I eat normally, in comparison to many others, and my diet this week. I have a new perspective, and new eyes, through which to view the supermarket shelves, an increased focus on budget and waste, on sharing and giving, and a renewed vigour to test, research and try out new recipes and ways of living, and to be able to pass on and share this knowledge with as many people as possible.

An interesting thing I have noticed, since finishing the ‘Week Without,’ is that I really don’t fancy any of the foods that previously I would have considered a ‘treat’; foods such as sugar, cakes, crisps etc. They just taste horrible now, and really, anything sweet is a bit of a job to eat. This is not a bad thing really, as it is very easy for sugar consumption to get out of hand, in a country where it is easily on offer constantly. I also get full very quickly, and so consider carefully what I am going to eat, to make sure I am getting a balanced meal, rather than just filling a hole.

Although relieved that I have finished, there are certain things that were great about this experiment; not having to do lots of cooking every day, savouring food that had been seasoned by hunger, appreciating every mouthful, the clean palate that I experienced from no dairy and sugar, not wrestling every day trying to figure out what we all fancied for dinner. Some of these things I genuinely don’t want to lose.

I would encourage everyone to try a ‘Week Without’; I have learned so much experientially from it, and recalibrated my relationship to food entirely….all in 1 week. The great thing is, it’s not just about you – you can help others whilst taking this journey too.

Prior to this experiment, I had not actually appreciated just how bombarded we are with food industry advertising. It seems that every second commercial on TV is for food of some description, billboards scream it out, magazines and newspapers are full of adverts; no wonder there’s an obesity crisis. I know the problem is more complicated than that, but surely having tempting pictures thrust at you at every turn does not help. The food industry in this country is worth billions; and the bottom line is that there profits are worth more to them than your health. This rather puts the ball back in our court, to take responsibility for our own health, and the health of our children. The trouble is, the advice is so conflicting; for years we were told not to eat too many eggs – now we can eat as many as we like. Then fat was the enemy – now it is sugar. Carbs got bad press, and then it was the turn of all the diets that restricted them. Detoxing, coffee, alcohol, fasting, meat, soya, nuts, even water – all declared the enemy at some point; we are a society of confused consumers.

During both World Wars in Scandinavian countries, when meat was severely restricted, the authorities found that disease, and health in general changed dramatically for the better. It then dropped again when diets returned to normal, and meat was back on the menu.

During World Wars I and II, wartime food restrictions that virtually eliminated meat consumption in Scandinavian countries were followed by a decline in the mortality rate (by ≈2 deaths/1000) that returned to prewar levels after the restriction was lifted

From online article’ Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans?’ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/526S.long

 

Whilst I am not necessarily advocating a vegetarian lifestyle, clearly moderation of meat can be linked to better health and longer life.

This was again played out in Britain during the rationing of the WWII years and beyond; although a relatively boring diet compared to our standards, the limitations on intake of sugar and meat, and the increased and natural exercise of the nation produced a much healthier population. Perhaps, as we are experiencing austerity times now, we could take a leaf out of history’s books, and try to employ our own rationing system, that would improve the health of the nation once again. I doubt there’s a politician in the land that would attempt that one! We could, however, do it for ourselves. The old adages ‘less is more’ and ‘a little of what you fancy’ are principles that could be employed, to good benefit.

In the spirit of further experimentation, we shall, as a family, be testing the War Years Rationing diet in the next month – again for a week. Watch this site for further info. I expect it to be as enlightening as the last week has been.

https://capuk.org/

 

Days 4 & 5 – Food Bank, Failed Porridge & Fadge

Fadge - Irish Potato Pancakes, sizzling in the pan.

Fadge – Irish Potato Pancakes, sizzling in the pan.

Click here for a link to Cromer & District Foodbank:-

http://cromerdistrict.foodbank.org.uk/

It’s amazing how our bank balance has remained almost untouched this week…clearly it was getting a hammering from frequent ‘pop ins’ to supermarkets, theoretically to get just milk and bread, but actually spending an awful lot more; clearly those marketing ploys work!

We contacted the Food Bank this week, an organisation that we support locally, to see about their operation in Cromer and Holt. Meeting the people who run it and talking about all the amazing work they do to support local people who are in difficulty was eye opening; we think we live in a affluent area, but there is much need in North Norfolk. We have offered our services, and hope to start training soon, joining the regular operation as well as hopefully being part of some exciting new local initiatives that are currently in the planning stages. It was an exciting meeting, and I very much look forward to getting stuck in. I hope to do some regular articles for this site regarding my experiences as a volunteer. Food Bank provides much needed support in the form of food and toiletries for many people who are currently in financial poverty; it is easy to support them, just pop a few extra tins or packets (non perishable) into your shopping basket each week, and give to one of their many collection points. If you get a few people together, you can end up with a carrier bag of food – all essential help for others less well off, and so easy to achieve.

Eating has gone from a pleasurable experience to one of mundane, repetitive functionality. There’s nothing wrong with the food…it’s just the same thing over and over. But I have actually struggled much more with the drinks; I didn’t realise quite how important tasty hot drinks were to my life! The first thing I am going to have on Monday morning is a huge cup of tea….

Anthony confessed to having raided the lemon curd and honey jars….as well as giving in to a scrumped grape from our underperforming grape vine outside, which must have been a sour experience, and not at all as satisfying as the filched honey! But he’s not the only one; our daughter Daisy has insisted on having a little of everything we eat, and even made some flat breads for herself with the flour, which she enjoyed immensely. I will most definitely be making those for the family from now on.

Sadly, not all the cooking has been successful: Thursday’s porridge was a disaster, as I thought that adding lemon curd to it instead of honey for a change would be tasty…it so wasn’t. What I should have done was tried a little, but I stirred a spoonful into the whole bowl (rather stupidly) and ruined mine completely. I thought afterwards that what I did was symptomatic of living in plenty for so many years – I am sure that someone who was used to being without would have approached things far more cautiously. Needless to say, I was livid with myself, and had a small cup of the soup for breakfast instead. Anthony, as ever with far more forgiving taste buds than mine, tucked in regardless; I am sure he would cope far better in a real food crisis than I would. Evidently I am far too picky, although this week has tempered that somewhat!

Making the second batch of soup, I thought I would ring the changes, and used the little bit of curry powder to make a smooth curried vegetable soup. I also had a small bowl of chickpeas leftover, and a tiny amount of lentils. This made a nice, thick satisfying soup, to ring the changes for the latter half of the week.

I am so glad that I saved 4 small potatoes and ½ an onion for emergencies,  as I have used them to make fadge, which is an old Irish recipe for potato pancakes. They are so easy to make, and a tasty change from porridge in the mornings (see recipe below). They really stick to the ribs, and it’s nice to have something savoury in the morning. I had to cook the potato the day before, (you could use leftovers) and just mash them with a little oil and salt, but they worked just as well. They would be amazing topped with a fried egg, with beans and mushrooms on the side…but that’s for next week! Remember, this is a restricted-ingredients recipe for this week, so if you’re trying it and want to add more flavourings or onion, feel free! I am going to try adding some oats tomorrow, to see if that makes it more filling, and holds us for longer.

 

Fadge: Makes one large pancake for 2 people

8oz cooked mashed potato

2 oz plain flour

¼ onion, finely chopped

A little oil

Salt

A couple of pinches of dried oregano

 

Gently fry the onion for a few minutes, and then turn off heat. Heat the mash up slightly in a microwave to loosen it a little (don’t make it too hot or you’ll burn your fingers). Add the flour, onion, oregano, 2 tsp oil and good pinch of salt, and mix. Add in 2 tablespoons of warm water, and bring together into dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead gently until it is smooth, and then press out into a round, about ½ inch thick. Cut in half (this makes it easier to flip over in the pan). Put a little more oil in the frying pan that you fried the onions in, heat up on a medium heat, and place the potato pancakes in. Cook gently for about 3-4 mins on each side, until the pancakes are browned and cooked through, being careful that they do not burn. Serve immediately.

 

 

Day One – Lunch and Dinner

Warming Chick Pea and Lentil Curry

Warming Chick Pea and Lentil Curry

I had to take someone to Morrisons today before lunch, which was a little difficult, as they have all the bakery smells in there, and they say you really shouldn’t go shopping when you’re hungry. Luckily this was not a problem really, as I was not allowed to spend any money on food!

 

Despite my reservations, the soup for lunch was surprisingly satisfying and filling – I suspect the fact that I was hungry added to it! I made some really good flatbreads to go with it, out of flour, a little oil, some salt and oregano and water, which only took 5 minutes from start to finish, which really made the lunch much more filling and enjoyable (thank goodness I decided to buy flour). We spread a very little amount of our cheap lemon curd on a small bit of the bread as a treat at the end of the meal – nothing has ever tasted so good! All in all, a very nice lunch – home made, piping hot and comforting on a cold day. See below for flatbread recipe:

 

Herby Flat Breads (makes 2)

125g white flour

Pinch salt

Pinch oregano

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons warm water

Mix herbs and salt into flour, make a well in the middle and pour in oil and water. Bring together into dough with a knife, flour work surface and knead lightly until smooth. Divide into 2, roll out into rounds, place into a hot griddle pan and cook for approx 2 mins on each side. Serve immediately.

 

We were ready for our curry by the time I made it – 6.15pm. I thought perhaps the rice would be sticky and unpleasant, but was again surprised to find that despite the fact it was only 40p for 1kg, it behaved well and cooked up nicely. You definitely would not want to overcook it though, as I suspect it would go mushy quickly. The curry that I made yesterday had developed nicely overnight in the fridge, and I added a little water to loosen it as I heated it up. It was a delicious meal, although again there was too much rice really (I allowed a full mug between the two of us). I suppose with this plan there is a tendency to imagine that you are going to be hungry unless you allow yourself as large a portion as possible; that has not been the case thus far, and I have not managed to finish either my breakfast or dinner. I will adjust the quantities for tomorrow. We were both full after the curry, and opted to have our handful of gathered blackberries later on in the evening.

I have definitely missed tea today, although I can honestly say that is the only craving I have had so far.

Why do the £1.00 a Day Eating Challenge?

Week Without Logo       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/   Christians Against Poverty 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.

Please do read this blog for the next week, to follow our progress and give us encouragement by posting your thoughts and opinions!chickpeas week without photo1 weekwithout_banner weekwithoutfood3

 

Good for the Digestion!

Good for the Digestion!

Morning's foundation!

Morning’s foundation!