This is what Jonathan and I have been eating for lunch and supper for 3 days running. White rice cooked in stock, frozen vegetables, a nearly non-existent amount of tinned tomatoes, and a small amount of chicken. The total per meal portion for me is £0.24. Jonathan eats a larger portion so his comes to £0.26.
You might think that knowing what we are going to have for dinner everyday this week would make things easier and somehow simpler. Surprisingly, it doesn’t. We’ve spent so much time this week on the couch with a calculator figuring out our overall total spent on food for the week (we were left with £1.58 wiggle room between the two of us) and the cost of each individual meal to ensure we are not going over our daily budget.
The good news is that tonight we confirmed that we had enough room in the overall and daily budgets that we could afford to fit in a few extras. We spent 20 minutes deliberating whether or not to buy £0.30 chocolate mousse from the Sainsbury’s ‘Basics’ line. We decided against it as we have already gone a month without refined sugar and didn’t want to break that streak. But we did get pasta sauce to add a little flavour to the rice (I’m aware that rice is not pasta, but desperate times…).
I’ve also been more absent minded during the challenge this year than last year. I worry that I’ll come home from work and just grab an apple and start biting into it before I remember that, on this budget, apples are a luxury I cannot afford. The number of times I’ve almost used the office milk supply for my tea is shocking. Last year I was so focussed, but this year Live Below the Line is, in many ways, just part of a number of things I have going on this week and month.
Between the alert diligence I must maintain and the constant calculations about how much an item or a meal costs, I do feel mentally exhausted. I cannot imagine the mental fatigue experienced by those who live in extreme poverty all the time. So much planning is required. Last night we had a meeting to attend so had to be sure we brought both lunch and dinner along with us. Poverty limits choice. We can’t just dip out at lunch time to satisfy a craving, we must be cautious and plan ahead for everything. This is why I’m taking the challenge again this year. Those who live in extreme poverty 365 days a year do not deserve the injustice of a crushing lack of choice. We all deserve to be able to make things happen for ourselves. This is what I believe.
If you agree and would would like to support me as I support those who live in extreme poverty please donate here, https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/leannehooper.