I'm pleased to report that Day 4 has been a good day. I've now raised over £500 for Oxfam through the Live Below the Line challenge I've been taking part in since Monday. Thank you so much to those who have donated and supported this fantastic cause. The donations have kept me going through some tough times yesterday and today but, more importantly, they will go towards Oxfam's fight to end extreme poverty all over the world. With such amazing results, not just from fundraising but the awareness being created by the other 5000 people taking part all over the UK too, I suddenly don't feel so hungry anymore. That could be something to do with my delicious Day 4 dinner, though... More below!
Those of you who read my progress report on Day 3 will know that yesterday was a struggle. Apologies for the pity party but in addition to being essential for survival, food really does make you happy and being constantly hungry, empty and unable to function properly certainly wears you down after a while. I can only imagine how it would feel after 5 days, a week, a month, if I was forced to continue living like this. Yet another reason to be thankful for the access to regular, healthy food that we usually take for granted. I felt different today, as if my body was adapting to less food in order to survive on the rations I was giving it. Breakfast was just one slice of toast with my homemade chickpea dip because I wanted to save more for later, a habit I seem to have picked up out of fear of being hungry at bedtime (not a good feeling at all). Total cost: 7p.
I avoided snacking again today, mainly because I didn't actually have anything left that I could have snacked on even if I had allowed myself to, and filled up on lemon balm tea and mint tea from the fresh herbs in the garden that have fortunately come to life in the last few days of sunshine. My lunch was hard work. The bulgur wheat is getting dry and even lemon juice didn't help. It was like eating cardboard and I left a little at the bottom of the bowl. Earlier in the week I would have scraped every last bit into my mouth in desperation. I forgot to take a photo because my head was really fuzzy today and I wasn't with it at all. Total cost of lunch: 24p.
The good news that I had achieved my sponsorship goal of £500 meant the afternoon passed in an elated blur of lots of glasses of water and a cup of mint tea. I suddenly realised that I hadn't been outside all week so I walked down to the farm shop and spent 7p of my remaining budget on a carrot. The shopkeeper was so kind and expertly plucked the right size carrot from the bag, weighed it and it cost exactly 7p. I've got my eye on some Smart Price noodles from Asda for 11p for my final dinner tomorrow, so it worked out perfectly. For dinner I used the last of my precious red kidney beans, with half a red onion, two cloves of garlic, some red chilli, cooked in water and reduced. I served it with a grated carrot salad inspired by one of my favourite recipes, flavoured with lemon juice, lemon zest, red chilli, and mint and coriander from the garden. It was delicious and filling and so much more satisfying than my lentils (which, sadly, won't all be used up by the end of the 5 days so were a real waste of money). And that beautiful little carrot, my first proper vegetable in 4 days, made all the difference. Here's what I did:
I mixed the grated carrot with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, a large pinch of lemon zest, a couple of slices of red chilli and a small handful of torn mint and coriander leaves in a bowl and left to stand. In water I fried off the crushed garlic, diced red onion and red chilli until no water remained. Topping up the pan with a little water, I added the drained and rinsed red kidney beans and boiled the mixture until reduced. Finally, I rubbed the skins of the crushed garlic cloves on a slice of bread, added a few drops of water, and placed until the grill to create a little garlic bread treat to have on the side. Total cost of dinner: 34p.
Day 4 total: 78p.
Thoughts: Today I've mainly been comparing my diet this week to the kind of food I was enjoying last week. Last week started with a light dinner after my yoga class, which was probably an M&S ready meal or similar. It feels like so long ago that I can't remember. Last Tuesday evening I had a couple of meetings in a pub so I had two or three drinks and a big, colourful seasonal salad and some chips plus a huge slice of chocolate cake that I didn't need and I left quarter of it. On Wednesday night I was reviewing the new burger restaurant, Byron; someone else footed the bill and we took home doggie bags of our leftovers but still ordered and ate far more than we needed to. Thursday was spent frantically doing chores and cleaning with little thought given to the food already in the house as I popped to the shop for something quick to eat. On Friday I was at the opening of a new wine and chocolate shop, then our new local pub, and dinner ended up being French stick from Tesco with cheese and pate. I suspect the remains of which went stale and in the bin eventually. I'd hazard a guess at easily eating my way through £50 just for evening meals last week. Today I'm grateful for the wonders of a brightly coloured, crunchy and fresh vegetable costing 7p and seriously considering cutting down my meat consumption and boycotting expensive chains and supermarkets entirely after the challenge. Overall I'm feeling positive that my £500 will go towards making a difference to those far less fortunate than me.
You can check out my daily progress reports, photos and sponsorship total here: