Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Live Below the Line ~ Day 2


Day 2, aka my first day at work taking the Live Below the Line challenge, was not nearly as difficult as I had expected. I was busy all day, which was an absolute godsend and made me realise yet again how lucky I am to be able to fill my time rather than focus on hunger, but started thinking about food when I felt the first pangs of hunger as early as 10am. With a whole two hours to go until lunch, I kept myself busy and drank hot water when I might usually have grabbed a coffee. Just before lunch I had a meeting and my stomach was rumbling throughout so I drank a few glasses of water to try to fill up a little. Main thoughts at the end of Day 2: I noticed how isolating it must be to live on a minimal budget and be constantly battling hunger; I had no choice but to put up with my grumbling tummy, for example, and when I went to the shop and couldn't afford anything I felt that everyone was staring at me. When I did buy something, I felt I had to explain to the shop assistant why I wanted just one single chilli. Why is it too hard to simply say, I can't afford it?

Today's breakfast was toast with chickpea and garlic spread again but I chose two slightly larger slices from my packet of bread, with the hope it would keep me going a bit longer, and drank a cup of hot water. Total cost: 14p. Lunch was a packed lunch of bulgur wheat, red onion, garlic, kidney beans and chickpeas. After yesterday's experience, I was so happy that I could heat it up in the microwave at work and was really aware what a luxury it was to have access to a hot lunch. It was too dry and bland yesterday so I spent 12p of my remaining budget on a red chilli from the Spar and added a few tiny flecks, a dash of water, and heated up in the microwave the bulgur wheat was transformed. Total cost: 24p. 

I was hungry for most of the afternoon and drank quite a lot of water to try and compensate. A colleague offered me a tea rather than hot water and another colleague bumped into me with a huge bowl of chocolate bars and cakes in hand, which was rather challenging. If nothing else, this challenge is a wake-up call about how often we all snack throughout the day (usually when we don't really need to). I was really glad this afternoon that I had chosen wholesome and filling ingredients for my meals rather than quick-fixes and economy items with little nutritional value; I doubt I would be thinking so clearly and determinedly if I was buzzing on sugar hits and then struggling through crashes. After work I bumped into a friend who was on his way to eat at a new restaurant in town (usually how I spend at least one evening a week) and I was too polite not to let him talk about it, but I must admit it was very hard to hear about all the lovely food he would be eating. In need of a treat, I popped to an independent grocers to spend my remaining 58p on a lemon to flavour my lunches, dinners, homemade houmous and to add to my drinks of hot water, and possibly a vegetable to stop me obsessing about being unhealthy. The fruit and vegetables weren't priced so I had to queue up with my lemon and two carrots only to be charged 67p when I get to the till. I went for the lemon, at 40p, and put the carrots back. Everyone looked at me like I was a total freak. 

Dinner cheered me up immensely. I was determined to create something tasty from my ration of lentil, tomato and chickpea soup (doubling as a sauce in this case) and slice of bread. In a little water, I fried off half a red onion and two cloves of garlic from my stash, chopped about a quarter of the chilli and added to the pan with a couple of scraps of lemon zest. Once they had softened and the water almost all reduced, I added my lentil mixture to the pan and left to bubble away, gradually adding water to bulk up the sauce and two teaspoons of the chopped tomatoes I've saved for extra flavour. Meanwhile, I squeezed a tiny amount of lemon juice onto a slice of bread then rubbed the skins of the garlic cloves that I had crushed into the pan earlier all over one side. From the garden I added a few snips of fresh chives and popped the bread under the grill until just browned then served it alongside the spicy lentil mixture. It was better than going for a curry and cost just 41p.   

I wasn't sure how to attribute the cost of today's purchases as I'll be using them in tiny amounts to flavour various meals and drinks so instead I'm splitting the cost of the items across the four days I'll be using them and adding it to my total for the day. I'm already plotting what to spend my last 18p on tomorrow. A few people have asked me what I'm allowed to use from the store cupboard. My answer is: nothing. I know that others taking the challenge are allowing for salt, pepper, herbs and spices on a per serving basis but I don't feel right about including anything that I haven't been able to buy in my £5 budget. Hence the absence of oil or any seasonings in my meals. For this reason, I'm justifying the use of herbs which I have grown myself, such as the chives I used to flavour my bread this evening.

Day 2 total: 92p 

I could really do with a boost to keep pushing on towards my sponsorship target of £500! If you read this post, please, please donate just £1 here www.livebelowtheline.com/me/themovingfoodieblog 

You can also follow my team mate Claire's progress here www.livebelowtheline.com/me/clairec

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