What have I let myself in for?

Tomorrow I start my week of living on £15 worth of food.

I set out this afternoon with high hopes of discovering bargins and buying loads of cheap cheerful ingredients that I could turn into culinary masterpieces. Instead I wrestled with my basket, putting items in then removing them again, as I decided oatcakes clearly are a luxury and I should in fact buy more fruit.

This is such a demoralising process.

My haul costing £14.95

My haul costing £14.95

This is it. This is what I have to live on for a week. I’m banning any extra shopping to be bought and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

In my experiment I’m trying to re-create the food budget of a single person living alone. In reality my store cupboard is a treasure trove of ingredients which could turn this haul into many amazing suppers. However, I am going to be imposing some strict rules on what will feature in my store cupboard to try and re-create the cupboard of someone who maybe doesn’t cook a lot and have such a luxury.

Deanne’s Store cupboard items for the week:

  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Dried Oregano
  • White wine vinegar*
  • Garlic*

*I realise some people may find these luxury rather than essential but I’m trying to see if you can have a non processed food diet on £15 and I believe these are essential for turning dullness into flavour. I have debated these two ingredients all evening and feel guilty for not having been able to budget for them in my £15.

I have to be frank, I’m not happy. This whole afternoon of planning this has made me realise that this is not something I could sustain for a long period of time. Granted I have been drastic and started from scratch but I feel that if I was someone who didn’t cook a lot and was used to grabbing a pizza from the freezer then they might encounter a restrictive diet rather similar to this if they decided to give it a try. I’m aware that my pasta and rice could spill over to next week, which means I won’t have spent 40p on pasta. BUT I’ve certainly not got any more money in my purse this week so I can’t reap that benefit yet!

Now I grant you, I do not have to put myself in this situation. I’m not on benefits nor have I ever been. This is all my own doing but when these benefit cuts come in they will affect my family greatly. I cannot afford to help my Mum but instead I must watch her scrimp and save and watch her feed herself crap on the little money she does and will get. I also do not live alone like my Mum but it’s going to be very lonely this week as I isolate myself from those closest to me as food is such a big part of my social interaction.

I will also be interested to see how I physically cope. Can I still perform my job well if all I fill up on is carb carb carb. The tiny amount of fruit in my basket scares. There’s a minute amount of protein. Today I ate like a king as I felt it was something like my last meal.

So off to bed – already my heart heavy with how sad, lonely and distressing my week of food hell will be. My high hopes of discovering new thrifty recipes and rising to the challenge have been dashed and I’ve not even started.

Breakfast, once my favourite time of the day, I now fear as the realisation dawns that the £15 has not stretched to tea or coffee.

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