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Day 5 – £15 a week

Breakfast

Porridge with half a mashed banana and prunes
A fried egg on toast with black pudding (I’ll explain below)

Lunch

Vegetable soup
2 slices of bread
Small portion of sweetcorn

Snacks

An apple
3 dried abricots
A few nuts

Dinner

Sourdough pizza with beetroot and goat’s cheese
1 Slice of bread rubbed with garlic and loaded with goat’s cheese

Day 5 was a good yet guilt ridden day. My lovely flat mate leaves on Sunday for 2 months to head off on tour so we decided to have a farewell breakfast. Essentially it was like she invited me around for breakfast except I brought my own eggs and toast and she supplied Ireland’s best black pudding. It was truly delicious but I felt like a fraud as it was not within my budget and I shouldn’t have really been eating things I had not bought. But isn’t it better to be sociable and be with friends? 

Then in work my energy levels and mood dropped so drastically after an intense sharing of our work that colleagues encouraged me to eat a rehearsal apple, some abricots and nuts. This should not be allowed as not everyone would be able to benefit from this luxury. 

In the evening I shared my pizza with my flatmate, I felt a little of the guilt eleviate from the morning as it was the first time I’d shared any of my food with people. I mean I’ve been very territorial about my food to the point of labelling absolutely everything. 

Labelling mad

Don’t touch my food

My thoughts have currently turned to – how can we encourage people to care about nutrition more? I’ve attached links below which describe how detrimental an excess of ‘bad’ food can be on the human body and mentality. How can people not be aware of this? Why are we not taught this at school? And how can we teach people to eat healthily within their means? I believe it can be possible but, on £15 a week, not likely.

Why I gave up sugar
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/20/sugar-deadly-obesity-epidemic

Can food make you angry?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/apr/24/can-food-make-you-angry

If we could encourage a better sense of community then maybe neighbours could share bulk buying items and not feel trapped in their little boxes of the single lifestyle. But this seems almost utopian, even though in reality it’s a tiny gesture. I could in fact do this with my current neighbours, even when not on a £15 budget, and we’d both make great savings. You could swop recipes, ideas and tips. I started thinking back to WWII and the rations and thought of how people coped. The idea of growing something in my tenement seems bizarre but I’m sure communities banded together to have communal vegetable patches back when rationing hit them. Even space to have a tomato grow bag would see my weekly bill drop dramatically (in the summer). I’ll be looking more into this and whether nutrition was a priority. 

I’ve isolated myself somewhat with this diet. It’s effecting my personal relationships and it’s turning me into more of a self centered egotist than I already am. All I talk about is this diet, I say talk it’s more preaching and I’m sick of the sound of my own voice sometimes but there’s just something about it that’s compelling. Then I’m left with the question of what do I do with all my information, all the ideas, the thoughts and feelings. In all honesty probably nothing. Sad story of my life really.

Day 1 – £15 a week

I woke up this morning relatively positive. I was gently awakened by the delicious smell of fresh bread – bliss. It feels like it’s all gone a bit down hill from there. Tired, falling asleep in work, being generally hungry and miserable not great.

My meals today:

Breakfast

Porridge (made with a little milk and water)
1/2 Banana
3 Dried prunes
1 Mandarin
2 Slices of bread

Lunch

Rice with beetroot, carrot and w/w vinegar. I also popped three thin slices of goats cheese
1 Mandarin
5 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Slice of Bread

Dinner

Mushroom and egg friend rice
2 Slices of bread
3 Prunes
1 Mandarin

I am physically exhausted. I brought work home to do but cannot. I’m trying to write this in minutes because I need to go to bed. Pretty miserable day today, found it hard to deal with the challenges of work and for the first time in an age I was falling asleep in the rehearsal room. Very unprofessional!

I’ve also been cold most of the day and unable to get warm. I’ve only drank water so who knows maybe I’m having caffeine withdrawal.  People offered to buy my lunch today, or loan me money or encouraged me to pilfer what I can. It’s amazing how much sympathy/empathy people can have with me because they know me yet as a nation it’s easy to forget how hard it is for the millions we don’t know.

I may be more eloquent in the morning so apologies for the lack of reflection. I would love to have the entire government put on a restricted budget for a month. I’d even be generous and give the £20 a week to manage. It’s hard to eat well on so little if you’ve not spent hundreds on a great store cupboard.

Tonight as I drift off to sleep I’m going to be agonising over whether or not I allow myself a stock cube to make soup otherwise I’m eating seasoned veg water for a while.

Link

Could you live on £12 a week?

The link above will take you to a BBC article discussing how little people on benefits may have to live on after all the cuts and caps which are being brought in by our current government.

With careful planning, an adult could spend as little as £12 per week on a healthy, balanced diet, says Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition at Kings College London.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22065978

I’m am skeptical that anyone can have a healthy balance diet on so little. So I’m going to plan a little experiment where next week I will be living on a diet of £15. Now I don’t want to just buy £15 worth of super noodles and a loaf of bread. I genuinely want to see if I can have plenty of fresh, tasty, healthy nutritious ingredients and eat well.

I’m lucky enough to be able to afford a well balance diet. I live with intolerances and so do have to buy premium products such as Goat’s milk and cheese. I say ‘have to’ but of course I could just not have them in my diet.

Sad times.

Food is such a huge part of who I am. I realise I do take for granted how lucky I am to be able to choose what I buy without really thinking about the cost. I’m not extravagant by any means but I enjoy what I eat.

I don’t eat processed sugar, I only get my sweet fixes from fruit and occasionally honey. I don’t use sweeteners and I don’t eat a lot of meat. I don’t eat out often and think of it as a special treat or save it for socialising. I make my own sourdough bread and now I make my own yogurt. (Yes I am practically a sprout growing, home-brewing hippie)

The above factors I think will help me but, I am a food snob. I don’t like to eat processed food, I like to recognise the list of ingredients on a packet. I never purchase smart price/super value/basics labels for this reason as very rarely do you get much nutritional value from this stuff. This is of course my opinion and it applies to most processed food.

The BBC article tries to promote starches as the bulk of meals, I think after this little experiment I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d added a few pounds. I do cycle every day to work and build up quite a sweat but I’m in rehearsals, so pretty sedentary most of the day, and carb loading at lunch means I will be asleep by 2pm so I need to look at how to factor in more protein. If I can afford it.

So goodbye avocados, adios chorizo, see you later brazil nuts, get tae flaxseed and a bientot coffee. These are a luxury.

Hello pasta salad, lentils, pasta bakes, soups and more pasta.

Red onion, Feta and Polenta tart – National Vegetarian Week

I cannot abide waste full stop but when it comes to food I’m an evangelist. I was thinking about this subject this morning as I scraped the porridge from my pan which takes as long as it takes as I like to make sure every last drop is out, maybe it’s a slight OCD thing. But when I think of all those TV cookery programmes where they go through the motions of emptying a pan yet there still appears to be half a dish at the bottom of their pan it really gets my goat as so often when I watch friends or family cooking I see that they also do it. Now I try not to pass judgement too much and in the grand scheme of things this is a tiny pet hate of mine.

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Tomato and Rocket Pasta – National Vegetarian Week

Yesterday I skipped lunch and ended up devouring cake and coffee. This is not the end of the world really, it was a beautiful organic peach upside-down cake with a soy latte and I loved every mouthful. So I cannot feel guilty if all I got from this experience was pleasure right? Right. So when I got home, feeling no guilt at all, I craved vegetables which is pretty lucky as I’ve given up meat in all it’s forms this week.

I trudged to the shop and wasn’t very inspired by the supermarket or the selection of things on offer, I probably should have made a list but hey I like a bit of spontaneity every now and then. Yeah that’s me, living life on the edge and impulse buying. Now what you may class as an impulse buy may not be the same as me, I went crazy and bought olives and sunflower seeds even though I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do with them. Wild huh?

Okay, so we’ve established that maybe my shopping trip was not really exciting but what is exciting is that this little dish that came together from my veggie laden rucksack and it was exactly what I needed. As soon as I got home I jumped into my PJ’s, popped on some funky music and danced my way through dinner. Who says cooking for 1 can’t be fun?

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