Day 2 – £15 a week

Today has been a lot more positive. I enjoyed my breakfast, lunch wasn’t attrocious and I even made a lovely soup tonight from some of the veggies in my stew pack. Here’s a run down of the day:

Breakfast:

1 bowl of porridge made with a little milk and water
1/2 banana
1 mandarin
4 prunes

Lunch:

Pasta with passata, garlic, dried basil
1/3 tin of sweetcorn
5 cherry tomatoes
5 prunes
2 slices of sourdough

Dinner:

2 slices of sourdough
1 bowl of vegetable soup

Misc:

A few nuts

Today I changed the way I ate and grazed on all of this throughout the day. I also blew out and drank 2 cups of tea at work (I took my own milk in out of my allowance) as they provide it and I’d be silly not to make use of free tea. I should also point out that I’m drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

I’m interested in people’s advice when I tell them about this diet. Today it was suggested I take tea from work home, I’d like to stress that my house is fully stocked with more kinds of tea than you can ever dream of, but I could not afford that in my budget and I struggle to see how a single person living alone would be able to. This is why I’ve cut it out.
Today was also great as my colleague brought in some nuts and offered me a handful, I feel this was also okay as I wouldn’t refuse something that was being offered in good will to everyone in the room.

Generally I find there’s little temptation, food wise, in work as everything seems to be cake, biscuits or sugar sugar sugar! At home it’s hardest as everyone in my flat eats a similar diet so resisting a wedge of cheese or some butter is very hard. (Especially as it’s things I’ve already bought teasing me in the fridge)

As I say though I’m feeling much more energised today. Yesterday I couldn’t function properly and I was in bed by 10pm and fast asleep. My poor flat mate saw me in such a sorry state when I got home from work, I felt physically and mentally deflated and was delusional.
The diet that was budgeted for on the BBC was for a woman consuming 2000 calories a day but I require more as my job can be quite physical and I do cycle to and from work so I’m exercising everyday. How then can a more active single person physically have the energy on such a small budget? We’re encouraged to exercise and keep fit and healthy but how could someone do this on such a deficient diet? Or a male in fact who require a whole 500 cals more?

I’m lucky I’m surrounded with such support and love in my life but yesterday was a taster at how throughly draining, mentally, a bad diet can be. I have a week of this but there is an end in sight for me. I would be a very dour faced stage manager if I didn’t know when I could next buy an avocado. I don’t even want extravagant things in my life but I would like to be able to afford the £2 it would cost for me to make yogurt for a couple of weeks and I mean a lot of yoghurt. This would be an excellent source of dairy providing me with calcium and protein. I am worried about the lack of protein in my diet and lack of fibre. Some beans or lentils wouldn’t go a miss right now.

I did make a really great soup tonight and I made a lovely egg friend rice last night so tasty dishes can be created but it’s so hard vary the dishes you can make with just potato and carrots. Hopefully I will invent a really tasty recipe and post it soon but for now food only serves a purpose and isn’t bringing me it’s usual joy.

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.

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.

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.

A Stage Manager’s Diet

This post is not going to be pleasant I warn you now.

Today I disgusted myself and turned myself into something I hate – a lazy, yawning stage manager. This is very easily done, you see, when sat in rehearsals all day. Take one breakfast, very early on in the day, a late carb-ilicious lunch and then some chocolate and you’ve got – dark chocolate digestive biscuit bingeing…I mean – a sleepy stage manager.

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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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