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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Live Below the Line - How it's been going


This is the 3rd year we've taken part in Live Below the Line.  Today is the 4th day.  It has been tough for me the last couple of days because I have caught a nasty head cold.  Being sick and being on a severely restricted budget is grim.  I would dearly love a bowl of homemade chicken soup or spicy vegetable broth to sooth my cold but alas this week there will be neither.  I am grumpy and miserable and thankful that tissues are not included in the budget.

Breakfasts have been going down fairly well.  My family enjoy porridge and fruit compote so this hasn't been a major source of complaint, the slightly smaller portion sizes than normal have been mentioned at each meal. 

Our breakfast of porridge with apple and sultana compote
My 12yo made the Savoury Scone Swirls for lunches after school.  The preparation of scone swirls for lunches each evening has taken my girls mind off their usual after school snacks not being available.  

Our lunches for the week
After school snacks have been a small pot of homemade rice pudding.  It has been devoured in record time and the only complaint is that there is not more of it.  We've struggled with the lack of fresh fruit and yoghurt to snack on.

Rice and Vegetable Bake, one of our dinners
We've enjoyed the dinners too, no puddings at all for us this week.  The lack of puddings is a good thing for our waistlines but not so great for morale.  We don't eat pudding every night but 2 nights a week we usually have some sort of pudding.  When the kids are tired after dinner is when the challenge really hits home.

Pearl Barley Risotto with herbs from our garden
What we've learned:

Sometimes you need to experience something to truly appreciate the challenge.  Getting enough of each food group is difficult, as is maintaining strict portion controls to make the rations last. We get to go back to our normal shopping habits after this week.   There are millions of people living on less than a £1 a day who do not have a choice.  Some of those abroad walk long distances to collect drinking water, which may not be particularly safe or sanitary, or work very long shifts in factories or fields and still not have enough to feed themselves and their families.  There are people in the UK for whom a very low food budget is the norm, and whom also struggle to find having enough money for gas/electricity to cook with and heating their homes is an expensive luxury.

We eat a lot, probably too much. Normally we spend approximately £60 - £70 on food each week, twice what we spent this week.  We missed fresh fruit the most and yoghurt.  I also missed good coffee and my husband missed his chocolate stash.

Shopping on a very limited budget is stressful and frustrating.  Making sure we have enough food, and enough food in each food group has been a challenge.  Fluctuating supermarket prices would make shopping on such a strict budget each week even more challenging.

I am really proud of my children.  They have done well this week, it is our 4th year taking part in the challenge so they know what to expect.  If any of then hadn't wanted to take part then I would've done it alone, or with those who wanted to.  They were not pressured to take part in any way, it was their choice as well as my husband and mine.

People are supportive, helpful and generous.  We've been very grateful to those who have emailed, tweeted and phoned to offer encouragement, especially those who have also donated.  Raising money for Save the Children has made the hard times on this challenge totally worth it.  If you also would like to donate, you can do so here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/utterlyscrummy

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