Sunday, 4 May 2014

Final day Living Below the Line

Yesterday was day 5 of Living of Below the Line.
Having been quite strict at the start of the 5 days we found we had a reasonable amount left to play around with. Now if you are very strict with the rules of Living Below the Line you should only have £1 worth of food each day. That means you can't eat 25p for first 4 days and then £4 on the last day. However, this wasn't an intentional thing, it just happened that we had extra on the last day. I suppose for those people living in poverty they wouldn't be eating up leftovers on day 5, I guess they'd be pleased to have stretched their limited budget a little further and that they'd have more to spend the following week.
An example of this was lunch. We had our luxury item, a pack of sausages, to eat, and we also had 2 eggs leftover. This meant both me and dear hubby were able to have a fried egg and sausage sandwich for lunch. Which was delicious!
Realistically I could have had either the egg OR the sausages, not had both together.

My sister in law (SIL) and her fiance came to visit, which was lovely. We had to warn them that we would still be Living Below the Line, but they offered to sneak off if they needed food.
We went out for a little walk and some geocaching. If you haven't done this its super fun, you get the GPS coordinates of some item someone has left and you go find it. Some are boxes you can put a small token in and write your name on a log book to say you found it, some are tiny and can only fit in a tiny piece of paper for names. My SIL has the app on her phone and we found 5 at Rivington Reservoir, there were a few more, but the battery on her phone was dying, not to mention EJ was getting grumpy.
Going out was a challenge because we would normally stop off for icecream or a cup of tea, but we didn't have any funds, so instead we took some squash in a bottle and the last few custard creams.

When we got home for tea we were having the left over bolognese, and I defrosted some bolognese from the freezer for SIL and future Brother in Law (BIL), so we could eat together.
Pudding was pancakes, a definite favourite all around.

Monkey enjoying his pancake.

One thing I've realised today is that having friends or family round, or showing hospitality to people costs.
We take for granted that we can invite people round for a meal, for a brew, for a meeting, and that we'll have food/drink for them.
 Almost every week at our bible study group we meet at our house, and often have cake or biscuits. This week we couldn't even offer a drink other than water. Now obviously everyone who came was fully supportive of what we're doing and didn't mind at all, but imagine if you had people coming round and you couldn't afford anything for them. What would you say/do? Find an excuse to postpone or just not offer anything? If you struggled to make ends meet how would you feel if your kids wanted a friend round for dinner? A work friend who has 3 kids told me she regularly has 7 kids round for tea. How can you do this if you're struggling to even feed yourself?

So how did we end the 5 days? Unbelievably we had some food left:
 800ml of milk (mainly because Monkey and hubby didn't have breakfast)
 1/3 jar of jam (10p)
 1/2 a loaf of bread (23p)
 3 yogurts (24p)
 500g Cornflakes (28p)
1/2 banana (5p)
4 portions of lentil soup (40p)
So £1.30 worth. Don't worry it won't be wasted. I froze the soup in portions so I can take them to work, and the rest is gradually being used now.

I enjoyed my breakfast this morning immensely. A cup of tea and toast with butter. This few days has been a real challenge, but mentally as much as anything. I have found it really humbling to think again about just how much we have, and hopefully it will have had a lasting effect.

I heard a great song yesterday on UCB, called Do Something which I thought was very significant for what we'd just been doing. I just wanted to share the lyrics:

"I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how'd we ever get so far down
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't You do something?"

He said, "I did, I created you"

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something

I'm so tired of talking
About how we are God's hands and feet
But it's easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It's alright, "somebody else will do something"
Well, I don't know about you
But I'm sick and tired of life with no desire
I don't want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
"I'm gonna do something"

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine shine, shine shine)
But we're never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won't stand still 
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something"

 Matthew West - Do Something Lyrics 

If you'd like to Do Something you could donate to help those in extreme poverty here.
Thanks for reading about our Live Below the Line journey. I'll post one more follow up post tomorrow!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Day 4 - The end is near-ish

So we're now on day 4 of Living Below the Line.
Today I wasn't particularly hungry, thankfully, but I'm still missing my cup of tea!
This morning when having cuddles with Monkey he told me in a sad voice "I missed turkey meatballs yesterday for dinner at school.". I explained that they would be on the menu again soon, but he seemed so disappointed. After 3 days straight of jam sandwiches for lunch I thought perhaps he was tiring of the challenge. I asked him if he'd like school dinners today instead of his packed lunch, and he said he would. So today he got to have fish and chips for lunch!
I went shopping for the final few bits for the week this morning. I'd already counted the money we would need for our second loaf of the week, and we still had £1 left. Me and dear hubby talked through the options
a) buy some frivolous sweets/treats
b) buy some extra fruit and veg
c) buy something tasty to compliment what we already had

After much consideration, and in accordance with the 'rules' which say you have to buy things outright, it worked out that our main 3 realistic options were
a) a pack of 4 chocolate bars for £1 (crunchie/mars/snickers/kitkats etc)
b) a bag of funsize apples 89p
c) a pack of sausages 99p
Nestle Kit Kat Chunky Bars (4x48g)
£1 Asda
Ashfield Farm Cumberland Sausages (8 per pack - 454g)
99p Aldi
Orchard Fresh Funsize Apples (9)
89p Aldi

Monkey, although he loves sweets, isn't a fan of chocolate, and to be fair, neither am I. So option 1 was off the table. The funsize apples were the healthy option, and had we bought them earlier in the week (to be honest I didn't realise you could get a bag of apples for 89p until today!) they would have been great, but with only 2 days to go I decided we would get the sausages ( which Monkey LOVES) and have sausage sandwiches tomorrow for lunch.

Whilst searching online, and canvassing my facebook friends for their opinions of what we should get with our £1 I made 2 startling discoveries.
1) is AMAZING and helps you find everything you need and compare the prices of the main supermarkets so easily
2) You can get 20 (yes 20!) frozen sausages for 99p from both Asda and Aldi

I think next year (ha ha, I'm already talking about next year! don't telly my dear hubby!) we'll base some meals around sausages, because Monkey does love them, and they do work out so cheap.

I also managed to concoct a lovely smoothie for Monkey when he got home from school using 1/2 of our last banana. Because Monkey hasn't been eating cornflakes we've ended up with some extra milk, so I thought I'd make good use of it.
It was basically 1/2 banana , 250ml milk and 1 tbsp fruit jam to sweeten, blitzed in a liquidiser. It was yummy, and quite healthy too!

So what was todays menu for me?

Breakfast - Banana and cornflakes 20p
Yummy fried rice!
Lunch - Leftover Fried Rice 23p
Dinner - Spaghetti Bolognese  (Basic recipe here, but slightly tweaked) 47p
Snacks - Piece of toast, custard cream and pack of crisps 10p
Total £1.00

Please consider donating here, the target for this years Global Poverty Project is £1 million, and we're half way there. Anything you can give would be welcome.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

3 is the magic number!

So we're over half way through, and for me today has been the hardest day. By the end of my teaching day I was HUNGRY, I can't remember the last time I was actually hungry. When I got home I had a yogurt and 2 custard creams to put me on to dinner.

I was really looking forward to tonight's dinner, fried rice, one of my favourite dishes! I'd boiled the rice last night so it would be nicely chilled before frying, and so when I got back from work I could just whack it in the pan. It was delicious! I posted the recipe last year here, but have slightly tweaked it, and its great (and only 30p a portion!) so I'll do another one.

Fried Rice - Serves 4
500g Smart Price easy cook rice
150g Smart Price frozen mince
250g frozen mixed vegetables
1 tsp mild curry powder
1 Tesco beef stock cube
2 eggs

1. Boil the rice, drain and cool (chill if possible).
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large wok and fry the defrosted mince with 1 tsp curry powder.
3. Add chilled rice and fry for 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile cook mixed vegetables in the microwave or boil in pan and then drain.
5. Add mixed vegetables to rice and continue to fry
6. Beat the 2 eggs and then make into a rough omelette in a frying pan and then chop and add to the rice.
7. Chop the stock cube finely and sprinkle over the rice to season.
Dinner is served!

Monkey was excited that we had pancakes for pudding, and I managed to make the value batter stretch to 14 small pancakes! I was stuffed after my fried rice, so I saved mine for later on, as I knew I'd probably be peckish.
I'm surprised about being hungry though, because the portions we're having are quite good, I'm assuming it must be because the amount of protein we're getting is lower than it should be.

We still have £1 of the budget left, and me and my dear hubby were trying to decide what we should spend it on. Should it be something for a treat, perhaps some icecream, or a bar of chocolate or packet of sweets, or should we try and use it sensibly and buy some fruit? What do you think?

PS. I apologise for the lack of photos, I will try and take some more tomorrow, as I know it makes for a boring post without!