Challenge completed - 31 days eating and drinking for just £1 a day.
7th April 2022
So it's been nearly a week since we completed our challenge to eat and drink for just £1 a day throughout March.
We did this to promote awareness of families in the UK living in poverty right now through the cost of living crisis amid the soaring energy bills, inflation and lessened support for families in receipt of Universal Credit.
It was a real eye opener.
The first thing that shocked us was how difficult it was to buy food with enough calories to even come close to the daily recommended amount on such a low budget. When we nearly reached the number of calories our meals were very boring with practically no flavour and they had close to zero nutrients due to the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.
After one week we grew very tired of this and opted for more flavour and variety and less bulk, meaning our calorie intake went down further.
Eating as much as we could within the monetary limits, we all lost weight. This sounds great to most of us thinking that a quick diet over the course of a month to shed a couple of extra pounds can only be a good thing. But what about the families that live like this with a similar budget all year round?
Ed lost a total of 26.5lbs - nearly two stone. That's the same weight as 30 cans of the 22p beans we were eating, (including the cans) Rich lost 6.5kg (roughly 1 stone) and Susie lost 7lbs (but maintains this is from being short! :)
Towards the end of March, there were two special days for Susie in particular - Mother's Day and her Birthday. Normally food is huge part of any celebration, especially when travelling to visit family like we did for Mother's day. Normally when on a journey we load the car up with drinks and snacks and tend to stop for some fast food on the way as a treat. It was more agonising than we thought it would be stopping at McDonald's on the way to get some happy meals for the children, and bringing our own budget food to a family meal instead of joining in with everyone else, but we did it none-the-less in solidarity with the families who never have the choice to do anything different. The same for my birthday, we ate nicely within budget but there wasn't the option to splash out on anything special for the occasion other than some budget chocolate and cornflakes which we made some little cakes with.
Despite it being a difficult challenge, we've also learnt some important lessons.
- We spend far over the odds for food from food delivery services and the supermarkets through poor planning and
- Reduced items are often fine in the fridge when properly wrapped to be air-tight for a number of days or even a week. (Full disclosure, we did buy a new fridge in December - our old fridge would not have been up to the job as it got too cold, froze veg and salad and ruined it - so just another way that we are lucky)
Here are some frequently asked questions from our friends and family whilst we were undertaking this challenge:
Are you using any food you already had in the house such as things in the pantry/freezer ?
No - we only ate and drank items that we bought with our budget of £1 a day including salt, sauces, tea bags, milk, cooking oil, gravy granules, stock cubes etc.
Can you eat or drink something that is gifted to you by someone else or offered to you when visiting someone?
No - we really went for it and didn't eat or drink anything outside of budget with the small concession of coffee or tea in the office as this is pretty standard for anyone working in an office environment. (The days I don't work weren't too fun without my caffeine fix!)
Once we'd gotten used to knowing the cheaper vegetables to use, and we'd almost completely cut out meat just allowing ourselves a small portion within a meal where we had it at all, we managed some very tasty, very low cost dinners. We managed to snag some reduced sprouts that were just 10p a bag, carrots were cheap anyway at 47p a bag and with red onion and cheap mayo, we made delicious coleslaw and had these veg chopped into fried rice, chilli, bolognaise etc. We also found that some of the supermarket own brands of butter and sauces had exactly the same ingredients as the premium brands we had been buying for no real reason.
We have vowed to be more aware of what we are spending on our food, buying reduced items where we can to avoid supermarket waste on items we would buy fresh anyway allowing us to be more generous with our donations to food banks.
We're hugely grateful for all the donations that have come in so far to support us, and would really appreciate any extra anyone can give, however small. If you would like to help, why not try our 31 day challenge for just 1 day and donate the difference to the amount you would normally spend? If you're anything like us, you'd be shocked at how much that is.