Could you Eat and Drink for a Pound a Day?
14th March 2022
In order to raise awareness of childhood poverty (and hopefully some much needed funds for our Charity of the Year - Action for Children) a few of the Squeegee Team decided to challenge themselves to eat and drink for the entirety of March on £31 - just £1 a day.
This blog is based on Ed and Susie's experience after 14 days of the challenge so far.
We know that we are so lucky to make a choice to do this for some publicity and to spread some awareness, at the same time as feeling deeply saddened that for so many families, this is the reality every day.
I'm rather ashamed to say how much we normally spend a month on food, which I had thought wasn't really that much before taking on this challenge. We tend to buy into a meal delivery service every week as well as extra food for meals for the younger children on the nights we are having curries etc and for the 'off meal-kit' days. We also indulge in take-aways from our local pizza shop, chip shop/Chinese etc (because we can't always be bothered cooking), we buy lots of treats for the weekends and we certainly don't hold back on shopping for lunches in the office either. I'd say each month we normally spend between £400 and £600 on food for a family of 5 (but with two very young children who don't really eat that much yet!) We were once students though, so thought we'd be able to manage the shopping quite well.
I'm not going to lie - the shopping for week one, was a challenge. After carefully composing a shopping list online, we looked at the calorie content and realised that we didn't have even nearly enough to get by on and still function properly. We needed to load in the carbs so started again! Even after lots of tweaking, we still only got the total up to 1200cals a day. Sounds great for all of us on a diet right? Not really. We were missing all the nutrients from fresh, well...anything and were still hungry after eating our daily amount. We got our first week's worth of food (including the cheapest tea bags and one pint of milk) for £13.97 between us in store. We couldn't click and collect or have it delivered as we would do normally as that would've taken up money we couldn't afford to not spend on food!
We found the first day quite exciting and were quite happy with our meals of a piece of marmalade toast and sausage, mash, veg and gravy. Day two, we realised how much we missed just a sprinkling of salt to flavour things and how thin the cheapest pasta sauce really is. (and yes, we bought the cheapest tomato pasta sauce available which was much cheaper than the cheapest tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, stock cube, onion and herbs we'd normally use to create a basic sauce). We also learnt that despite our snobby selves only ever buying Heinz or Baxters beans, that the cheaper ones weren't really that different so there were some happy discoveries too! By the middle of the week, we were planning changes to the following week's shopping to include some different items and to forget the cheapest frozen sausages, which were ok, but you can definitely have enough of!
Nearing the end of week one, we decided to try and do the next week's shopping a couple of days early on Sunday to try and seek out the end of week bargains that you see on the one day the supermarket isn't open 24 hours. We were actually astounded and the bread haul we managed to get at around 3pm on Sunday. A tiger loaf, a medium cheese topped baguette, two stone-baked ciabatta rolls and 6 finger rolls for mere pence. We also frivolously spent £1 on some sriracha sauce, 25p on a huge bottle of table salt and 41p on some custard creams to dip into our now weak black tea that had become our evening tipple. We felt much happier having some different flavours and what felt like a real treat with the biscuits.
If you're thinking that it doesn't sound that hard then we urge you to try it for just a day, and to donate the remainder of what you'd honestly usually spend to our Just Giving Page. Remember we haven't used anything we haven't bought with our budget (other than cooking equipment) so no oil for cooking, nothing from the pantry fridge or freezer that we already had, no salt, pepper, sauce or any other additive. It's hard! and it must be so hard for these families to budget for when they run out of those larger essential items that take out of their normal budget such as the cooking oil, gravy granules or squash. We can't imagine how to squeeze in the cakes for the school bake sale, any kind of treat for the children for after school or even some coffee at this point and we're very aware that although we are eating some very satisfying meals, we're not giving our bodies the nutrition they need.
Visit our Just Giving Page here and please donate if you can
Into week three, we did shopping in two supermarkets rather than just one. One for the bread deals and some other end of week discounted vegetables, and the other for cheaper essentials. Again, we realise that for families catching buses to do their shopping rather than the luxury for driving to the door, this may not be possible, but we're trying to see the best menu we can provide for a week on this budget to share and we think we're getting better at this over time.