Could you live below the line?

⇐ News Stories

Heather Staniland, our District Development Enabler, has taken up the MRDF challenge of trying to live on less than £1 a day for food.....just for 5 days, some people have no choice but to always do it.

Here's how she's getting on.....

Monday-my first day of this scheme to see if I can live on £1 a day. I am well organised except I didn`t get the cheap wholemeal from Sainsbury`s, Morrisons had also sold out so I had to get their next cheapest which wasn`t very cheap!
Breakfast was porridge made with water and a little soya milk with a tsp of sugar. Not so different from normal so fine. Then a piece of toast with no jam marmalade or honey on. Not so nice.....
With it being a bank hol we went out on a walk and I had my sandwiches outside; 2 peanut butter butties-the cheapest brand of course- and a "basics" range orange. Fine, especially since we were out in the sun. Water to drink-no flask of coffee! Tea was a one egg omelette, half a tin of basics peas and a potato-on offer! Banana completed the meal.
Not too bad.
Tuesday-it's started to bite. Porridge again and the same boring toast with no tasty spread. Still I have 2 cups of tea since I can`t afford the coffee and the orange juice.
On to the District office in Nantwich to work with Hazel. For the first time EVER I don`t go armed with proper Fairtrade Coffee and fresh milk. Hazel apologised for drinking a cup of instant-poor Hazel-and I drank water....which I should be grateful for! David Syson arrived for a meeting and was so shocked at "Heather-with-no-coffee" that he nearly dropped his box of 6 apple pies. He tried to offer me one, but it was a "get thee behind me" moment! I ate the same lunch as yesterday and saved my banana to have before my swim. But I spent the 50 lengths feeling hungry all the same.
Tea was a very cheap split pea dahl. I followed the recipe, but there was a reason it was so cheap-it was almost totally tasteless. And the cheap rice was awful even though cooked by my hubby, an ex-chef! Nothing for pud-I can see I can`t afford it and that despite my efforts I will exceed a pound a day. I even have a maths teacher at school on my case. I mean the maths is HARD! Harder than the rice.
I don`t expect tomorrow will be easy...what will I do at break when I normally pay 50p for a coffee and a biscuit. I will have to sit there with my bottle of tap water....

As I thought, breaktime was coffee or biscuit, and lots of questions as to why I was without both!
But lunchtime got considerably worse when the weekly ICTHUS group arrived at my room. This is run by the Chester Schools Christian Work,and the Light Project and their two amazing leaders, Adam and Nikki, bring in FOOD every week. They too were stunned when I said no to Pringles and Penguins...but again it encouraged conversation as to why. More food for the students this week then!
My "emergency" half peanut butter sandwich put me on until tea time(I had an optician`s appointment and I didn`t want my stomach rumbling), when I had half a tin of baked beans on a baked potato which was CONSIDERABLY more tasty than yesterday. But not that cheap as I did not have the cheapest beans in. A Fairtrade banana completed the meal.
It is interesting/disconcerting? where ethics come in here as I am still managing some Fairtrade items-tea, bananas for example, but not others due to the cost. We regularly have Fairtrade basmati rice from Traidcraft which is FANTASTIC but I can`t afford it this week. Which makes me question this project somewhat.
Maybe I`ll give up-hey that sounds a good idea!

Today was OK with working at home and punctuating the day with the odd cup of tea. I got through the parents` evening at school by eating an emergency peanut butter butty again, which is a cheap filler! The meal was an egg fried rice which was tasty. I will eat the other half tin of baked beans tomorrow.
What am I looking forward to? COFFEE, orange juice, Ribena (always at 4pm), not refusing drinks and food from people, cake (a kind colleague at school has put her birthday cakes into next week so that I can partake!), CHOCOLATE, being able to use my usual Farirtrade goodies (especially the basmati rice) and taking more exercise - didn't have enough energy this week.....I'm in practice for the MRDF 10k run!
Friday-Last day!
Breakfast and lunch were the same but I really missed the morning coffee at school again. After school, I did a LOT of food shopping and really enjoyed it! All the variety I can eat from tomorrow!
However, the crunch of the day was at lunchtime when I saw Sarah the  maths teacher regarding how much I had used and spent. It was like going to a clinic-and the news was not good I am afraid to say. I had spent £8.14 which is far too much! One thing I realised was that I had spent £1 over the 5 days on tea. If I had thought or realised this before I suppose I would have just drunk water. Its called living and learning. I am not sure how I would have saved more.Perhaps by buying cheaper brands....but I mean that cheap rice was so awful. Also I would not have the fried rice with "expensive" spring onions in.
I have learnt how very difficult this task is to complete and succeed in. It has made me think of people who have 1 meal per day, or less, or who have no variety, or who have to buy the cheapest brands as a necessity.
Would I do it again? Well I like a challenge and I like to succeed. So maybe.But there will have to be a big gap between.

⇐ News Stories