Having given myself a ‘cheat day’ on Sunday as it was my mum’s birthday (and there was birthday lunch and birthday cake to be eaten!), I did my final day of the Breadline Challenge today. Here’s what I ate:
Breakfast: Cup of tea (I didn’t leave enough time for breakfast this morning)
Lunch: Tuna & sweetcorn pitta and half a packet of instant noodles
Dinner: Cauliflower soup with some added soup mix
Snacks: Free (out of date!) crisps and a few Quality Street while at the food bank
I actually have food leftover from what I bought with my £14.70; obviously porridge and rice, which last ages, but also a tin of tomatoes, some potatoes and some carrots. I have to say I’m relieved that the challenge is over and that I can go back to enjoying my usual variety of fresh vegetables. And fruit other than apples. I won’t miss having to put so much thought into dinner time, feeling hungry between meals or worrying whether my food will see me through the week.
So is it possible to live off around £15 worth of food per week? Yes – particularly if you know how to make your ingredients go further, you eat small portions, and you’re able to cook from scratch and are open to a certain amount of experimentation in the kitchen. Is it enjoyable or easy to live on a low food budget? No. Is it possible to get enough fruit and veg in your diet? I don’t think so.
Although it’s been a long and not particularly fun week, I’m glad I did the Breadline Challenge. Working in countries with standards of living far lower than that of the UK has taught me to be grateful for what I have. But this week I realised that food – plentiful and varied food – is something I’ve been guilty of taking for granted. I’d like to give myself a small food budget one week every year from now on, to remind myself of how incredibly difficult food poverty must be for people. While I’ve only had a tiny glimpse into the reality of not being able to feed yourself adequately, I hope it’s an experience that stays with me.