LBTL: How hard is it really?

I decided to do a final post to cover my last two days because my meals were unsurprisingly much of the same! The only difference was switching out the microwaved eggs for beans on toast – a lot better but somewhat minimal…

2014-06-05 13.39.43

Sad beans on toast

I also stuck with my ‘poverty carbonara’ both nights, which I continued to really enjoy and will probably make again (minus the hot dogs).

I found the challenge harder and easier than expected – I did well because I planned my shop in a lot of detail and managed to get in a reasonable amount of calories everyday. It was harder though because I realised how much of your mental capacity it takes to plan every meal in that way for a long period of time. Having lived on benefits in London, I am definitely no stranger to budgeting, but this was entirely different!

2 weeks to Palestine!
Just wanted to reiterate the reason I’ve been doing this challenge: I’m fundraising for my voluntary placement in Palestine (leaving 2 weeks today!), where I will be working on a project combating youth unemployment. Conflict and occupation in the region has led to huge barriers to education, which hugely harm employment chances. We will be delivering courses and workshops on English, CV writing, public speaking and similar. The project is brand new, which means we will have a chance to design and direct it to be as effective as possible.

The scheme is government funded, and is running all over the world. Everything I fund raise enables other young people in the UK to take part! I have been lucky enough to have incredibly generous family and friends, and have smashed my target. If anyone still wants to donate, tomorrow June 9th is my deadline!

Final tips for Live Below the Line

  • Plan your meals very carefully – shop around before you decide and use mysupermarket to compare prices before buying.
  • Include a treat if you can (highly recommend the 18p chocolate mousse from Tesco) – this will give you something to look forward to and break up the monotony of the rest of your food.
  • Think about FLAVOUR! Definitely include some stock/tomato paste/allow for salt and pepper otherwise you’re in for a really boring week.
  • Try not to plan any heavy duty exercise as your energy levels are going to be low, particularly if you’re unused to 1200 calories a day.
  • Plan for your daily routine: might seem like an obvious one but it’s really hard to budget in convenience meals, however, I am sure there are better options to microwaving eggs. If you find any, let me know!
  • Stick to vegetarian food – you get more for your money and it’s probably less likely to be suspect…

Practically, these tips will probably make sure you are fine for the week, but it’s also definitely worth reading some literature around the poverty line and trying to understand what life is like for people who not only are living on that much food or less, but are also doing so without shelter (in the freezing cold or blistering heat), medical care, and while working labour-intensive jobs and supporting families on that £1. It not only reminded me of how hard life could be if I been born in different circumstances, but of how wasteful I tend to be with food even when on a budget. It would be fascinating to see how the challenge would vary in other countries, especially where living costs are much lower. However, either way, the figure is astoundingly low, especially when taking into account the cost of anything more than food.

I’m now really looking forward to working on a development project in Palestine, and will soon be blogging about it – watch this space!

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