Live on £1 a Day: Angie Day 2

Felt a bit woozy on my walk with the dogs first thing, I think it was likely because of the lack of sugar and salt as I was probably dehydrated after my run. Busied myself around the house changing the beds, ironing and doing a bit of tidying to try and keep my mind off the fact I had woken up hungry. Arrived at work and got myself a glass of water, was lucky enough to be made three cups of tea throughout the day, but that is way short of what I usually drink so did miss it.

Lunch was homemade broccoli and cheese soup today. This is actually my favourite and I often make this and take it to work. I did go easy on the cheese though as that little block has to last the whole week. It has made me realise just how much cheese I eat, we regularly go through 2–3 blocks of cheese a week!  Again, I had two bits of bread and spread to try and bulk up my lunch.

I do appreciate the fact that I go out to work as it kept me busy so that I wasn’t constantly thinking of food, however I did find myself hungrier than usual today and would have loved to have grabbed an apple, a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate to fill the gap in the afternoon.

When I got home from work we made a pizza base and, while the dough was proving, we took the dogs for a walk.  My other half said he’d not been feeling well all day and while we were walking, he had to sit down as he was feeling so dizzy. All I could think about was getting home and making the pizza. This was where I said I was going to cheat: I had a pepper, a few tomatoes and mushrooms that were already out of date and needed to be used up and I couldn’t wait. When shopping they had sold out of tomato puree and I toyed with getting passata, but didn’t buy it as it would have meant I had to go without something else.  Instead I pureed some of the tinned tomatoes to make the base layer to build everything on.

The pizza was amazing! I usually chop chillies and then dip it in mayonnaise so had to miss out on that, but it was still great.  We just watched telly in the evening and would usually have had a bottle of beer, but stuck to water.

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Angie’s pizza reminded us of our FISH clubs (Food (and Fun) In School Holidays) for low income families and one of the children’s favourite activities, which is DIY pizzas with the Morrisons Community Champion. We have done this on several occasions, thanks to Geoff at Morrisons Riverside, and he brings all the foodstuffs needed and the children can add wahtever toppings they fancy. Something we’ve always noticed, and we have had shop-bought pizza for lunch on a few occasions – the meals the children make themselves (and we’ve done DIY wraps too!), always result in fewer leftovers.

We think this could be the same for the parents too as we trialled the Joy of Food cookery course alongside FISH last year and the adults who took part were so chuffed with the meals they created and enjoyed them for their tea each week.

We’re currently trialling recipe kits at the foodbank, giving clients the opportunity to take a bag of specific ingredients and a recipe home, alongside their food parcel to try.

Those of us who enjoy baking and cooking for ourselves and / or for friends may do so just for fun and if it goes wrong, it doesn’t really matter. But trying a new recipe while on a tight budget can be risky – what if it goes wrong – what will we eat instead and I’ve now wasted that meal’s money. If the children or family members don’t like it, what do we eat instead; there’s no backup. The recipes are going down well so far, watch this space for..!

Live on £1 a Day: Angie Day 1

Got up, walked the dogs and got ready for work. When I arrived, there was a cup of tea on my desk waiting for me – I have some lovely colleagues!  I started to feel hungry around 11:30am, but as I said before I am trying not to eat until 12pm; I left my lunch where it was and sat it out.

Lunch was homemade tomato, onion and butterbean soup. I also added a handful of pasta to try and make sure that it was as filling as possible. I’d used potatoes to thicken it up and myself and my partner had two slices of bread and olive oil spread. I have to say that I didn’t notice the difference in the bread even though we had omitted the sugar from the dough. It was very nice and I am extremely glad that I had bought stock cubes in my shop as I think it would have been pretty bland without.

The afternoon went well and I had several cups of tea made for me and I drank plenty of water. I usually graze throughout the afternoon, even if it is healthy grazing that I do and I missed this a lot. I found an apple on my desk and gave it to a colleague although I would have loved to have eaten it myself. By about 4:30pm I was getting really hungry; I started thinking a lot about food and what I could make with all the potatoes we bought. 

I didn’t leave work until 6pm as I was meeting some friends to go for a run. I am lucky that I have a hobby that, once you have the kit, it’s free, but it does make you think about what you would do if you needed new trainers and had to choose between new trainers to allow you to continue doing something that you enjoy and is good for your mental wellbeing, or having food to give you the fuel to do it.

I often find that running dulls my appetite and when I got home I wasn’t that hungry. At around 8pm, we had beans on toast as that was something simple and quick. I missed adding some chopped chilli to my beans – I grow my own and have a freezer with lots of varieties – but I was determined to stick to what I bought so they stayed in the freezer. I often grate some cheese on top as well, but left that off as I need enough for my pizza, broccoli and cheese soup and for any pasta I will be making later in the week.  It does make you think about the things you take for granted…

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We’ve mentioned before during these blogs about the nutritionally balanced food parcels, as set out by the Trussell Trust, but it’s worth mentioning again! Today, we had a school visit from a year 5 class who came with a large donation of items and lots of well thought out questions. One student asked ‘how much money do you [the foodbank] spend on food each week?’ and the answer is not very much at all, thanks to our amazing supporters, listening to our needs and responding. We send out a monthly ‘most / least needed’ list to those who have requested it (around 80 recipients, several who represent groups), highlighting the items that we really need, but also the items we don’t need due to high stock levels.

If you’re local to Norwich and would like to support us, look at our website and social media pages to see updates on what we do and don’t currently need. If Norwich isn’t your local foodbank, get in touch with them as we know they would really appreciate giving you up to date info on how best you can help.

Live on £1 a Day: Angie’s Shop

The shopping trip went well.  I managed to spend just under budget although I had to
retrace my steps after finding I was 1p over the £10 allowed for myself and partner.  I had a list and knew what I was going to buy as I’d planned my meals.  I know that I could have got a couple of items cheaper in Tesco than I did in Lidl, but that would have meant a drive to a different shop (I live in a village and have to drive 7 miles to get my shopping) and I figured that defeated the object.
 
Soup for lunch every day with some bread and spread; beans on toast two nights after
running (we will be late home); pizza and two pasta dishes.  I know that I can make three loaves of bread and a pizza base out of a bag of bread flour so we can have bread
with our soup and enjoy the luxury of a pizza one night.
 
We made the decision not to buy anything for breakfast as I have recently started
eating in a shorter window each day (usually between 12 and 8pm).  How I will
manage without snacking through the afternoon
I don’t know, as I usually still eat three meals in that period.  However I have just realised that I have bought a large bag of potatoes and will only need them for thickening the soup, so I am going to treat us to oven chips with one of our pasta meals.  It may be a bit carb high, but chips go with
anything right?
 
We also went without tea or coffee.  Although this scares me a bit, we have followed Hannah’s thought process and decided that if anyone offers to make us a drink at work we will accept, but we won’t make any ourselves.  I drink a lot of water anyway
so this won’t be too much of an issue, although I fear I may miss an occasional bottle
of beer in the evening
 
I have a confession to make; I am going to cheat a little bit.  As we were away
camping at the weekend, I haven’t been able to use up all the perishables in the
fridge.  There are a couple mushrooms, a few small tomatoes and a mini pepper;
they were all supposed to be used by the 6 March so I know they can’t be left.  As food waste sits so badly with me, I have tried to find them other homes, but as they are past their best they seem to be unwanted.  I have made the decision that I will use them on the pizza and while I do feel slightly guilty about the cheating, it’s not as bad as how I would feel putting them in the bin.

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National charity FareShare and local charity Norwich FoodHub, both work by redistributing food ‘waste’ to charities and groups who can make use of items that day, including passing them on to people they work with or see. National charity FoodCycle also collect food ‘waste’ and pass it on to people in the form of a free community meal in a particular place (in Norwich, it’s Friday night at the Quaker Meeting house in the city centre).

Norwich foodbank collects / receive donations from these charities a combined total of 7 times during the week, meaning the non-perishable food parcels are supplemented by fresh items including bread, cakes, fruit and vegetables.

The waste is in inverted commas, because it’s food that’s best before that specific date, but still perfectly safe to eat – therefore not really waste at all! We’re delighted that we’re both saving edible food from the bin and supporting our clients with a little bit extra.

Live on £1 a Day: Kathryn Day 5

Breakfast – cornflakes and milk

Mid morning – left over beans & potato pie

Lunch – pasta, vegetables with soft cheese

Tea – potato squares and cheesy hoops

On the home stretch – yet another long boring day loomed ahead. This made me think about the mental health and isolation that strict budgets could affect. Most social activities are around food or drink. The weather was horrid – so even going for a ‘free’ walk wasn’t possible.

I ran out of diet cola on Saturday night – I never appreciated how much I drink and just having water was tough for a full day.

I really needed to do my food shopping for the week ahead – but couldn’t face going to a shop and buying food I couldn’t eat. Decided what I had in the freezer and cupboard would have to suffice.

Living alone isn’t an issue for me – however, I felt lonely, isolated and tired all weekend, wWithout someone to talk to or be able to go out and about.

Reflections

I have learnt so much from doing this ‘challenge’ – on many levels.  It has been amazing seeing and hearing the debates it has caused at work and home.

It has made so grateful for the freedom, convenience and support that I have taken for granted – I am so much more aware of how living on a restricted budget affects all aspects of life.

I think this has changed me in more ways than I thought it would.   More aware of food costs, making wise budget decisions and not taking for granted things I did before.

This is often a ‘hidden’ subject – no-one walks into a room and announces they are living on £5 for 5 days like I did.   We don’t know who is struggling or having to make these choices on a daily or weekly basis.

Would I do it again?  Yes I would – but I’d make different choices. Some spice or flavour was needed.  However the humble, versatile potato was a revelation!

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If you are interested in taking part in this Lent appeal, or in any of our other appeals – #40for40 (putting aside 40p for the 40 days of Lent and donating this, with gift aid if possible, means we receive £20); Give up and Give (give something up and donate what you would have spent on that item during Lent) – it’s not too late! More information is on our website http://www.norwichfoodbank.co.uk and if you’d like to make a donation towards our work, we have giving options via PayPal and Local Giving. Our Local Giving page for Lent 2019 is here: https://localgiving.org/appeal/norwichfoodbanklent2019/

We have three more supporters Living on £1 a Day for 5 days, so keep following and sharing this blog to get their experiences shared and to increase awareness of those who we support on a daily basis.

Live on £1 a Day: Kathryn Day 4

The weekend is here – 48 hours stretch out in front of me with no specific plans.

Breakfast – cornflakes and milk

Lunch – pasta, vegetables with soft cheese

Tea – beans & cheesy mash potato ‘pie’

Very tired today – that could be due to the previous evening activities – but I admit that the thought of cornflakes was not welcoming as they don’t fill me up.

This is going to be a boring blog day – I really didn’t do much apart from housework, washing and knitting. Normally a day to myself without the pressure of work is welcome but the day dragged as I was just focused on when I could eat next.

One good thing was (due to an inspired tip from my sister) I made ‘crisps’ from my potato peelings.   To think I was going to throw them away – but baked in the oven they came out crispy and were a welcome snack during Saturday evening .

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Norwich foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust and follows their model of providing 3 days of nutritionally balanced food in each of the parcels given out. Because of this, the mixture of items is really important and so when we ask for certain foods, it’s to ensure we have a good stock of ALL required items. Baked beans, pasta and cereal are donated the most as they basically cover the main meal staples, but this also means many foodbanks are extremely well stocked with these items. Therefore, things like milk, fruit juice and sponge puddings (all long life of course!) are in shorter supply and are even more gratefully received.

Norwich foodbank currently needs sponge puddings if you’re in a position to donate and if you’re in need yourself, do get in touch with the office on 0103 251733 or via the email admin@norwich.foodbank.org.uk

Live on £1 a Day: Kathryn Day 3

I’m tired and weary today.   Could that just be a Friday feeling or there are other factors at play…?

There have been a number of interesting conversations in my office – for those staff who have heard what I’m doing and understanding why I’m more grumpy than usual.  It is great to hear the debates and making people think about what they take for granted and what they are (genuinely) grateful for.

Breakfast – cornflakes and milk

Lunch – pasta, vegetables with soft cheese

Late afternoon snack – small amount of spaghetti hoops

Tea –  NONE!

Food planning has been a challenge again today.   Due to knowing I’m out volunteering straight from work this evening, I’ve brought some of my spaghetti hoops for a snack to help me last the evening.

The relief that a cup of tea was offered first thing prompted a spontaneous hug for one of my colleagues.   Never been this emotional over a cup of tea before!

I will say here that it was noted at work that I was far more irritable and snappy than normal during the day.   I was asked a number of times ‘are you Ok?’

I was very glad for my late afternoon snack as my evening plans were a lot longer than expected and didn’t get home until past 9pm.   I’ll be honest, I was beyond being hungry and I didn’t have any tea.

The weekend is looming and I’m not looking forward to it.

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One myth about those who use the foodbank is that everyone who comes, is on benefits and not in work. Well many people are in employment AND need our support – this may be due to zero hours contracts which mean income is unstable and budgeting is near-on impossible, or it may due to low wages / low hours due to childcare or other commitments.

Some of you may read this blog and be thinking about food choices and shopping and hunger, but another point to sharing these experiences is to help better understand and therefore empathise with those who struggle day in, day out to make ends meet.

Live on £1 a Day: Kathryn Day 2

Breakfast – cornflakes and milk

Lunch – pasta, vegetables with soft cheese

Tea – spaghetti hoops (with cheese stirred in) & potato squares

My meals today are an exact copy of yesterday – this is going to be the issue today I believe, just repeating the same food.   My challenge will be to make potatoes different to yesterday – not sure how but I’ll try!

However, it was clear that there were other more pressing problems to face today:-

Problem 1:   Realised I’ve left my bottle of diet cola in the fridge – so will have to rely on water today… or if someone offers to make a cup of tea I’ll be grateful.

Problem 2:   It’s someone’s birthday at work.  The obligatory email comes around that there are treats and iced ‘things’ in the office and to come and help yourself.  I shall be avoiding that office all day…..!

Problem 3:  Had to go to Tesco Express in city centre to buy some emergency sanitary products; thought I had a stock at home but was wrong.  Walking into the brightly lit shop past all the Easter eggs, biscuits, sweets and fruit was incredibly hard and took a lot of will power.

Question:  made me think about people on tight budgets.   We have limited our budgets to food products but in reality should I require other products what choice would I make? There is a lot of press about ‘period poverty’ and this brought it to focus this morning and made me grateful that I don’t ‘have’ to make this choice today.

What I do know is that Norwich foodbank is really well supplied by donations of towels and tampons which can be distributed alongside food parcels and so I’m pleased to know that women in need won’t go without these essential items.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been a bit grumpy today (and this was witnessed by colleagues and family alike) – maybe the fact I’m having withdrawal symptoms from sugar – or that I expect to be grumpy so I am?!

So day 2 drew to a close – a successful but tiring gym session, but a genius idea of making spaghetti hoops more tasty helped.  I still avoided some TV to stop the onslaught of food adverts. Early bath and bed again…!

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Norwich foodbank’s priority is of course food, when it comes to items being donated, but essential toiletries are great if you are able to donate these extra bits. Due to all the press about period poverty, the foodbank is very well stocked with sanitary items, but things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shower gel, shampoo and toilet rolls are all pretty important in daily life and would be appreciated by the foodbank. Check with your local foodbank to see if they have specific needs in this area!