Archie & Sophie Lent 2021: Day 3

The general, ever-present hunger is definitely starting to set in now. I started getting hungry for dinner at about half past 3 – normally I’d easily keep going until 6PM before I even thought about what was for tea! I’ve also been craving meat a lot – which is strange because I’ve been happily vegetarian for the last 1½ years and never before have wanted to go back. I will have to see if it persists or not but luckily the budget didn’t stretch to meat so there’s nothing to be tempted by

This week has also made me consider a lot more about waste. We’ve really made sure that we get everything out of every tin whereas normally if a few baked beans were left in the tin I’d probably give them to the dishwasher rather than scrape them out. After a busy day I was somewhat on autopilot when cooking dinner – and I started peeling our solitary potato and then put the peel into the bin… before realising that that’s a good tenth of a potato (and lots of fibre and nutrition) that we could have eaten! I was careful not to make this mistake again when preparing the rest of the meal – but I’d never usually think about eating absolutely 100% of everything I buy, even though I do try to be waste-conscious and not buy tons more than I need. 

I am also definitely discovering a few things I’d gladly have again even though I’d previously always gone for the branded versions. The cheap tin of soup we had today tasted no different to the branded version (I’m sure you can guess which…) which I normally buy. To be honest, there’s nothing this week that I would avoid eating again (although I might tweak some of the quantities up a little!)

Breakfast: Cornflakes, Sugar, Tea

Lunch: Half a tin of tomato soup, 3 small slices of toast with butter, tea and a biscuit

Afternoon snack: Half an apple and another biscuit

Dinner: Bean and tomato hotpot (recipe below) with rice. 

Ingredients:

1 tin baked beans, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 2 small/medium carrots, 1 medium baking potato, ⅔ of an onion, Half a tsp salt, Half a tsp pepper, 1 Tsp mixed herbs, Generous tablespoon of margarine

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Chop the onion finely and fry. Whilst this is cooking, dice the potatoes and carrots so that the pieces are no bigger than a 1cm cube. Add these, season with salt, pepper and herbs and put the lid on the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the beans and tomatoes. Rinse each tin out with half a tin’s worth of water and add that too. Then, simmer for approx. 30 mins. Serve with rice, potatoes, pasta or bread. 

END

Dawn Lent 2021 – Day 5

I thought today, as I ate my 5th portion of rice and dahl for lunch (filling but getting very boring) how much I like cooking for other people. Pre-lockdown, we often have friends over for dinner at the weekend and I love this. How would I do this on this budget? I couldn’t, no matter how many “cook dinner for a fiver!” articles I read. Cooking for others would be out and how could I go to other peoples for dinner with no gift? (wine is obviously out – “make something” said a friend – with what?? How could I afford to make a cake or biscuits on this budget?). This is really really horrible. I am not hungry but my diet this week has been very limited and there has been none of the usual pleasure in cooking – imagine if this was forever rather than just a week?

I think I thought I was aware, but I realise how many aspects of food poverty I had not understood. The anxiety that would go with an empty cupboard, the endless worry about children eating enough (and the guilt), the distress at not being able to reciprocate with friends and the shame this causes. I start to see the connection between poverty and mental health – the distress that hunger and anxiety about food can cause, the relentless, grinding misery of it all. How can we allow this to happen?

END

Hannah Lent 2021 – Day 5

I felt more than a little relief this morning that today was the last day of this ‘challenge’ for me, that tomorrow I could eat what I wanted and that I had more bread that I expected left, plus a double portion of pasta as I wouldn’t need it for lunch so could have a bigger tea. I know I didn’t have to use it all up, but it’s a little about food waste as well as budgeting so I was pleased to not have much left, especially compared to 2019, but I know that was only a small part. At the end of the 5 days, I had a few fruit teabags left.

Eggy bread, fruit tea and lemonade followed by quite a lot of cleaning up from yesterday and a trip out – to Homebase – and another fruit tea and lemonade preceded a lunch of baked beans and hotdogs on toast. Very nice and quite ‘normal’ for me which was even nicer.

A fairly relaxed afternoon, but I have to admit to already planning my lunches and a couple of dinners for the coming week. As I mentioned in the 2019 blog, I am very big on meal planning both for structure and being organised in this aspect of life at least, but also this helps with budgeting and a really meaningful shopping list so I did spend a bit of time going through the cupboards and freezer, working out what I had, what I would be cooking / eating and therefore what I needed to buy.

I prepared my lunches for Monday and Tuesday and, as usual, flung a few handfuls of pasta into the saucepan but weighed it out of interest after I had put in what I considered ‘enough’. It was almost 300g and this was to do 2-3 lunches. Again I questioned am I overeating or was the 85g portions of the past week significantly less than a ‘standard’ portion? I must google that… I did, 180g is considered a ‘standard portion’ so I wasn’t far off with my lunch weight (I consider a lunch to be a smaller portion than a dinner) and my dinners this week have been just under half the standard, hence my now justified evening hunger pangs.

For the past few months at least, I have favoured a Jack Monroe Veganish recipe (which I make un-vegan!) of caesar dressing and I find it absolutely delicious with cold pasta, veg and ham but I haven’t considered how much this is per portion. I still haven’t done the maths but my lunches had a few slices of wafer thin ham, garden peppers, celery, chick peas (no I haven’t had enough, I love them) and the ceasar dip is made with fat free greek yoghurt, olive oil, yeast flakes, mustard, lemon juice and pepper. If I bought all these things outright, some of the items would only last the week (the veg, ham and yoghurt), the other bits would do a few weeks at least, but the outlay at the beginning would be significant. I love this lunch and have missed it and am looking forward to it even more now having taken all this into account.

Dinner at 6.30pm ish was a double portion of pasta, and the rest of everything else – chick peas, baked beans and sardines, with carrots. I was looking forward to a ‘proper’ plateful (I have been told that our dinnerplates are especially large (!) but this week I have been eating out of a bowl to make it look ‘full’) but I’m a little ashamed to say – but being honest – I didn’t eat much more than half. I think part of it was sheer boredom of the same old flavours or lack of flavour 5 days in a row, part of it was I didn’t care if I was hungry later as I would ‘OK’ tomorrow and part of it was I knew I still have toast and a boiled egg if I really wanted it. Of course I did, so about 8.30pm I had that and really enjoyed it. Eggs are a definite keep if I do this again, as is bread – for me at least.

I’ve been mulling over my conversation with Diane about ‘lasting change’ and my church group are starting a 24/7 Lent course on Prayer this coming week. One of the strands is about fasting and so I read about this particular element when I went to bed, thinking if this is something I could do more often and how it might work. I immediately started thinking ‘it could help me lose / maintain weight’ and then almost as quickly thought ‘but that’s not the point!’ The piece I read said it didn’t have to be about food but could be a fast from talking, social media, screens in general or look at the ‘Daniel Diet’ and only eat vegetables, cutting out rich or ‘fancy’ foods (I’m paraphrasing).

The thing that’s struck me the most about this time is my attitude. I weigh myself each Sunday morning and this Sunday I was 4lb lighter than last week. Not a huge surprise as I’ve eaten relatively little in 5 days so it may well all go back on by next Sunday, but part of me did think on Wednesday when I started, this may help kickstart me into eating less and therefore help with weight control. I don’t think I have a problem with weight, but there it was at the start and end of this period so maybe I need to consider this a bit more.

The point of fasting in a Christian / religious sense, as I understand it, is to focus more on God and the time spent on doing the thing you’ve stopped, you should be spending with God in prayer or study or meditation. I have definitely felt more empathy with those we serve this week, knowing I will ‘go back’ to how I can and do live and eat but for so many what they face today if what they will face tomorrow and the day after and the day after… but I haven’t prayer any more than I usually do and I had thought I would or at least try to.

This will be my takeaway from this experience – not only the gratitude for what I have, but that I will do some form of ‘fasting’ more regularly and use the time I gain more wisely and purposefully.

END

Stay tuned as we have a mother and daughter doing this Lent idea this coming week, following a vegan diet…

Live on £1 a Day: Emma Day 2

Up and out at 5am today for work, breakfast is overnight oats (oats and milk) on the train. I have had to be more organised than usual and plan / make food the night before. The kids have boiled eggs and toast, and I am again grateful for school / nursery meals – otherwise I would have to save the eggs for lunch.

It’s a really long day and I am getting lightheaded, so I wolf down lunch at 11am before I remember to take a photo. I’m offered a coffee at work and I’ve never been more grateful – I’m not sure if my headache is tiredness or withdrawal for the coffee. I have a whole banana to myself and feel really selfish for it; I should have shared it with the rest of the family.

By mid-afternoon I’m really really hungry, and have a desperate (and unsuccessful) rummage in my handbag for stray sweets. No luck. As soon as I get home I eat several biscuits and feel rather ill.

The kids are hungry and enjoy the spaghetti (spaghetti, veg and sardines). As soon as they realise there are sardines in the food they start messing around and throwing it on the floor – its infuriating and I feel like I haven’t brought them up correctly. Then I feel guilty, they are just kids after all. I didn’t like dinner either, and I feel bad I haven’t managed to make a ‘nice’ meal.

This evening I notice that I’m not hungry, but I feel bloated and unwell with all the stodge. I just want some food that I really like. I don’t feel like I have eaten well. When I’m bathing the kids they seem so fragile – especially my 3 year old – I need to make sure they are well and taken care of, and FED. They are so small and still growing. How would it affect them if they don’t get the nutrition they need?

END

At the risk of being repetitive – again! – as part of the Trussell Trust network, Norwich foodbank supplies nutritionally balanced food parcels, with 3 days of food. A report compiled by a nutritionist was updated in April 2018 and you can read it here: https://www.trusselltrust.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/06/Food_Parcel_Report_April_2018.pdf

The food parcel has enough food for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus some drinks and snacks (tea / juice / chocolate / instant noodles for example) and assumes the recipient has nothing to add – so therefore 9 complete meals. As all items are non-perishable, it is a little limiting but will still meet the nutritional needs of the person during the 3 day period the food covers.

This is why foodbanks so often say ‘we really need X’ (see yesterday’s post – pasta sauce and sponge puddings!) or sometimes ‘we don’t need X’ (for example we’re really well stocked with baked beans, soup, pasta and cereal) because we need to include a variety of items including, but not limited to, the foodstuffs we have in abundance.

We hope this helps to explain what goes in a parcel and why we are sometimes so prescriptive!