Live on £1 a Day: Emma Day 1

Porridge for breakfast (made with water for the grown ups, and milk for the kids – I’m already worried the milk won’t last all week). The kids are hungry and hoover up today’s banana allowance for all of us between them.  Well, I’ll miss the fruit later but right now I’d rather they were well fed.  

Preparing the sandwiches for lunch, my husband is embarrassed that I’ve given him two sandwiches but only one for me.  Well, he’s bigger and uses more energy!  The kids steal some of the sliced chicken – they are hungry, growing children.  I’m relieved I don’t need to worry about lunch or dinner for them, as they will be at school and nursery.

Mid morning and I’m starving and have a headache from coffee withdrawal.  I drink lots of water and look forward to my sandwich.  It’s not very filling and I really notice that the budget bread and meat seems less substantial. The afternoon drags, I’d usually have something sweet after lunch.  I can’t wait for dinner.  The afternoon drags and it’s hard to concentrate on work.

As soon as I get home we have some apple slices (I realised that chopping fruit up makes it go further) and I really appreciate the fresh crunchy fruit after a day of beige food.

I’m pleased with the chicken stew I made for dinner (chicken, veg and oats) – some salt would help but it’s good anyway.  I am really craving coffee and sugar and it’s making me grumpy. The kids want dessert so I top them up with yogurt, grapes and milk (not in the budget!) and have a biscuit myself.  I don’t want to think about how it would feel if I didn’t have the extra food to give them.  How do you explain to a hungry 3 year old that you can’t feed them?

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We’ve mentioned about our FISH clubs previously – Food (and Fun) In School Holidays – where we invite local families who struggle during the holidays (when free school meals aren’t available) to enjoy a free hot meal and free fun activities. We know this is a lifeline to many of the families who attend and the only meal some of the children will get that day. In spite of this, we have heard from local schools that free school meal take up is low and people who are eligible, haven’t signed up. Part of this is lack of awareness of this service and how to sign up, but some is definitely embarrassment of needing this support and, as with foodbank, the potential stigma of using this service. More information is here: http://www.schools.norfolk.gov.uk/school-administration/free-school-meals/index.htm

We know also that there is low take up from eligible families of Healthy Start vouchers – support with buying milk and fresh fruit and vegetables for pregnant women and mums of those under 4 years old. More info about eligibility and how to claim is here: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/

Live on £1 a Day: Emma’s Shop

Years of meal planning and budgeting with a young family (two grown ups, a 7 year old and a toddler) have left me feeling well-equipped for this challenge.  Although £4 per day for a family is a smaller budget than I’ve had in the past, I am interested to see what is achievable with some thought and planning.

I confess that after half an hour browsing online grocery shopping my enthusiasm was waning a little.  I don’t know what sort of food to prioritise – pasta, bread and porridge to keep us full, but we need fruit, veg and protein too and I’m surprised at how expensive this is.  We definitely can’t afford tea, coffee or chocolate, puddings or yogurts. I realise we will also miss stock cubes, herbs, salt and cooking oil a lot this week.

I find room in the shopping basket for a packet of biscuits, and think about how much money we spend on food we like rather than the food we actually need.  I can’t find a way for us all to have enough veg and a piece of fruit every day, and I’m not sure whether the kids will eat some of the dishes I have planned.  (What if they don’t?  They’ll be hungry without snacks to keep them going.  I realise what a privilege it is to have options and how awful the pressure to feed your kids must be if you don’t). Its stressful trying to balance all these priorities and I don’t know what the right answer is.  Feeling like a bad mother I pack the shopping basket with tinned tomatoes and pasta, and hope it will all fall into place somehow.

I thought about ‘click and collect’ but this would cost £2 – I never really thought about the hidden costs around our weekly shop! I spent £18.74, leaving £1.26 to spare. 

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We are so grateful to all those who support us with donations. This blog reminded me that we have really incredible donors and some of them will do a food shop and have it delivered directly to the foodbank warehouse! Sometimes this is done anonymously and sometimes we have the donor’s details so we can thank them which is great and we’ve had deliveries from all the major supermarkets. Just remember to switch the address back to your home address for the next shop… we received someone’s shopping once because of this! If you are thinking of donating, check with your local foodbank as to what they need most – Norwich foodbank currently needs long life sponge puddings and pasta sauce please.

Live on £1 a Day: Angie Day 4

Woke up feeling remarkably good! Probably still the endorphins from running last night, but I think my body is also getting used to the reduced amount of food it is getting. Took the dogs for a walk and then did some weights when I got back before having my shower.

Lunch today was pasta, not too exciting as it was just tinned tomatoes, butter beans and onion, but there was lots of it and it definitely filled me up. So much so that I didn’t manage to eat it all. My colleagues are still supplying me with tea throughout the day and it is definitely appreciated!

Tea tonight was simply jacket potato with beans and the tiniest bit of cheese. We used up the last of the potatoes, but there were only small ones that were left and it didn’t look as though I had that much on my plate; however it did fill me up. I have to say that drinking water all evening is getting a bit boring. I would have liked some squash, but that will have to wait until day 6.

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Universal Credit (UC) has been in the new a LOT over recent weeks, months and possibly even years. At foodbanks across the country, clients are attending because of difficulties transferring (or ‘migrating’) from one benefit to UC, because of making an initial claim of UC and waiting – on average – 5 weeks for the first payment to be received and issues around budgeting with fluctuating monthly amounts.

The Trussell Trust are running a campaign called #5weekstoolong to call on the government to end this initial waiting period. Have a read about it all here: https://www.trusselltrust.org/five-weeks-too-long/ and if you want to support this campaign, do sign the petition (link in the page) – over11,000 people have signed up already!