Live Below the Line challenge

Written by Anthony Hill on 2 May 2014

This week many people across the world have been taking part in the Live Below the Line challenge, a fundraising campaign to raise awareness of the huge number of people who face extreme poverty every day.
We tasked Martin, our guest blogger, with taking the challenge…  

£5 challenge blog shot

Live Below the line challenge: £5 for 5 days for all my food and drink…

Living below the line refers to the 1.2billion people worldwide who live below the poverty line. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than £1 a day. Thankfully many of us will never have to experience this… but the challenge does push you to be creative and develop some habits which can be beneficial to your everyday spend. With £5 in my wallet and ignorance in my head, I set out on the challenge. Below are my key learning’s from the week.

Sunday

Operation Preparation: one of the things that always stayed with me from school was my teacher telling me “if you fail to plan…you plan to fail” – and this applies to shopping on a budget too. Draw out a shopping list of potential items and find out their prices – My Supermarket is brilliant for comparing prices across all the supermarkets and calculating the cost of your shop. (http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk)

Monday

The most time intensive day of the challenge, but also the most fun. Cook in bulk and freeze your meals. The extra time spent now will save you plenty during the week when you only need to reheat your meals.  (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/freezable)

My buys: Pasta 29p, spaghetti 20p, new potatoes 15p Chopped tomatoes 31p (x2), mixed herbs – 23p, kidney beans  23p, Bread 38p, 4 chocolate mousse 18p, Lemonade 17p, 2 tinned oranges 26p each,  frozen mixed veg 77p a bag and turkey mince £1.08 (reduced).

Tips: The chopped tomatoes (which are great for sauces), mixed veg and tinned fruit all count as 1 of my 5 a day and are all great value. The mixed veg especially would last more than the week.

Tuesday

Don’t skip breakfast! I’ve been guilty in the past of snacking at night and skipping breakfast. However a bowl of porridge, cereal or even some toast with egg can set you up for the day and stop you getting hungry later. Also I’ve realised when you have breakfast, lunch or dinner… take your time to enjoy it! It will keep you fuller for longer and help your digestive system. (http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/slow-down-and-enjoy-your-food)

Wednesday

Temptation is everywhere! It feels like everywhere I’ve looked, advertisers are going out of their way to target me – someone must have told them I have poor self-restraint when it comes to treats! All I can say is that it gets easier to ignore. After the first few days, if you don’t skip meals and eat on a regular basis, you won’t feel as hungry and your digestive system gets into a new routine. You become a lot more aware of when you are really hungry and not just when you think you are.

Thursday

Water! It’s refreshing, it’s good for us and it’s free, yet it’s still estimated that over 80% of our population suffers energy loss due to minor dehydration*! It’s surprisingly easy during the day to lose track of how much water you’ve had… try keeping a large 2 litre bottle on your table at work so you can see exactly how much you’ve had.  (*http://www.dorchesterhealth.org/water.htm) Half the time you think you’re hungry it’s actually just your body needing some more water!

Friday

This challenge has been hard. I’m used to not having to think about portion sizes and my nutritional intake, it really has made me realise the harsh reality of those who live below the poverty line and have no options or choices when it comes to their meals. It’s also focussed me to make the most of the choices I’m lucky to have at my disposal. As someone who lives on a budget, I will now be paying much more attention to the meals I make, the amount I spend and most of all enjoying every meal I have to its maximum.

Here’s to that figure of 1.2 billion people living below the line being reduced to 0 eventually.

The good news is that hunger is entirely solvable. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone and no scientific breakthroughs are needed. Today’s knowledge, tools and policies, combined with political will, can solve the problemThe United Nations World Food Program

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