However, we’re not asking you to do this for 60 days – just five. The Live Below the Line challenge is only five days long from April 28 – May 2. Thinking of signing up? Here’s what you’ll face…
Why are you choosing to do the 60 days for £60 challenge?
Because 1.2 billion people live below the poverty line – surviving on less than £1 a day for all their needs. I want to raise awareness and funds and encourage more people to take on the Live Below the Line challenge (living for five days on £1 a day for food and drink) so people can rise above it.
I’ve met people who live like this and it’s heartbreaking to see the challenges they are faced with. Many are surviving on small portions of the same basic food every day and mums are going without food so their children can eat. At this very moment in drought-hit areas of Kenya, people are resorting to eating tree roots and dogs while we wander around supermarkets filled with all sorts of wonderful foods from around the world, wondering what to have for our dinner. By doing the Live Below the Line challenge for so long and blogging about my experience and coming up with lots of recipes and tips, I hope to inspire more people to take it on for Practical Action so we can continue to make life better for people who struggle to feed themselves and their children every day.
You’re five weeks into your challenge. How are you finding it?
Tough! I’m a real foodie and a grazer – I eat all the time, so it is tough for me not to be able to reach out for a piece of fruit or chocolate bar whenever I need a snack! It takes ages working on my shopping list. I use Mysupermarket.co.uk to work out the cost of my food shop before I go and I look at hundreds of recipes to see if there are any I can use. I also use this planning session to make sure I can use the same ingredients in different meals – so I use all of them up and don’t have anything to throw away at the end of the week. Planning is key but as the weeks go by it is getting easier. I’m learning more about what food I can afford and how I can make the most of it. But you also need to be creative.
I’ve learned what are the best days and times to get the reduced fresh food (very handy when you’re living below the line). But when you get a pile of fresh fruit and veg for £1 you need to be able to come up with creative ideas for how to use them. I picked up some cheap veg which I chopped up and included in a tomato pasta dish – it tasted amazing!
How are you managing to socialise, as your eating and drinking options are limited? Are you drinking a lot of tap water in the pub?
I’ve avoided the pub but when I have been to the pub, I have just been drinking tap water. People have tried to tempt me with a glass of wine but I’m too determined to do this challenge! I’ve also been introduced to bingo, which is great fun and takes my mind off the hunger! Also, I’m holding Come Dine Below the Line dinners – inviting family and friends round for an evening where I cook a meal that is no more than 40p per portion. I then ask my guests to pay for their 40p dinner and sponsor me. I’m also having a week of Come Dine Below the Line dinners at my colleagues houses – so my social calendar is quite full!
Have you come close to giving in to temptation yet?
Yes. I was in London for four days as we were promoting the Live Below the Line challenge at an event there. I was staying at a hotel and I didn’t have any cooking facilities – I just had a kettle. Fortunately I had a fridge, so I prepared a few things to take down with me. I also bought some supermarket basics pot noodles, cereal bars and crisps to keep me going.
Which foods and drinks are you missing the most?
Fresh fruit, salad and coffee.
What advice would you give to anyone doing the Live Below the Line challenge?
Plan and be ready to spend more time than usual on cooking! Think about what you like to eat and how you might do it from scratch. It is perfectly possible to make chapatis, bread and pizza bases from flour, water and a little oil (and yeast – free from supermarket bread counters), but you just have to do it by hand. Oats (for flapjacks and porridge), flour (for bread, chapatis, pizza and pasta) are must-haves. Also, try and do it with a housemate or partner, so that you can work on economies of scale.
For example, £15 for 3 people means you can invest in eggs (for homemade pasta), cheese and visit a market the Saturday afternoon before you start. You will find stall-holders selling off their fresh fruit and veg for next to nothing as closing time approaches and you can get some amazing bargains so that you can make soups, smoothies, curries and add some flavour to your porridge.
You could also have a read of my Live Below the Line blog. It’s packed full of recipes and tips – everything you need to have a successful challenge. If you haven’t signed up to do the Live Below the Line challenge but want to join the thousands of others taking part this year, click here.
How are you handling your hunger cravings?
Drinking lots of water. I was drinking two litres of water a day before I did this challenge. I’ve upped it to three litres. Drinking lots of water keeps you feeling full. Yes, it means you are going to the toilet regularly which is an inconvenience, but I’d rather that than feel hungry. Imagine living somewhere where you don’t have access to safe, clean water? In Turkana, Kenya, people walk for hours to find water that isn’t even clean. They carry Gerry cans of it back to their homes and use it for all their needs including cooking and washing. They don’t have much to drink and they are starving.
I have also been eating a good breakfast. I have porridge with water and basics jam which keeps me full until lunch. I’ve also been eating peanut butter and banana toasted sandwiches for breakfast which I think has to be the food highlight of my challenge. You can see this and other recipes on my blog.
Finally, when the 60 days are up, are you going to treat yourself to a massive meal – and what will it be?
I don’t know if I could eat a massive meal – especially one with meat, as my body won’t be used to it and I don’t want to be ill. But I’m looking forward to a nice bowl of salad and some fruit salad!
For more information on Live Below the Line and to sign up visit: Practicalaction.org/line