Monday, 16 November 2015

#BreadlineChallenge - The Shop

For most people taking part, FoodCycle's #BreadlineChallenge starts today. Up and down the country, volunteers will be living off £2.86 per day to highlight the harsh realities of food poverty and the reasons why organisations such as FoodCycle exist.

I started my challenge yesterday, and did most of my food shopping on Saturday, having started researching prices in the week.

This meant:
  • 5 different shops
  • 2.5 hours traipsing up and down my local high street in the rain
  • 3 additional aborted shop visits as I deliberated over bacon, fish and the reduced section

So, what did I buy with my £14.30?

Chopped tomatoes - 4 tins for £1 (Sainsburys)
Basics vegetable stock cubes - 30p (Sainsburys)
Basics pasta - 35p (Sainsburys)
500g brown rice - 90p (Sainsburys)
Tin basics kidney beans - 30p (Sainsburys)
1.5kg Plain flour - 45p (Lidl)
500g porridge oats - 65p (Tesco)
500g red lentils, and 150g Garam masala - on offer together for £1.50 (Tesco)

Fruit and Veg
1 lemon - 35p (Sainsburys)
5 small bananas - 37p (Sainsburys)
2 carrots - 20p (Sainsburys)
Bag of small basics apples (contained 7!) - 80p (Sainsburys)
Small butternut squash - 49p (Lidl)
Celery - 59p (Lidl)
2 parsnips - 65p (Sainsburys)
1 red chilli, 4 onions, 1 red pepper, a small piece of ginger and a bulb of garlic - £1.03 (local greengrocer)
3 avocados - 50p (skilful haggling with the £1-a-bowl man!)

500g Basics natural yogurt - 50p (Sainsburys)
Basics mozzarella - 50p
4 pints semi skimmed milk - £1 (Iceland)

50g Fresh yeast from the bakery counter - 20p (Sainsburys)

I'm being pretty strict about the challenge. I went to pub quiz this evening and took a bottle of water with me. I've given away the food in my fridge that won't make it to the end of the week. I'm even using a counter-top fridge from my uni days as my Breadline supply store so I don't use anything that's not from the budget. But there have been lines I've crossed that others might not cross.
Salt, pepper and sugar - I haven't bought this, as it is freely available in fast food outlets for anyone to help themselves to. I needed 1tbsp salt for the bread and 2tbsp sugar.
Oil - I'm really debating this one. The cheapest option, it seems, is to buy lard, and I'm not quite prepared to do that. The most economical and acceptable option for me personally would be to buy a block of vegetable fat for 79p. But I won't use it after this week, which I feel is wasteful. As things stand I have £1.72 left in my budget, so I can afford this. However, I already know that I will have some food left over from the week, so I reason that if this were true on occasion, I would probably have some cooking oil in my cupboard already. So I'm using what I already have, very sparingly.

My shopping is fairly balanced, but if I had the extra two days of the challenge there are definitely some gaps that need filling.
I will be getting a good hit of protein from the lentils, milk, yoghurt and cheese, which will also provide calcium.
I think I'll be getting about 4 of my 5-a-day of fruit and veg, so that could definitely be better. There's no leafy veg, so my iron intake this week is poor and I will be missing a number of vitamins and minerals.
There's no fish. I'm planning on using some of my remaining budget for either a small piece of coley or on some oily fish such as tinned mackerel for essential fatty acids.

I made white bread, but porridge and brown pasta will provide fibre, and are slow burning carbohydrates.
As I've not bought any, it's definitely going to be a diet low in salt and sugar!

Challenges and Things I'd Change
I feel fairly confident I can make it without tea and coffee, and I'm thinking about cutting up my apple for lunch so I can use the core to flavour my water to liven things up a bit. I'll definitely be using the lemon rind for this. But by the end of day one I have a headache, which I think is due to not drinking enough water, so I need to watch out if water is all that's on offer!

I'm already finding myself thinking about snacks more than I anticipated. I have some celery sticks for tomorrow at work but at this rate my leftover budget might end up on chocolate rather than oily fish... Again, if I had more time and money on the challenge, some sultanas would provide snacks, iron, fibre and make breakfast more fun.

I made bread using plain flour rather than strong flour as it is cheaper and careful foodie forum research told me that this is possible, with extra time for kneading and proving as the flour contains less gluten. It has definitely made an odd few loaves - it looks ok but feels a bit too spongy and tastes a bit trashy. Maybe I actually over proved it. It is definitely better toasted!

I have 500g of flour left after my bread-making bonanza, and I will have milk leftover too. If I were to have 6, rather than five days of the challenge, I would totally buy eggs and treat myself to pancakes.

The time this is all taking is really quite significant. I changed my plans this weekend to factor in breadmaking, and an unexpected trip to visit someone in hospital meant I had to throw together an unsatisfying dinner. Trying to carry on with my week as usual is definitely going to be tricky...

You can support me, my colleagues and our wonderful volunteers through their #BreadlineChallenge week by donating here.

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