Suddenly, while I was trawling around the internet this morning, there were loads of things relating to feeding yourself for a pound a day. Have you noticed that too - maybe you have and I've been blind to it.. It seems that there is a 'live below the line' challenge out (follow the link). It's an initiative of the Global Poverty Project which is (and I quote from the site):
'an education and campaigning organisation whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty'
As far as I can tell, the idea is to spend just a pound a day on food and to get sponsors. Now, I'm not keen on the idea of sponsors as I've never liked asking people for money, but I am keen on the idea of rising to the challenge and donating to a hunger charity, that one or another of my own choice, the money I don't spend over the week.
I am also keen on the idea of significantly reducing my food costs. I spend far too much on food and with retirement looming at some point in the next five or ten years, it seems merely sensible to start being a bit more frugal, without considering the wider and more significant issues.
In a way I already have some very frugal habits. I buy frugal veg when they look good (onions can be particularly great value). Home made bread is cheaper than chips, as the saying goes, home made soup is ditto. This morning I used the outer ribs from the celery I used for the investigation at school on Tuesday with some onion, potato, home made stock and seasonings to make a very tasty smooth celery soup which only needs a bit of milk added to make a delicious lunch for a matter of pennies as I'd likely have thrown those outer ribs away. I have also boiled up a chicken carcass and now have some excellent stock cooling, ready to go in the freezer.
But I also have very, very bad shopping habits. I'm far too 'spontaneous' and often put things in my trolley that are really just rubbish and nothing more. And rubbish, unfortunately, is usually expensive. And not so healthy. Woe is me.
However, I do have a lot going for me, one of the most important of which is that, thanks largely to an upbringing with a wonderful mum and dad, I can cook and I do have a lot of good, old fashioned cooking skills which I often don't use nearly enough.
If I did accept the challenge, I'd immediately hit complications. I have a store cupboard full of pulses, herbs, spices, seasonings, etc, some of which would be extremely difficult to cost in. Anything I bought 'new' could be costed per 100g or whatever, that's not a problem: all it would take is some simple maths and the calculator on the computer. Ditto for dried pulses as I could use supermarket sites to cost. Stuff in the freezer would be impossible - the strawberries, raspberries and blackberries from last years picking, for example, or the ready mades (home made and frozen).
Another complication is that I live by myself. It's a lot easier to manage cooking for four on £4 than it is for one using £1 unless you want the same meal four days running. Not impossible, just harder.
On the other hand, in a way, it is easier because all I have to satisfy is me. No conflicting demands from others to get in the way, no 'I'm still hungry' complaints when the £1 has run out - not from anyone else, anyway!
Time and energy are factors too. I could only do this by preparing meals from scratch. I can do that, given energy. When I come home at six, having worked since seven thirty in the morning, more or less, I have little energy to start cooking from scratch. Hmmm - it's going to take some planning.
So it wouldn't be entirely fair or simple, I know, but I really am tempted by the challenge. I shall have to go away and ponder on this while I use some of my large store of surplus eggs and almost going over lemons and oranges to make some St Clements curd in Thermione.
Please excuse my long winded ponderings. It helps to write it down - thank you for listening.