Saturday, 21 April 2012

We survived

Well, I did it. I fed four people for seven days given a budget of five pounds a day; I spent 35 pounds in total for the full week, providing three meals a day for me and three kids, food on the table.

I cheated three times. Once by transferring my evening beer to the Entertainments Budget; once by smuggling a mackerel home in my handbag (purchase took me two pounds over budget but I was desperate); and once by eating out. (Not at the Ivy. Three pasties at Euston Station, but they still came to over a fiver and I ate nothing.)

A fiver a day? What's the going rate? How low can we go?

I don't know what the rest of miserable Britain is doing, because here I am following Shark's Rule. She wants to see what dinner is like, eating on a fiver a day. Maybe she is preparing for student living, and planning her cooking early.

If so, I have done her proud. I won't detail the gory (many lentils; plenty of reduced-bucket veg; potatoes past their best; not enough fruit) but will concentrate only on the glory: home-made burgers; cheese, onion, potato pie; vegetable stews; fruit curry and a delicious pitcher of home-made strawberry and orange smoothie, thanks to my shamelessly aggressive elbow technique at 20p mark-down time.

The kids said it was 'alright' albeit not enough fruit. I thought it was jolly hard work. I had to ignore any special offers or bulk-buy deals that took me over budget; I had to deny whims, fancies, and delights; and I had to shop with a mix of steely purpose and competitive opportunism, the like of which seemed to prove the existence of a gene for survival of the fittest down at the supermarket.

I concentrated on price reductions and felt miserable, becoming the recognisable woman hovering around the man with the reduced ticket sticker. I didn't have any feelings of camaraderie in recognising the other women daily doing the same. I merely saw them as opponents for my strawberries, and I resented the man with the ticket machine for having power over me.

Shark, of course, felt none of this. She was high on her Captain Mainwaring streak, following this home-made personal rule as if it was a point of decency and morality.

And she saw the end result, which looked and tasted fine to her.

Verdict. I am glad we do not live it every day, but am glad I know we can, should circumstance or need force my hand.

Now, I shall quietly prepare for Shark's next brilliant idea of three pounds a day or less by stocking up on lentils, hiding away my beer, planting the courgette seeds, and stocking up the freezer.


Irene said...

I suppose you will be getting back to a more regular diet now. I hate to see you starve. You do have to get enough fruit and the point has been made. Tou can survive on day old bread and spiders.

Angela said...

Courgettes are a very good idea, you even feed your neighbourhood with two plants, provided you have some olive oil and veggie salt. It`s the extras that cost, but they do make life a lot more joysome. Tell Shark that. Joy is essential!

Mister Bee said...

I look forward to reading your foraging adventures, nettles, dandelions and snails


Grit said...

irene, spiders are best slow cooked.

you are right, angela! courgettes can feed the entire housing association if the weather is good.

mister bee, you have put me onto a new adventure now.