Archive for April, 2013


IMG_2004Today’s breakfast felt pretty routine – porridge for me and a boiled egg for Althea.  Because I had meetings in London today we both took our standard packed lunches of jam sandwiches and 2 bourbon biscuits, plus an orange for Althea.

Althea is chuffed and encouraged at the amount of sponsorship coming in for her and it is provoking many conversations at school.  One teacher heard about her living on £1 of food per day and asked if her mum knew about it!  Perhaps she thought it was some faddy diet?!  She also asked whether I was feeding her enough!  Maybe I’ll get a call from Social Services before the week is out?!

Travelling across London provoked many challenges for me as I resisted my usual energy fixes of Costa Coffee and chocolate bars.  As the day went on I could feel my concentration levels struggling and on the train journey home the tiredness hit me.  I have also felt quite cold all day.

For dinner we had rice with a tin of Asda’s smart price chicken and vegetable curry, although we couldn’t find a morsel of meat between us!  Still, it was hot and filling and reasonably tasty.

After a quick budget check I realised that I had only spent 59p today and when I added the amount carried forward from the first 2 days discovered I had £1.37 spare.  As a mid-way treat and a boost to our fallen sugar levels, we treated ourselves and the family to pancakes with lemon and sugar – all ingredients we had in the house but which I have budgeted for below.  I would have taken a picture, but the pancakes didn’t hang around long enough!

My brain is going fuzzy and maths is not my strong point, but I think today’s menus are accurate!

If you feel inclined you can sponsor Althea here or me here to help us raise money for those around the world who aren’t playing at being poor, but who face extreme and absolute poverty every day.

Today’s Menus

Me:

50g porridge 3p

half spoon of sugar 0.5p

Tea bags x 3 1p

Milk in tea 8p

2 slices of bread 5p

Jam 4p

3 bourbon biscuits 4.5p

100g rice 4p

Tin curry 26p

Carrots 3p

SUB-TOTAL: 59p

Milk 49p

Egg 16.5p

Oil 3p

Lemon 22p

Sugar 20p

TOTAL: 110.5p

Carrying forward 26.5p

 

Althea:

1 egg 16.5

4 slices of bread 10p

Jam 4p

Orange 30p

2 bourbon biscuits 3p

100g rice 4p

Tin curry 26p

Carrots 3p

TOTAL 96.5p

Carrying forward 2p!

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This morning my daughter avoided the porridge and went for a healthy boiled egg with a slice of toast instead.  I stuck with a smaller portion of porridge – I don’t mind it but I can’t physically eat too much of it!

For lunch we both had jam sandwiches again.  Althea took hers to school in a packed lunch with an orange (to fight the sore throat) and a couple of smart price bourbon biscuits as a treat.

I have had quite a slow paced day working from home so have not burned too many calories, but by mid-afternoon I definitely began to feel more tired than normal.  This was despite benefitting from my mum’s free Waitrose coffee on a short trip out this morning!  (Now I know why their cafe is always packed out with pensioners!)

ImageWe cooked dinner early and went for a skinny roast chicken drumstick from our budget bag served with smart price instant mash and half a tin of smart price baked beans each.  It pretty much ticks all the boxes of my daughter’s favourite things, so was a pretty decent and filling meal, but because we ate early I suggested she had a late night indulgence of noodles once again.

This evening I met with some other local people who are living below the line.  Louise works in one of the local food banks and shared her experiences of supporting those in desperate need and Jack, a local reporter, shared some of her cooking tips and stories of surviving on very little when times were tough (you can read some of her budget-busting recipes on her blog).  Jill, a youth worker visiting the UK from Durban, South Africa, shared about the consequences of absolute poverty in her context.

It was an encouraging time of sharing solidarity in our hunger but we also shared concerns about global poverty, particularly the IF campaign, and concerns about the myths surrounding poverty.  We drew inspiration from the Glasgow Truth and Poverty Commission and wondered if it would be beneficial to start one locally.

I returned home with a rumbling stomach and went old school by cooking a little rice pudding and jam!

Today’s Menu 

Me

175g porridge 4.5p

half spoon of sugar 0.5p

Tea bags x 3 1p

Milk 10p

2 slices of bread 5p

Jam 4p

Bourbon biscuit 1.5p

Chicken portion 17p

Instant mash 10p

Baked Beans 12.5p

Gravy granules 2.5p

Herbs/salt & pepper 2.5p

20g rice 2p

TOTAL 73p

Carried forward from yesterday 51p

Carried forward from today 27p

Under budget by 78p

 

Althea

1 egg 16.5

3 slices of bread 7.5p

Jam 2p

Orange 30p

3 bourbon biscuits 4.5p

Chicken portion 17p

Instant mash 10p

Beaked Beans 12.5p

Herbs/salt & pepper 2.5p

Noodles 11p

TOTAL 113.5p

Carried forward from yesterday 12p

Over budget by 1.5p!

IMG_1999My first LBLUK day kicked off with a hearty cooked breakfast with friends … which they all thoroughly enjoyed while I ate my porridge made with water!  I think I will cope OK with this bland breakfast all week, but I am not so sure that my daughter will.  Having got used to an immediate fix to her night-time depleted sugar-levels in the way of a packaged breakfast snack, the time it takes to prepare and eat the porridge, plus the lack of sugar, hasn’t left her reaching for the next helping!

We both had jam sandwiches for lunch although my daughter pinched 2 sneaky fries from friends whilst out this afternoon!  She woke up with a sore throat, so I have also encouraged her to eat an orange which we already had at home.

For dinner I was going to try Jack Monroe’s carrot, cumin and kidney bean burger, but at 2pm I remembered that I had not soaked the beans, so instead started to defrost two pieces of chicken from my budget bag of frozen pieces.  Our meal ended up being a nice Spanish Chicken type dish served with rice and carrots (which I bought today out of my remaining budget which leaves me with a whopping 8p still to spend!).  IMG_2002

I simply fried the chicken in a saucepan with a tiny bit of oil, added 100g passata with about 100g boiling water, some mixed herbs and pepper and let it simmer for 15 minutes while the rice cooked.  The smell and taste was very much appreciated, although I have to say that there was very little meat on the chicken which is one of the most expensive things we have eaten today.  Perhaps it was not a wise purchase.  However, the most expensive thing to take into consideration today is the one orange – I have not really appreciated how expensive fresh fruit is.

After dinner we did a little calculation of our day’s costs to discover we were coming in way below budget, so my daughter tried to satisfy her still hungry stomach with a bowlful of 11p noodles.

A swift calculation suggests I have 51p left for today.  I am tempted to treat myself with something of the chocolate variety, but think it best to carry it over in case we need it another day.

Reflections and questions that have crossed my mind today:

Hospitality is a real challenge when you are living on such a small budget, yet I remember such generosity whilst visiting people in Kampala.

The number of times I casually open the fridge and cupboard door is making me increasingly aware of how much I usually graze on food and take it for granted.

I talked with a friend today about ‘skipping’, the technically illegal process of redeeming food thrown away by supermarkets from their bins at the end of the day.  Sounds quite a logical way to obtain perfectly edible food to me!

 

Today’s Menus:

Me

100g porridge 7.5p

half spoon of sugar 0.5p

2 slices of bread 5p

Jam 2p

Tea bags x 3  1p

Milk 5p

Chicken portion 17p

75g rice 3p

50g passata 3p

herbs/salt/pepper 2.5p

carrots 3p

TOTAL 49p

 

Althea

100g porridge 7.5p

half spoon of sugar 0.5p

2 slices of bread 5p

Jam 2p

Orange 30p

Squash 4p

Chicken portion 17p

75g rice 3p

50g passata 3p

herbs/salt/pepper 2.5p

carrots 3p

noodles 11p

 TOTAL 88.5p

So, my 14 year old daughter and I have signed up to live below the line this week.  I was inspired by friends who did it last year and since visiting Uganda and Peru last summer have witnessed some of the extreme inequalities that exist in our world.  I am hoping to do my small bit to raise awareness of these issues and raise a bit of cash to help those in need.

We have chosen to start our 5 days tomorrow because on Friday I am driving three teenagers for 6 hours, and don’t want to risk feeling spaced out.  So I have just returned from buying most of our weekly supplies for £9.23.  The conveyor belt looked sparse and very green in colour, although I doubt it looked very green in any other sense.

Already I find myself reflecting on many questions:

Will I cope with so few calories?

More importantly, will my daughter cope and what will we do if she isn’t coping?

How will we cope eating so little in a house with 2 men who have hollow legs and are eating normally?

Can people living with limited finances ever realistically be concerned about ethical issues about sourcing food, or will the ethical agenda only ever be truly resolved once extreme poverty ceases?

Why do supermarkets put the cheapest products on the lowest shelves?

Do people look at you differently when all the products in your trolley are in the budget range?

It’s going to be an interesting week!  If you feel like sponsoring me you can do so here.

 

LBLUK shop

During one of the days at Spring Harvest last week, we explored topics around how to communicate effectively about Jesus, our Source.  I introduced a discussion that we explore on a course I co-host called the Crucible Course, during which we take a closer look at the Four Spiritual Laws in our Jesus Unplugged week-end .  The Four Spiritual Laws have been a common handle on which many Christians have hung their distilled understanding of what the Gospel is in it’s simplest form.  You can read a classic form here.

In Jesus Unplugged, Stuart Murray Williams, one of my co-hosts, explains how some anthropologists suggest that most societies can be characterised in relation to one of three dominant motifs – Righteousness/Guilt; Honour/Shame; Power/Fear – and helps us consider whether the Four Spiritual Laws are universally applicable or if the good news of Jesus might be better understood in each context through the lenses of these motifs.  For example,

a. Western societies have historically been understood as ‘guilt cultures’, concerned about righteousness and ways of dealing with law-breaking, disorder and sin. In these contexts good news is often understood as forgiveness, freedom from objective and subjective guilt.

b. Eastern societies have traditionally been understood as ‘shame cultures’, concerned about honour, face, reputation, one’s role and place in family and society. Could good news be understood in such contexts as being honoured, freedom from shame and wearisome expectations?

c. Primal societies, which could include some African contexts, have generally been interpreted as ‘fear cultures’, concerned about power, success, engaging with spiritual forces, and ways of dealing with oppression and spiritual attacks. Could good news be  understood in these contexts as being freed from these malign influences and empowered to live victoriously?

Of course these motifs – guilt, shame and fear – overlap and interplay across all cultures and all societies. So when we are asking what good news might mean in a particular context is it helpful to ask first of all what the dominant ‘feelings’ are before assuming what the good news must mean?

In a guilt culture the four spiritual laws are often interpreted as:

1. God loves us in spite of our sin and guilt.

2. Jesus took our sin and guilt on himself.

3. God longs to forgive us.

4. Jesus showed us the way to reconciliation on the cross – he modelled this and invites us to be reconciled and follow him.

But what might they look like in a shame culture?  Could they be:

1. God is not ashamed of us.

2. Jesus took our shame on himself.

3. God longs to honour us.

4. Jesus blazed the path to honour on the cross – he modelled this and expects us to follow and honour him.

 And what might they look like in a fear culture? Perhaps:

1. God has power over all aspects of our lives.

2. Jesus defeated our enemies.

3. God longs to release us from fear.

4. Jesus demonstrated God’s power over all things on the cross – he modelled this and invites us to live in peace and freedom.

The purpose of the discussion we have together at Crucible is not to box in the good news, but to give people permission to see how vast the Gospel is and to explore the many different starting points and connecting points that people might have with the message of Jesus.  Jesus didn’t seem to communicate the same message over and over again, and yet in many ways he was always communicating elements of the same message.  What starting points make sense in your communities and contexts today?  Are there other starting points which make more sense if people neither feel guilt, shame nor fear?