Living on £1 A Day: "My Soup Tastes Like Poverty and Despair"

I'm on day 3 of the £1 a day challenge. I miss spending money and somehow I've gained 4lbs - WTF?
Publish date:
November 13, 2012
money, living wage, money in london, living on £1 a day

Day three: Wednesday November 7Woke up early because Hexadecimal, my new kitten, punched me in the face. This has nothing to do with the challenge, but just wanted to remind everyone of the pitfalls of inviting a small, but perfectly formed predator into your homes.

As I was working from home, I got up and ate two rounds of toast – and the last of my bread, and drank three cups of tea, using the last of the milk.

This left me with a moral dilemma: in our household we share milk, butter, cooking oil etc. should I spend my hard earned £1 on milk, or slyly wait and see if anyone else would buy it?

Was starving by lunch time, and my cupboards were pretty bare so ate two slices of rye bread donated to me by a housemate, who was going away and would have otherwise chucked it, along with a slice of my sandwich beef and turkey.

Another freelance friend phoned because they were in the neighbourhood and wanted to know if I could meet for a coffee. Invited them round for tea instead – asking them, like a dick, to bring milk.

They also left me half a Twix, which, when I went to devour, was a winning bar, and contained a barcode for a free Mars confectionary bar of my choice. RESULT.

Boyfriend came over in the evening and instead of getting a takeaway we went to my local Tesco Metro where I picked up some sprouting broccoli (30p), some chicken thighs (£2), a loaf of bread (30p), some muffins (20p) and a Milky Way (FREE).

Stir-fried the broccoli with the chicken and some leftover peppers and poured over a jar of Thai Red Curry sauce lurking in the back of my cupboard. Served with a couple of packets of 10p noodles, which I keep for hangover emergencies. Finished up with my (free) Milky Way for dessert.

Used the leftovers to make Thai chicken wraps for lunch tomorrow. Then – GET THIS – filled the oven tray (that I’d used to pre-cook the chicken before stir-frying it) with boiling water and tipped the scraped bones, skin and debris in to my slow cooker to make stock for soup. BOOM. Instant Domestic Goddess.

Side note: it sounds like I have a Nigella-like cupboard of standbys. I don’t. I have a cupboard full of crap that I’ve bought and gone off, or couldn’t be arsed to cook. Let the records show that I hate cooking, and am rubbish at it.

Spent all day craving a diet coke. Still tired as fuck.

Weight: 135lbProducts bought: Sprouting broccoli (30p), chicken thighs (£2), loaf of bread (30p), muffins (20p)Money spent: £2.80 Amount of five a day I managed: Three. But had I not been on the challenge would have been 0.Money I potentially saved: I never escape Starbucks without spending about £8, a takeaway wouldset me back £20ish, can’t really attest for the rest because my home days are either spent feasting or grazing.

Day four: Thursday November 8The news has got out about my challenge, with mixed reactions from my housemates: “You’re one step away from dumpster diving,” said the boy (he’s Canadian, so funnier if said in a Canadian accent), whereas the girls donated a pre-cooked portion of spaghetti bolognese, some bacon, Ryvita, an onion, a tin of kidney beans and a loaf of bread that would have otherwise been chucked.

Not quite sure how I feel about becoming a charity case here – while they find it amusing and are used to my eccentricities, the point of this project is to teach myself how to live within my means, and I can’t see begging becoming a viable long-term option.

Took two leftover Thai curry and one chilli wrap to work and a bottle of water/cordial. Not quite coffee but my face-punching urges are diminishing slightly. Had some friends round and served them up eggs and bacon muffins washed down with tea and rum and fizzy water cordial.

One flat-out refused to try it, while the others grimaced and washed it down. “It tastes like pureed Haribo, and not in a good way,” was the verdict.

We then headed down to Liberty Lounge where the bi-monthly AWOT meeting was being held. If you don’t follow @AWOT_UK, then I can’t help you. It’s a team of Awesome Women who love Twitter. They have meet-ups. There’s gin and there’s cake, and it’s pretty f-ing cool.

Not only are the meetings free, there’s always cake on offer because these women are not only whip-smart and funny – they can bake. If I didn’t like them so much I’d hate them. Anyway, GO.

While there I ate my bodyweight in delicious tiny cakes and quiches, then bought a sad-looking 25p lettuce (down from £1) from Tesco.

Weight: 135lbProducts bought: Sparkling water (17p), lettuce (25p)Money spent: 42p Amount of five-a-day I managed: three-ish. Money I potentially saved: £8 on coffee/lunch. Around £10 from eating at home first instead of going straight to bar.

Day five: Friday November 9Ok, confession time - I haven't been weighing myself for the last few days, so just assumed my weight was stable. It wasn't. I've somehow absorbed 4lbs. From the ether. So today was mainly spent sulking and feeling fat.

Housemate asked me how long the 'scary pot of boiled bones' was going to stay on the hob for, so I used my 'stock' and some frozen veg from the freezer to make a vat of chicken-ish soup and lived off that for the day. It tasted of poverty and despair.

Am pretty sure my new life plan is making me go insane - sent an email round to all my housemates panicking because I'd lost my £2 coin. Suggested they all help me search the house for it, then found said coin in my pocket.

Ended up staying in and watching Girls on my laptop while eating stale crisps and feeling sorry for myself. I want to spend money again.

Weight: 141lb - WTF?! Products bought: NONE. Money spent: 0p Amount of five a day I managed: Ummm… I had three bowls of soup so either one or five. Money I potentially saved: £50 on not going out.

Poverty = misery. Am completely over this challenge now and am only halfway through. Does anyone have any tips for me on how to make it fun again?