Living below the (poverty) Line – Whole 30 Paleo Style

On Monday I’ll be living on £1 a day for food for 5 days,

The idea came from the Live below the line challenge which is encouraging people to try to live on very little and be sponsored for it. I’m not doing that, firstly because I find it really embarrasing when friends ask me to sponsor them, and secondly because over my dead body is any money I raise going to a religious organisation. Not all the organisations you can raise money for are religious but I also wonder how much actually gets to the charity. Anyway, I digress. I’m doing this as a personal challenge.

The meal plans they suggest are pretty much junk food; cheap spagetti, value white bread, budget jam… and I’m sure this can be done with good food, and in a Whole 30 style, where meals are a palm sized bit of protein and the rest of the plate vegetables. No wheat, rice, grains, legumes, cheese or sugar. I am not a strict whole 30 er, my family are vegans and I just can’t eat meat 3 times a day so I do a sort of mixed vegi and normal whole 30 regime. I also slip into the occasional pizza and drink beer. Not ideal I know but better than I was eating before.

I can forage for wild garlic, nettles and dandylion leaves so greens are free, herbs are also free because there is a free herb garden in a local park. Mint and Lemon Balm are just popping up in the garden so there will be some form of tea.

I’ve bought 3 sweet potatos for 50p, a butternut squash for £1, 200g minced pork and beef for £1.48, sardines in tomato sauce for 24p and some free range eggs (2p more than sad battery eggs) for £1. I drink soya milk  because it regulates my hormones and a litre of that is 69p. I’m might go halves on a block of butter with a friend for 50p, I’m going to get veg from the 50p bags outside the veg shop and hope there are carrots and tomatos and maybe even a big bag of sorry looking avocados. It’s a tight budget.

From my £5 I need to make 15 meals, each with a reasonable bit of protein and greenery. There are 6 meals in the eggs, possibly 6 meals in the mince. So I’m short of protein. I’m going to ask the butcher if he has bones he would normally throw away and I can make soup and maybe get enough fat from the bones to be able to ditch the butter and get coconut oil instead.

Here are the guidelines from the site.

  • From the 29th April – 3rd May you can spend no more than £1 a day on food and drink.
  • This means you have a total of £5 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.
  • The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packets of food items such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.
  • For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, simply work out the cost of each item per gram and budget your shopping proportionally. Separate your items before the challenge so there’s no need to be digging around in your cupboards.
  • You can share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than £1 a day or their total £5 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.
  • You can’t grab a cheeky snack from the cupboard unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.
  • You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production!
  • No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the £1 spending limit. Remember this is a challenge to eat creatively and be enjoyed – don’t at any point deprive yourself of three meals a day.
  • You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends, but monetary donations towards your fundraising goals are acceptable, and encouraged!
  • You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.

But I don’t really like bacon – a week practicing the Paleo diet.

Insipired by my super fit, lithe and lovely friend Becky and desperate to lose the headache I had for 3 weeks I’ve given the Paleo diet a go. It’s basically lots of meat, veg and fat and no sugar, grains, pulses, wheat diary or gluten. No potatos! So my normal, mostly vegi diet based around pasta, bread, potatos and pulses with very little meat has radically changed over the last week. I’ve been eating lots of eggs and chicken, some steak, some nuts and more fruit than Paleo people would probably say is right.

I’m getting loads of information about this from The Whole 30 Program who have the most wonderful graphics on their site. They have loads of very helpful information and free printouts to get you started if you want to try it.

I’ve lost 3lb’s in a week which is about as much as I’d lose if I gave up cake and bread for a week anyway. My skin has gone a bit weird, not spotty it just feels weird. I have had no headaches, even the next day after half a bottle of wine which would normally floor me. I feel good in myself, feel sort of clean inside and I haven’t had those desparate blood sugar drops when I’m hungry. I also don’t feel like I’m lugging round bodyfat, even though I’m about the same size as I was this time last week which is about half a stone over what I’d like to be.

A typical days food looks like this:  Breakfast; eggs, spinach, beetroot. Lunch; chicken, green leafy veg, sweet potatos. Dinner; steak, kale, avocado and spinach salad. I’m snacking on nuts, eggs and leftover meals but I’m not snacking as much as I used to.

After a week of it I have I lost interest in food. I’m a good cook, I enjoy cooking a lot but the life and soul has been kicked out of it for me with the Paleo diet. I’m not sure why, tonight I had salmon, king prawns, spring greens, courgette and carrots with a sprinking of sesame seeds, it sounds lovely but I was bored of it half way through. Now I just think of this lovely food as fuel. I also feel like I’m forcing down the protein when I’m not actually hungry because I know if I eat a reasonable amount of it, I won’t be hungry in an hour. I don’t miss sugar, I miss bread a bit, I miss mostly the fun of cooking, rolling pasty, kneading dough, even boiling shop bought pasta is more fun than eggs. I am so so bored of eggs.

It’s not a sustainable diet for me, not financially as all this meat is doubling my shopping bills. And I just don’t like meat that much. It used to be a treat for me and now it’s a chore. And I have the guilt that comes from my vegan family who I know would be just disgusted with me eating this quantity of dead stuff. I do feel better for cutting out the bread and pasta though and I’ll consider them as treats when I reintroduce them, something for now and then not everyday.

I’ve promised my friend Becky I’d do this for a whole month. I’ll give it another week but if I slip and have the odd potato it won’t be the end of the world for me, or for another pig heading to be bacon.

some time later….

I gave up at 10 days with a grinding stomach ache and the taste of death in my mouth. Not for me.

A week on WW2 rations – day 3

I should have weighed myself on Monday but I forgot – I’m 10st 1.4 I can’t imagine with all the sugar on the ration I will be anything less on Sunday.

Breakfast

  • Porridge and honey
  • Juice

We are out of honey and treacle, I think we will use our ration book to buy a pot of honey.

Packed Lunch for T

  • Cheese and lettuce sandwich
  • half a honey sandwich
  • juice
  • 2 Anzac biscuits
  • 1 small coconut biscuit
  • A Satsuma!

We are out of bread too, hence half a honey sandwich.

T went on a school trip yesterday and was given crossants and pineapple! Like dining at the Ritz!

My lunch

  • Vegi soup (extended from Monday’s) and bread if I buy some

Dinner

  • Soup
  • Fish and veg
  • fresh bread rolls and some of the butter ration

Pudding

  • a Toffee
  • Chelsea Buns! (which we were too full to eat)

cunning plan – I’m going to use the mashed potato in a bread dough so we can have nice fresh bread with fish and veg for tea and use the rest of the dough to make chelsea buns to use up some sugar ration! 90% of my brain is now taken up with how to make meals stretch and how to eke out the fat ration.

It’s an inset day on Friday so we will eat out, my son asked if we could eat somewhere that does starters! He went on a school trip yesterday and they had croissants and pineapple so at breakfast we talked about how rich people could eat pretty much whatever they wanted and he was a rich person for that day. I don’t know how people managed on rations without cafes and restaurants.  I haven’t rationed bread for this week as I can’t find out how many loaves we should have but we are eating more than we usually do.

I am carbohydrate girl. Swapped my sweet ration for 2 eggs, T very nicely said he would share his sweet ration with me on Saturday. We have loads of sugar left, most of the butter, most of the cheese, a third of the marj, all of the jam, half of the smoked salmon, 4 vegi sausages, 2 vegi burgers and we are going to eat on on Friday. All is well.