This challenge has actually been really good for me and my health. In a lot of ways I’ve been healthier than normal. I have cut out unhealthy treats, there’s been no cakes or desserts and I feel like I’m eating exactly what my body needs to sustain me. I’m now one day behind on my posts. I didn’t post yesterday as I decided to go to a social event instead. When my baby arrives this month (hopefully) I’ll probably not get out for a long time after that so I decided to make the most of it.
So today I’m going to show you what I ate yesterday during my Live Below The Line challenge, and explain why it’s even more important to eat healthily on a budget. I think it’s perfectly doable on this budget although I’m well aware that even £1 a day for all your meals would be a lot of money in some countries where people are literally starving. If we can spend less money on our own food shopping we will have more spare money to donate to people who really need it. Speaking of which, if you’d like to donate to Tearfund to help people who are going very hungry, I’d love it if you donated via my Live Below The Line profile here.
Frugal Green Thickie No.2: Sweet Almond Surprise
This smoothie was surprisingly delicious. The almond extract really transformed quite a boring smoothie into a decadent tasting breakfast. This smoothie is practically the same as yesterday with a different flavour to it, so the costs are the same and it filled me up just fine until lunch time.
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Here is a breakdown of the costs of the ingredients for a smoothie to serve one person:
- Oats £0.05
- Flaxseeds £0.06
- Spinach £0.08
- Bananas £0.13
- Almond Extract £0.01
- Water: FREE
Total cost of breakfast: 33p
Carrot & Coriander Soup with Homemade Wholewheat Rosemary Flat Bread, Apple & 1/3 Carrot
For my soups, I made a big batch then split it into portions and added a different herb or spice to each portion to try and give us some flavour variety during this week. I did the same with the breads. These flat breads were absolutely gorgeous. They are so quick to make too, just taking 2 minutes each to cook in a pan and I really prefer them to my bread rolls, yum!
This is the lunch breakdown:
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- Carrots: £0.04
- Onions: £0.02
- Kidney Beans: £0.01
- Oil: £0.01
- Salt & Coriander: £0.01
- Fresh Yeast: FREE (Tesco gives this away free at the bakery)
- Wholemeal Flour: £0.06
- Oil: £0.01
- Salt £0.01
- Water: FREE
- 1/2 Apple: £0.06
Total Cost of Lunch: £0.23
This lunch kept me going really well all afternoon and I felt energised all day. My toddler was acting up a lot in the afternoon with our guests which was quite hard work and stressful, and as soon as 5pm hit I was suddenly really hungry and looking forward to my dinner.
Cumin and Cannellini Bean Burger in a Homemade Wholewheat Burger Bun with Smoky Potato Wedges, Mixed Vegetable Salad and Roasted Tomato Sauce
I can’t actually believe I managed to make this meal within budget. This is like a treat meal for me on a normal day. I guess because it is all made from scratch it takes a bit longer than throwing some frozen food in the oven, but it’s well worth it as it tasted absolutely amazing and was so filling. I had also been reading some other blogs who are living below the line this week, and some had decided to use other fridge leftovers and portion out the cost of them to avoid waste. I agree with this principal as there is no point in wasting fresh food that will only go off. So I included a few slices of a leftover cucumber in this burger bun and I will account for this below.
The breakdown of my dinner is:
- Potatoes: £0.18
- Oil: £0.01
- Beans: £0.08
- Spices: £0.01
- Onion: £0.02
- Water: FREE
- Cucumber: £0.01
- Passata: £0.01
- Frozen Veg: £0.03
- Oil: £0.01
- Burger Bun: £0.07
Total Cost of Dinner: £0.43
Total Cost for the day: £0.99
Why eating unrefined food is essential on a budget
The way I like to eat the majority of the time is to eat food which is unprocessed, unrefined, whole, untreated, and from scratch made by me as much as I possibly can. This means I try to buy food which has one item on it’s ingredient list (Olive Oil) or no ingredient list at all (carrots). This is the best way of ensuring that your food is as healthy as possible. However even some items with one item on their ingredient list are no so great for your health. These include Sugar, White Flour, White Rice, White Pasta, and cheap animal products.
It is much better to buy unrefined foods such as wholewheat flour, wholegrain rice, and wholewheat pasta. I would even avoid buying wholewheat bread as this usually isn’t 100% wholewheat and there are usually some unhealthy ingredients and processing methods thrown in there that you would want to avoid.
As Michael Pollan explains in his book, In Defense of Food, those who eat a diet based around Whole Foods are much less likely to suffer vitamin and mineral deficiencies and more serious diseases. If you have a limited food budget, your calories will probably be limited too so it’s even more important that the calories that you do consume will be made up of foods that are going to nourish your body. A lot of people in Western societies are actually malnourished despite being overweight as they don’t eat vitamin rich foods. White flour and white sugar have been stripped of their nutrients to make them easier to transport and give them a longer shelf life. That’s why a lot of processed refined foods have added vitamins, to replace some of the vitamins that have been stripped away. It’s far healthier to eat the whole food with all it’s vitamins still intact rather than refined foods with a handful of vitamins added back in. Science still hasn’t discovered all the nutrients present in food, we just know it’s much better for your health to eat foods in their more natural state.
The book that totally convinced me to base my diet around whole grains and avoid white products was Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Western Price. If you read this book I’m sure you’ll never want to look at white flour and white sugar again. Dr. Western Price travelled around the world finding healthy people eating natural foods in remote societies. He then compared their health to similar people who had moved away from their traditional foods and were now eating ‘Western’ food such as processed, refined, tinned and sugary treats and white breads. The difference was massive and these healthy people very quickly succumbed to disease, illness and tooth decay. All the healthy societies had totally different diets but they all had one thing in common, they all ate foods in their natural states, whether that included a high proportion of fruit and veg, high carbs in the form of whole grains, a lot or no dairy at all, or a greater proportion of meat or not much meat at all. They were all healthy but they sourced their foods themselves and made their food from scratch.
A lot of these healthy people’s diets were quite repetitive, plain and simple but as they got their food straight from the land they lived in it sustained them and kept them disease free. It’s a lot harder for us to know how to eat and what to eat to be healthy. We generally don’t forage, pick or kill our own food, we just head to the shops where a tempting array of beautifully packaged, seemingly cheap food sways us away from healthy eating. The best thing to do is avoid the ‘processed’ food altogether. Fill your trolley with items that don’t have ingredients lists and that will be a massive step in the right direction.
Another important reason for avoiding refined and heavily processed food on a strict budget is that it just doesn’t fill you up. It’s usually laden with sugar which will spike your blood sugar levels leaving you crashing and feeling much more hungry than you need to.
Fill up on whole foods and notice the difference in your energy levels and do it all within a budget too.
I know it can be time consuming to make your own meals from scratch but it doesn’t need to be. Make a stir fri and throw some quick cooking veg into a pan with some tinned beans and serve with some wholewheat noodles for a quick meal. Or you can spend a few hours over the weekend preparing a few batches of food for the week ahead. That’s what I did with this challenge and not only do I have a very quick meal during the week but I also know I’ve spread my ingredients out over the entire week so we’re not going to get to Friday and run out of food.
I wanted to highlight a great blog I’ve discovered lately called A Girl Called Jack. Jack has a fascinating story and found herself without a job with only £10 a week to feed herself and her toddler last year. She usually cooks from scratch and has some very tempting recipes which are very cheap. She is taking part in the Live Below The Line challenge this week too but she’s banned store cupboard ingredients to make it harder for herself so she has gone back to more unhealthy foods.
If you want to catch up on my journey so far you can also read about How I’m going to live below the poverty line for 5 days, What food I bought to Live Below The Poverty Line and Day 1 Living Below the Line: Finding out what true hunger really means.
If you had a limited budget what would you find hardest to give up? For me it’s definitely been more luxurious fruit such as mango and grapes. I would also love it if you could sponsor me and donate to Tearfund to help support truly hungry people.
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