BLOG: Could you live on just £5 for five days?

As with every diet I’ve ever been on (and I’ve been on a few over the years), I seem to be overeating today in preparation for a week of a deprivation.

Helen Burton £7 Food Budget SUS-150605-151151001
Helen Burton £7 Food Budget SUS-150605-151151001

I think it’s a panic response, or just possibly a good excuse for pigging out.

The coming week has been complicated slightly by spending most of yesterday in A&E, and a resulting diagnosis of a chest infection. It hurts to breathe right now and I have the energy of a sloth but I checked with the doctor and was told I could go ahead with the challenge as long as I was ‘responsible’ and ‘kept my sugars up’.

I did think about postponing, but for people in the UK really living below the poverty line, taking a break from being poor is not an option so I decided it wasn’t for me either.

Preparation for my week started on Thursday when I was looking online at the huge list of value products on offer from the major supermarkets and working out how to spend my five pounds. As I was checking off baked beans, bread and pasta my family started to discuss the foods they wanted for the week. Fish and chip night will carry on without me and they also want to order pizza, Indian and Chinese takeaways as well as making our favourite family foods. Basically they are looking forward to torturing me all week!

In all seriousness though, I’ve learnt a lot already as I’ve been shopping around and paying attention from the perspective of someone with only a little to spend on food. Firstly, there are a lot of ‘value’ items on offer but it’s not necessarily the healthiest of food, and some of it is still too expensive if you have very little to spend.

I am a pescatarian so don’t eat meat, instead I get my protein from fish, Quorn, tofu, cheese, eggs, nuts and pulses. This week I can’t afford any protein except beans. I am lucky enough to keep chickens and quail, so I will have plenty of eggs, although if I was really living in poverty I may not be able to afford chicken food or bedding in order to keep them. I normally buy organic produce for ethical reasons, and I only buy wholegrain rice and pasta as it’s healthier but obviously I can’t afford any of that this week either.

I’ve also been thinking about the other pressures of living in poverty that I won’t be experiencing. I don’t have any major health concerns and I won’t have accommodation worries (which is a huge issue for those living below the poverty line). I’ll still have the use of my car so I won’t have transport worries and I am lucky enough not to have additional social needs that often go hand in hand with living in poverty.

This week may be tricky for me but I know that in five days it will be over. For millions of people around the world there is no end to poverty unless we help them. Please help them by donating what you can.

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