To Buy or Not To Buy ....

Today I started my ‘Live Below The Line’ week. Live Below The Line is an international movement, challenging people to spend no more than $1.50/day (the extreme poverty line) on food and drinks for 5 days in a row.
In my case this means that I have to fill my tummy for a total of no more than €6,- the next couple of days. And to be honest, I thought I would be able to pull this off easily.

Besides that I have never been the overly expenditure (or consuming) kind of person, I felt that I had two major advantages, i.e. the Haagse Markt (largest weekly market in Europe) and a 230m­2 vegetable garden.
Cheap and free groceries right at my doorstep... well… basically the garden is a 80km drive away, but who’s counting. Furthermore, I had a fairly good idea what I wanted/needed to buy.

Sooo.. armed with 6 euro coins I entered to Haagse Markt… scanned the different vegetable and fruit stands… got almost knocked over by grocery trolleys and people on rolling skates (seriously guys?)… and left the market with.. nothing……  Next I entered another thrift Walhalla… the Lidl .. and left with half the items I intended to buy…

The issue at stake wasn’t that products were too expensive or that I couldn’t find good deals… the problem  was quantity.  

2 cauliflower or 3 cucumbers for €1 is great... as  is 2kg of rice for €1.50 or 3 ... but buying big quantities of the same product would leave me with little food variety and money to spend on other groceries. Soon I realised I had to focus on smaller quantities, even though it meant that in comparison I would get less value (well.. stuff) for my money..

The vegetable garden turned out to be quite disappointing too… Food wise the allotment is basically still Two Hundred And Thirty Square Meter of Nothingness… No lettuce, beans, beetroot, potato, sweet pepper, tomato or Sweet Corn … To be fair, I knew it would be too early… but still….. The plot is a good place for slug lovers though ...  On a positive note, I did find some strawberries, thyme and chives… *big smile*.

So what did €6,- buy me for the week?
1 Cucumber (€0,39)
3 Bananas (€0,58)
1kg Carrots (€0,75)
450g Spinach (€0,55)
4x Tomato paste (4x €0,08)
1kg Fusilli Pasta (€0,79)
400g Rice (€0,40)
500g Oatmeal (€0,39)
1 kg Wheat Flour (€0,41)
150ml Honey (€0,60)
___________________   +
Total: €5.18

Plus free....
150gr Strawberries

With €0,80 cents left in my pocket I decided to alter the rules slightly.
For not spending those 80 cents I do allow myself to have full access to salt, 4 spices (pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon and ginger), olive oil and butter (the latter in case I’m baking pancakes!).

The fact that I had to consider each product carefully was quite a new and really great experience... Decisions are extremely based on 'vitamins', 'versatility ' and 'heavy on the stomach'.. while arguments as  'like it', 'want it' or 'taste great together' are meaningless. For instance, my favorite fruit is an apple (mjam!)... And even though 3 apples or 3 bananas would have costs me quite the same, I chose the bananas. Just because those would fill me up more. Regarding ‘versatility’ I decided to opt for Fusilli, rather than the 25ct cheaper macaroni, because to me Fusilli works better in a pasta salad and also makes me feel ‘fuller’. Finally, shopping while knowing that each decision could have real consequences was interesting. Choosing product x did not only mean that I did not choose product y. It also meant that I wouldn’t be able to buy product y... and maybe neither product z....

So what would you buy for €6,-? 

Well... that’s all folks.. for now ;)

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Comments, Compliments & Kudos

goed bezig!

nice story! we really loved to read it! So this is your second day, how are you doing, and what is on the menu today? We were calculating, even in the Philippines 1,50 is not a lot, but in the Netherlands it is even harder! Good luck!

Great job!! Love to read

Great job!! Love to read stories like this.

Well done, I think this is a

Well done, I think this is a really tough thing to do ;-). I think you did well to go to the market, because that is one of the cheapest places to buy food. But still, a little to expensive for your budget I think? I think this is making people more conscious. You should bring your story to a news paper or local television company to reach more people!! 

wow that sounds like a hard

wow that sounds like a hard thing to do, but i am definitely gonna do it as well. You inspired me, thank you for that!! xx

I did the same thing - went

I did the same thing - went to markets, cheap supermarkets and for me it worked out quite well. It might not always be convenient but it definitely makes you think about the food you normally don't bother about, but just consume. Maybe a tip for next time (if there will be one): putting the money together with some friends helps you to buy bigger quantities - so cheaper - and you can buy a bigger variety of products, which allows you to eat more and different vitamines and minerals, naturally.Good luck in the future and great that you did this!

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