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)
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 ;)