Live Below the Line 2016: Day 2 Diary

I love you, baked beans.
Have I mentioned how much I hate porridge? I’m writing this on day three (all my diaries are a day behind, so that I can write about the whole day) over my third bowl of water porridge and it definitely isn’t getting any better. Lunch remains my favourite meal of the day, as my beans on toast seem so wondrously flavourful compared to everything else we’re eating right now, and bean chilli for dinner is somewhere around second place – it’s not bad, but just so much more bland than I’d usually like. Once again, something I’m missing massively is my Aladdin’s Cave of a store-cupboard, full of a collection of herbs, spices, oils, sauces, salts & other goodies I’ve built up over the years. Even the most basic ingredients can be made into something rather fabulous with a few choice seasonings, and it’s made me think about whether this could be incorporated into food parcels and the like. I suppose the priority is on bulk rather than flavour (understandably) but I reckon it could make a huge difference – something to ponder on.

I can’t remember whether it was like this last year, but I’ve found myself falling into a routine based on how hungry I am at different times of day. I try and put off breakfast until as late as possible (usually around 10.30) as I’m not hungry when I wake up. That way I can have lunch later and try and stave off my hungriest part of the day, which is that hour before dinner when my stomach really starts rumbling. I usually have my mug of hot water, honey and lemon at this time, for a quick sugar boost to keep me going. I’m definitely glad to have something other than water to drink – I normally chug pints of the stuff while I’m working and I do love it, but without juice or tea to mix it up occasionally it definitely gets boring.

Colonna & Hunter, I miss your
lattes so much
One thing I’m really missing is getting out of the flat. As I work from home, I usually make a concerted effort to get out most days and meet someone new for coffee (I’m a hardcore networker), go for drinks with friends or just take my work to a café, something I particularly like to do when I get writer’s block, as I find the change of scenery always helps. I do also like a walk around beautiful Bath, but the weather’s been pretty pants lately, which has resulted in me not leaving the flat for the last two days – not good. Today it’s sunny so I’m going to send myself to the park after lunch with my notebook, for some work-related scribbling.

Once again, I’m reminded that the consequences of living below the poverty line go so much further than just being hungry. We’ve always been pretty tight budgeters, but there’s no way I’d be able to hold down this job on such little money, as a huge part of it is developing & photographing recipes for clients – I’m self-employed as a freelance content creator, and I specialise in foodie stuff. I firmly believe that my networking has also been a big part of helping me to succeed, and that mostly takes place over coffees or glasses of wine. Plus, of course, I wouldn’t be able to stick to this meal routine if I worked in an office.

My job is one of the best things in my life. I love it to bits and it makes me so happy. I’ve had to work extremely hard for it, so I never take it for granted, but this challenge is definitely helping to remind me how lucky I am to have so many choices as to what I do with my life. When you have to live on a budget this tight, it’s not just your meals that can end up frustrating, boring and limited. 

Want to support us? We're not collecting money this year - instead, we want you to start donating to your local foodbank on a regular basis. Most big supermarkets have a donation point so it couldn't be simpler - just get into the habit of picking up something extra each time you do your big shop.