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Live Below The Line Day 4 - Eating on $1.75 as a team


It's Day Four of the Live Below The Line Challenge poverty awareness campaign and Team Devour & Conquer Poverty is going strong (well, going anyway... we're a little weakened and lacking energy). With the end in sight and tomorrow being the final day of the challenge to eat only $1.75 each in food each day to raise awareness of poverty issues, this feels like a good time to look at how we've been managing working as a larger team this week.

Eating and Cooking as a Team

Yesterday I had the day off and spent much of it doing our food prep and cooking for the final leg of the challenge, then meeting the team to divide up our food and have dinner together. While in real life this would be unrealistic for me to maintain for any length of time (that amount of cooking in one week for that many people while working full time), it does bring up the fact that using 'community' to help in hard times makes everything more manageable. In reality, if our team was actually working with this tiny $12.25 a day 'group budget' for our food for months on end, I can see how valuable it would be to have different people prep different affordable meals and share throughout a month.

One of the best things that is keeping us fed this week is big batch cooking, which is only possible on the $1.75 Challenge if you're in a team (the bigger the better in our case of seven). With multi-meal cheap vegetable soups, a batch of Lentil Dal with Swiss Chard ($2.00 for a bag of lentils, .35 cents in onions & garlic and .15 cents in spices) to our pot of tomato marinara sauce ($3.50 for 100 oz can of concentrated tomatoes, .35 cents in garlic and onions, .10 cents for seasoning) and our Mexi Black Beans ($2.00 for a bag of dried beans, 1.00 canned tomatoes and .25 cents for garlic and spices) we've had food that lasts us multiple meals and is keeping everyone fed when combined with our allotted eggs and rice, with bread, tortillas and naan we are making from scratch from the flour, yeast and oil we budgeted.

Along with our big batch meals, we had enough in our budget for one big protein, and we decided on a whole chicken. I roasted this yesterday, stuffed with free garden herbs, and I made gravy using a little of our budgeted flour and dash of our team's tiny supply of lemon juice.

We all split our allotted portions of chicken in two along with roasted veggies (total cost for the entire pan - $1.51), enjoying a small but satisfying chicken dinner last night, and saving the rest for a sandwich or burrito today. I saved the carcass, bones and gristly bits to make a team soup tomorrow. Eating a real, satisfying normal dinner (but smaller portions) felt amazing both physically and mentally and really helped us halfway through the week, made possible by co-operating as a team for this challenge.

The Garden and Wild Food Freebies


As soon as I signed up for the $1.75 challenge three weeks ago, I planted lettuce and Swiss Chard. The rules state that we can eat food we produce ourselves, but must account from production costs (in this case seeds and watering) and I knew that even having tiny fresh lettuce and chard leaves to eat during this week would help us keep our nutrient levels up, as we had little budget available for fruit and fresh vegetables. I've had a few people comment that this would be unrealistic below the poverty line saying things like "How many poor people do you see planting a garden?'.

I do have to disagree. I've had tough times when I struggled to budget healthy food on a tiny income and grew herbs and lettuces in the windows of tiny apartments to supplement my food costs and give my son better nutrients. It's feasible in any space if you are blessed enough to have a place to live as most of us are, read my recent article on Food Bloggers of Canada about Edible Small Space Gardening to learn more.

Growing your food doesn't have to be expensive - Exhibit A - this green onion. I bought green onions at the store one day for .50 cents, ate them and then planted the bases and roots in my garden. That was three years ago! Three years of green onions for .50 cents, topping our Live Below The Line fried rice and salads this week for free. Just saying...

Growing your own food at home no matter your income level helps you live a better life. Growing more food than you need for your family sound like a bad thing? Many food banks, soup kitchens and outreach programs across Canada will accept home-grown produce to give to those less fortunate. You could be helping yourself and others with what comes out of your own backyard.

Eating and Drinking Herbs


We've been supplementing our food budget this week with many herbs grown in our team gardens, and wild food we have foraged in our local forests (See my Day Two Update for my experience harvesting wild stinging nettles). Our staple drink this week is a tea made with fresh rosemary and mint, steeped in boiling water for five minutes (pictured above).

I never would have thought of brewing herbs from my yard in tea until I needed a free hot drink option for the challenge. While our team all miss real coffee and tea, this has been a great option that adds no cost to our budget. Speaking of... going to go brew a pot to sip at while I write... see, I'm not tired of it yet on Day Four.

I planted a herb garden in front of my house in place of decorative plants and flowers in 2012, costing $15 for oregano, chives, mint, thyme and rosemary nursery plants. I don't water them, I don't care for them, I just eat them and they keep on growing year after year. They paid for themselves in under a month in what I would have spent buying fresh herbs in the grocery store, and having been giving us healthy bunches of fresh greenery for our team cooking all week long.

Want to help Make Poverty History?


Click here or on the bowl above to visit Devour and Conquer Poverty's team page and donate by credit card or paypal. All donations will receive a tax receipt

I'm calling on friends, family and Devour & Conquer readers (that's you, Hi!), to consider skipping one specialty coffee, beer or glass of wine this week and donating the money to Make Poverty History to help sponsor our team as we continue to eat on just $1.75 per day. The challenge ends tomorrow.

Eating on $1.75 a day has shown us exactly how much of a difference $5, $10 and $20 can make to someone struggling just to eat everyday, and we thank every single one of you who has donated and shown your support so far. $350 and counting! You've made real, tangible difference in the lives of Canadians living below the poverty line.

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