Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beans, beans and more beans

Yesterday I did my Live Below the Line shopping.  Dad and Munchkin came too (my parents are also doing Live Below the Line).  We went armed with calculator, measuring cups and spoons, and our detailed list.  Yup, being a planner, I had already been out and about and worked out most of the costs.

The bag was quite heavy by the time we were done.  But when I laid it all out, it really didn't look like much for an entire five days!  No photos of the actual shopping, sorry.  I desperately wanted to take the camera, but in the end decided that baby, calculator, shopping trolley, bags, measuring gear, lists, and more would be more than I could juggle in two hands!  I was right.  Various moments of thinking I had lost my list (opps, no put it in my pocket, or lost it in my handbag).  Various moments of trying to prevent one bored baby from helping himself to the contents of our trolley.  And his dill of a mother managed to go out without even a drink bottle.  We ended up buying crackers and yoghurt and eating them in the supermarket carpark part way through the marathon shopping - now that's not something I would have been able to do if we were really living in extreme poverty now, is it?!  As my dad said when we were discussing it, we'd have had to walk home, find firewood, light a fire, collect water, and cook ourselves some rice.  Imagine how tired and hungry we would have been by then!

Here are some thoughts from our shopping outing:

Ethics struggle to survive in the face of hunger. Mine disappeared. I’d said before hand I would probably go without bananas and eggs (as Fairtrade and Freerange cost too much). I was thinking of getting kiwifruit instead. But I bought standard bananas and eggs. It was that or not have any, and I ended up deciding that I don’t want to be hungry and they are such good food sources! While kiwifruit are packed with vitamin C, their energy won’t last me as long as bananas, and the bananas were actually on special at $1.39/kg and kiwifruit at $1.69/kg.

Having to make quick decisions can result in errors. I bought some chicken stock. It cost more than I realised (got the calculations on the spot wrong and was calculating at 10% of its actual price!). I put gave the mushroom stock and chilli powder, thankfully, when I realised how much the chicken stock had cost! Embarrassing! Imagine having to make decisions knowing this is all the money you have, and not having any idea of when (or even if) you might be getting more…that adds so much pressure to your shopping. So I could have bought another kumara instead. Or maybe a couple of carrots (they were $1/kg this week!). But I guess we will see whether I think it was worth the flavouring or not at the end of the week. Grin.

Pooling resources really does help. My parents managed to buy a small tin of tuna. Even if I’d not bought the stock, I couldn’t have afforded the tuna, because on my own I couldn’t afford the $1.90 price tag. But they could afford $0.80 each to share one (the smaller sizes were still over $1 each). I got eggs, which I’d not thought I could. This was manageable because I shared with my parents. I got 5 and they got 7.
Dad managed to get a small amount of tea leaves and milk powder.

We didn’t get sultanas…we thought about a 400g bag at $2.40 between the three of us, but eggs and kumara provide better long-term energy than sultanas, especially considering how few sultanas we would get each day for that money.

I sent my dad off with my last $1.10! When it is the last of your money, it is scary releasing it to someone else. He similarly noted that it was scary for him going back into the store and having to make a decision knowing it was not his money, and that I didn’t have any more. (He managed to get me 6 small bananas for $1.10 – which is what I’d hoped for!).

The grand total for my five days of food?  $11.20  Nothing left over.  Nada.  Zero.  If I get hungry, I get hungry.  And I only managed that by pooling resources with my parents and being very, very, very prepared!  My parents had a grand $1.20 left.  Mum since bought 90c worth of dates.  I nearly drooled, hearing that!

Click on the picture to enlarge it
What I got?

Well, quite a lot in some ways.  And not very much in others.  No meat.  No dairy.  Very little fruit.  No greens (but the garden is going to supply those for me).  But you can buy a surprisingly large amount of rice for $2.25 a day.  We shopped at Bin Inn.  This meant we could decide how many grams we wanted of each item, rather than having to buy a 500g or 1kg bag.  It doesn't really mean I got more food for my money, but it definitely means I got more variety!  We also went to three other stores to get the best deal we could on some veges and fruit.

My food for the week:
400g wholegrain rolled oats
500g brown rice
115g salt
200g navy beans
250g red split lentils
250g soup mix
a few teaspooons of chicken stock
2 small kumara
6 small bananas (wahoo!)
5 eggs (double wahoo!)

Eggs not shown, as still in the box with my parent's ones.  I am really, really pleased to have eggs as I usually eat a pretty high protein diet.  Lentils and beans are my other protein sources.  I chose wholegrain oats and brown rice for the added fibre and nutrition they provide over the rolled oats and white basmati rice I usually buy.  The soup mix was an on-the-spot decision.  I'd planned on buying pearl barley, but the soup mix was cheaper (on special!) and is a lot of barley with some split peas and alphabet soup mix.  It probably saved me 9cents.  Which when you are living on so little, is a big deal.  My dad was really chuffed to save 2cents on rounding at the supermarket!  It was really frustrating no longer having 5cent pieces in NZ.

So there you go.  I am ready.  Or at least as ready as I can be.  Boyo will buy the rest of his food tonight.  This is going to be one interesting ride!


1 comment:

MaxineD said...

Wow - what shopping!! Do hope it all works for you.