If you are reading this you took time out of a busy day and thought enough to allocate some of your hard earned dollars to a cause very important to me. There is one registered charity for every 435 people in Canada. That's a lot of raised hands asking for hand outs. Genuinely grateful for your support, so let me start with a big thank you.
It was only a three day challenge, but in that short time I learned to appreciate a number of things about what it must be like trying to feed yourself, let alone a small baby, with only eight dollars a day. My mom and I had ribs from Swiss Chalet the other day and the total bill was 80 dollars!! It was take out so there was no bottomless soda either.... At any rate - It's no small feet, and an eye opener to some of the many little things I take for granted on a daily basis. Below are just a few of many.
When you spend 8 dollars a day on food you:
Have no margin of error….. If you sleep in, you can forget about your cup of coffee for the day. Stopping to pick up coffee at Tim’s (20% of daily budget) or god forbid Starbucks (30% of the daily budget) would have meant skipping an entire meal. The only way I could fit coffee into my budget was to use my single serve Keurig and a few teaspoons of a basic Folgers ground. Thankfully I can afford a nice automated single serve machine that prepares my coffee while I'm hitting snooze.
Coffee is one thing. What happens if you are too tired to make your lunch, or if like me, you prepare a well thought out feast and then forget it in the fridge, or by the door. When this happens, you don’t eat for the entire work day – or you cave and blow the whole days budget on a Julienne salad made of ice berg lettuce, processed cheese and cold cuts. Processed bacon bits on top sir?? Sounds disgusting but yes please.... I have an important meeting this afternoon. Need to carb up.
When you rely on 8 dollars a day for food you….
can forget about your designer meal plan. Keto on 8 dollars? I ate two meals a day and all of them started and ended with pasta. I was able to get a respectable amount of protein and vegetables into each meal, but I did it by buying items that were close to expiry to get a reduced price. An option made available only with the time an energy to carefully plan. It means a grocery trip every two days, and purchasing the near expiry items through an app I found called Flashfood. Lucky I have a credit card and a data plan. Not easy to get credit without a fixed address.
When you spend 8 dollars a day on food you….
Lick the bowl? This is better described as low grade anxiety. I felt a small but pervasive level of stress about feeling hungry or being low energy in the afternoon/evening. What if I hadn’t prepared enough, or didn’t budget properly? The stress was felt when divvying up portions as well. Is this too much? I’m hungry now, but if I eat soon how hungry will I be later? What if I get to Wednesday and I’ve already run out of food? What if i pick up the box of pasta and it's "too lite?" You are probably tired from just reading it. I'm sure over time much of this would have been resolved through experience and learning my limits, but it highlighted for me that I never ever think about food portions, ever. The fridge is full, my plate is full. If there is too much, I’ll scrape it into some Tupperware, or admittedly, into the garbage. If there isn’t anything left in the fridge I’ll go get more. Store closed? Don’t have time to get there? I’ll just pay a premium and have someone drive me over a personal oversized portion.
When you spend 8 dollars a day on food for ONLY THREE DAYS you….
Realize quickly your experience is barely a shade of the real thing. Three days is less than 1% of the entire year and just over 1% of a full term pregnancy. Everything is easier when you know when the end is coming - the bus system in England is a perfect example of this phenomenon. I'd rather wait 20 minutes for a bus I know is arriving in 20 than 10 minutes for a bus I never know when will arrive. On Thursday I knew I had an extra large breakfast waiting for me. Two bagels? Don’t judge me cafeteria lady.. you don’t know what I’ve just been through. Pass me my large milk, I’ll be on my way now. I didn’t eat two bagels but I knew I could have and it made those three days much easier.
What will stick with me the most is that when you participate in a challenge that makes you rely on 8 dollars a day for food...
people you know will approach you to share their experiences. Only women did this. Not to say there couldn't have been men with similar experiences, but there were none that shared. It amazed me that I knew women who had gone through something similar at one point in their lives. It gives you hope that the women Massey serves may also someday share a story of what once was.
Thanks again -
(yes I did lick the bowl)