I promised to come back today and document my progress and reflections over my month long january challenge. I have to say, january now seems a long, long time ago.
My weight is currently about 13 and a half stone - I dropped a few pounds after my diet, and built up a little after. I'm still predominantely shopping at Aldi, and whilst I've had a blow-out celebratory feast and a takeaway, the philosophy of home cooking and a focus on waste reduction lives on.
I was speechless to see that the fundaraising total continued to climb after the close of the challenge to the staggering sum of £1105!
£1105 is far more than I dreamed possible, so it seemed appropriate to me to lead this post with a screen grab from the JustGiving campaign site.
Something different - I thought I would use one of my emails for a change - this is one I sent the team at the Trussell Trust explaining my motivations for the £1 a day for a month challenge:
The idea for this started last year - I had watched as week after week, my food bill had seemed to climb, so I started taking more of an interest in eating economically. I was shocked by some of the statistics I read about the levels of food waste, and food inflation. I was shocked to read that some poorer families having to make the choice between buying protein and buying fresh fruit and vegetables.
I stumbled across articles by Jack Monroe in the Guardian newspaper - who rose to fame blogging about attempting to feed her and her son on £10 a week. For me, Jacks story really shone a light on food poverty in the United Kingdom.
I realised quite how far removed I had become from the real cost of food. I suspected that this sense of detachment was the real cause of my rising food bill. I decided I needed to find a way of changing the way I see food, and regaining a lost sense of appreciation for the value of food in my shopping basket.
I came up with the idea of living off an average of a pound a day for a month. The more I thought about the challenge, the less ridiculous it became. The charitable aspect came later - I realised that whilst I was planning this challenge for my own benefit, it would be selfish of me not to facilitate giving to a worthwhile cause.
By this point I was reading Jack Monroe's articles on a regular basis. The answer to the question of which cause I should lend my challenge to became crystal clear when I read an article by Jack, which mentioned the good work done by the Trussell Trust.
I felt there was a logical connection links between my decision to challenge myself to live off an average of a pound a day by choice, and the work done by the Trussell Trust to help those with little or no choice on their food spending.
A defined a simple set of rules - a budget of £31 to last me all of January - a bare cupboard to start with, and all of my food bought at normal retail price from the Aldi supermarket. The only items I would consume outside of my budget would be water, mouthwash, toothpaste and medicine.
I am now on day 30 of my challenge, and am happy to say I have raised over £500 for the Trussell Trust to date. Only time will tell if I have succeeded in the personal aspect of my challenge.Me! via email, Jan 30th 2014
In the earlier stages of the pound a day challenge, I made the decision to try to reduce my dependence on processed foods. I now realist that the resulting effect of a diet heavy in lentils, vegetables and fish ( albeit tinned ) was a very effective detox - so much so that the first couple of meals I had "out" felt very stodgy - almost foriegn.
This feeling of "foreign food" brought on a startling revalation - this was not a new feeling, but instead one I have had frequently, once a year, at the end of my january detox. In previous years, foreign food feeling passed soon, to the extent that this was the first moment of clarity in which I could remember the previous occurances of it.
Now, almost 10 days later, the feeling of "foreign food" has passed, and started to become a distant memory - I could imagine how easy it would be to totally forget that it had occured in the first place. What could it be in our food and drink that could cause this sensation?
On the 6th February, Dennis Patel got in touch with news of another pound-a-day diet:
Hi +Steve Pitchford I hope your challenge went well. Just saw this article in the Daily Mail today that I thought might interest you.Dennis Patel Shared publicly - 6 Feb 2014
The article is about 62 year old Lesley Cooper, 62, who claims to have 150 recipes for meals costing less than 50p. The Mail highlights her 4p pancakes for breakfast. Apparently, Lesley has a blog at Thrifty Lesley ( down at time of writing ), and has been featured over the last week in a number of publications includingThe Metro
A colleague also pointed out the article - whilst there seems to be some good stuff on Lesleys menu, if I'm honest, I am a little concerned by some of the recipes - as an example - I find it hard to believe that the 4p pancake highlighted in the Mail can contain a sufficient amount of nutrition to keep anyone going for any length of time.
The web archive has a copy of Lesleys website to view.
I was touched to recieve a few emails about the OnePoundADay challenge via my contact form:
Fantastic effort and an interesting and informative blog. Most of us don't think enough about our food use. I will be trying potato peeling crisps tomorrow, I think!Chris, via contact form
Thanks Chris - I hope if you try them, they turn out better than my second attempt at potato peel crisps that turned out to be a bit of a soggy mess!
Wow!! Well done ... you did it!!
For some reason I feel proud of you, totally proud of someone I don't even really know. You set yourself a hard, hard challenge and saw it through with perseverance and good humour (well most of the time).
It has been absolutely wonderful to follow your progress via the Blog, you set yourself much harder guidelines than I set myself and you stuck by them every inch of the way. I am so pleased that you hit and indeed passed your target of raising £1000 for the Trussell Trust and I was so pleased to see you featured in the newsletter I receive from them each month.
And it was lovely of your employers to top up your donated money to the required amount you hoped to raise, and how nice that they recognise the insanity of one of their employees :-)
...Sue, via contact form
Sue, thanks for your support. I'll be following your blog throughout the year, and whilst I'm flattered by your comments, I have to say that to me a year long marathon of a challenge sounds a lot harder than a month long sprint! I'll be sure to drop by the Dorset cereals site to nominate your "Our New Life in the Country" blog later!
Next up - a comment from Catherine:
Congratulations on completing your challenge, it was epic. I found my way to you via Sue's blog, and have read it all tonight while hubby was watching the rugby. What an inspiration you are (as is Sue). I have been a supporter of the Trussell Trust for some time, and it's good to see the support that had come from your blog. I look forward to reading more of your blog in future.Catherine, via contact form
Catherine, thanks for the comment - I have been well and truely bitten by the blogging bug and look forward to continuing in some way in the future.
And to close this review of the mailbag - an email from Eileen!
Well done ! I hope you enjoy your curry tonight. You certainly deserve to.
I will check back as you suggested as I would be interested to know how completing this challenge affects your shopping and eating habits from now on.
I am challenging myself this month to eat from my extensive stores and spend as little as possible. I will make an exception for the Aldi blueberries though as they are too good to miss and will goEileen, via contact form
The curry I had on sunday from the takeaway was lovely - a real treat. I was surprised on monday to recieve a gift of some curry from my colleague, Harpreet, who, it transpires, makes an absolutely formidable curry - making two curries in two days - a great way to see in february.
Some habits die hard, and it may be a surprise to some to learn that I've bought a couple of bags of Aldi Essentials porridge since the end of my diet, and both myself and my wife have been dining on porridge with blueberries on a daily basis!
I believe that my families eating habits, and spending habits, have improved as a result of this challenge. We have focused on spending less on more, throwing fewer items away, and cooking and freezing more dishes in advance. Our attempts to live off of our stores has been undermined by the lack of variety of our stockpiled food- too much beef casserole, and beef bourguignon being the primary culprits.
So far I have continued to ignore the snacks on offer at the supermarket, and have only succumbed to a snack machine once. It's not all great news though - the january 1st start date for my challenge had the unintended consequence of a stockpile of christmas chocolate being left over to await me at the end of the challenge. The supplies of chocolate fought a brave battle for the first few days of february, loosing only one or two of their number per day, until, that was, the armageddon on tuesday the 4th of february - a titanic battle between man and chocolate.
I am slightly guilty to admit that I consumed a ridiculous amount of chocolate that evening.
When I began this challenge I had no idea how much effort a daily blog would take to update and maintain. I have to admit that I have enjoyed the liberty that taking a break from blogging has granted me over the last week.
I've got a few more projects on the go - an Open University degree, an allotment to prepare, the Great North Swim to prepare for, and a Half marathon to train for. A good job I like to keep myself busy!
I have been toying with the idea of blogging about the work I'll have to do to get my allotment up to date. I guess my self imposed target of an update on the 2nd March on the after effects of this challenge will be a good deadline to decide if it's worth me starting another blog. As always, please feel free to post any questions or observations you may have on the contact form - and I'll try to review some in the future!