Day 4 & 5 – living below the line

I completely forgot to write my update for yesterday and only remembered it after came home, where I don’t have any internet available, so I decided to write a two day report today instead.

Yesterday I had the usual breakfast of brand flakes, just like every day so far, some carrots and water for lunch and then chicken nuggets and chips for dinner. Today’s dinner will be spaghetti Bolognese with the other tin of baked beans and a ton of onions in them and water to stretch it.

One of my concerns is how bland and grey everything is, my only colour comes from the carrots, but even the baked beans doesn’t have a lot of colour in them. Everything is just so plain, dry and boring. As I was eating the chips yesterday I realized that they had a really weird texture – sort of chewy. I don’t know if it’s due to not using any oil at all or if that’s just how they are because of how cheap they are. I’ll have to get back to you on that after I’ve tried cooking them with oil and paprika powder.

The hunger is really starting to get to me now, I even woke up about five this morning to answer a call of nature and was extremely hungry, to a point that I had to drink a small glass of milk before going to bed. At the start of the week I expected to be just a bit hungry, but now it’s almost a constant feeling and a bit of it I think is bad planning on my part, and part is not being able to eat the amounts that I’d like to eat. I’m just used to eating larger amounts and more regularly. It’s the fact that I need to stretch and be firm with portion control in order to make the food last longer that’s surprised me most about this project, and just how planning that goes into staying within those 7£ whilst still getting enough to eat each day.

There are now 2 days to go and it’s time to see if I can actually get my seven pounds last for the weekend, when I’m at home more than during the week and might therefore eat more than at the library.

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Day 3 – living below the line

At the moment it’s 18.30 and I’m still working on my second book at the library and it’s the third day of my seven day challenge. So far it’s been pretty easy, but I’m starting to get really hungry since I didn’t really plan enough to make the most of my 7 pound shop.

Today I woke up rather late and decided not to have breakfast, since it was almost lunchtime anyway, and instead I ate an early lunch of chicken nuggets and chips instead before heading off to the library to work. My local library offers free internet and on Wednesdays they’re open late, which I really enjoy simply due to the fact that I work best in the afternoon and evening.

The food itself is really plain and if I wasn’t allowed to put salt and pepper on it, I’d go insane. There are a few things that I’m missing, especially on the foods that I’ve been eating so far, but can’t afford. Ketchup is the main thing, for my spaghetti and chips, but mayonnaise, beef stock, garlic, soy sauce and spices in general. I could, naturally, have purchased pasta sauce for my minced meat sauce, but it would’ve cost me double the amount for a jar of sauce. A jar of pasta sauce, the Morrisons Savers one, is about 44p but a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce is 23p for the same amount. That did it for me, plus the beans add a bit more protein to the meal and I think it really helps me feel just a bit fuller than the pasta sauce would. Spaghetti is one of my new worries, since I absolutely love it and now I seriously have to ration it to make it last. Yep, it’s that easy for me to consume 1.5kg of pasta. It’s delicious and the 20p Morrisons Savers spaghetti doesn’t taste bad, I can’t tell the difference between it and Barilla, except that Morrisons might stick together a bit more easily while I’m cooking it than Barilla and name brands. But other than that, there’s no difference and the same thing goes for the other stuff I’ve eaten – they all taste rather nice, even though they’re the cheapest brands you can find. My only “brand” product is the six pints of milk that I bought, and even might even be instore.

At this point I’m almost ready for today and I’m going home to eat the rest of my minced meat sauce with some spaghetti and prep some snacks for tomorrow (1 or 2 carrots).

Day 2 – living below the line

At the moment it’s about noon and I’m at the library, as usual, watching YouTube videos and writing on my second book. I had the same breakfast as yesterday, bran flakes and milk, and it’s going to be my breakfast for the entire week – if I can make the bran flakes last. I’m not worried about the milk since I bought six pints, it’s the corn flakes that I’m afraid will run out sometime during later in the week.

For lunch I brought a huge carrot, made into thick fries, and a couple of bottles of water, just to save on the spaghetti. I wish I’d found some more cheap fruits and veggies, but the reduced onions (5p for 1kg) was the only thing I found, and they’re not exactly a nice snack to have when you’re hungry. But then again they’re likely to last me more than a week.

For dinner yesterday I made spaghetti Bolognese with half the mince and it’s what I’ll be having tonight and for a couple of days, until it runs out and then I’m planning to have the chips with the chicken nuggets and finish the week of with more minced meat sauce and spaghetti. Not very exciting, but then again living on 1£ a day isn’t, unless you’re lucky to find a few good deals on reduced veggies, fruits and meat. This time I was unlucky.

I thought that I’d be really hungry today, but it’s actually not that bad – mostly thanks to all the water and carrots I think. Saying that, I might crash later, just before dinner or just before bed later tonight.

Remember, if you’d like to help a food bank or is in need of help from a food bank, please visit the links below and remember that your local council is also able to help you out with that.

https://www.trusselltrust.org/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/using-a-food-bank/

Day 1 – Living below the line

Today has been the first official day of living below the line and so far it’s been ok, nothing too big has happened yet. I woke up at about nine in the morning and had some of my corn flakes with milk before heading over to the library to enjoy their free Wi-Fi, return a few books and do a session of writing and looking for a new job, since I was fired from my previous one just over a week ago.

It’s about 16.30 and I’m almost ready to pack up and go home to have dinner, and I’m starving since I didn’t bring any lunch with me at all. Tonight I’ll probably make a spaghetti Bolognese and see how far I can stretch half of the minced meat, the reduced onions and a can of baked beans.

Keep a lookout on Instagram for a picture of the dinner, it’ll probably get up tomorrow morning when I’m on my way to the library. Since I don’t have any internet at home I’m relying on whatever free Wi-Fi I can find and the library is amazing, since I can sit there all day, work and have internet for free.

So, I’ll post more tomorrow after my meeting with a work agency. Have a great Bonfire Night and remember not to grill any hedgehogs!

Living below the line challenge

This week is the Living Wage Week in the U.K. and I’ll be taking part by highlighting food poverty among the working poor. Raising the wage in our country to a level where people could actually live off of it, in combination with an improved safety net for those who live in working poverty or are unemployed, would see a decrease in the use of food banks and parents going to bed hungry in order for their kids to have food.

So, to do my part I’ll be taking the 1£ a day for 7 days challenge, starting today. What this means is that from today until Sunday I’ll have 1£/day to eat for, just like thousands of people are living on at the moment, all around this country and the world even. My cat will not be included in this project, which is a bit ironic since people living in total poverty would probably use some of that money on pet food. Technically she’s not in, but she’s in in other ways. I did purchase cat food for her, separately from my 7£ worth of food and it cost me 10.90£ and the wet food (7£) will last a month and the dry food (3.90£) about two weeks, so she’ll be under the 1£/day unless she starts eating food like a madman.

I did my shopping yesterday at Morrisons, since that’s the shop that’s closest to me – not because I’m sponsored by them – and because the food I usually purchase is cheaper there than at the ASDA next door. I immediately managed to screw the whole thing up, due to splitting my purchases up in two. On my first trip I got the cat food and corn flakes and on the second trip I got the rest of the food. However, on my second shopping trip I completely forgot that I’d purchased corn flakes and used 7£ on food, ending my total at 7.53£ for a week’s worth of food. It’s a bit of a setback, but not too bad and I’ll try working around it.

For my 7.53£ I got:

500gr minced meat (1.50£)

2 cans of baked beans (46p)

6 pints of whole milk (1.50£)

500gr corn flakes (57p)

1kg carrots (35p)

1.5kg spaghetti (60p)

1.5kg chips (1£)

2×20 chicken nuggets (1.50£)

1kg onions (5p)

It’s not a lot and I could probably have gotten more if I’d planned it a bit better, but I can’t do that now. The mince and onions will be the easiest thing to stretch with the baked beans and water. I’m probably going to rely on the milk and corn flakes for a couple of meals and to be fair I’m starting to regret not buying porridge oats instead of the milk and cereal, since I’d get more food out of one kilo of oats than I’ll get from the cereal and milk.

At the moment I spend a lot of time at the library during the days and I’ll probably end up bringing breakfast for lunch there (cereal and milk) rather than a full meal of the other stuff, and a ton of water, just to stave any hunger pangs away. If I’d planned a bit, like I said, I could also have bought some flour, made my own sour dough and tried making bread from it, or bought a 30p loaf and some dirt cheap jam for snacks.

So… Onto my project! I’m going to make a separate post about my first day and for each of the seven days that I’m doing this. My rules for the week are:

  1. I have to eat what I purchased and only that.
  2. Free food samples are allowed.
  3. Salt and pepper is allowed, since the cost is too low to calculate.
  4. I can’t ask a person to treat me to or buy food for me during the week.

If you’re interested in helping your local food bank, or is in need of a food parcel, please visit the links below or Google “food bank uk”.

https://www.trusselltrust.org/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/using-a-food-bank/

Remember that there’s help out there for you! Never be afraid to ask for help if you need it!

Free stuff at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is notoriously expensive, however there are some free things for, almost, all guests at the parks, that aren’t necessarily well-known or spoken off. I wish I’d known about a few of them when I went there last year, but I really should’ve done my research before I went.

Fastpasses

When you’re at Disneyland and is going for an attraction or a show, you’re very likely to stand in line for up to a couple of hours should you be unlucky, for a ride that’s over in a few minutes. This is why Disneyland has come up with a ticket system called Fastpasses. These are tickets printed from a Fastpass machine by the attraction, which gives you a ticket with a timeframe on it and the name of the attraction that it’s valid on. You then come back to the attraction within the timeframe, usually a couple of hours later, and enter through the Fastpass entrance. Fastpasses allows you to wait in a very short queue and then get on the ride really fast. Basically FastPasses are VIP or premium tickets for that ride. Like any VIP or premium tickets they’re limited for every ride, so go the rides you’re planning to ride early in the morning and scan your entrance ticket in the Fastpass machine in order to get your tickets while there still are any. Not every ride will have the Fastpass system in operation, so check that on the website, app or ask cast members if you’re unsure about a specific ride.

Water

Bottled water is a necessity when you’re at the parks, but purchasing them isn’t a necessity at all. You can easily spend a ton of money on bottles of water, should you purchase all your water at the parks. 10-20€ on water per family isn’t uncommon. So up to 100€ on water, which you can get for free! The trick is to get bring large refillable bottle with you, one per person, and then refill them at the parks. Most people don’t know that Disneyland Paris offers water fountains around the parks, where you can refill your bottles for free. This hack will save you some serious money, keep you hydrated and allow you to spend that money on souvenirs, a room upgrade at your hotel or food. Check the maps to find the refillable stations.

Extra magic hours

I love Extra Magic Hours and I used them when I was there. The parks open up an hour or two for those who’re staying at an official Disneyland Hotel. You’ll need your tickets to get in and have to show your keys at the entrance. Not all the attractions will be available, but Extra Magic Hours are the perfect way to skip the lines.

Acommodation at Disneyland

Let’s face it – we all need to have a roof over our head when we’re visiting Disneyland and someplace to dump all of our souvenirs and merchandise after a long day at the parks. Which hotel you should pick depends on the size of your budget, how many that are travelling and on how much you’d like to immense yourself in the Disney experience. On Disneyland Paris own website you’re going to be given two different options for hotel experiences – either official hotels or partnering ones. There are no real difference in price between them if you book well in advance, the only difference is the quality in the hotel and whether or not it’s a Disney hotel.

Official hotels

The official Disneyland Paris hotels are directly connected to the theme parks and are all Disney themed. All the staff at these hotels are cast members and you’re going to find characters here! Disney hotels offer VIP treatments to the parks, like VIP fastpasses and exclusive meet and greets with the Disney characters. The prices are not more expensive than the partner hotels, unless you go full out with the most expensive hotel at the 5 star Disneyland Hotel. It’s only these hotels that’ll give you Extra Magic Hours and that’ll be part of Disney Holiday Packages. In my opinion you should be staying at one of the official hotels, since you’re in for an experience and in order to enjoy it fully, it’s my recommendation that you book an official hotel. The perks of getting all the ups of Disney will outweigh all your attempts of saving. You’re going to save more money on getting a package deal at an official hotel than you will at a partnering hotel, trust me. All the official hotels, except for Davy Crocket Range, is within 5-20 minute walk from the parks and they offer free shuttles all day long. At the moment the official are, in order of how many stars they’ve got:

  1. Disneyland Hotel (5*)
  2. Hotel New York (4*)
  3. Newport Bay Hotel (4*)
  4. Sequoia Lodge (3*)
  5. Hotel Cheyenne (2*)
  6. Santa Fé (2*)
  7. Davy Crockett range (no stars available)

Partnering hotels

They’re just like the official hotels, except for the fact that they’re not associated with Disney and are owned by different chains or private persons. Partnering hotels don’t offer any of the perks you get from the official hotels, but most of them do provide free shuttle bus to and from the parks. The hotels aren’t Disney themed whatsoever and there are not Disney character meet and greets or character dining. A good thing to remember is that these hotels are often in the middle of nowhere and, unlike with the official hotels which are onsite, you’re not able to walk to the parks from the hotels – you’re bound by bus or car. Like I’ve said, the prices aren’t necessarily lower at the partnering hotels and might not have the amenities that the official hotels will provide. Should you decide to book a room at one of the hotels that Disneyland Paris recommends, it’s worth to compare prices that are on the Disneyland website to the ones that are on the hotel’s own, official website, since you might be able to get a better deal through them. One thing to remember is the Package Holiday deals on the Disneyland website often requires you to book a room at an official hotel, and not at a partnering hotel, in order to get the deal. So, in fact, staying at a partnering hotel could actually end up costing you more money than it saves.

Tips

  • When you book the official hotels, always book them through the Disneyland official website in order to get the best prices.
  • Evaluate what the needs of you and your family or group of friends have and what size your group is, before you book. One hotel might be wrong for you if you’ve got a large group travel and the hotel don’t offer the room type you need, or connecting rooms. Booking two rooms might be necessary, but could be avoided with some research.
  • Phone up the hotel in question when you run into a problem and see how they can solve, for example with connecting rooms, or if your family is big. Disneyland is famous for being very accommodating on their official hotels and will work hard to try to find a suitable solution for you.
  • Breakfast is generally not included in price of a standard room, so getting a meal plan might be to your advantage – it’s possible to get a breakfast meal plan.
  • Don’t book Davy Crockett Range unless you’ve got a car, since they don’t offer shuttle bus to and from the park.
  • The earlier you book the hotel, the better the price is going to be.
  • Book your hotel as part of a package holiday, it’s going to save you a bit more than if you just book the hotel by itself.

There is more to come on the accommodation front, I’m working on a couple of posts about the hotels themselves too, just to give a presentation and what sort of amenities they offer at the moment.