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My experience shopping for Live Below The Line: Taking Convenience for Granted

April 1, 2012

I have talked about my reflections after having done the challenge, but I realised I haven’t really reflected on my experience leading up to it.

I have to admit, when I first agreed to undertake this challenge I thought it was going to be pretty straight froward. I thought I would simply go into the first supermarket I came across, fill up my shopping basket, and be done within half an hour.

Well… what a smack in the face I received.

I soon realised the ‘bargains’ I was used to buying: ‘Buy 2 for £4’, ‘buy one get one half price’, were completely unaffordable on my budget. It was Saturday, and my challenge started on Monday. I had planned on having my food bought and paid for on the Saturday and have the Sunday to just relax. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. That Saturday I actually spent 2 hours just making notes, and taking photos, of the value foods which were available and ‘affordable’. So I left the supermarket, empty handed, and feeling rather panicked at the thought of not knowing what I was going to be eating and whether  or not I was going to have enough for the next 5 days. I realised that I would have no time to relax on the Sunday, as I was going to have to repeat the whole process all over again.

The hours I spent comparing the prices of kidney beans felt like the most ridiculous use of my time, and then once I had my shopping list prepared I had to trawl from shop to shop in order to purchase my week’s ingredients at the lowest price. It was nothing short of exhausting. And not how I hoped I would be spending my weekend. As you can probably guess, I wasn’t in the greatest of moods prior to the start of my challenge.

But once I had the chance to calm down a little, I realised why I was so annoyed. It is a ridiculous way for anyone to have to spend their time! And while I would have rather spent my weekend with my friends, or shopping in Topshop, for millions of others the time spent planning and worrying about food, was time taken away from figuring out how they were going to pay for their children’s school fees, for their anti-natal appointments, and for their childrens’ vaccinations. With so many things to think about and prioritise, it’s not surprising that food planning isn’t always a priority. With so many things to try and prioritise it’s understandable why so many people in the world are undernourished and starving.

I can admit that I am the kind of person who enjoys the luxury of eating when I want and what I want. I rarely plan my food in advance as I know I will usually be close enough to a Starbucks or Tesco Express to buy whatever I fancy at the time. I’ve never had to worry about not being able to satisfy my food urges. A luxury, I realised I had completely taken for granted.

I cannot imagine having to do this on a daily basis. But sadly, that’s the reality for over a billion people.

So… was it worth it?

100% yes! It certainly wasn’t easy, but that’s completely the point. I got a glimpse at the hardship of millions who have to experience this, and so much more, day in day out. I am so glad I’ve done this challenge, and I will gladly do it again in May with thousands of other people around the world. This challenge didn’t make me feel guilty about the luxuries in my life, but it did make me appreciate them a lot more. Nor did it make me feel guilty for the amazing opportunities I’ve had, but this challenge has invoked a passion and determination within me to see that everyone else will one day have the same opportunities as I have had.

I am so grateful for all the support everyone has given me while I’ve been Living Below The Line. I still have a long way to go to reach my target. So please keep up the support and help me raise £500 for RESULTS UK so they can continue their effots to ensure that at children with disabilities are no longer forgotten, that their voices are heard loud and clear, and that the governments of the world are making sure that disability is no obstacle to education.

Donate to me by following the link:


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  1. I completely agree – I had the same experience last year and am looking forward to taking the challenge again this year. Good luck and smart shopping 🙂

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