Bridging the Gap: A Week’s Food for £10 and Donating to the Trussel Trust

Naomi Gardom 18 May 2014

Losing your wallet or purse – not the most traumatic experience, admittedly. Even if you have, like I had, a record-breaking collection of sentimentally preserved train tickets, not to mention a nearly-full Benet’s café loyalty card, there are worse fates that could befall an unfortunate Gapper.

Undoubtedly, the most debilitating side-effect of finding oneself temporarily de-walleted is the inconvenience of losing one’s bank card. When mine went walkies a few weeks ago, it was a salutary reminder of the complete dependence I had on that little piece of plastic. For a few uncomfortable days, I suddenly became the world’s worst freeloader, scrounging cups of coffee, bus tickets, and in one acutely embarrassing exchange, money for the church collection, from my long-suffering friends and housemates.

Finding oneself out of pocket can be much less vexing if one's parents are nearby   Credit: stuartpilbrow

One of the (many) advantages of not spending my Gap Year treating sick lemurs in the jungles of Madagascar, however, is that it was relatively easy to continue my habit of sponging off my beloved parents. After a couple of days of suffering in poverty-stricken silence, I finally caved in and called my father. A few hours later I found myself richer by £40 (not to mention enriched by an invaluable lecture on the importance of looking after my possessions, of course, dear father). Things were beginning to look up.

Still, £40 disappears quickly, and there were all those aforementioned generous friends and housemates to pay back; though my new card was on its way, it was not here yet. So within a few days I found myself standing outside Sainsbury’s with the knowledge that I had a £10 note in my bag, with which I would need to buy a week’s shopping.

Now I have to takefull responsibility for what I eat and I flatter myself that I’ve made a pretty good job of eating well and cheaply. It would be unusual to find a ready meal in my fridge. Still, £10 for a week’s food was considerably more frugal than even I was used to. Unbowed by the challenge, I dived in, and emerged triumphant with a bag of groceries, and 36p chinking in my pocket…

…before realising that I’d forgotten to buy bread, milk or eggs.

Naomi's wallet was bursting with swag…                                                          Credit: Valerie Everett

However, since then, the idea of living more frugally, and being less dependent on my (shiny new) debit card has grown increasingly appealing. Over this Lent, I set myself the challenge of living on £2 a day – matching the amount I save on food with a donation to the Trussell Trust, which run the national food banks. The result of this has been extraordinary – suddenly, 30p has stopped being worth a cheap bar of chocolate, and has become work a box of chopped tomatoes. Pounds that I would throw after fresh juice are now dedicated to tinned fruit. And I’ve been eating well – really well, because I have to think about every single meal in the week before heading down to the shops.

It doesn’t hurt that I can still go to my parents’ for a Sunday roast, though.