It's almost that time again, when the kids make a fair bit of fuss… yep, it's the good old £12 Charity Challenge! When I slash the weekly shop to just a few pounds a day for 7 days. Not just for the hell of it, but for charity. The rest of the money usually spent on groceries will be going to Comic Relief.
Now, last year, it all went quiet when I asked if anyone fancied joining me…Very quiet. And because I never learn, I thought I'd try again - but give a bit more notice this time (the Challenge week starts on 7th March and ends on the 13th, Red Nose Day), AND increase the amount from £12 to £15, to see if that might encourage a few takers?
Ah, go on…
Can I just say though, if you don't fancy the £15 bit, then please, don't be put off - any cutback in the shop that week and a small donation, would be fantastic. At the end of the day it's all for a great cause.
And if you do fancy the Challenge bit, don't feel you have to jump in at the deep end. Why not look at it as a perfect week to use up food that's been lurking in the dark recesses of your kitchen cupboard, or an opportunity to make a bit of space in the freezer?
But I'm a right old stickler for my made up, totally self imposed, slightly bonkers rules. So, no freezer/cupboard dipping here, and only a few cupboard basics allowed, if I have them - otherwise the 4 of us (5 at weekends) really do live on the £15 shop for that week. And as weird as this might possibly sound, I do almost enjoy it. It appeals to my frugal side: the side that likes making do, using up leftovers and inventing meals from not very much. Some of my meal inventions haven't been great mind you, but when they work, well that's a good feeling.
Remember though, NO ONE'S LOOKING. So, if you're interested in the Challenge, do what suits you. It's primarily about raising money for charity, not raising stress levels!
This is our 4th year, so if you'd like to have a look at some of our past shopping lists or menus, there's some here, here and here. Last time we went veggie for the week too, which was totally fine for me, but not that brilliant for the kids. Fussy little blighters. Anyway, back to making a few meals from a roast chicken, which is always a good one, but I'm also going to try to vary our menu a bit more this time. The challenge for me isn't just to survive the week, but to feed us well too.
And that's another of the things I like about this Challenge: it slaps me around the face and makes me think. About how easy it is to take food for granted.
It makes me think on a micro level, because the key to cracking the Challenge is planning: planning what to buy right down to the last penny. I'd like to tell you I'm now a zealous meal planner, but that would be a lie, because I'm not. For the rest of the year I slip back into a rather slap-dash approach to meal planning; I'm also a total sucker for offers, and rarely stick to my list. If I make a list at all. Having said that I'm not an extravagant shopper, just a disorganised one.
But as well as being a sort of trolley detox, it makes me think on a wider level too: what would it be like if it wasn't a challenge, but a necessity? And if it wasn't just for 7 days but for good. Most of us never, ever have to go hungry. The Challenge makes me think about people who do.
So, the long and short of it is, I've been an optimistic fool and set up a Red Nose Day team page - yes a team page…which is, at the moment, a team of one.
I'm fully aware it'll probably stay that way. But if you thought you might fancy it at all….in any shape or form...?