Are you a newbie to poverty? A recent migrant to redundancy? A casualty of the recession?
Welcome to South of the Poverty Line! It might be a bummer that you're here but its not the end of the world. In fact, it might be the beginning of a meaningful journey. It has been that for our family of 7. We have learned that you can still party when you're poor. But you have to be smart and intentional, especially about what happens in your kitchen.
Here's 5 ways to EAT BETTER when you're south of the poverty line:
1. Make a big deal about drinking tea
All around the world, people who live in poverty love to drink tea and they make a big deal about it. You should also. Don't spoil your tea ritual by warming a Lipton tea bag in a microwave [YUK!] THATS NOT TEA - ITS JUST BROWN WATER! Boil the water and make a pot. Enjoy it with friends. Tea only costs you a few cents a cup so you might as well buy the good stuff.
Tea drinking is more about ritual than consumption, esp. with Moroccan tea.
Same goes for coffee. Starbucks is a luxury and should not be a habit but you can make great coffee at home. Invest in the stuff to make it and buy good beans. Btw, talking about drinks, coke is a luxury, when you live south of the poverty line, not a necessity. Growing up, we would have a bottle of Coke or Fanta once a week for the whole family. And if you live in the same city for a long time, stop buying bottled water to drink and start drinking what's on tap. Your body will get used to it and your pocketbook will thank you. And if you don't like the water, DRINK TEA! Most of the world already does.
2. Learn to love your kitchen
You simply cannot live well under the poverty line and not know how to cook. Now's a good time to learn. Learn to love your kitchen, your kitchen tools, your ingredients. Check out the charity shops for great pots and pans and sharp knives and a big cutting board. If you love cooking, you will go out to eat less often at restaurants and that will save you GIANT DOLLARS.
3. Cook slower and enjoy it more.
If you make some extra time to cook, you will enjoy the cooking more, save more money, eat less and better, and you will probably lose some weight rather than gain it. Investing more time means you can cook tougher and larger cuts of meat which not only cost less than sausages and steaks but are also some of the best tasting cuts of meat. You probably will not need your microwave anymore. We threw ours out years ago. And you will never need to buy those horrible microwavable meals ever again. You will also stop buying those preservative-laden pasta sauces and start making your own with real tomatoes. Slow food is good food and it will save you money.
4. Buy better meat
Unless you are vegan or vegetarian you will need to buy meat. I suggest you buy better meat but less of it. Better meat does not necessarily mean that big T-bone steak but it does mean organic, well- treated, well-fed, well-aged. If you buy rubbish meat, you will be craving meat again the next day. Buying quality meat only gets you half as much for the same price, but it will satisfy you! You will have a magical meat moment and that will do you for a few days or longer. Eat pasta the following day. Or a salad. Because it is less, you will need to be creative in how you cook it. Learn to make stews, goulashes, curries and dishes where the meat is cut up and distributed into the group pot or platter of food (see 5).
If you have a big freezer, talk to a farmer about buying a side of beef or a whole lamb or a pig. Learn to cook the various cuts. You can make it last a year and you will have some big beautiful cuts for Christmas (like that rib roast in the picture) or special occasions.
5. Make a feast for the eyes
Many people eat too much, even though they are poor. Sometimes they eat too much because they are poor. When you cook for your family or friends, make a beautiful feast and present it well on a large platter but NOT for each plate. Invite everyone to take from the platter. Many cultures do this. We learned it in North Africa and have been doing it ever since. Once I fed two large families with a single chicken and there was leftovers. The secret is to display it well to the group and let everyone feel like they are at a banquet. Make a feast for the eyes, not the stomach.
Living south of the poverty line might not be everyone's first choice but you can still choose to party if you want to.
What have you learned that has helped you save money and eat better at the same time?