The Morrisons Challenge
When I lived in London and worked as a teacher the holidays were the worst. You heard right. Instead of relaxing I found myself stressed constantly about finances. The concept that contract teachers didn’t get rewarded for their 15hour days really bothered me, it simply wasn't like that in Australia. A 2 week holiday always resulted in 4 weeks of stinginess because you were 'paid in arrears' and essentially had to wait 2 weeks before a decent pay would show up. This was a stress that never went away because teachers only work for about 30 days in the UK before they are on holidays again. So just as you feel like you are going well and you are in the grove of saving BAM another holiday. I never understood why people in London always seemed to be poor until I realised that the Britain really isn't set up for financial freedom, its no surprise that regular conversation includes laughing about how successfully stingy you can be whereas that's not quite as hipster in Australia. Needless to say I finally understood why I continually felt financially insecure in the UK, it wasn't because the rents are ridiculous (which they are) or because the transportation costs almost force you to chop off a limb (because they do), but because Britain doesn't pay their workers for their hard work. Despite this being the reality there is absolutely no point whinging about it, you've got to find a way to thrive, to create some sort of flow that enables you to live a little and do the things you love. Welcome to THE MORRISON's CHALLENGE!
This challenge is dubbed after the fabulously affordable supermarket, Morrisons, that I shopped at and still managed to get by with at least with a fair degree of nutritional content despite my necessity to spend insanely small amounts on feeding myself. It is solely responsible for enabling me to travel 26 countries, afford gorgeous real leather boots, drink 18 pound cocktails at the Shard and afford a personal trainer for 2 years whilst living abroad. I was NOT on an epic pay packet at all, in fact the pay I was receiving was quite shocking. To give you some perspective my UK wage, as one of the highest paid teachers in Britain, was equivalent to my wage in my second job, cooking fast food at Red Rooster (similar to KFC or McDonalds) when I was 14! So needless to say as an adult living with the budget of a 14 year old you get creative to enjoy life to the fullest. The Morrison's challenge initially was an entire accident born out of too many occasions (thanks to holidays) where my bills were paid, my travel card was prepared for work, I hadn't spent a cent on extras or alcohol but all I had was 10 pounds to eat for 2 weeks. After doing it so often I became enthralled at the bargains I could get, I would silently challenge myself 'how cheap can I really feed myself for this week?' and I would set about beating myself week after week, even when I was more flush for cash. The challenge of feeding myself for next to nothing became incredibly exciting, hence why I am sharing the goods with you now.
First thing is first. Your meals aren't always going to be incredibly fancy but if you have a choice between having a calm headspace instead of being stressed and wishing you could run away with someone's tip jar, you'd pick the less fancy food options instead of shopping at Waitrose and getting the same products for 5 pounds dearer. You will find that the meals that I have included here do provide you with nutritional value and that matters. In a world where fast food is cheaper than healthier options it's important to find the affordable ways you can eat and consume nutrient rich foods that add value to your body. Each of these meals I have included enabled me to be full and didn't stack on the weight, in fact I got in the best shape of my life eating like this and there was NO starvation. So needless to say I recommend you give these a go anytime you get stuck in a financial rut, your paying off that debt faster or you really want to take a trip abroad- the question isn't can you do it, it's WILL YOU?
How to make this challenge a success
- Start paying attention to advertisements
- Go to fruit and vegetable markets
- Buy in bulk or buy on a needs basis (choose based on where you are at with your budget e.g.: buy in bulk if you have 10 pounds, by on a needs basis if you have 3 pounds).
- Use cash so you are more aware of how much you really have left of that 10 pound budget
- Be prepared to meal plan (buy plastic reusable containers if you don't have any)
- Don't eat out
- Be prepared to buy home brand- remember its only the packaging (most of the time) that you pay for with major brands. Many of these major brands provide the goods for your home brands.
- Use any reward points you have, make sure you build your reward points as well.
How to approach this challenge:
- Decide what your weekly budget is then go to the shop WITH AN OPEN MIND
- Consider what foods you can buy that will make several meals over many days
- Consider food products that can be used as ingredients in a variety of meal choices
- Learn about portion sizes e.g.: no one is meant to eat an entire plate of food, one piece of meat is meant to be the size of a deck of cards. When you start eating to portion sizes you can spend less and be healthier. Win win!
Here are a few simple ideas of what I managed to put together for 10 pounds per week or less (usually less). Now when I say 10 pounds per week I mean the entire menu in front of you 10 quid! Its much easier to do when you try. Give it a go. If you are struggling consider whether a competitor stocks something cheaper than Morrison's one week, like Aldi for example. Or think about how many meals you have planned that you can freeze. In this list below except for the salad mix and cornflakes every single thing can be frozen. Some things admittedly might be eaten more than once a week when there is less than 7 pounds in the budget but ultimately you have a lot of choice. Again it's all down to whether you really want to save money for holidays, cocktails and that favourite new item that's on your wish list or whether you'd rather eat your way through your budget and keep wishing for it.
- Fried rice with egg
- Stuffed eggplant boats
- Egg fettucini bolognaise with sausage
- Sweet potato fries
- Sausage, baked sweet potato & peas and corn
- Breakfast avocados
- Breakfast egg muffins
- Yoghurt & Peanut butter
- Salad mix (pre made- american coleslaw is my personal UK favourite)
- One load of bread- sandwiches, jaffles, toad in the whole, croutons for salad, toast...so many options, depending on what you put on or with your bread you have some great options
- Tortilla based pizzas with tomato sauce (not paste)
- Bolognaise & kidney bean burrito with avocado
- Eggplant chips
- Roast chicken- stripped chicken casserole with pasta, bacon and cream; chicken, sweet potato, peas and corn, chicken sandwiches, chicken and eggs for a protein filled breakfast
- Homebrand Morrisons cornflakes with maple syrup/honey (must have this to improve the flavour)- this is an ahhmazing breakfast, sweet and worth about 76 pence when I was last in the UK, the honey lasts for ages as does a whole box of cornflakes, so much cheaper than Crunchy Nut Cornflakes that are about 4 quid per box!
I hope you have enjoyed this post. I have certainly enjoyed remembering the challenge that lower pay rates provided me with. It is important to see life's hurdles as that, a challenge we can overcome. At times I 100% understand how horrid it is to earn little but I also am incredibly grateful that I have these skills from being put in a situation where I was forced to adapt. There are many individuals my age or younger (even older) who have never had to be resilient enough to learn how they deal with the stress of being consistently stingy.
I am pleased to say that now I still regularly check prices in supermarket catalogues and I don't allow social hierarchy to dictate where I shop, not when it comes to my happiness and what I get to enjoy in life, there are so much more important things in life than where you do your grocery shopping. I'm pleased I no longer walk in an A to B like fashion of 'to do' lists and accept the prices in front of me, I'm proud of myself (and clearly happy to boast haha) that I can easily eat on 5 pounds for 8 days and that I know as long as I have access to a microwave, fridge and freezer there will always be a way to save money and enjoy what matters most without being stressed all the time.
For those of you who live outside of the UK, you can try this challenge in your home country too, you know what supermarkets are more affordable than the others, don't be afraid to shop there. There is absolutely no harm in trying out Walmart, Aldi, CostCo or other low cost supermarket chains. You can eat as affordably as I did whether you live in London, Australia or elsewhere, you just have to make it happen.
Will you be trying out this challenge?
If so, tag me in it using #empoweredbyjt or @julia_trask on Instagram. I’d love to hear just how cost effective you can make healthy meals planned across the week. It’ll challenge me to continue to make meals enmasse for less and less and that in my opinion is one of the coolest, most useful skills one could possibly ever have. As always, thanks for reading!
Meet Morrison's! They even give all their unwanted food to charity. That is a good supermarket to support in my opinion!