The other night, Elise was coming round to finalise the launch of our The Potluck Club (you can read more about it here) and offered to bring some takeaway, and also her husband, Chris. But the $35 Food Challenge had just begun, so this was out of the question. So I offered for them to have some pizza with us, as last week, we’d bought a ton of toppings for a pizza that never eventuated. They agreed and offered to bring salad, so basically it was a mini potluck. Since I still had the receipt from Aldi I figured I could subtract the pepperoni, olives and cheese from our big shop the next morning. And then I looked in the cupboard. And there was no flour.
We’d done the exact opposite of what I always advise people – be prepared and do one big shop. So I popped out to our much-loathed local IGA for some flour, only to find black and gold products have been discontinued. My 1 kilo of plain white flour suddenly jumped in price from $1.59 to $2.39. Shit. My stomach dropped. Oh yes, The $35 Food Challenge really has begun.
People who live in poverty are not able to participate in many of the activities we take for granted. This could be anything from sending your child on a school excursion, to a visit to the dentist, to having your friends around for dinner. Foolishly, we decided the first night of the Challenge to do the latter of the three.
Imagine your friend invites you round for dinner. Your automatic response? Great! I’ll bring a bottle of wine. But you have no wine. And you have no money to buy any. Or maybe you have enough cash for a really shitty $4 bottle of wine. Will that be good enough? Maybe you just tell them you can’t go, I’m sick, or I’m busy, or something. Anyway, I’ll never be able to return the favour.
That was the feeling that hit me in the supermarket aisle. And it occurred to me that since I was doing the Challenge, since I INVENTED the challenge, I could tell Elise and Chris about the flour, a funny story, and publish it on my blog. Nice one, Lauren, you’ve just created some content. But if this were really my financial situation I’m not sure I could laugh it off. It wouldn’t be blog material. And when my dinner guests showed up, I certainly wouldn’t be telling them this story. You want your guests to feel welcome.
In the end, we had a great night, ate up all the pizza and the delicious salad Chris had made and drank the last of our wine. It made me realise though that there’s a conversation we need to be having about poverty and about that taboo subject, money. It needs to be ok to say we can’t afford something this week or it is just not in our budget. I doubt very much that your imaginary friend who invited you round for dinner would want you to stay home because you don’t have the cash for a bottle of wine or a box of choccies.
This is exactly why we started The Potluck Club in the first place; to share a meal among friends, to contribute what we can. It’s why 20+ bloggers donated their work for free to put together an e-cookbook of recipes to share among friends, and to raise money for Foodbank.
Maybe having friends around for dinner wasn’t a wise financial decision that week, but it was worth that short lived panic in the supermarket aisle to enjoy an evening with friends.
In support of Anti-Poverty Week (October 14-20) and in partnership with the $35 Food Challenge, a group of Aussie food bloggers have come together to launch an e-cookbook of simple and affordable recipes called ‘The Potluck Club’, at the low price of $5.95. All proceeds from the book are going to Foodbank Australia via The $35 Food Challenge. By purchasing a copy of ‘The Potluck Club’ you will be doing your bit to in the fight against poverty and not only cooking for yourself but cooking for a cause.
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