Ration Challenge 2020: Day 1

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I’m taking the Ration Challenge and eating the same rations as a Syrian refugee living in a camp in Jordan for one week. Find out more and sponsor me here


So here it is…Day 1 of the 2020 Ration Challenge. I took part in this challenge last year too – the first year it came to the UK (read about last year’s challenge here) – and I happily accepted the invitation to take part again.

Basically, for one week from September 13th to 19th, I’m living on basic rations: the same rations provided to refugees living in a camp in Jordan. As you can see from the picture below, it’s not a massive amount – and there’s not a great deal of variety.


Ration Challenge 2020 - Rations


I planned my meals the day before – making sure I had exact measurements of stuff so I didn’t end up running out of food towards the end of the week. I’ve also planned it so that I gradually introduce more and more ingredients in an attempt to avoid boredom.


Ration Challenge 2020 - Meal Plan


Day 1 didn’t start well: I’ve got my son’s cold and my sinuses are in agony. Normally, I’d combat it with plenty of fresh fruit, but instead, it was pint after pint of water, and prep for the week ahead.

I measured out my rice and flour rations for the week, as well as measuring out 170g of shallot (the “reward” vegetable I’ve chosen for reaching a certain sponsorship target) into 7 portions, which I’ve frozen to use throughout the week.

I’ve chosen to go for two meals a day, and started cooking the first of those at 11am. I say cooking…it was simply a pan of rice, cooked in salted water and drained, before seasoning with salt and paprika (the one spice I can use during Ration Challenge week). By no means a gourmet meal, but it was filling and tasted fine.


Ration Challenge 2020 - Day 1 Lunch


2.30pm came around, and I made myself a mug of weak black tea to stave off hunger. I only have two teabags to use over the course of the week, so I’ll be reusing them as often as I can…

I’m not letting my 2.5 year old endure the same challenge, so at 2pm, I started cooking a batch of Bolognese sauce so that he, at least, was eating sensibly. It smelled amazing. At the same time, I boiled up half of my tin of kidney beans (and their liquid) with some salt and paprika, adding a little of my vegetable oil once heated through, before blitzing into a kidney bean dip. It was a recipe I created for last year’s challenge, and it’s exciting to see that it’s made it into this year’s recipe book for challenge participants!


Ration Challenge 2020 - Kidney Bean Dip


The plan was to make flatbreads with 80g of my flour, and nibble on the flatbreads and dips over the course of the rest of the day. Sod’s law, though, meant that I got distracted by the toddler when adding the water to the flour and put too much in, making the dough incredibly sticky. Reluctant to use any more of my total of 400g of flour (I’ve got plans for all of the rest of it), I chucked the mix in the fridge for 20 minutes, before spooning it into a pan heated with more oil than I’d normally use. I sprinkled the top with salt, turning once the first side had cooked, and ended up with crispy puff-type things that were actually surprisingly tasty.


Ration Challenge 2020 - Failed Flatbreads

Ration Challenge 2020 - Kidney Bean Dip and Flatbread


7.30pm, and another cup of weak black tea. Two cups in a day from the same teabag is more than I was aiming for, but I’m missing caffeine far more than I thought I would, and I’m trying to keep the headaches at bay…

The original plan was to spend my Sunday night catching up on work, but instead I think I’ll be having an early night and hoping this cold shifts a little by the morning. I’ve got half my chickpeas soaking for hummus tomorrow – I just need to make sure I remember how long it takes them to cook so I get it done in time.

It feels good to have the first day under my belt, but it’s also making me think about how entire families have to live like this – not just for a week, but sometimes for ten years or more. And this year, not only thanks to COVID-19, but also with the huge fire at the Lesbos migrant camp that destroyed the homes of some 13,000 refugees, I’m realising even more just how much I take for granted…

Learn more about the Ration Challenge here.


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