The great british menu - food poverty... AIBU?

(994 Posts)
Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 20:25:40

I hate myself for thinking this but, AIBU to think that Lady Whatsername who said in the 90's that the reason poor people couldnt manage on benefits was because they lacked the ability to cook good simple nutritious meals, may have had a point? The way she said it was totally U and she was very sneery, but I cant help thinking that there might be a grain of truth in it.

Of the three families I have just seen in this program I saw what 2 of them ate in a day. one was a mother and daughter who's only meal of the day was a microwave burger each costing £1 each, and the other was a family where the children had fish fingers or nuggets and oven chips, while the parents had tinned veg.

£14 per week that the first family spent is enough for a bag of baking potatoes, some basics pasta, baked beans, passatta, a pack of frozen sausages, a bag of porridge oats, some cheese, some sandwich meat such as Haslet from the deli counter (35p per 100g in my tesco) and milk. The DD would be getting free school meals if I heard correctly about her age and their income. Far healthier, more filling and more than one meal a day!

The second family, again, for the price of nuggets, fish fingers and oven chips they could make a spag bol using basics ingredients that would feed them all well.

RAther than focussing on the cost of food, which is only going to rise, surely it would be better to focus on educating people who eat badly because the food they choose is more expensive than cheaper, healthier alternatives that require a bit of cooking knowledge?

McNewPants2013 Thu 11-Jul-13 21:18:22

I haven't got a clue how to cook, I tend to use stir in sauces and frozen foods.

My mum didn't let us cook.

I am getting better but when the funds are low I can't afford to make a meal that I could balls up.

TheSecondComing Thu 11-Jul-13 21:19:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MissPricklePants Thu 11-Jul-13 21:20:21

oh and fwiw I work, just struggle to make ends meet what with rising costs (bus fare increased, childcare increased, council tax increased yadda yadda!)

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Jul-13 21:20:26

I have met many, many women who cannot cook. They have never been taught. Their mothers didn't cook. Their grandmothers probably did.
They live off takeaways and stuff they pick up at the co-op.
They simply do not understand how bad it is for them and their kids because if they did, they would not do it.

They love their children just as much as you do, just as much as Jamie Oliver loves his.

They have grown up surrounded by people with the same eating habits as them, with a suspicious attitude towards 'do gooders' like HVs and other professionals. This is generally because the only professionals they come across are the ones telling them that they are doing everything wrong.

If someone came into your home and told you that the way you ate and the way you fed your kids was wrong and they were going to tell you what to do would you welcome them?
I don't mean imagine you were feeding your kids crap and they came in, I mean imagine they came in NOW and said 'stop feeding your kids those fresh vegetables, stop giving them water and fruit, its ALL WRONG'

You would tell them to fuck off wouldn't you? If you had been raised by parents who fed you that stuff and all your friends did it.

I had a friend who never cooked. She is a diamond. A lovely woman who is devoted to her children. She would buy their entire pack lunch from the shop on the way to school, including prepacked sandwiches. She ate lunch in the cafe and got take aways every night.

She is not stupid. She just didn't stop to think.

And then she did. I admit I did a bit of gentle piss taking to give her a nudge. Now she is a domestic blumming Goddess!

She wouldn't be if a bunch of snotty twonks barged in and patronised her.

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:21:45

i cant cook very well I do try to keep to a budget though and I we dont eat ready meals but I dont work full time I can imagine it was easier for that mum to stick a micro burger in than come home from work and cook and she did sort of get into the habit of not cook

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:22:48

and what MrsDV said

Trills Thu 11-Jul-13 21:24:20

If you think that £14 a week for two people is doable you
1 - are an idiot - it should be obvious that this will be unhealthy and unpleasant and a cause of great unhappiness
2- should google "live below the line" for people taking the challenge to live n £5 for food for 5 days (for one person)

SuburbanRhonda Thu 11-Jul-13 21:24:32

Worcestershire sauce and mace in spag bol, Wallison?

Sorry for hijack, just couldn't let that one go!

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Jul-13 21:24:39

Of course they used to teach kids to cook at school.
How silly to say they didn't.

And what wallison said.
Its all very well for people to imagine how well they would manage on a budget. Like its some sort of hipster challenge.
If you have a freezer and a fridge that works, a store cupboard full of spices and seasonings, a well stocked kitchen and you are not so laid low by aneamia and depression that the idea of throwing together a risotto makes you want to pass out.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 21:25:59

Well said, Mrs DV smile

I will also add that some home-cooked food needs not just store-cupboard ingredients and seasoning / utensils, but a lot of fuel.

My pasta sauce really needs to be simmered for quite a while before it starts to taste of anything!

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 21:26:40

Those are part of my perfect recipe honed by many years' experience, SuburbanRhonda, and I stand by them!

cakebaby Thu 11-Jul-13 21:27:57

Ooohhh, diet, benefits, life skills, food banks. Perfect storm. Can't wait for this one....

<keeps gob shut and gets comfy with blankey and popcorn >

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 21:28:10

AudrinaAdare - good point about the fuel. If you're on a key meter, you'll be going through money like no-one's business just so that everyone can have a shower in the morning. There are plenty of people out there who just can't afford to simmer their tagine for three fecking hours.

HomageToCannelloni Thu 11-Jul-13 21:28:44

We did the £1 a day food challenge in our family this year, it really brought home how tough it is to eat for that little a day. We were all hungry by the end of it, and if we had to eat like that constantly I think the monotony of what you ,d have would drive me bonkers....yet it's the reality for so many people in the world.
It really made me realise just how much we, as a family don't NEED to spend too. I've become much more frugal. We now spend 3/4 of what we did before and donate the rest to food banks.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 21:29:04

Space for a freezer also an issue. I know a lot of people in tiny new builds who have a basic combination in the cramped hallway. I'd love a chest freezer, and space to store big bags of potatoes / rice etc when I saw an offer on.

MalcolmTuckersMum Thu 11-Jul-13 21:29:25

Blimey. So touched by some posts here. I can and do cook everything from scratch. My mum did. My grandmother did. So I'm lucky I guess. I'd love - really love - to pass on my knowledge to someone who needed it. Surely that's a scheme that has potential?

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:29:25

I put worscter(sp) sauce in spag bol are you not supposed too It tastes lovely

HomageToCannelloni Thu 11-Jul-13 21:30:27

Oooh that was the one trill, the live below the line challenge. We'll do it next year too...bloody good eye opener for the kids!

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:30:32

malcom if you have time start your own cooking course lady where i work does one for some of our parents look to volunteer at a family centre or something

BlackeyedSusan Thu 11-Jul-13 21:30:52

a whole chicken is cheap per kilo.... but not so cheap to cook. same goes for cheap ingredients. carrots are cheaper fresh, but take more energy to cook than tinned. frozen requires a frreezer and energy to run it.

when money is short, really short, it is difficult to work out what the heack is cheapest.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 11-Jul-13 21:32:13

Worcester sauce and mace in spag bol? hmm I put dried basil or Italian seasoning in mine. And I think you can make a good one with cheap tinned tomatoes and some tomato puree, but as someone else has said, you need to cook it for a long time. Slow cookers use very little electricity, but I don't feel that is entirely the solution. We had an egg and lentil curry last night, which was cheap, tasty and nutritious, but again required quite a bit of effort and cooking.

I agree with Mrs DV.

MalcolmTuckersMum Thu 11-Jul-13 21:32:21

All well and good mrsjay and I would - I really would - but it's not just about the goodwill and willingness unfortunately. You need premises, hygiene certificates, insurance and so on and so on...........and that's before you have to be CRB checked and God knows what else and all this just because you'd be willing to do something good for someone else. Or am I just being defeatist?

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 21:32:46

What ubik said. Poverty and cooking ability are not interchangeable. Plus, I demand that everyone who ever spouts off about low-budget eating should buy ALL their ingredients from scratch, using no more than two supermarkets, and keep fuel use to a minimum as well. The cupboard from which "cupboard ingredients" appear gets empty pretty damn fast. Since my slow cooker blew up, I've had to drastically limit my repertoire as my oven's too expensive to use.

I live near an Aldi. It was a major factor in accepting this house. You get at least 50% more for your money.

Before this, I was living in a village that had a council estate. I used to see young mums buying those microwave burgers from the petrol station shop, and feel a little bit judgy about them. But you know what? It was the only shop in the village. The town is £3.60 by bus and, with a buggy & toddlers, you can't actually shop that much ahead. Price of two nukeable burgers and a packet of crisps? £3.60.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 11-Jul-13 21:34:10

I've always cooked from scratch, but there are times, when I'm feeling ill, fed up or just lazy that I yearn to put fish fingers and oven chips in the oven, as I don't have the energy to do anything else.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 21:34:23

I think it was the mace in the spag bol being questioned grin

Worcester sauce is nice. Balsamic vinegar is lovely but doesn't stretch far.

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