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?

I can cook from scratch. I buy lots of pasta, rice, beans etc for the dc to eat, unfortunately some days it doesn't stretch far enough to also feed me.

Sparklymommy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:37:33

Maybe the government should run some free/subsidised cooking courses heavy on cheap meals. I agree they are not making good choices!

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:43:18

You aren't trying to argue that £14 per week is a reasonable food budget for a family are you?

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 20:43:25

I posted on another thread about a family who ate in Tesco cafe every night of the week. Both parents were illiterate and couldn't read instructions on food packets or work out timings. They had never had home cooked / non-fast food as children and had no idea what went into a spag bol for example. This was ten years ago when prices were cheaper. I hope to god they've had some help since. My sister's DC will be the same sad

ubik Thu 11-Jul-13 20:51:06

10,000 children hospitalised with malnutrition a year. 1million children go to school hungry.

I think it's simplistic to think it's all about making a chicken go round 4people for three days.

Access to markets and supermarkets us restricted according to where you live/ transport.

People move into council accommodation with no utensils and no means to buy them.

indyandlara Thu 11-Jul-13 20:51:27

Clementinekelandra, that is just awful. I don't think it is as simple as not being able to cook is it? The blog by a girl called Jack showed that sometimes there just isn't enough food for the adults in the family to eat.

I feel so mixed about food banks. I do give to them but it makes bloody angry that we need to have them in this day and age. I do feel that the government should not be relying on the rest of the population to ensure people can eat.

marriedinwhiteagain Thu 11-Jul-13 20:51:38

There didn't seem to be a lot of cooking going on. I did me and the DC for 50 PW once inspired by a MNet thread (DH was away). It was doable but it was tight. They are teenagers btw so eat a lot and their school lunches weren't included. I think it also included shampoo if required and no time to shop around.

comixminx Thu 11-Jul-13 20:53:54

Don't forget that to be able to cook you need: facilities (oven, hob, probably something more than a microwave); pans and pots; a kitchen (people in B&Bs don't have this); knowledge; time (eg not working multiple jobs); a shop that you can buy ingredients in (in a lot of inner city areas this is literally not something that is easily found).

NotYoMomma Thu 11-Jul-13 20:54:01

there were loads of free cooking classes at our surestart centre it was great but they have had their funding cut.

there was one woman who didnt know how to boil pasta and her reaction to being told you can make it from scratch was a big old 'fuck off!' shock

It isn't just poor people though.

I remember food basics being very cheap in the UK in the 90s but even then plenty of people chose not to take advantage of the prices.

IMO diet in the English-speaking world is generally crap, for historic reasons.

ubik Thu 11-Jul-13 20:58:56

This pointless, patronising programme confuses 2isdues:

1) people have lost cooking skills

2) poverty

These are two issues which should not be confused. The key is to end poverty. Then we can fanny about teaching people how to cook.

MissPricklePants Thu 11-Jul-13 20:59:15

I can cook from scratch and do often. However last week I had £8 to feed me and dd. For 8 quid you cannot buy much and value noodles with frozen mixed veg are becoming a staple! Luckily dd eats at nursery 2 or 3 times a week. I cannot always afford to feed myself though.

manicinsomniac Thu 11-Jul-13 20:59:44

minty the OP said it was for a mother and daughter, not a full family. I imagine you could feed 1 adult and 1 child on £14 a week. There are 3 in my house (me and 2 daughters) and I spend an awful lot more than that but I'm not on a budget and when I've done a food bank shop I've been both astounded and ashamed to realise I've probably bought enough to feed a family for several days for about £12!

I think OP, YANBU for some people. The cases you state sounds like they do need some budgeting and nutrition advice. But I think other people just really can't make ends meet, whatever they do.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 21:02:31

Most people where I used to live have no transport and have to shop at the corner supermarket where everything is overpriced and they notorious for short changing. No debit card payments under a fiver and it's £2 to use their cash machine. It can be bloody expensive being poor. A food bank has just opened up in the community hall next door hmm

TabithaStephens Thu 11-Jul-13 21:03:44

I don't see how it is the governments fault that people can't cook and have no food knowledge. This was not something that was traditionally taught at school, but something that parents taught children at home. Why have so many parents stopped doing this?

ubik Thu 11-Jul-13 21:05:30

This whole BBC strand is so depressing: setting 'benefits claimants' against 'taxpayers'

Most benefits claimants are in work! They pay tax FFS!

<goes for lie down>

Dackyduddles Thu 11-Jul-13 21:05:49

I don't know what to say. Two posters here touch me profoundly.

How does one help in ones locality or even specifically?

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 21:07:19

The largest group of people claiming from the DWP may have been paying tax for fifty or more years.

MiniTheMinx Thu 11-Jul-13 21:11:52

I remember having Home economics lessons at school. So schools have in the past taught some basic cooking skills to children.

I can't imagine what you could eat on £14 per week, it would all be carbs surely, pasta, potatoes etc,.. That isn't very healthy.

AuntieStella Thu 11-Jul-13 21:15:49

You no longer have home economics - it became 'food technology' and doesn't cover basic household cooking, planning and budgeting.

Now, better skills in those areas won't solve the problem of not having enough money. But it might make things stretch a little further, and that would help.

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:15:59

lots of people cant cook cant budget and dont have time or even the incentive for cooking so a tin of soup for an elderly person seems to do them cos they dont want to be bothered cooking for 1 . fwiw I sort of agree with you op but people fall into habits and are busy

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:17:02

I don't know what to say. Two posters here touch me profoundly.

How does one help in ones locality or even specifically?

google foodbanks your area you can donate food for families

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 21:18:10

There was a really good blog article a while back about cheap food shopping which basically blew a lot of assumptions out of the water. For eg, yes it is possible to buy and egg that costs pence, but you can't just buy one egg that costs pence - you have to buy a box of 20. Which is a massive outlay for starters if you are on a low income. And if you are a small family then you will not eat twenty eggs during the time it takes them to go out of date. So actually you would waste money by buying the cheap eggs.

Also, it pointed out that you really need to have a good stock-cupboard and well-equipped kitchen in order to be able to cook decent food on a budget, because most budget ingredients just don't make a meal on their own. In most supermarkets, dried herbs and spices sell for over £2 a jar. That is a massive strain on a household budget when you are already operating at the margins. For eg someone upthread said that spaghetti Bolognese was cook to cheap and I guess it is in terms of the mince, but if you want to make it properly you also need to have garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mace etc and then there you go bang your food budget for that day has gone out of the window. This is the problem with all of these frugal living 'solutions' - they don't take into account the fact that some people have empty kitchen cupboards, because they're poor. They just don't have rinds of cheese lying around that they can quickly whip up into a nutritious soup or whatever - they literally have nothing to spare.

ouryve Thu 11-Jul-13 21:18:16

You really think a slice or two of haslet or frozen sausages are any more nutritious than a microwaved burger?

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.

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:34:29

Aye I know malcom its hard but if you wanted too you could what about a hostel or the salvation army they do food for people maybe you could help out there

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 21:36:11

Many families will not have cooking facilities now. Social Fund grants have been abolished - they used to cover moving-in basics. They've been replaced by loans, and you have to prove you can make the repayments. If you're already paying back an IVA or county court judgement, you won't get a loan.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 21:37:12

Oh! I didn't know Mace was like nutmeg. That's just for cauliflower cheese imo but to each his own. You can tell I am from the mean streets despite my balsamic vinegar pretensions!

Badvoc Thu 11-Jul-13 21:38:32

I think the lack of choice on a tight budget would be deeply deeply depressing after a very short time.
Churches/sure start centres could do more IMHO.
There are so many church halls with cooking facilities...why aren't they offering free basic cooking classes?
I tried to get permission to do one at my local church.
Was told no.
It's so easy to cook pancakes for example...such an easy breakfast or even pudding. And filling too.
But how many young people know how to cook them?
Ditto things like scrambled egg on toast (cheap)
Baked potato and filling

MalcolmTuckersMum Thu 11-Jul-13 21:39:42

The more I read of this - posts like garlic's for e.g - the more I am so fucking depressed and outraged that this is happening in THIS country and in THIS day and age. It's beyond belief and our leaders, instead of prancing around practising looking well-fed and smug, should be hanging their fucking heads in shame.

Badvoc Thu 11-Jul-13 21:41:41

(I am not a wonderful cook btw but rather a family cook. I can do the usual staples and cakes)
I am always really annoyed on these threads when posters come in and tell everyone how great they are for being able to make a weeks worth of food from hairspray and dust. It makes me tired.
We don't all live near farmers markets or Aldis, or lidls. We can't all get to the reduced section at the supermarkets at the right time. Some of us live in villages where you have the huge choice of 1 shop
And there is nothing wrong with oven chips once a week!

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:42:00


Badvoc Thu 11-Jul-13 21:42:19

Well they aren't Malcolm. In fact they are about to get another £6k raise. Bless them.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 21:42:43

I watched it with my 10yr old DS and we were very humbled by it.

When I think about low budget cooking from scratch, I think about throwing in a few herbs/stock cubes/pepper etc to help make a decent meal.

But most of those people didn't even have those basics in their cupboards sad

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:42:50

oops caps locked sorry,

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 21:43:32

Well said Malcolm

DoJo Thu 11-Jul-13 21:47:02

This programme made me angry - they seemed to be confusing being patronising with being helpful! Apart from anything, for the price of three chickens you could buy kilos of lentils and make so many more meals which would go a lot further. Why they all seemed obsessed with getting meat into every meal was beyond me, and I think it was a shame that they 'wasted' so much of their budget buying meat when they could have made it go much further. I can make about 15 portions of soy mince bolognese or chilli for less than £5, and they have the added advantage of being familiar, easy to freeze and can be paired with super cheap staples to make filing, nutritious and easy to prepare meals.

cozietoesie Thu 11-Jul-13 21:48:36

My paternal grandmother could cook up a storm. In fact she came from a family that grew or caught/fished for their own food and cut their own fuel. The only things the village bought from 'outside' were shoes, paraffin, spectacles and - extraordinarily, their greatest treat - shop biscuits.

Then she married and moved to the city. She still had all her skills. What she didn't have was any money.

mrsjay Thu 11-Jul-13 21:48:39

not everybody wants to eat soya and lentils though

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 21:48:42

I agree with you, Malcolm, that it is a shameful situation. The whole 'you can only get a loan, and you only get that if you've got the money to pay it back' situation is Kafka-esque in the worst possible way.

AudrinaA - the mace is instead of the sugar that some (lesser) recipes would have you add, to take away the acidity of the tomatoes.

But I think my point still stands that mince and tomatoes is not spag bol. It's mince and tomatoes. Fine if that's what you're after, but it's not an example of a meal that you can make cheaply, if you want to do it properly.

MacaYoniandCheese Thu 11-Jul-13 21:49:14

Spag Bol:

Olive Oil
Onions and/or garlic
Tomatoes from a can

Nice if you have them:



Leithlurker Thu 11-Jul-13 21:49:50

The change in Disability Living allowance to PIP, a totaly this government idea nothing to do with either parties manifesto or the need to save money, is actually going to make this situation much worse in two ways.
1. Instead of 3 levels of care needs only two will exist in PIP. The threshold to get the lower rate, will in fact be substantially more difficult to achieve than as is the case for DLA just now. So a typical example would be someone, a woman lets say with sever arthritis in fingers, wrists, elbows, neck and shoulders. Many women lend up like that as the spend a lot of their life lifting kids, heavy shopping, cleaning, doing other heavy work.

So this woman who under the old test would get some DLA because she would in all likelihood fail the cooking test as she would rightly say that lifting hot pans, chopping, grating, even stirring could all be unsafe as she could hurt herself. Now though under pip she will receive nothing as the cooking test is gone and although having all her needs, she will still be able to function enough as far as the dwp are concerned. She will just have to take her chances like the many other disabled people.

I said she would lose out twice, the 2nd is that the very point of the DLA a benefit that Mrs Thatcher brought in by the way, is to cover extra costs. So this woman, and many other disabled people could afford decent food, might even be afford treats, like fruit, or a pudding. But not now, less money to spend on food, less money to pay for heat, less money to help them pay for additional medicines or therapies. Malnutrition may well be the norm for many people. Get angry people if you don't and illness and disability visit you and you look round in vain for help, you will only have yourself to blame. No one will make a stand for you if your not prepared to make a stand for others.

MacaYoniandCheese Thu 11-Jul-13 21:52:05

Soy mince has very little in the way of redeeming nutritional qualities. Dried beans much better and SO easy it's almost ridiculous (but the power issue is still there) sad.

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Jul-13 21:53:42

I went without food when my DD and DS1 were little.
I was raised in the 70s so knew how to cook.
I just didnt have the money.
Not after buying nappies and buying all the various stamps I had to for my phone and tv licence (I know! the scandal of being on benefits and having a phone and a tv).
As for those sodding key metres! They charge you to put the feckers in and the they charge you more for the gas/electric you use.

They were new back then and they put them in before you moved into a council flat without asking you, regardless of whether you were in debt (I wasn't).
At first I could charge up my key across the road. Then they shop owners began to realise that they were not worth the trouble. Eventually my nearest pay point was a two mile walk away (and I lived in central London!). I would push my dilapidated double buggy all that way and it would be shut and I would have to find another one.

Yep, after that I really felt like whipping up a wholesome organic feast for my toddlers hmm

Being poor is hard work and its crap and anyone who thinks it isn't has never done it.

And no, being a bit hungry actually because my bloody grant didn't get paid in on time and I had to live on beans for a week till mummy sent me a cheque, doesn't count.

Not does 'experiencing' poverty second hand when you are on your gap year in India, china or South America.

Unless you have had a cup of tea instead of dinner because you have to, not because you are on a fast day, you don't know.

ShatnersBassoon Thu 11-Jul-13 21:55:11

Hear, hear Badvoc. Especially nodding at oven chips being fine - it's just potatoes and oil people, call them thinly cut roast potatoes if you must, but don't call them junk food.

manicinsomniac Thu 11-Jul-13 21:55:11

Of course it wouldn't be pleasant and healthy. But for some people (those with access to large supermarkets and a freezer) it is possible.


Tesco value bread, brown or white - 47p X 2
Tesco value cornflakes - 31p
Tesco value milk - 53p X 3
Tesco value pasta - 30p
Tesco value spaghetti - 19p
Tesco value chopped tomatoes - 31p X 3
Tesco value sweetcorn - 32p X 2
Tesco value frozen peas - 89p
Carrots - 78p for a week's worth
Tesco value frozen mince - £3 for a week's worth
Tesco value tinned peaches - 32p X 2
Tesco value butter - 98p
Tesco value vanilla icecream, 2L - 89p
Tesco value tinned pineapple - 32p X 2
Tesco value baked beans - 25p X 4
Potatoes - approx £1

Total - £14.72

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Jul-13 21:57:20

I make a very very nice pasta sauce and I don't use Olive oil because its too expensive.

If I was on income support I wouldn't waste my money on Olive oil!

FreudiansSlipper Thu 11-Jul-13 21:57:24

£2.40 for food for one day sad

I can and have lived on a tight budget in the past but I am quite a good cook not everyone can cook or can put food together you can eat well on a small budget but how on such little money I do not know

If you have good basic ingredients and some herbs/spices you can make food go much further but that costs

ShatnersBassoon Thu 11-Jul-13 21:58:46

I also had home economics lessons at school in the 90s. Budgeting for meals, how to make food go further, how to reuse leftovers, most economical cuts of meat etc. It was the norm to think about these things not very long ago.

StinkyElfCheese Thu 11-Jul-13 21:58:50

when we we lucky enough to get our council flat we had nothing really - kids had beds each and we have a very old telly . we moved in and there was no flooring - dirty (plaster paint not wipable dirty) mis matched tiled/concrete floors old filthy floorboards.

We have very very little spare cash and we had to wait for our decorating 'pack' which was a few tis of paint sandpaper and rollors and bruches ... what we actuallt needed was a bed for us and carpets

we have got bits and pieces of ebay and freecycle and it is now at the stage where I don't mind friends popping in.

but we struggle with food and after rent/council tax/water/gas/electric/phone/tv that's the only place to cut back on . I know we are having 'GOOD' month when I can buy a chicken and do a roast with fresh veg smile

Fairylea Thu 11-Jul-13 21:59:08

I felt quite sorry for the woman who has mainly sugary tea. They were so patronising towards her. I'd imagine if you were on a very, very tight budget that sugary tea was one way of maintaining energy levels and saving money. They didn't need to talk to her like she was stupid.

Also, they seemed to assume everyone had £14 approx to stock up a food cupboard. Not everyone does. Lots of people live literally day to day. So if the cupboard is bare then buying cheaper ready meals makes sense.

I thought it was so patronising the way they spent all day wandering about markets etc. They seem to assume everyone on a low income has the time or convenience to do that. Where I live for example we have one local supermarket. No markets. The next aldi is 26 miles away by car. So many assumptions made.

manicinsomniac Thu 11-Jul-13 22:01:47

lots of cross posts while I was looking all that up, sorry. Doesn't seem very relevant now.

But I do think it's worth noting when you do you food bank shopping how much you can get for so little. It really makes me worry about the amount I spend on food when I usually don't think about it enough. Yesterday I bought 3 punnets of raspberries and 2 of strawberries - that alone came to £10. That could be three or four full days food if I was more careful and prepared to eat more calories and lower quality food. It's kind of embarrassing!

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Jul-13 22:02:14

How you going to feed a family on those products?

So basically pasta with mince, carrots, peas and corn for every meal?
Maybe beans on toast for a treat?
Potatoes with what?

That frozen mince shrinks to nothing when you cook it BTW. It doesn't behave like fresh mince of better quality. You need far more of it.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 22:02:15

I thought that too Fairylea

Where would the bus fare or petrol money come from to shop about so much?

StinkyElfCheese Thu 11-Jul-13 22:02:41

you can eat ok on a small sum of money but week in week out it just drains you... I dream of a full fruit bowl and telling the kids to help themselves smile

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 22:06:34

I agree that shopping at markets only works if you live near one. Also, dunno what markets are like near the rest of you but our one in town sells things that yes are very cheap but you have to use them pretty damn quick. So you can't do a weekly stock-up even of fruit and veg there, because it goes off within the week.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 22:08:08

I used to use Lurpack to sweat the veg or olive oil and premium mozzarella in my sauce - just to melt shock Value is fine if it's being cooked. Or none at all.

I was given a plant grow my own rosemary and scoff in that in cooking but none of the expensive stuff for years.

DD, DH and I had baked potatoes five nights a week ten years ago but even they are pricy now. The carnivores used to like corned beef hash but that's not budget either. Neither is the ubiquitous tuna pasta.

Jellyhandsandfingers Thu 11-Jul-13 22:13:17

We managed on £15 a fortnight for two adults when I was unemployed in 2010. It could be done but only because my Mother and sister kindly stocked up our cupboard just after I was made redundant, because we had all the cooking equipment already (if you have never had it before how on earth do you go about getting it on a limited budget) and because I know how to cook and like to cook.

Prices have since gone up so we would struggle now I think and God knows how you would get on if cooking from scratch wasn't something you knew how to do or enjoyed.

As others have said, there are two issues. Poverty is one, cooking skills is another. I do think both need to be addressed. It actually helped my self esteem to know that I could cook for us and we could manage at a time when I was feeling a bit useless due to the redundancy so I guess being able to cook served two purposes for me in that situation.

PeachActiviaMinge Thu 11-Jul-13 22:14:18

You can eat on a tiny budget but its surviving not living.

Our benefits have been sanctioned for four weeks after buying gaviscon, nappies, gas and electric then paying the bills there is very little left. We eat because I walk to a close supermarket at closing time for reduced to clear foods. I'm lucky I can walk to the supermarket at the needed times without paying transport and I have the knowledge to cook what I buy. Not everyone has those privileges.

As for the microwave burgers vs stew its more 60 seconds of microwaving electricity or two hours on the hob electricity.

It isn't just the money, or lack of skills but also the time and effort that goes in to cooking cheap meals from scratch. It takes bloody ages to produce meals from dried lentils or really cheap cuts of meat. This uses loads of fuel but it's also the last thing you feel like doing when you come in from a long day being treated like shit by customers for minimum wage (for example). And even if you do, people will be hoiking their judgey pants up about how your kids didn't get dinner til 9pm and went to bed late. Or talking nonsense about batch cooking and freezing when (1) you can't afford to run a freezer, even if you had one and (2) you have loads of other stuff to squeeze in to your days off work so can't spend the whole day cooking (even if you could afford the fuel for that).

It is fairly easy to come up with a one off misery shopping list for 2 for £15, but try eating that stuff every day for the foreseeable future. Lentil soup every night for the next 15 years is not something I'd be looking forward to.

Also, these lists never include stuff like cooking oil and salt/pepper (never mind all the other store cupboard stuff most of us take for granted). If your food budget is £15 every week, then at some point you'll need to buy this stuff. And you won't be buying the big bottle of vegetable oil that works out cheapest, because you can't afford to waste that amount of your weekly budget on oil. No, you'll be buying very small but cheaper bottles that work out more expensive in the long run.

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 22:17:20

Actually, I would say that poverty is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed. Not knowing how to feed a family with soft carrots, an onion and the last bit of dust in a herb jar wouldn't be an issue if people were living on decent household budgets. When you look at how much money is swilling around a few people at the top of the income scale in this country, surely it is eminently manageable that we don't have people living in food/fuel poverty - we are a rich country. But I guess that redistribution of wealth is a dirty phrase these days.

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 22:18:17

Oh, Peach, I'm so sorry to hear you've been sanctioned sad
I can't imagine how I'd manage for 4 weeks - am dreading my 'turn'.

MiniTheMinx Thu 11-Jul-13 22:18:33

That shopping list is grim. Virtually no fruit or dairy and the only protein is from cheap fatty mince. And where are the tea bags.

Fairylea Thu 11-Jul-13 22:20:25

I also think for a lot of parents on low budgets they will sacrifice some of the budget in order to buy treats for the dc, so the dc do not feel left out in relations to peers or to come home from school and not have a chocolate biscuit or a small cake or whatever else and then all they have to look forward to is a bowl of soup or a potato and then bed. It's a bleak existence for a child. Everyone needs treats.

DoJo Thu 11-Jul-13 22:24:05

Mrs Jay - not everyone wants to eat meat either. And if you priority is to fill up your family's stomachs with something nourishing and pleasant tasting then spending such as large proportion of your budget on meat seems counter-productive. I was just disappointed that there wasn't even much mention of how you could get protein from other, cheaper sources in the programme - it seemed like they were just 'playing' at coming up with ideas rather than addressing the problem for the long term.

DoJo Thu 11-Jul-13 22:28:24

MacaYoniandCheese Soy mince has as much protein in it as beef mince though, which is my point about sources of protein which are cheap, readily available, and much easier to store to boot.

PosyNarker Thu 11-Jul-13 22:28:39

You can eat on a tiny budget but it is more involved and takes more time / prep to be healthy. Loads if great veggie dishes with beans but to make cheaply, need to dial and boil dried beans (to speed things up need a pressure cooker).

Cheap cuts of neat are great if you're in to watch them, but if not, only really work if you fork out got a slow cooker...

And of course, many of the more interesting veggie dishes need a decent spice cupboard which can often be built up more cheaply from ethnic grocers but is still a substantial outlay if living day to day.

Batch cooking can save, but you need a freezer (unless willing to eat chilli / meatballs / spag bol for 4 days straight...)

I have plenty money, but an interest in cooking and have noticed how much the bill goes down when we do veggie, braises etc. but then I also have the luxury of a well stocked spice shelf to keep it interesting.

I'm sure it's possible but when someone is already struggling, asking them to have time, cooking skills, budgeting skills and planning to eat really well on a tight budget just seems like an extra pressure...

manicinsomniac Thu 11-Jul-13 22:29:57

fair enough, maybe my list reflects my own dodgy eating habits and lack of cooking knowledge.

MrsDV It wouldn't occur to me that a potato had to be eaten with anything, I see it as a meal. And I also see the same meal every day as fine/normal. I eat the same meal every night (alternating between two types of fish), it just happens to be a much more expensive same meal.
Maybe the mince wouldn't stretch though - it's 950g, I think that's an awful lot but maybe it isn't.

Abitraryusername does everyone buy oil, salt and pepper? I wouldn't know what to do with them really.

minitheminx are teabags a staple? I don't buy them. Not a lot of fruit I agree but quite a lot of veg. You could probably get 3 portions a day each out of it which is poor but not as poor as many not on a budget. Also, I think baked beans have quite a lot of protein.

I ponced about today making fancy ice cream in my £160 ice cream maker with eggs from my chickens and strawberrys and raspberrys from my allotment.

Real fancy ice cream you'd pay fortunes for in some up town restaurant.

But what a total cock I would be to then extrapolate that to 'oh everyone can make lovely food if they just knew how' hmm

You could cut my wage to benefits level and I wouldnt starve for for 4 months (and not cos I've any savings) - instead because I've a store cupboard, a veg plot, and of course the chickens.

marriedinwhiteagain Thu 11-Jul-13 22:35:47

About every 4-6 weeks I cook 30 meals for a homeles charity. About three years ago with basics products I could knoxk up a very nice massive Cottage pie for about £13. The same dish now using the same ingredients comes to more than twenty. Sainsbury's value mince was 85p - it's now 135p for 400g. Cost of 12 packs + 8tins value toms, jar of bisto, bottle of HP, bag of onions, big bag of carrots and 5kg spuds has pretty much doubled. It's shocking - still good value but much more expensive. A lasagne is nearly double that; a chicken stew and rice may be a third more. More perspective about price rises when ou do it in bulk. And I always throw in a couple of pounds of cadbrys because I think you still need something nice - even if your're poor.

I don't do the foodbank but a friend of mine is vicar in a poor area and he welcomes what he calls family boxes for when the money runs out every week - a dinner and breakfast for a family of three to five. I usually put in pasta, sauce, tinned fruit, custard, packet of Mr Kippy pies, cereal, t bags, twist of coffee, small shampoo, bar of soap and - bag of sweets for the dc - why shouldn't they have a bag of sweets. He puts in a pint of milk and a loaf bTW. sad 2

The thing is the same that on a thread a while ago. These people don't have a 'good' store cupboard behind them. It is easy/cheap to cook tasty meals if you have a store cupboard. None of the families in this programme.

It easy to say but this box 'only' cost £20 if you don't have them money for food to eat let alone buying stuff to be used over weeks/months.

I live in a deprived area which in the 2 years my dc primary school have introduced a 'read and feed' scheme so those children who have FSM now can have a free breakfast as well as help with homework. But also so we know that they are having at least 2 meals a day.

Of course the next 6/7 weeks of school holiday means these children may only have 1 meal a day as parents are going to struggle with the additional food costs.

ShadeofViolet Thu 11-Jul-13 22:38:27

There is no way that £14 could feed a family, even with the best will in the world. It may be doable for a couple of weeks but its not sustainable.

And where is the fruit and veg OP?

ShadowStorm Thu 11-Jul-13 22:39:10

I'd agree that having good cooking skills can help families stretch their food budget - particularly if the family lives near shops / markets selling food cheaply and have plenty of time for cooking. But that won't solve the problem completely, particularly if the only shops within walking distance are expensive convenience stores, and you can't afford a big freezer or much fuel for cooking with.

And also, if someone doesn't know how to cook to begin with, I can't imagine you'd feel much like experimenting and trying to teach yourself if you're on a budget so tight that getting it wrong would mean the whole family going hungry.

ShadeofViolet Thu 11-Jul-13 22:42:27

yy to more food skills.

My DS is at secondary and this year so far in food tech he made Fruit Salad, scones, crumble and a cheesecake. None of that will help him feed himself and certainly not on a budget. He is in year 7 mind so it may get better as he goes through school, but I really think they are missing a trick.

A single potato as a meal? And no salt or pepper or oil? WTF would you do with that to produce a meal. I can't imagine the despair I'd feel if I came in from work and spent 25 mins or so preparing a meal of boiled potato with no seasoning.

The thing about cooking from scratch is that you do need stuff like salt and often long cooking times so as not to produce incredibly bland food. A life of going to quite s lot of effort so that i could eat frozen value mince with some carrot and sweet corn and no seasoning or potato with no seasoning is really quite grim, tbh. If that were the alternative, I'd be buying the microwaveable burgers. At least they'd taste of something.

Itsnotahoover Thu 11-Jul-13 22:46:00

This blog is good

There are many ways of living on a budget. I've done it and I quite enjoy cooking well for not much money!

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 22:46:20

LaurieFairyCake, great post. You would indeed be a cock grin

What I love about Mumsnet (other than that nobody sneered at me for thinking mace was a self-defence spray earlier blush) is that most people here really get it and do understand the challenges that people on a limited budget face.

They know that they are able to keep costs down because they are not living day to day.

MrsDeVere Thu 11-Jul-13 22:47:23

manic a potato is not a meal.
It has very little nutritional value on its own.

There is no point in people swapping a £1 micro burger meal for a potato.

It is less filling and has less of the things a body needs. A micro burger may be full of crap but it has protein and fats and sugars.

I love potatoes but they are a side dish. Unless they are baked and have a filling. Baking potatoes are really expensive.

I worked it out while I was watching - our lowest point was £1.25per person per day.

Luckily we had a decent stash of stuff in the cupboard, I'm a good cook, I asked on here for ideas... and it was only for 2 months.

It was still grim sometimes and I felt like shit telling ky child that no they couldn't have any fruit because there wasn't any left for the week now.

In the year before that we didn't have much more, but I did it the fucking stupid middle class buy lots of lentils way. The whole family lost weight (we were already very slim!) It is very easy to do a vegetarian diet badly.

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 22:55:27

That's a very sweet blog, Hoover, but it's also bloody daft.

I've learned to shop at Aldi and Lidl for my main shops, with top ups at the local shop for bread and milk. This week, for example, my shopping bill was £35.76 which will, pretty much, feed me and my 7 year old son, plus the dog, for a week.

She says she has £200 a month 'disposable' income, which is £80 a week - and she says that's after 'bills'. She's got a very healthy £44 a week left over for transport, clothing, medicines, household stuff and so forth but people on benefits would be paying their gas, electricity, phone and internet out of that.

And she seems to have both an Aldi and a Lidl nearby. She must live in the only place that does hmm

PosyNarker Thu 11-Jul-13 22:58:08

Lentils can be great, but you need more fat in dishes to keep the calories up (unless like me, that's the point of the lentil dishes).

Plus even buying frozen if you can (have big freezer) you need fresh veg and a variety thereof to get a decent diet.

Of course plenty well off people don't have a decent diet, but then they have the choice to bit be arsed, or supplement with vitamins and kid on its the same. Not much choice in £14 a week and precious little space to get distracted and let the spuds boil dry.

I reckon even for those who are prepared, superb cooks, veggie and organised it would still be a difficult lifestyle.

PosyNarker Thu 11-Jul-13 22:58:44

Garlic - where I live (quite posh ir

DH and I stupidly overspent and ended up with very little to feed everyone for about 3 weeks a while ago. I managed to do 3 shops for between £20 and £30 in Aldi to feed us (but I had to go to sainsbos to get tinned chickpeas as Aldi don't seem to sell them). I could make decent, healthy, tasty meals out of that BUT only because (1) I have a well stocked food cupboard, herbs in the garden and spare ingredients in the freezer, (2) we had petrol in the car and could afford to travel across the city to Aldi and then go to sainsbos, (3) we have plenty of equipment etc in the kitchen, (4) the fuel bills aren't a problem as it was a temporary cash flow issue caused by DH's idiocy, and (5) I usually work at home so I can put food on and let it cook for hours and hours. If we were living in poverty it would not have been possible. Even with those 5 huge advantages, I couldn't have done it for £14 a week.

Nonetheless it was not fun at all and I don't want to repeat it. We were also heartily sick of bloody lentils by the time pay day came. And we discovered that, contrary to MN wisdom, lentil bolognaise is not nice.

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 23:00:55

Don't tell me you've got two German budget supermarkets in your posh area, Posy! <dies of envy>

PosyNarker Thu 11-Jul-13 23:02:27

Erk, damn phone. Where I live (quite posh in parts oddly) we have an Aldi and a Ludke next door to each other a mile away,

My parents (totally different area) have similar?

Not sure why it's odd to havd both ?

MissPricklePants Thu 11-Jul-13 23:03:59

in the town I live there is a lidl and 2 aldis! although lidl is the only one I can get to (no car) as it is walking distance.

Itsnotahoover Thu 11-Jul-13 23:06:16

Yeah I have an Aldi and Lidl on my bus route in both directions so didn't realise it was an abnormality to have this! And I live in a little village with only a local shop so not exactly central!

In our town we have waitrose, Tesco, then tiny co-op, Tesco local, budgens... none of them are cheap.

It's £6 on a 40min bus ride to the nearest market, you'd have to get a 2nd bus for any other supermarkets.

Yes, we have a food bank.

Itsnotahoover Thu 11-Jul-13 23:15:15

How is £200 a month £80 a week?? It works out at £46 a week, so after approximate £36 for food, that leaves £10 for "luxuries"!

garlicsmutty Thu 11-Jul-13 23:17:52

You're absolutely right! I need to go to bed blush

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 23:17:52

Ime, Aldi tend to situate themselves in areas where the rent is cheap ie not central and not where all buses go. So, fine if you have a car, but if you're poor you don't have a car, so you can't get to Aldi. I think that outside of London, people's shopping choices are limited.

revealall Thu 11-Jul-13 23:17:52

The other thing about cooking from scratch is the risk of it going wrong - especially true if you're poor and missing a few ingredients. A fish finger tastes like a fish finger but my curry sometimes tastes of burnt garlic , sometimes too sweet (99p shop coconut paste) or too spicy.

I also agree that scatch cooking is hard when poor. Even pastry costs a bag of flour 50p and a cheap butter 98p. That's £1.50 gone before you've put anything in it.

FreshLeticia Thu 11-Jul-13 23:18:55

It never ceases to amaze me how this sort of thread has posters who claim to be so skint they can't feed themselves, yet they can afford an internet connection and computer/mobile phone?
Surely food comes first - and don't tell me they are all in the local library using their machines.
Processed food is more expensive than scratch, even cheap processed stuff is more expensive than a big pan of fresh vegetable soup. The problem is that a lot of people just refuse to eat real food because they are so used to the artificially enhanced flavours in the processed stuff and they just can't be arsed to cook.

ShadeofViolet Thu 11-Jul-13 23:21:07

How do you apply for jobs if you have no internet connection?

ethelb Thu 11-Jul-13 23:23:51

I agree with much of the above. DP lost his job last year, and by cutting back lots, having DP at home to simmer the beans and make the bread we made ends, more or less meet, with my income and the benefits.

However, the problems came when he got a job (for which he had to register self-employed) and his employers didn't pay him for two months. That was TOUGH. But, with fairly well stocked store cupboards and a largish freezer plus our ability to cook, we managed to eat, just.

But don't kid yourselves that was sustainable. As soon as DP got paid, we went out and restocked the cupboards. Not with extravagent stuff mind you. Pasta, rice, stock cubes, tinned veg, frozen veg, butter, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cleaning products, loo roll. And do you know how much our food/grocery cost over the next month?

About twice the usual as we had to replace everything we had used up.

So don't pretend it is all about being a bit frugal and being able to cook. That is important, but it is no guarantee of not falling off the edge and needing food kitchens/help.

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 23:26:17

Actually, processed food is often cheaper than 'nutritious' food. In our local overpriced small supermarket, I can get 4 pies for a quid. That costs less than a bag of frozen sweetcorn. It costs the same as a bunch of broccoli (neither of which would by themselves feed four people). If I were to buy the ingredients to make four pies myself, it would come to a lot more than that. And yes, I would have some ingredients left over but that doesn't help me when I only have a limited amount to spend every day. There are plenty of other anomalies - for eg a massive tub of shitty ice-cream costs 80p, whereas a small pot of naice yoghurt costs £1.30 or so. Similarly, a punnet of grapes costs £2.50 but a pack of cheapo sponge cakes costs £1. If you're looking for a pudding for your kids, which would you choose?

PosyNarker Thu 11-Jul-13 23:29:45

Don't forget Fresh that aside from the point about job seeking (Internet connection is very important, as is mobile if you plan to be away for more than a day) many people enter into contracts for mobile, TV, gym or whatever that have a specified duration and are then hit by redundancy.

We are bloody lucky in that while I earn more, we can constrain our monthly outgoings to the essentials fitting in DP's salary although it wouldn't be fun (and we still wouldn't be poor). If one partner earns a lot less or stays home to do child care, what do they then do regarding e.g. 12 month mobile phone contract? There's always a risk.

ethelb Thu 11-Jul-13 23:30:32

@wallison agreed. I remember a badly off friend who could cook, and did know about food nutrition getting very excited when ASDA did an all ready meals for £1 a few years ago, as she could afford to feed herslef for the next couple of weeks. Fresh food was a luxury in her, quite well informed, opinion.

Plomino Thu 11-Jul-13 23:32:15

But having an Internet connection these days is not a luxury . Not any more. Quite apart from the fact that sometimes it comes free with other things , like your landline , it also gives you access to other money saving channels. Cheapest energy tariffs for example , are as a rule , available online only . And it's ok saying well use the library one , IF YOU HAVE A LOCAL LIBRARY AND ITS STILL OPEN . Ours starting shutting earlier and earlier two years ago , and the mobile library has been cut altogether . And that's assuming you can walk to it , instead of using the precious fuel in the car if you have one , to get there .

I use online shopping, because even with the delivery charge, it's still cheaper than using the fuel to drive to my local (20 miles away) Aldi , and stops any impulse ( ha!) buying .

Its not as simple as not being arsed . Everything costs more and more these days . Disposable income is getting less and less , if at all . It's called weighing up which is more economic . Driving to the nearest local market , using expensive fuel , because there is no bus service and the market's 8 miles away , to get cheap veg , or walking to the village petrol station to get a microwave dinner .

LegoCaltrops Thu 11-Jul-13 23:34:27

How do you expect someone who has been out of work for several years (my DH) to get a job if they can't apply online. How can he book his operation he needs, all done online now. How can he sort his access to higher education course, all has to be done online now. Plus, we have a 1 year old DD & as I work how is he supposed to get hold of me if there is an emergency? I can't take personal calls at work. FWIW, my phone only costs me £5 per month. We eat almost all homemade, I made all DD's baby food myself as well, we missed quite a few meals so she could eat properly.

Holliewantstobehot Thu 11-Jul-13 23:35:39

If I didn't have a computer and internet I would be sanctioned every bloody month by the job centre for not applying for enough jobs. I have to record all my job hunting online, paper proof is not acceptable. Internet is not a luxury for me. But I don't have sky, don't drink, smoke or go out, unless I am taking the dcs out somewhere.
I cook a lot from scratch but we do have processed food sometimes, mainly when I am knackered and can't face cooking and washing up and I always keep a frozen pizza in the freezer as my ds has sen and if he is having a bad day I will be too busy coping with him to cook anything other than pizza and salad.
I would also like to point out that cooking a new dish you are not sure your dcs would like is very risky when you haven't much food. If the dcs don't like it and demand something else you have then lost a large percentage of your food budget.

revealall Thu 11-Jul-13 23:36:05

Agreed Wallison.

FreshLeticia even cheap vegetable soup say carrot (30p)with a bit of onion (15p) and potatoes to thicken (50p) it will cost nearly a £1 to buy. Then you really need stock cubes which will be another pound or at least some salt. Considering my tall skinny 9 year old happily eats adult sized meals soup without bread won't fill him up at all. So that's more money
Or you can buy the pies.

ethelb Thu 11-Jul-13 23:37:19

An internet connection isn't a luxury. You could easily save as much money as it costs a month by shopping online/searching for discounts or free stuff (most of our furniture is Freecycle/preloved which has saved us, literally thousands).

Plus search for jobs and set up a business as we did when DP lost a job. Ww would not currently be self-sufficient, tax paying individuals without it. Which would be in no-one's interest.

Darkesteyes Thu 11-Jul-13 23:39:23

If people are going to be forced to eat a carb heavy diet or processed food for a long time due to poverty they will gain weight and im not talking pounds here. Im talking stones. I weighed 21 stone in 2001 when i finally signed off into a job. While losing the weight i developed VERY painful gall bladder disease. Its appaling that people are going through this and it will eventually break the NHS because they WILL be dealing with the fall out.

expatinscotland Thu 11-Jul-13 23:40:39

'Yeah I have an Aldi and Lidl on my bus route in both directions so didn't realise it was an abnormality to have this! And I live in a little village with only a local shop so not exactly central!'

PMSL! Yes, it is.

The BBC should not be receiving subsidies. It is past time the TV license is absolished. They keep producing biased shit like this that we have to pay for if we want to watch telly at all. What a crock of shit.

We Pay Your Salaries, more like. John Inverdale, anyone? Says it all, really.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 23:42:31

Ah, the old internet connection chestnut again. The number of times I have seen it over the last few years (not for a few months now though as this sort of ignorance is dying out) usually accompanied by, "oh, well I didn't know it could do all that. We generally use ours to just piss about and to book holidays"

Darkesteyes Thu 11-Jul-13 23:44:26

On Twitter the # is #WePayYourLicenceFee

Darkesteyes Thu 11-Jul-13 23:45:49

Agree Expat They seem to forget that people on low incomes struggle to pay the licence fee too.

lemonandice Thu 11-Jul-13 23:46:11

A few pages back, someone mentioned their local vicar put together family boxes for when money is tight. Not being at all religious myself, does anyone know if this is a common thing for churches to do? I'm not rolling in it myself, but I am very lucky to have enough to eat, and I'd like to do something. How is it right that in 2013 people have to go hungry just to feed their kids?

PosyNarker Thu 11-Jul-13 23:48:44

Yeah unless you have a local library with free Internet next food and a job centre down the street it's a faff.

When DP was unemployed his job centre was 3.5 miles away - 15 mins by car or over an hour each way on two buses. Meanwhile companies want contact details do you need a mobile or an answering service you could access regularly. I have recruited for professional jobs and I expect a response to interview request within 24hrs, especially for contract. This is not abnormal.

Also I'd say don't totally knock the pies. If the kids are getting exercise, pie & beans is maybe a bit fatty , but salty but not dreadful. (Consider some 'posh' pasta or risotto dishes would have no less fat & far less protein)

tabulahrasa Thu 11-Jul-13 23:50:52

What happened in the second half of the programme that makes people think it was about a lack of cooking skills and not money?

I watched the first part and then went out - the chefs, who I'm assuming can cook or they're fairly pointless chefs couldn't make meals on that budget, even the ones who really tried went over. One of them actually said there was no way he could make a lasagne cheaper than the value ready meal one.

That's lack of money, surely?

expatinscotland Thu 11-Jul-13 23:52:11

And the two families were working and the other was a pensioner.

But hey, slag 'em off. Dumb asses! Can't believe they don't go to Aldi or hit the street market and bargain down the price. Very easy a) if you have a fucking Aldi or can get to the supermarket when they mark stuff down and you're not on shift the way a lot of low-income people are b) lot easier to bargain when you're a sleb chef with a camera crew in tow. Assuming again, you HAVE a fucking street market and you are off work and/or able to get to it.

expatinscotland Thu 11-Jul-13 23:55:53

All the chefs went fucking overbudget, too. What happens in real life?!

So sick of the BBC trotting out all this shit. Misogynist, fascist shite that we have to pay for if we want to watch telly at all. We don't get a choice.

lisianthus Fri 12-Jul-13 01:05:33

I so agree with all of this, particularly Audrina and MrsDeVere (except for the part where you said potatoes have no nutritional value. Potatoes are very good for you- they have every vitamin except A and D wikilink so you can in theory survive on a diet of potatoes and milk. Not that you'd want to. Don't understand why potatoes are the most reviled vegetable on Mumsnet.

All these sleb programmes seem to miss the point that in almost every case, you need money in order to save money. You need money to pay for the internet, slow cookers, bulk food purchases, getting to "cheap" markets (frankly all the farmers' markets I have come across are the poncy twice-the-price ones).

Even when they refer to "cheap peasant food" they conveniently forget that the "peasants" had a bit of land to grow herbs and vegetables, lived close to family and could share ingredients, possibly had their own chickens, lived in countries where some of the ingredients such as olive oil were cheap staples, and often died young anyway.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 01:26:32

Ok so have read the panning I got in the first 20 or so posts and am responding to those.

Firstly, for the last 7 months I have fed myself and my 5 youngest children (plus my eldest who is here about twice a week for dinner) on £70 a week, this was firstly because of my husbands redundancy, then because we split up and I am now a lone parent who is struggling to get a job. We eat well. I cook everything from scratch, they have lots of fruit and veg. This is because my mum taught me how to budget, shop and cook and because my school taught me too.

Secondly, Spag bol for 2 can be made very cheaply, you dont actually need Mace! £2.50 for a large pack of mince from Aldi, 40p tin of tomatoes, 30p carton of passatta, 2 x 40p pack of spaghetti and 60p each for a jar of garlic and of oregano. It would make enough for atleast 3 meals for a mother and daughter. Ok so Heston would turn his nose up, but it tastes good and has 1 of the 5 a day in it. 2 if you add a tin of beans and make it stretch to 5 days.

Thirdly, herbs cost at least £2 a jar? Are you shopping at Fortnums?! Even in Tesco a jar of mixed herbs is about a pound!

My point was not about poverty, I agree that the hitting of the poor (of which I am one) with all the so called "austerity measures" is wrong because yet again, those who are least able to afford it are the ones who are propping up the tax avoiding rich. My point was that it would make a huge difference to help people stretch what little they have and make it go further. Surely no one can say that it is better that a woman on a £14 a week food budget spends it on 14 microwave burgers than help her learn how to feed herself and her daughter a more nutritional diet? I know about the choice between eating and paying the gas bill, I know about feeding the kids and then going to bed early to sleep through the hunger. Dont assume that I am rolling in money just because I think that bringing back Home Ec over Food Tech is a good idea.

TabithaStephens Fri 12-Jul-13 01:26:58

I think families have to take more responsibility instead of expecting the government to be the first port of call.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 01:28:58

You really think a slice or two of haslet or frozen sausages are any more nutritious than a microwaved burger?

No. But I think that a bowl of porridge, a haslet sandwich for lunch and then a supper of pasta, passatta with chopped up sausages in it, with a bit of grated cheese on top is a better daily diet than one microwaved burger.

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 01:31:39

Good post, lisianthus. Very true about peasant food. And potatoes. My ancestors were Irish and the problem of potatoes was solved by jazzing them up with erm, grass, during the famine(s)

Grim. I can't stand potatoes myself and would have been the last of my line if down to me. Christ knows where they got vitamin D from in sunny Ireland either!

I think I can now retire from MN having been positively mentioned in connection with MrsDeVere, whom I respect and adore in equal measure. Nobody ever agrees with me on threads except to laugh at me, so thanks for that grin

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 01:32:33

TabithaStephens, what does your post mean?

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 01:35:23

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)

As I said, my shopping budget per week for 6 people (me, 16 , 11, 8, 7 yr old DCs, 2 yr old DC in nappies and disabled 23 yr old DC who has dinner at home twice a week) is £70 including toiletries, cleaning stuff etc. I use washable nappies. I realised after I posted above that I said I feed us on £70 a week, I dont, I feed us on £55 -60 ish. Even when times were good, our shopping budget was £120 and I never spent it all.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 01:45:56

It's not the same, though, Bogey, is it. Shopping for that many, you have more to spend and can benefit from larger packs. If I buy 5kg of spuds, chances are the last quarter or third of the pack will be rotten by the time I get to them. Can never buy large or multi-packs of meat due to cost. I know you have additional costs & considerations as well - and that just makes it even more unreasonable that you deduce a budget for 1 or 2 from your own experience.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 01:55:26

Before STBX and I got married I was a single parent to my son, so yes I do know that it can be done!

But that isnt the point. The point I was trying to make is that education is the key. We cant change the powers that be scapegoating the poor, making us pay for their 11% payrises, but we can make sure that what little they allow us feeds us and our children, via education.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 01:56:43

How do you do your shopping, Bogey? Online or by car, perhaps? What would you recommend my ex-neighbours from the village should do for the best? I'm not knocking your assertion that home ec needs to be better taught - I agree, - neither am I saying the village mums do right by feeding their kids burgers & crisps. But I think you're committing the crime of shitty programmes like that, confusing cookery with poverty and failing hopelessly to consider the constraints of other people's circumstances.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 01:57:44

We cant change the powers that be scapegoating the poor

We can fucking try.

What a craven attitude. I'm surprised at you!

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 02:00:53

I AM the poor! And I know that no matter who I vote for, I can't stop bills going through or laws being passed, I just have to live with the consequences! You can be idealisitic if you like, but I prefer to be realistic and think it would be far better to help people deal with things as they are now than promise them jam tomorrow.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 02:07:02

I do my shopping now by car, because I am lucky. But when I was a single mum to DS, I used to walk 3 miles to town, do the shopping and then walk back. I live (almost) in the Peak District, the clue is in the name! It is up hill everywhere. But I know that I was lucky that I had very good examples in my grandparents, not everyone has that. Thats where education comes in.

When I had mild SPD in my last PG (compared to being wheelchair bound in my others), we didnt have a car so we bought 90% of our food at the local co-op. It was expensive but I still knew that £4 on a chicken that would feed the family (or 2 people for 3 days) was better than micro burgers. How did I know this? Education.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 02:07:43

I haven't disagreed that education helps people live better. I disagree violently with your apparent conviction that education's all it takes. And, I'm afraid, I do think you're out of touch. You said you were a single mum to DS - so, what was that, 16 years ago? Things are much worse now, as you surely must be aware. I don't believe that you, with your army of kids, know very much at all about how I live on my own. You're showing a profound lack of compassion for the near-illiterate young mums in the village. What works for you doesn't work for everybody - you seem to be doing a poverty version of what middle-class poverty-bashers do!

I'm surprised that this is you.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 02:16:31

I do not have an army of kids. WTF?!

I am not showing a lack of compassion. I am living the life of the "scrounger".

I said that education would be far more productive than moaning about a lack of money when those in power dont care. Education is not just about school. It can be about non patronising TV programs for example.

sashh Fri 12-Jul-13 03:27:45

£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!

Baking potatoes - you need an oven and enough fuel to bake a potato.

Frozen sausages - you need a freezer and be able to pay the electric to run it.

Haslet from the deli counter, passatta, porridge oats - you need to be able to get to a supermarket and back, when did you last go to a supermarket on a bus? Return fares here are nearly £4, a big chunk of the £14, not to mention the 10 min walk to/from the supermarket from the nearest bus stop.

I agree there are a lot of people who would benefit from being able to cook, but life isn't that simple.

You need to have enough electricity to run a fridge a freezer and even if you microwave the potatoes, that's 10 mins not 3. It all adds up.

YABU OP because you clearly have no idea.

Bogey, if you start from a position of having had money it is always easier:
you have a freezer, a fridge, a cooker, a variety of pots and pans and implements,
you've done your experimenting in days when you could afford to give your kids some toast and fruit if they don't eat their dinner,
You can bulk buy
You have a store cupboard to fall back on
You can pay bills by direct debit not key meter (so they are cheaper)
Maybe you've got some veg or herbs in your garden.
You've probably for insurance to cover you if your cookery etc breaks.

All of these things matter hugely.

I'm not saying decent practical education doesn't help, because it's vital too, but it's a separate issue to long term food poverty which is a massive issue and we need to do more about.

£50-70 a week for food is a completely different scenario to £14. Yes, you still have to be careful but it's nothing like the same kind of thing. With food you can't just divide the budget by the number of people; it works out much cheaper per person to feed 6/7 than to feed 2. 60p for herbs out of £50 is a very different proposition than 60p out of £14.

Education helps in various ways, but it doesn't make £1=£5.

manicinsomniac Fri 12-Jul-13 07:52:17

This thread has convinced me. It's easy to make things work hypothtetically if you don't have to live it. Probably not possible if you actually do.

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 08:00:30

Having been a student for 4 years made a big impact on my understanding of food and cooking on a budget, OH was a student for much longer.
So if I'm having an austerity month, I cook my student recipes.
DD has learned the same lesson, she can feed herself well on £15 a week but usually budgets for £20.

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 08:08:12

'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.'

Well said MrsDeVere. I never ate baked potatoes as a student unless it was a gathering where we loaded an oven with potatoes and pooled our fillings. Baking a potato takes a huge amount of cooking time, likewise casseroles.
We predated microwaves.
My austerity months are offset by having all the items mentioned, and DD goes back to uni fully stocked with condiments and spices.

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 08:22:29

Yes in an ideal world you need a store cupboard, a well equipped kitchen and money to buy in bulk but IF you are resourceful it is possible to cook from scratch economically.

Chilli con carne
Spaghetti bolognaise
Cottage pie

All use similar basic ingredients, just different spices, the first two can be cooked in a large pan, the second two in the oven.

I buy a huge sack of rice for £17 however if I had transport problems or money problems I would order a smaller sack online from the ethnic isle of tesco for£6ish. Huge bags of value pasta and lasagne sheets ate very reasonable.

I use nutmeg in my spag Bol. I buy 6 while nutmegs for £1 but I wait until they are buy one get one free, I probably only use 3 a year.(Mace is similar) I also use chicken livers and pancetta however it is very good without. I have used bacon off cuts, you can use garlic but technically garlic is not required, a few Italian herbs and tomato purée is fine. Would I pay £2 for a small pot of herbs now? NO I grow a few or buy a huge bag from an ethnic store or a small value pot for a few pence. If I was unemployed I would club together with friends and family and buy in bulk, I am very comfortable but I buy good ingredients economically if I was struggling I would buy cheaper items and less of them economically.

I am sure it is easy to feel worn down by budgeting if you are struggling but I wonder is there a lack of resourcefulness and dare I say intelligence

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 08:27:30

Baked potatoes. I cook mine in the microwave, spray with olive oil and rub with sea salt and then cook them in a very hot oven for 20 mins on a cast iron pizza tray, they come out gorgeous and crispy. Do I buy special baking potatoes at 50p - 75p each NO I select potatoes on offer which are medium sized and do a whole tray for a couple of pounds.

Microwaves are a often given away free on Freecycle.

Please don't tell me potatoes are an expensive meal.

Trills Fri 12-Jul-13 08:36:58

olive oil
very hot oven
cast iron pizza tray

You need to have the resources to spend £6 (or £17) alone on just rice (and pay the delivery cost, and have a debit card). With £14 a week to spend you just cannot buy in bulk and save money that way. You have to buy the much more expensive (relatively) tiny bag of rice because you need all the money you have to go on food for that week, not food to last the next 3 months. And you need to be able to carry the food home too.

Or a baked potato. What if you have no oil or seasoning? These things can really stretch a tight budget. And what if you don't have a microwave and a oven? What if you can't afford to run the microwave for 10 minutes and then cook something in the oven for 20 minutes? What are you going to put in the baked potato? Things all add up.

As has been said many times on here, it's very easy to go on about resourcefulness and education but it's often impossible to achieve the kind of savings people are imagining when you do not have the flexibility to buy in bulk and aren't dealing with a pre-payment meter and very little money for fuel.

Altinkum Fri 12-Jul-13 08:40:09

The 10% was everything white, housing, ctc, etc....

One thing that annoyed me, was that they were saying well they get £18000, that 18,000 isn't cash in hand, that figure includes, housing, council tax, dinner money, etc... The figure they get cash in hand is around £8-9000 a year.

mrsjay Fri 12-Jul-13 08:42:56

As for those sodding key metres! They charge you to put the feckers in and the they charge you more for the gas/electric you use.

they just robbed you blind those bastards things

weprobably lived in food poverty when dd1 was small well we did but we bought cheap and ate ok but it isn't easy it is fucking depressing if im honest ,

The miserable and grinding aspect of trying to eat for £14 a week every week also takes a real psychological toll. One of the consequences of this kind of misery is that it actually reduces your ability to resist temptation. There have been studies done that show that it is much easier to say no to things you know aren't a good idea (but that would be enjoyable) when life is hard than when life is easier. For this reason it is actually harder for people who are barely scraping by to look past the (tasty) microwaveable burger and eat some frozen carrots and sweetcorn with no seasoning.

This is another reason why my family eating bloody lentils for 3 weeks is not comparable to someone who would have to do the same for the foreseeable future (and that's ignoring the fact that, in reality, the very poor family's situation is always much worse because of fuel costs and the lack of a cupboard boasting garam masala and turmeric, etc to make the lentils into interesting meals). It isn't that I'm somehow better than them; I have more resilience because life doesn't grind me down to anything like the same extent.

OhMerGerd Fri 12-Jul-13 09:00:18

I got so depressed reading this I had to stop and post so I hope I'm not repeating.

Seriously think every one who posts a value brand shopping list adding up to 14 quid should put their mouths where the money is and live like that for at least a month.

Dare you. Put everything away.

Not just in the kitchen we'll get to the food stiff in a moment, but everything in your house. You can keep your mobile but only spend the equiv of £5 top up a month for emergencies and you cannot use the landline or broadband etc. So don't Be calling up friends for a chat or to arrange someone to give you a lift... That'd be a luxury in the first instance and cheating in the second. Lol.

Find you and DC three outfits including school uniform but you are only allowed one pair of shoes. Choose carefully for DC cos they won't be able to take part in games if you choose dress shoes, but don't choose too flimsy because if it rains they're going to be a bit damp for days. No you can't put the heating on or dry them in the tumble dryer because that, the washing machine and dishwasher are off limits for your trial month. Its a great fun activity for the DC to wash up after a meal, all the bubbles and water bear that in mind for when they get a bit bored by day 2.

You can keep a bottle of value shampoo, toothpaste and one bar value soap. No other toiletries and cosmetics allowed. You can keep ONE loo roll for a fortnight. A 2 pack must last the month and a pack of value pads for your period. I'm not going to be harsh and ask you to find any washing powder, washing up liquid or one universal cleaning product ( bleach is probably best all rounder) out of your 14 a week for food but if we were doing it for real we'd only use value brands and it's tough choice which to get.
You might not smell quite as flowery as useful but careful attention to hygeine should mean you and the house are clean.

Now put on one of your three outfits and walk to the nearest shop if your choice and buy up your value items as per your list suggestion. You'll be a bit sweaty but you can hand wash the clothes when you get in later and air them to dry somewhere.

If the DC are thirsty eith sll this walking make sure you give them a good glass of tap water you cam get this free from most places if you say you need to take medicine. If they get cheeky and Ask for a snack, or a toy, a book or to go swimming you must tell them NO and remind them of their good fortune that they have a couple of value peach slices for pudding later tonight. If they're bored with no toys or even a book to read get back out there and enjoy the free facilities of your local park even If that does mean walking another couple of miles each way and heaven help you IV they get dog muck on their shoes or clothes. Hope you chose bleach as the universal cleaner... Lol.

And If you've got your period and you've been walking for miles but you've not been able to change your pad as often as you'd like ( or have had to use a bit if your weekly rolled up loo roll as a stop gap ) you may be chaffed and a bit sore but it would be lazy of you not to engage with the DC. Next, They'll be running wild in the streets, possibly hanging over a neighbours back gate sniffing longingly at their BBQ and Pestering your neighbours DC to play in the hope they get offered a lolly or drink of squash instead of water or OMG a glass of pop!

Come on, call them back in for their third value mince and tinned tomato based yum of the week. Don't forget the tinned peach slice!

Happy days.

mrsjay Fri 12-Jul-13 09:35:03

Alwayscheerful i cook my baked potatoes like you I just use the potatoes from my bag and I wouldnt go out and buy special baking potatoes

jojane Fri 12-Jul-13 09:41:52

One of my cheap meals is Tina pasta
Tin tuna -80p
Bag of value pasta -40p
Tim tomatoes -35p
Cheese sauce (make my own but you could buy packet mix -40p)
Tin sweetcorn -20p

So £2.25 for a big pan of pasta that feeds 2 adults and 3 small children for at least 2 meals and very easy to make.

Likewise a beef stew can be made for £5-6 and do us 3 meals

sashh Fri 12-Jul-13 09:48:48


How much did your big pan cost?
Do you add salt and pepper or other seasoning?

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 09:50:14

Mrs jay - do you eat the skins?

Ohmergerd, - your post made me very sad, yes I suspect it's more fun being frugal or resourceful when you have money in the bank but bargain shopping and cooking from scratch have seen me through some tough times too.

And the packet mix of cheese sauce... What else do you need to actually make it up?

BreconBeBuggered Fri 12-Jul-13 09:51:11

What kind of cheese do you use, and where do you buy it? For 5 people I'd use up at least £2-worth of edible non-poncey cheese to make a sauce, and that's not counting the cost of milk, flour and butter. I've never seen a tin of sweetcorn for 20p either. Pulling random figures out of the air won't actually help feed a family.

I think OhMerGerd has it for the reality of living in perennial poverty.

Preciousbane Fri 12-Jul-13 09:56:41

Lemonandice I know a mnetter was helped by a vicar or his wife , sorry cant remember exactly recently because it was on a thread over in the credit crunch section. It wasn't an official foodbank as such.

I'm involved with a foodbank and there will probably be one you can donate to locally. The Trussell Trust is a Christian organisation. The majority of foodbanks have religious affiliations and I know that other religions also assist with food but not sure of their specific set up.

MrsDeVere makes very valid points regarding food poverty and the reasons why.

jojane Fri 12-Jul-13 10:00:15

My biggest pan actually was £1 from a charity shop years ago, used to hae a glass lid too until DH dropped it. I did say that using a packet sauce mix would be cheaper so didn't put the costings for homemade mix, no I don't put any salt or pepper in the pasta, stopped adding when kids were babies and never started again. You would need milk too which I forgot but when things have been right I water milk down with water, no one ever noticed even on cereal etc. just checked tesco, Tim sweetcorn is now 32p which has gone up since I last noticed the price.

soverylucky Fri 12-Jul-13 10:03:52

ohmergerd that is a thought provoking post.

I spend about £55 s week on our shopping (family of 4 - two smallish children) I really can't see how we can cut it down any more. We shop in lidl, I cook from scratch, I don't ever use herbs or spices - my cooking probably tastes like crap to you lot but my lot seem happy.

I do not see how you can spend 14 pounds a week on shopping - especially when you have to buy soap powder, shampoo, toothpaste, shower gel, tampons, loo roll etc

magimedi Fri 12-Jul-13 10:06:21

OhMerGerd - That was an amazing post & summed up what it must be like to live (ha) on such a budget.

Another really brilliant thing about having a seriously tight budget is that supermarket prices are not stable. If you manage to do a shop for £14 one week, there's no guarantee that the same food won't come in a £14.73 the next week. And you really might not be albe to absorb that 73p difference. A couple of pennies here and there don't matter to me, but they can make a big difference on a very low income.

There's also the simple fact that (as many other have said) giving the prices for the cheapest value products in the out of town Tesco you shop at doesn't necessarily reflect what's available to everyone else. If it costs you £4 in bus fare (and multiple buses there and back and some walking in between) to get to the supermarket, that will come out of your food budget. And you can only buy what you can carry, which means that you need to think about the weight of what you buy (tinned food often weighs a lot) and probably have to make more frequent trips than someone with a car. Or you can shop in your local shop, where there are no 40p packets of value pasta etc.

It is very easy to produce a supposedly cheap meal idea or two, and announce that you got your pan cheap in a charity shop (although I bet you didn't add the cost of bus fare to the price, perhaps multiple times because you can never know what will be available in the charity shop at any given time). However, things are rarely as simple as we imagine them to be.

tabulahrasa Fri 12-Jul-13 10:13:49

Jojane I've got two teenagers, that wouldn't do two meals.

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 10:14:06

Jojane- yes my favorite cast iron dish came from a car boot sale for 50 p and I also bought a 25 portion le creuset dish at an auction for £15. RRP was nearly £200.

Old stainless steel pressure cookers make fantastic pans for bulk cooking and jam making and they are usually excellent quality, they can be bought for 20p, car boot sale sales are full of them.

Car boot sales are generally out of town where you need a car to get to them!

bettycocker Fri 12-Jul-13 10:18:17

I don't think a family can eat healthily on £14.00 per week. It would be mainly bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. That's all carbs. What about good quality protein?

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 10:19:06

You can get fantastic things from car boot sales but I do find that you generally need, well, a car, to get to them as they're usually in the middle of a field by a dual carriageway.

And it also takes a lot of energy to traipse around a car boot sale (possibly after walking some distance there) trying to find the stuff that you actually need, which may not actually be available in the car boot sale you find yourself at. This is an important consideration when you've got a long way to walk for everything, aren't eating enough and only possess one pair of worn out cheap shoes that cut up your feet. And you have to carry your cast iron pan home too.

I can brag about my bargain find from when I was aimlessly perusing a car boot sale and happen to come across something interesting. It's a different prospect when you have very little money and need to find something specific.

revealall Fri 12-Jul-13 10:21:50

A tuna pasta bake for 5 lasting for two meals with just one can of tuna? That would be a teaspoon of tuna per serving.

A 500g bag of pasta has 6 servings so that's quite tight if you want to get 10 servings even allowing for children's portions

TheSecondComing Fri 12-Jul-13 10:23:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 10:25:36

Most of us are just trying to make suggestions about being resourceful, not always practical i know for instance I was chatting to a lady who makes lovely jam, I said I didn't have a maslin pan, she explained to me that she used the bottom part of her pressure cooker, next time I spotted one at a car boot sale I bought one for 20p, yes good cooking can require a well equipped kitchen but it is possible to produce healthy cheap meals on a camping stove or BBQ.

I never underestimate the impact of Surviving on a tiny budget long term but it is important to take on board money saving ideas.

MissAnnersley Fri 12-Jul-13 10:27:47

I agree, ohmergerd has it. That's what it's like.

LadyFlumpalot Fri 12-Jul-13 10:28:55

My food shop budget is £25 a week for me, DH and toddler aged DS. We have certainly gone without good numerous times to feed him a decent meal.

We tend to buy ingredients to make meals stretch. For instance, 1kg pack of value mince, value rice, value tomatoes, onions, peppers and value raisins will make us a sort of chilli that with moderately sized portions will last us three days.

I save up all my Tesco vouchers and have a huge luxury (ice cream, biscuits, naice meat, fresh fish etc) shop once a year at Xmas. Managed to save £90 vouchers last year for the shop, was in absolute heaven in the shop!

Thing is though, those at the bottom of the social heap are generally subjected to 'advice' from all quarters about every area of their life. It's all very well saying 'you've got to take account of money saving advice' (even if it comes with some acknowledgement that it might not really take everything into account), but it would be very different being subject to everyone's no doubt well meaning advice.

It's easy to think we know better than others and that our advice is actually useful when we haven't actually lived what others have to put up with. E.g. You'd need a camping stove and gas to produce meals on one, and it would almost certainly cost more than using mains electricity. A barbecue requires fuel and would be a real joy on a freezing, wet November night.

KevinFoley Fri 12-Jul-13 10:54:25

I feel so cross at all the people on this thread with their patronising and boastful lectures on how to eat well on 14 quid a week.


I cried at that bloody programme. They all looked so ill and old beyond their years. We should be storming parliament in outrage. I worked out we (family of 3) spend £150/week on food and household stuff from the supermarket then we eat out every weekend so probably £250/week. I will be cutting right back and supporting my local food bank. And we are not rich by this country's standards of rich but I certainly feel rich now. And yet this government are determined to take money from the poorest while keeping money in the pockets of the rich. It's disgusting and yet we just put up with it because the poor are too bloody downtrodden to protest and the rest of us are brainwashed into thinking stories we read about rich benefit claimants are representative of everyone. Gah.

encyclogirl Fri 12-Jul-13 11:04:45

ohmergerd excellent post. It opened my eyes to what poverty can be like. I was definitely in the "Oh just batch cook and pad out with lentils" camp before reading this thread.

I live in Ireland, but NO DOUBT families live like this here too. I'm contacting my local church as soon as I post this to see where I can help.

KevinFoley Fri 12-Jul-13 11:12:33

encyclogirl i hope your churches are better than the ones round here. It's all middle class helping themselves, attending to get kids into church secondary school, sadly. The vicar don't care about anything other than full pews and the church coffers. I'm sure that's not the case everywhere though.

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 11:15:29

So many good posts on this thread smile

Had to laugh about sea salt and olive oil baked potatoes. Lovely, the only way I can eat the horrible things, twice-baked all disguised with lots of butter and cheese. I did it a lot ten years ago but cheese and butter is also waaaaay more expensive now.

And no I don't buy the pre-packed "special" baking potatoes, who does that? Apart from the woman who held us up at the supermarket checkout making the assistant to get the pack changed because one of the potatoes had a bit of dirt on hmm grin

LadyFlumpalot Fri 12-Jul-13 11:22:05

Audrina - I planted some strawberry plants a few years ago in some baskets in my garden. Took the first few ripe ones into work on Wednesday to share around. One of my colleagues refused to touch them because they had come from my garden (freshly picked and washed that morning) rather than from a supermarket, and goodness only knows what could be on them!

I'm lucky enough to live in the countryside with neighbours who keep livestock and often hand round excess eggs, milk, vegetables and fruit amongst the village. This subsidises our food shop nicely and means we can often have "naice" ingredients for nothing.

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 11:28:28

Jacket potatoes - mine are not twice baked in a stale way , they are delicious, cooked in the microwave until soft and the skins finished in the oven until golden brown and cripy, yes a spray of olive oil ( M & S olive oil spray reduced from £3.99 to 50p, I have been using it for 2 years.)

We have no gas in our village and to be economical I use a BBQ throughout the summer, I am not suggesting its practical method for everyone but for me it saves fuel, a calor gas cannister came to me via freecycle and a refill lasts me 2 years.

Is it so wrong to share resourceful ideas? FWI worth I prefer to spend less on our household shopping and give generously to the foodbank and no it wasnt me that gave the Maldon sea salt.shock

I realised with horror a couple of years ago that I spent less on food for just myself, when I lived on my own in the 90's than I was spending to feed a family of 4 in 2010.

I used to buy all the convenience foods and ready meals. Paid no attention to 'price per 100g' type calculations, and just wandered round a huge supermarket once a fortnight choosing food willy nilly. The shame of it is, I used to throw an awful lot out as I had no cooking skills and had never heard of menu planning (thank heavens for mumsnet!! Have been doing that since 2008).

Don't even have a freezer but we are lucky to have a lidl, and a local market a mile away, with an aldi a few miles drive but I go past it a couple of times a week so can call in.

My biggest saving is stopping buying cereal and serving up porridge oats for breakfast, made with just water then the kids add a bit of milk and/or golden syrup/honey etc themselves. Dp and two boys were getting through £15 just on Aldi cereal a week, heaven knows what we'd have spent if it was branded stuff from Tesco!! The porridge is 2 x 59p bags per week from Quality save and its delicious.

We cook most things from scratch and I menu plan. Some nights we have food that is practically free like a bag of pasta with some chopped tomatoes as a sort of sauce. Or beans on toast. But I do that so other nights we can have chicken or prawns.
And yes, till I found mumsnet I would cook a chicken, serve it for one meal and bin the rest. Now we have the meat one day, wings and legs the next, chicken curry and then soup/stock.

(we don't have a freezer btw, things like prawns are eaten on day or purchase and I plan meals around when I will be shopping so it all keeps fresh just in the fridge).

Pantone363 Fri 12-Jul-13 11:34:05

This has probably already been mentioned but most people on a very basic budget are also on prepayment meters.

Turning the hob on for the amount of time it takes to cook a stew or soup is a luxury and at the end if the week when I'm eaking out the last of the credit it would be impossible.

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 11:36:04

BOLLOCKS you can buy that entire list for £14! LMFAO. Oh, yes, from the Aldi's that are on every corner. Lol. Yes, everyone lives near Aldi, Lidl, ASDA and street markets and if they don't they can just move.

ConferencePear Fri 12-Jul-13 11:37:36

I'm ashamed that we expect the poorest in our society to live on so little. I don't mind so much for the adults even though it's mostly women who have to contend with the problems, but to have our children living like this is a disgrace.
I agree that we should be storming parliament.

burberryqueen Fri 12-Jul-13 11:38:37

One of my colleagues refused to touch them because they had come from my garden (freshly picked and washed that morning) rather than from a supermarket, and goodness only knows what could be on them
that is truly bonkers...

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 11:42:03

And the ubiquitous chicken that feeds a family of 5 three times over. Have you seen the size of those 3 for a tenner chickens? Is you family made of mice? DH and I are skinny people with small appetites, Dd2 is the same. That chicken does ONE meal and perhaps a couple of sandwiches and that's it.

encyclogirl Fri 12-Jul-13 11:42:18

Kevin I dont <think> our local church is like that. We are in a rural area and the local church is our community hub.

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 11:42:40

That is mad about the strawberries. Strange man. Wish I worked with you. We're going picking at the weekend if the latest crop haven't all gone by then.

encyclogirl Fri 12-Jul-13 11:42:48

Italics fail.

encyclogirl Fri 12-Jul-13 11:43:42

The only chicken I ever got 3 meals out of cost me 12 euro.

burberryqueen Fri 12-Jul-13 11:45:28

it is true encyclogirl - u can only do the three meals to a chicken thing with a quality bird - and that does cost. Worth it tho'.

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 11:53:21

Chicken thighs are the more expensive meat in India, breast is considered to be the cheaper meat because it has less taste.

It is far cheaper to buy meat from the butcher rather than pre packed from a supermarket.

I agree about the 3 for £10 chickens they are tiny but good for one proper meal plus another risotto type meal.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 12-Jul-13 11:55:18

Thank you to the patient people on this thread and OhMyGerd in particular.

I'm now having a lie down at car boot sales being suggested as a solution, as they are so very accessible to someone relying on public transport in the middle of a council estate.

Depends what your butcher is like - ours charges £25 for a chicken!

I'm sure it's delicious, but funnily enough most people can't afford that.

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 12:00:51

A butcher. LOL. Is that next to the cornerstop Aldi?

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 12:03:38

I can't believe I have offended someone suggesting a car boot sale, I have seen pots and pans and pressure cookers at tabletop sales, school Fetes, bric a brac stalls, church and community centre sales and car boots and charity shops. Do I live in a parallel universe? Are there really estates with No jumble sales or fund raising activities?

No one should have to live on £14 a week but I try to share some of my frugal ways.

tabulahrasa Fri 12-Jul-13 12:05:07

The only chicken that's cheaper than supermarket chicken at my butchers are the chicken carcasses I buy for the dog...they're £1 a kilo, but that's after the meat has been taken off!

Mumsyblouse Fri 12-Jul-13 12:08:30

Sadly, where I live, there's more charity shops than anything else and we do use them as a way of picking up cheap kitchen items (including one shop which does electricals). But you can't rely on that as a source of items, it depends what they have in! No-one has yet (I don't think) has mentioned rural poverty, I think it's much worse living in the small towns and villages in places like Cornwall and parts of Devon, you are very heavily reliant on cars/petrol and there's fewer great cheaper shops such as the 99p store I use for my toiletries. There really are food deserts in some of the outlying council estates too, they'll be a pub, expensive corner shop and perhaps a fast food place and not much else.

We're not offended. Just a bit weary and fed up of explaining why certain things aren't an option for everyone.

There's nothing wrong with a car boot, they're great. They're just very difficult to access without a car, same as big supermarkets (and aldi!)

I read an interesting analysis a while ago of how much easier it is to budget and live cheaply if you are wealthy than if you are poor. An updated version would be very helpful right now I think (if depressing)

TheSmallPrint Fri 12-Jul-13 12:11:15

Our local butcher is probably the most expensive place in the western world quite frankly. They are 'award winning' therefore they have puyt their prices up accordingly.

I think if your £1 a day per person budget was put into a months bulk buying it may be possible (with a lot of planning) for a family? But living on it day to day is impossible, particularly if you are on your own. The costs of buying for one are so much more expensive. Also you need to have a decent freezer so you could cook large meals and freeze in portions.

It was a hard programme to watch.

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 12:12:16

We live rurally, and yes, poverty is a big problem. 'Just move'. With what, brass buttons?

Car boots. LOL. Yep, 20p pressure cookers every week. More like mismatched and chipped tea cups and saucers.

mam29 Fri 12-Jul-13 12:20:54

Has anyone requented the mse forums board particuarly the old styele one.

This thread has been running or ages
its feed one person for £7 a week.

Theres also feed family for £25 or £40.

every so often the person who started the thread tots up up to date prices and pretty much ever supermarket basic range as had huge hikes.

For me my nearest is sainsburys and they by far worst talking about sudden 10-20p increases.

The girl called jack blog is very good as she says she shops saisnbursy as nearest so cheapest for her to get to and feeds herself and small boy for £10 a week so £40 a month including household!

Some of her recipes are good shes very creative and a good cook.
shes missed meals.

shes always commenting about rise in basics.

Over the last few years ood budget has got tighter as liteally its our only variable.

If car goes wrong its the food budget that suffers,

I used to be really good with food budget im a good cook but last year or so struggling to keep costs down only reason we dod so well is

i shop 4-5 different supermarkets per month which takes time.

Hubby drives I dont the retail park near me is 30min walk has lidls and large saisburys tend to go weekends as thats when lids deals are if hubbys of we take car and stock up.

saisburys drives me mad but we shop the deals only, stuff we cant get in lidls like value hersbs 17p value pepper 17p value stuffing.

we done morrisiosn in past thats hour walk, expensive bus ride.
tesco metro 45mins walk pricey
iceland 45min walk as opposte tesco metro up nearby high street.
my local high street 20min walmk just has large co-op pricey and saisnburys local also pricey.

nearest 4 corner shops all 15min walk are mace, booker premier, spar and shell garage.

most expensive booker has some cheap deals and value washing powder for a quid.

The spar every evening has best reductions get loads of bread there and other random not as much as used to but still odd bits.

but by best and far is co-op at tea time 6sih where theres s scrum for reduced and proper amounts off.
of course when kids are tired last thik they want to do is walk 30mins to supermarket ande then 30mins home as cant afford the bus or the bus drivers seem to hate kids and only let2 bugies on at a time or they make you fold buggies after you have several bags tied to handles even in rain , snow we go 3-4times aweek but its luck of draw sometimes theres loads sometimes theres nothing and feels fultile.

1st 2weeks arond payday we fine its week before pay day that things get very boring.

in past got good at every 2-3months doing decent storecupboard shop for essentials but noticed last 6montsh cupboards havent been as well stocked neither has freezersad

we only go lidls/aldis for nappies, saisburys basic ones are ok.
do use the value wipes.

we eat less meat
fruit bowl frequently empty as my kids never stop eating.

we take adavantage of free fruits cherries at moment then it be plums and blackberries.
we have small veg patch.

we dont very often go aldis although ones opened much nearer than us but hours walk and dont find it overly cheap but best for booze, fruit and veg.

out problem is with 3 kids 2 under 4 milk even buying £1 for 4pints some days we get through 6-8pints a day so thats £14 a week on milk alone.

we get value toiliet roll.

i do what jack does and get spray bottle diluted with bleach.

I try hard to keep it £50 a week but family of 5 its hard. that includes 2packed lunches as hubby takes lunch as does eldest as school diners are £40 a month.

we do have large chest freezer but its not been full in a while mostly bread and frozen veg in there sometimes I batch cook and reeze little homemade ready meals in tubs.

i stretch a chicken to 2-3,meals as boil the carcass loads meat come off.

im whizz at soups and realised how easy they are to make.
can make my own bread and homemade pizza but its the bread flour thats pricey as is cheese we only buy on offer cheese, butter, crips or biscuits if not on offer we opt for value.

every 2-3months we drive farmfoods which is cheaper and better than iceland.

least twice a week my kids have something with chips.

for some reason they gone off pasta eldest likes lasagne but works out pricey.

eggs are amazig things.

we only buy non value meat and free range eggs/poultry so not comprimised on that.

we add red lentils to mince make it stretch further.

have had super noodles or packet pasta before.
made cauli cheese with frozen cauli. cook mostly frozen veg in micro.,

we try keep oil, garlic and onions always in stock.

if im in a £1 shop or cheapy shop i buy odd things there.

I love carboots and charity shop finds got some free saucepans last week, infact lots free stuff on local group also given lots away myself.

oddest meal red lentil and paxo burgers.

jacks carrot, bean and cumin burgers are lush red value beans 26p, value carrots its the cumin that costs.

i do try bake more its just even to make 12 cupcakes its 4oz butter and 4oz sugar.

I think the worst days have been when hubbys working weekends and its nice and we can smell bbqs but cat afford to do one.

on rainy days i do shop and get reduced burgers and rolls and keep in freezer for when it is sunny but at moment hubby needs clean bbq and needs charcoal.

our old oven landlords was rubbish grill dident work, door wouldent shut , collapsed hob we ended up replacing ourselves 2nd hand one of mate for 30 quid having double over, grill a door with window and ceramic hob.

we not an unemplyed family on benefits we only get child benefits.

hubby works fulltime
we run 1 car
i have 3kids 2not in school
no amily nearby
chilcares expensive
private rent.

we be better off when hubbys loan ends in couple years and hope move somewhere bigger and better and less than 1.2mile walk to school. Everything comes down to money at end of day.

mam29 Fri 12-Jul-13 12:21:39

apologies for typo errors heres link

£7 a week

KevinFoley Fri 12-Jul-13 12:24:26

I think the people on this thread who are so kind and determined to share their 'tips' on how to eat well on £14 a week would be better off moving to the Credit Crunch topic. I seriously doubt if many people similar to the programme last night will be on this thread listening and learning. The solutions to me are as follows:
1. no one should be living on £14 a week, this needs upping significantly.
2. people need access to support through budgeting and cooking classes and paid staff who are allocated to vulnerable families.
3. more pressure on supermarkets to price basic and nutritious items lower.
4. better access to varieties of food shops and markets. In Barcelona there were fresh produce markets dotted all round the city. We need this model everywhere including rurally.
5. free bus passes for people on benefits so they can get to the bloody shops.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 12:28:11

As a member of the family involved in the Great British Budget Menu I have to say that firstly we are not stupid, we know how to cook basics like spag bol from scratch, secondly we were told not to do anything like that by the program makers and thirdly it was around 7pm in the evening, all the housework needed doing so I'm sorry if it upsets certain people but i had to throw something in the oven to feed the kids while i went off and got stuff done. It is not a regular part of their diet it's a 'make do' meal in times when time is in short supply. Oh and by the way, they were on offer at the time of buying so they were actually very cheap.

Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 12:30:28

You don't have to explain yourself to us Darren.
How did you find the experience?

You did really well Darren - I hope you'll read the rest of the thread, there are lots of people who understand how hard it is.

KevinFoley Fri 12-Jul-13 12:32:35

Hi darren, did you fell you were set up by the program makers? If so I'm not surprised at all.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 12:35:55

Sorry the post from one called 'Bogeyface' annoyed me.
The experience was surreal! there was actually 3 days of filming in total believe it or not for actually very little airtime. Richard was (of camera) lovely and (on camera) quite blustery and loud at times but a very nice guy in actual fact. The banquet was really good, I have to say Angela is also really lovely and James well he's a big TV star so he was kind of quiet lol Not sure I would do it again lol, but a really good and positive experience. Not quite so sure having watched the final program if anything in the way of any solutions were actually offered though.

Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 12:38:33

Glad it was a good experience.
I know what You mean though...and many of us watching on MN thought the same re: solutions and ways forward.

No! It was a bit useless, really. Turning up with a storecupboard box just means "i can't do it, you need the extra money to buy this every month!"

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 12:40:23

Not 'setup' in a bad way Kevin but obviously things we made to be worse than they were, the empty fridge was empty because they said not to do a shop etc and at times we were maneuvered into saying certain things in certain ways but that's TV I guess. Not saying we're aren't struggling because we are and the food bank was an option at one point (I remember getting the text from my wife saying we may have to look at using one) but the fridge wouldn't normally be that empty.

I hope things will get better for you (and all of us) soon.

Personally my solution would be wages going up, but i don't think that's very likely under this government.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 12:47:07

TeWiSavesTheDay wages going up would be brilliant but what I think needs to happen is that gap between wages and the cost of living needs to be shortened significantly. Wages going up will just drive up costs and you've still got the same problem because the gap is still there. Supermarkets need to take some responsibility for this as does the government. Fuel prices I think are the main problem for everything going up so rapidly everything has to be delivered, the delivery companies pass on that cost to the supermarkets who in turn pass it on to the consumer.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:02:13

wow twitter can be really bitchy can't it lol!

Holliewantstobehot Fri 12-Jul-13 13:21:52

I thought you came across very well myself. I am on a low income and sometimes feed my kids oven food if I have had a bad day and lots to do. If you are well off you can take your kids out for dinner and have a rest. If you are struggling you are obviously not allowed a day off but have to be some kind of martyr cooking from scratch with next to nothing without fail every day.
I did feel the programme totally failed to come up with any kind of solution and agree with what you say about fuel prices being part of the problem. Perhaps we need a minister for food again to try and find a sustainable way of addressing this problem.

higgle Fri 12-Jul-13 13:30:32

Wallison, what drivel. Eggs come in packs of 6. Six large free range eggs cost £1 at Aldi. Herbes de Provence, which you can use in most sauces etc 67p at Asda. You can make soup almost for free by saving and freezing oddments of raw veg as you prepare other meals. I've never put Worcestershire sauce in spag bol. I make a pasta bake with lentils, tomato, onion and pasta which is quite delicious.

Higgle: you do realise that your cheap meal involves trips to two supermarkets (which may involve several hours on different buses and paying multiple bus fares because different companies don't accept each others' tickets), and that many people cannot save odds and ends in a freezer because they don't have a freezer and couldn't afford to run one even if they did, don't you?

Fairylea Fri 12-Jul-13 13:42:16

Darren please don't feel you have to justify yourself to anyone on here or in real life. It was clear you were doing the best you could in the situation and all the kids seemed happy.

Take comfort in the fact that the majority of people on this thread completely understand what a difficult situation it is trying to feed a family on a very small budget.

And also that even those of us on quite high incomes (even if they don't seem to be high enough for MPs) sometimes feed our children fish fingers and oven chips for tea. Indeed, my children would much rather see some fish fingers, chips and beans on their plate than another lentil bolognaise! I'd be inclined to agree with them. grin

Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 13:53:43

My ds1 loves oven chips, peas and fish fingers. It's his fave meal.
And there is nothing wrong with it.
Carbs - tick
Protein - tick
Veg - tick
My dc will not eat lentils and neither will I
Some if the self righteousness on this thread is eye opening!
Please take in board what some of us are saying...nit all of us live near aldi/lidl. Not all of us have a car or even decent transport links. Some of us can't physically push a trolley or load a car up. Not all of us have a butcher/farmers market/grocers etc.
Btw....bit of a bugbear of mine. I went to a farmers market a few months ago. They do get mentioned a lot on MN so thought I would try. Someone tried to charge me £6 for a jar of pickle.
<hollow laughter>

magimedi Fri 12-Jul-13 13:53:50

Darren, I thought you & your family came over as such lovely people & you've made a great job of raising your children, they were so nice.

I hope things get better for you asap.

And yes to a chips & beans meal now & again - not so different to a MacDonalds.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:54:35

It's cool I flew off the handle a bit at Bogeyface and she explained her point to me and we cool! quite a good debate going though isn't it. It's got a lot of people talking which can only be a good thing smile

Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 13:54:36

(It was probably artisan pickle, mind)
That's another thing!
Artisan this, artisan that!
Just call what it is....knobbly! smile

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:54:55

Thanks everyone for your lovely and kind comments smile

BeCool Fri 12-Jul-13 13:55:40

I couldn't feed myself for £14 a week!

I probably could live on baked beans and potatoes for a week or so, but to do so long term and stay sane and healthy - no.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:55:42

Badvoc I wasn't a fan of lentils but they're quite nice actually!

Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 13:55:47

....I'm starting to rant now, aren't I?....

Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 13:56:15

You will never convince me darren smile

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:58:37

All I've been doing today is rant and counter rant, I really should get on with some work lol

MrsDeVere Fri 12-Jul-13 14:00:09

lisianthus (sorry if that is spelled wrong but I keep losing you when I scroll up!)
Fair enough about potatoes. They are lovely and one of my favourite foods but on the list I was referring too they really wouldn't have provided a decent diet long term. I should have been clearer smile


People are talking about buying potatoes in bulk. For single people or those with small families this is not practical. By the time they come to use up the potatoes a lot of the nutrition would be lost and that is not taking into account the sort of place they have to keep them.
I have a lovely kitchen and space to store mine in a cool dry place.
I don't have to deal with damp and cramped conditions.
If my potatoes look a bit ropey I can make them into something and freeze them for later.
Because I have a freezer and plenty of storage tubs and bags.

I cannot believe those who say £14 is enough to live on actually DO believe it.
It is ridiculous for all kinds of reasons, most of them obvious.

Why have we got to the point where the ok off are determined to deny that those with less than them are worse off than them.

Really, if you are feeling the loss of your CB and WTC how can you NOT understand how much harder it is for people on a fraction of your income?

It is simply not good enough to roll out the same old tat about internet, fags and tattoos.

It is othering poor people and demonising them. If you are insisting it is all the way the DM and the government are playing it, you really need to look at why you are so keen to believe them.

WireCat Fri 12-Jul-13 14:01:01

Sorry, only read to page 8 when I decided to do a menu plan for the 5 of us based on only having £35 for the week & nothing in whatsoever. The reason I did £35 was based on the woman who had £14 per week for herself & her daughter.

It was a bloody struggle.

Used my supermarket & asda is the cheapest.

It isn't a healthy option & have just realised can't do the egg & home made oven chips as I've not accounted for oil.

At the moment my bill stands at £34.92 & that's without the oil. And only 1 packet of apples (cheaper than loose), some bananas, carrots, cabbage, onions, mushrooms & potatoes as the fruit & veg. Certainly wouldn't be getting 5 a day.

Menu is
Chicken, mash, value Yorkshire puds, carrots , cabbage & gravy.
Bubble & speak with rest of meat & using the left over veg.
Cottage pie, but with tinned lentils as couldn't stretch to mince.
Pasta bolognaise
Egg, hm chips & beans
Tuna pasta bake
Veg curry (LO veg, value sauce & tinned chick peas)

Breakfasts are value porridge or toast & jam

Lunch is sandwiches (value ham or cheese) or beans on toast.

I also added 24 value fairy cakes & some apples & bananas for snacks for the kids.

I also put in salt, pepper, tea bags, milk, sugar, value squash, value mixed herbs.

Bill is now £36.22 as have added a bottle of veg oil.

When I originally did a shopping list, I was going to bake the cakes & the Yorkshire puds, but that would mean more basics, plain& sr flour. Also a patty tin.

Most of the food is value.

Week in, week out, this would be exhausting.

For next weeks shop, I have left over, some sugar, tea bags, veg oil, salt, pepper, herbs & gravy granules.

I removed from my basket, peas & sultanas. Porridge will be flavoured with sugar instead. Beans with fake cottage pie instead of the peas.

The above is a mock up. But bloody hell, awful.

I budget, but no where near to that extent. And there are no treats other than one cake a day for the kids.

I think lentils can be quite nice (dhal is often lovely, and I do like a good lentil soup), but lentil bolognaise is a textural monstrosity.

jocook Fri 12-Jul-13 14:07:27

I am a preschool kitchen manager and my food buget works out to around 85p per child per day and that provideds cereal or toast for breakfast, fruit snack am, a 2 course hot lunch, savory pm snack (homemade breadsticks or cheesestraws/scones or wedges, dips, vegetables) and a 2 course cold tea (full sized portion, not a snack like in some nurseries). The ability to cook is vital but also so it planning, bugetting and good shopping and our schools havent taught this for over 25 years!!!!! what hope is there?!

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 14:07:58

I will say this once more and once more only!

At no point did I say that £14 was an acceptable amount to live on per week. I dont know why she had that amount, but as she did only have that amount I was merely trying to say that there are other ways of using the £14 that would give them decent meals, albeit boring and yes, heavy on carbs, that are filling and nutritionally far better than a microwave burger. I was trying to say that, the rights and wrongs of that amount to one side, helping those on very low incomes to make what little they have go further can surely only be a good thing?

I am lucky, I learned to cook as a child so I know all the tricks of stretching food, but many people dont and that was the issue I was discussing, not whether the amount of money they had was ok, because clearly it isnt. I would also add (again) my credentials as a single mother living on benefits, so yes, I do know what its like to look at a very small amount of money knowing I need to perform miracles with it.

I have PM'd Darren and as he said .... we cool!

Jocook: you are also able to do it because you buy in bulk from catering suppliers.

BeCool Fri 12-Jul-13 14:09:14

WireCat good effort!

I wonder how long it will be before "you" are told you are going to make your DC fat and endanger their health with all the processed carbs and meats hmm

Fairylea Fri 12-Jul-13 14:13:59

As an alternative to the lentil bolognese we use a whole aubergine cut up and fried (with salt and oil) prior to then adding mushrooms and onions and then frying it all a bit more, then adding passata or chopped tomatoes and oregano (dried from a jar, keeps forever so worth buying).

It's really really tasty and a good way of getting the dc to eat vegetables - even if you don't particularly like aubergine its lovely in the sauce. You can add cheese on top if you like and eat with pasta or on its own as a ragu dish.

No idea exactly how much it costs but one aubergine is about 80p at the moment and with the other bits etc one batch usually serves 2 adults and 2 dc here.

Just thought I'd throw that in there. The mushrooms are great protein and rich in iron (75p each a box in Morrison's here).

WireCat Fri 12-Jul-13 14:15:52

It was bloody hard.
And it's true, it's not healthy.

And tbh, probably not enough to fill us up as elder 2 eat like grown ups.

And hello Darren! Spoke to you on twitter yesterday.

I recently did slimming works by the way.

I couldn't afford to keep it up. The shopping bill crippled me. And we are not poor. Can do £80-£100 per week in the supermarket for the 5 of us ( for everything, including toiletries & cleaning items & I use Aldi) But in slimming world my bill was up by a good £50.00. If I wanted nice fruit, so did my kids. And I couldn't deny them!

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 14:17:18

Thats a good point jocook, I think start them at school but then supermarkets who take our cash can also use some of their huge profits to educate to make their food go further. I absolutely agree that having cooking skills is important especially when on a tight budget, as I've said before we can cook but what we wanted was hints and tips from a professional chef as to what can go further cheaper replacements etc but we didn't see that. I guess when you're a mitchelin star chef you don't really have to look at cheaper alternatives

WireCat Fri 12-Jul-13 14:18:35

Btw, in my menu in the previous page, I used value mince in my bolognaise but lentils in my cottage pie.

In reality, I never use value meat. Or value eggs.

You have no choice on an extremely tight budget.

I have been poor & believe me, it isn't easy. It isn't fun. And you can't go back to your normal life after you've done an experiment, like I just did.

And you can't have fussy children. Like me. Middle child wouldn't eat a few things off that menu. Youngest would struggle as he's autistic & doesn't do "wet" food.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 14:20:26

I have to admit when it gets to the end of the month BeCool (hello!) sometimes the SW Plan can go out the window in favour of just having food but we seem to do ok most of the time we certainly don't spend that amount ?

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 14:21:24

Home Bargains is best for Toiletries and cleaning stuff I've found smile

KevinFoley Fri 12-Jul-13 14:22:27

Yes I certainly wouldn't go to one of those chefs for advice either. Bought the jamie Oliver cookbook once and worked out it'd be cheaper to eat out than have to buy all his hundreds of poncy cupboard "staples" that would go out of date before they ever got used again. Far better if school cooks used to working to a budget and timeframe could run classes and write cookbooks.

wasabipeanut Fri 12-Jul-13 14:23:16

Hello Darren, I was really impressed with how dignified you and your family were in last nights program. I hope sincerely that things pick up for you all (and others featured) in the months to come.

I have read this whole thread and really, can't quite believe the "lentils are the answer" posts. I've got nothing left to add really (ohmygerd and MrsDV pretty much covered it for me) suffice to say that I'm very angry and very humbled by this issue. It's an utter, fucking disgrace. The thought of my children going without rips my heart out and how it must feel to see your children do that, day in, day out must be soul destroying.

And if I had to live on cheap mince, tomatoes and lentils forever more I think I'd probably want to kill myself.

I can't help wondering, especially if this is a hot Summer, how far away some serious civil unrest is on this issue.

WireCat Fri 12-Jul-13 14:26:40

Darren, when I was doing sw, I found it was the meat & fruit that bumped up my bill.

Punnets of berries are very expensive. I know, could have apples, bananas & oranges, but gets boring after a while!

burberryqueen Fri 12-Jul-13 14:31:41

I tried to feed my children a red lentil stew with carrots and potatoes once and they told me it looked like vomit and refused to eat it. (I suppose they would have eaten it if they were truly hungry tho). Imagine serving that up day after day.....

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 14:53:39

We tend to just get berries when on offer (sometimes you can get a punnet of blueberries for a pound) normally we get bananas as they're pretty cheap

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 14:58:24

"they told me it looked like vomit"

I've noticed this about lots of my budget meals! I sometimes vary the vomit style with cow-pat and dog-food style ... Whenever I have money, I crave food with edges: food that you can feel your teeth going through, which doesn't change shape when you put it on your fork smile

BeCool Fri 12-Jul-13 15:09:40

"if I had to live on cheap mince, tomatoes and lentils forever more I think I'd probably want to kill myself."

I did this many years ago, living in a doss house very cheaply, while looking for work/getting established in London. Back then we used to put £15 each a week in for food - in 1994!!!!!! About 10-12 adults most weeks.

And we lived on basics and the cheapest products. I remember cooking meatballs with value mince, only to have them totally disintegrate when all the fat cooked out of them. I opened the oven to a tray of melted fat and no surviving meatballs! Just some random floaty bits in fat - I'd never seen anything like it. And the bread was like air (same stuff the NHS served me up as "toast" after I had DD).

I never ate that cheap mince again - pass the lentils!

At least a good dhal/lentil curry is proper food and sustaining - not that I could get the DD's to eat it, but yes I guess they would if they were hungry. Personally on a tight budget I would do down the vegetarian diet route, rather than eat the very cheap mince & sausages. But I'd more than likely need a pressure cooker to keep the energy bills down - now where would I find a cheap one of those?

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 15:18:37

Just watching this now. What I see are brave, tough people doing their very best in a bloody awful situation. There is nothing to judge in any of these families' behaviour.

darren the veg soup you were making looked really good, what was in it? (if you remember!)

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 15:18:49

I am going to watch this tonight as <lights blue touch paper> have it on sky plus

We are having a tighter than tight month and I find that having non perishable food in the house lessens my anxiety about running out before pay day. Be it fish fingers, oven chips or tinned beans, it makes me feel better to know something is there

TotemPole Fri 12-Jul-13 15:21:38

How could a 1 adult, 1 child family end up with £14 a week for food?

JSA, income support, ESA would be £71
Child tax credit £60 ish
Child benefit £20.

What is the other £130 being spent on each week?

A question about key meters. A few years ago I was discussing changing to a prepaid meter, I said I'd heard it was more expensive. The chap at EDF said they weren't allowed to charge a higher rate on the prepaid meters. What is the situation now??

Why did you assume the adult was unemployed totem? They worked full time!

Totempole Rent and bills hmm

wispa31 Fri 12-Jul-13 15:30:53

just read through whole thread, fuck it makes me want to kill myself, so depressing. its an absolute disgrace that in this day and age families are forced to choose between feeding the kids or topping up the meter and going hungry themselves!! shocking state of affairs!
i for one could not live on £14 a week, no one should have to either. to those families/lone parents on low income/benefits, how on earth do you manage?? y,all deserve a medal.

TotemPole Fri 12-Jul-13 15:34:00

I didn't see the programme. So apologies, I assumed they were on benefits.

How does the working family end up so much worse off?

TotemPole Fri 12-Jul-13 15:36:35

Lulabellarama A working family would get top ups from WTC and housing benefit.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 15:37:44

EDF said they weren't allowed to charge a higher rate on the prepaid meters. What is the situation now??

They get around it by offering "discounts" to people who pay by DD so on a prepayment meter you can be paying up to 15% more than on DD, also many who use them are paying off arrears on unpaid bills, as I was when I had one many years ago. I would put £10 in say, and only receive about £4 credit to use, the rest went on the arrears.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 15:38:31

We aren't eligible for WTC anymore and we don't or never had housing benefit

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 15:39:33

Please lay off Bogeyface, she's just making a point that people have taken the wrong way (including me) lets just have a good debate eh?

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 15:41:44

Thanks Darren, but dont worry I can take it!

emuloc Fri 12-Jul-13 15:45:08

When I read the replies on this thread and look at ny own situation I find it hard to belive that the people in Governent have the gall to want a pay rise. Where are the people protesting in the streets against that.

Bogeyface You speak sense I do not see why you should be panned for saying so. If you do not have the knowledge to prepare food for your family without relying on pre prepped food or junk food you are at an disadyantage.
There are no two ways about it.

Fairylea Fri 12-Jul-13 15:48:46

Totem - the other £130 is probably being spent on bills, mortgage or rent, travel, clothes when outgrown, children's shoes, whatever else ! It's not like that 130 is just disposable!

ThreeMusketeers Fri 12-Jul-13 15:50:30

Haven't seen the program.

I really feel for people who need to get their food for such measly amount sad
Did a little exercise on Tesco website to see what could one buy for £14.
Shocking, below is the most basic but somewhat nutritional meal plan, sadly it doesn't contain any fruit and no drinks, water has to do.
sad sad
Still better than ready-meals.

Total £ 14.49

Tesco Carrots Loose x5 £0.40
Allinson Dried Active Baking Yeast 125G £0.64
Tesco Everyday Value Eggs Minimum Weight Box Of 15 £1.34
Tesco Everyday Value Self Raising Flour 1.5Kg £0.65
Tesco Everyday Value Strawberry Jam 454G £0.29
Tesco Everyday Value Oats 1Kg £0.75
Glenryck Pilchards In Tomato Sauce 425G £0.98
Tesco Everyday Value Tomato Puree 200G £0.35
Tesco Everyday Value Onions 1Kg £0.63
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Vegetables 1Kg £0.75
Tesco Pearl Barley 500G £0.59
Tesco Everyday Value Dark Red Kidney Beans 4x 400G £0.84
Tesco Everyday Value Pork Chops 800G £2.50
Tesco Everyday Value Mince 950G £3.00
Tesco Everyday Value Spaghetti 500Gx2 £0.38
Tesco Everyday Value Long Grain Rice 1Kg £0.40


porridge with jam
toast with jam (flour/yeast/salt/water=bread)
eggs ( scrambled, fried/poached/boiled) with toast


pork goulash with rice (200g pork thinly sliced, large onion, carrot, tomato paste)

bolognese with spaghetti (450g mince, 2 onions, tomato puree, 2 grated carrots, handful of pearl barley)

spaghetti with pichards (pilchards fried with onion and tomato puree)

vegetable soup (500 g mixed vegetables, fried onion, 2 handfuls of pearl barley, sgueeze of tomato puree) with french bread (flour/yeast/salt/water)

chili con carne with rice ( 450g mince, onion, 4 tins of kidney beans, tomato puree, handful of pearl barley)

omelette with leftover chili con carne folded in

fried pork strips with vegetables and rice ( 200g thinly sliced pork, 450g defrosted vegetables, 2 onions, grated carrot)


There should be leftovers from most meals that could be eaten with extra bread.


TotemPole Fri 12-Jul-13 15:53:04

Bogeyface, that's a large percentage to take for the arrears. I'm on JSA and have a debt. I've opted to have the payment taken at source. The debt is being repaid at a few pounds a week.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 15:58:35

marzipanned the soup was a home made tomato soup, it's a tin of baked beans, tin of chopped tomatoes, tin of carrots, a couple of pickled onions and veg stock (just enough to cover the other ingredients), put it all in a pan add some sweetener (1tsp) and boil it up for about 10 minutes or so then blend it

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 16:03:36

We both work but our outgoings have risen quite dramatically, my wife works in the public sector and had to take a pay cut earlier this year too that and having our WTC revoked has crippled us

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 16:30:54

we are being charged £243 a month dd by our energy supplier for a 3 bed house. We have found that part of it is a discrepancy of 1000 units from the reading we were given by the letting agent and the energy suppliers reading. They will do NOTHING about it at all despite us complaining. I also want to know why we are using so much electric, but again, will they help? will the fuck. Oh and that's just electric, not gas as we do not have gas running to the house

If anyone has any tips on how to resolve this, i would be very grateful, after rent it is our highest bill

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 16:31:39

oh and we don't have electric heating either, that's oil!

jocook Fri 12-Jul-13 16:36:40

Arbitarary : we buy everything from Asda as it generally is cheaper than cash and carry. Nothing is bought in bulk.....we cook for 100 DC a day and get 2 deliveries a week.

GrendelsMum Fri 12-Jul-13 16:41:23

Owllady - have you been to the CAB for advice? I'm guessing that you need to start escalating this discrepancy and make a formal complaint to either the energy supplier or the letting agent or both - but probably both will try to wriggle out of it. I guess you keep making formal complaints to higher and higher authorities until somebody responds.

Three things

1) I work with local low income families and they do offer (in my area) Cook It free classes which teaches people about making basic, nutritious meals on a budget.

2) However, many people have limited literacy and numeracy skills and they find budgeting for a week unbelievably challenging so yes they can cook the food in the classes but when the course is over translating their new cooking skills into a household budget with planned meals for 7 days.

3) Also as others have pointed out many people have no access to big supermarkets, no car, poor literacy / ICT skills which really deter them from shopping online (never mind that the £4 delivery charge wold blow your £14 a week food budget) and if you have to shop in corner shops the selection is v limited and the price is high.

I agree that it is much better for people to try and cook simple food from scratch than relying on heavily processed stuff filled with salt. But when you weigh up all the challenges facing people, alongside the grim prospect of a baked potato that takes an hour after a long shift in work and would probably be eaten with no oil, butter, salt, cheese, coleslaw etc I am not surprised microwave burgers are so popular.

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 16:47:20

I haven't been to CAB, that is a really good idea blush

sashh Fri 12-Jul-13 16:47:53


These people are working, they are paying mortgages, traveling to work so paying bus fares, needing work clothes, O you might not need many but laddering a pair of tights can be a disaster.

EDF - yes I've seen someone on TV claim they don't charge more. They do however charge a premium for 'emergency electric' - for the benefit of anyone who doesn't know if you run out of electricity you can press a button and get some more power, but when you top up it is taken off your key at a higher rate.

They also offer discounts id you pay be direct debit.

BTW, sorry, I know my spelling is far from perfect but it's programme. Sorry, I need to get back to work and correct the student's spelling.


You, and the other people, came across really well. And some people (maybe me) would pay good money for that cook book.

Fairylea Fri 12-Jul-13 16:55:02

Owllady - are you able to switch suppliers?? Or threaten them with it. If you could you could ask for a final bill and then at least you would know where you are with the discrepancy and then take this to cab.

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 16:58:09

The discrepancy is now £780 apparently and we just cannot afford that in one go.

darrenmillar73 Fri 12-Jul-13 16:58:38

sashh I'll let you into a secret, they took the book off us after filming because the recipes hadn't been tested. They said they would send it to us but nothing as yet!

GrendelsMum Fri 12-Jul-13 17:01:05

Owllady - if the CAB can't help, I'd really start trying to take this as high up the food chain as you can. Try everything they suggest (apparently companies do sometimes fold immediately when they're told it's the CAB specialist on the line), and then go and see your MP.

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 17:02:26

This consistent race to the bottom has to be the most depressing trend I've seen in society in my life.

Squabbling over the scraps the super rich deign to throw at us. Do you realise that Nick Clegg claimed £143k worth of expenses last year? And that they are now inline for an 11% pay rise with only their fucking taxi allowance and late-night meals getting cut because, due to their contracts, their gold-plated pensions and golden goodbyes are guaranteed?

And you lot are fixated on pointing out how you got a fucking pressure cooker for 20p and went vegetarian for years and how you survive off the broth from a 3 for a tenner chicken?


Badvoc Fri 12-Jul-13 17:06:09

Totally agree expat.
Divide and conquer, eh?
The politicos must rub their hands with glee when they see threads like this sad

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 17:09:48

Thank you grendelsmum, I will sort out our paperwork and make an appointment. I really do appreciate that.

Lioninthesun Fri 12-Jul-13 17:09:53

This is why Home Economics should have a massive revival and be compulsory. If kids don't understand why cooking from scratch is cheaper and better for you, they are unlikely to take the time to bother.

DoubleMum Fri 12-Jul-13 17:22:10

This is obviously no good for someone struggling on only £14 a week, but a great book for basic frugal meals is The Dinner Lady (remember the Jamie Oliver programme?) and you can get used copies for £2.81 on Amazon. I'd also recommend the Girl Called Jack blog which has been mentioned.

ThreeMusketeers Fri 12-Jul-13 17:25:44

expat, what do you suggest? A Revolution? Off with their heads?

Unless the really poor children get fed a half-decent and somewhat nutritionally sound food and not only processed crap, they will never have a chance of getting out from the bottom of the pile.

Of course, there are so many other factors: loving parent/s, decent sleep, clean and warm'ish home, education and interest and help with learning at home etc. Decent food is still one of the most important things for growing children.

I believe people on this thread are trying to help, clumsily perhaps, but help nevertheless.

However, as said so many times above, nobody should live in such powerty in this country angry

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 17:26:24

£14 is NOT enough to buy food for a week, but like others I am not sure where the figure of £14 comes from. I realise I should be on the other thrifty ideas thread but I think there are some great debates going on here.

This thread has opened my eyes somewhat, because it is very clear that access to shops which sell reasonably priced food is a huge problem for many people. Purchasing cheap fresh fruit and vegetables is almost impossible unless you have transport and can get to Tesco at 3.30 and 20.30 and buy up all the yellow labels at 10p. Likewise buying in bulk and from budget supermarkets can be difficult for many. Accessing bargains is easy if you have a car and a tankful of petrol and for those of us who are frugal with our petrol we are out and about doing other things and we dont make special journeys.

I buy huge sacks of rice and potatoes and pasta and onions and when my daughter comes to visit I send her away with a bag of each because I dont want her to waste her money buying small packs. If only we could do this for everyone. I havent watched the programme yet but I hope to watch it tomorrow.

It is outrageous that gas and electric are more expensive to those struggling and cheap food and fresh fruit and vegetables are not easily available to those without transport, what can we do to improve things? I hope the government are reading blogs like a girl called jack and threads like this.

YummyYummyYum Fri 12-Jul-13 17:27:19

I agree with ConferencePear

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 17:27:54

Wait till Universal Credit comes out and then it won't be enough to even be in work. Oh, no! I can't believe the competitive poverty as a mark of pride.

Alwayscheerful Fri 12-Jul-13 17:28:27

Owl lady have you used more than 1000 units yet? Did you take a photo of the meter reading with a newspaper next to it?

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 17:29:12

Agreeing with expat, naturally. Never mind Home Economics, Politics & Economics should be compulsory. If kids don't understand why millionaires with approx £200,000 annual pay are dictating the amount of food they can have, they are unlikely to feel anything's worth the bother.

ElectricSheep Fri 12-Jul-13 17:33:58

Owllady Don't even consider how you are going to pay. it's not your debt!

I had this with npower who said I owed £1000 (gas+elec) when I moved into a new property. Fortunately I had taken meter readings myself so knew what they should be charging. It took 9 months to get sorted. I had to write letters every time as phone calls were a waste of time because they contradicted and even denied things they'd said previously. I posted by recorded delivery so that they couldn't deny receiving letters. It was very hard but I was determined I wasn't going to pay someone else';s debt. They paid me in the end £50 off each bill. Don't give up.

I agree expat - we should be organising protests about the division of wealth in this country. The ruling class really are tasking the piss. Also i think it's time a new political party was formed that truly represents ordinary people. In my govt there would be a new law against anyone having a wage of more than £80k pa. Oh and i would repeal the bedroom tax apart from for houses with 5+ bedrooms would be charged 5% extra income tax for each room - yes Cameron, Clegg, Osborne, Miliband I am looking at you.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 17:40:04

Maybe some posters on this thread would be interested in The People's Assembly initiative by Owen Jones.

ElectricSheep Fri 12-Jul-13 17:52:12

Thanks Garlic. Will be there on 29 Sept in Manchester.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 17:54:32


Holliewantstobehot Fri 12-Jul-13 17:57:37

Owllady - have you been to energywatch? Write to the supplier (they have to answer a letter within a set time) and lay out the problem. Tell them if they don't sort it out you will go to energy watch. Take your current reading and put it in the letter. This should show the discrepancy as it will show you as only having used say 5 units of electricity since you moved in which is obviously silly. If you don't get a satisfactory reply send copies of your letter and their letter to energywatch. I used to work at the edf energy call centre and managers used to scale up complaints with a reference to energywatch/ofcom.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 18:12:23

"A single potato as a meal? And no salt or pepper or oil? WTF would you do with that to produce a meal. I can't imagine the despair I'd feel if I came in from work and spent 25 mins or so preparing a meal of boiled potato with no seasoning.

The thing about cooking from scratch is that you do need stuff like salt and often long cooking times so as not to produce incredibly bland food. A life of going to quite s lot of effort so that i could eat frozen value mince with some carrot and sweet corn and no seasoning or potato with no seasoning is really quite grim, tbh. If that were the alternative, I'd be buying the microwaveable burgers. At least they'd taste of something."

^ ^
Absolutely Arbitury The lady bountiful types who are so keen to tell the poor people how to cook have no idea what is feels like to be poor EVERY DAY. Its the grind of it all that makes you really want to eat chips, as opposed to a dry potato and a portion of unseasoned value kidney beans EVERY DAY.
I am a bloody good cook, but there have been many times the last few years when my cupboards were bare. Spices all used up, the last tin of sardines eaten on toast for yesterdays tea, and we have been faced with getting through the week on £15.
Even for me, who is practiced at is it's hard, and lets not forget how much money goes on just things like Milk, toilet paper, washing up liquid.
Fruit is a luxury, and as for things like salad? Forget it, it's not happening.
You end up filling the basket (not enough stuff for a trolley)with basics pasta, onions and baking potatoes, and end up throwing a multipack of chocolate bars in there, because the thought of yet another baked potato with crappy basics cheese is just so depressing.
It's the daily grind of poverty that makes people go off the rails, even me, even someone who is mighty resourceful and knows it's not forever.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 18:18:16

Oh ,yeah,expat and MP's fucking pay rises...???
I work almost FT, and have only one child, and still struggle.
I wont get a pay rise this year, or next, so yes it sticks in my craw that MP's think they deserve such any rise at all, let alone such a massive one.
I wish we could make them take a pay CUT.

BrianButterfield Fri 12-Jul-13 18:22:46

I think George Orwell (as ever) gets it spot on in the Road to Wigan Pier (in 1937):

"The basis of their diet, therefore, is white bread and margarine, corned beef, sugared tea, and potatoes--an appalling diet.
Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on
brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A
millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an
unemployed man doesn't. Here the tendency of which I spoke at the end of
the last chapter comes into play. When you are unemployed, which is to say
when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don't want to
eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit 'tasty'. There is
always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let's have three pennorth of chips! Run out and buy us a twopenny ice-cream! Put the kettle on and we'll all have a nice cup of tea! That is how your mind works when you are at the P.A.C. level. White bread-and-marg and sugared tea don't nourish you to any extent, but they are nicer (at least most people think so) than brown bread-and-dripping and cold water. Unemployment is an endless misery
that has got to be constantly palliated, and especially with tea, the
English-man's opium. A cup of tea or even an aspirin is much better as a
temporary stimulant than a crust of brown bread.

Bessie123 Fri 12-Jul-13 18:28:34

Homemade pizza
Spaghetti Bol
Chicken Casserole with rice
Plov (without the cashews)
Sausage and homemade oven chips
Baked potato with beans
Chicken soup (use stock from chicken carcass and leftover chicken) and homemade dumplings (with bread flour leftover from pizza)
Scrambled egg
Veg soup if any stock left
Make your own bread for toast for breakfast

A week of meals for a family of 4, about £25 I reckon although it is really hard to budget like that every week without food getting carby and boring

marzipanned Fri 12-Jul-13 18:31:19

Having finished watching the program now - I found the end of it hugely depressing.

I think the chefs really meant well, but all those others like Prue Leith and the MPs and supermarket folk saying "well, look, it's SO easy to produce nutritious and amazing food for £1 a head [because these famous and experienced chefs have done it]" was massively unhelpful.

As so many have said - it's MUCH easier to keep food costs down when cooking for large numbers, the chefs were obviously using a certain amount of fuel etc, were the oils and seasonings really included in budget? James was shopping at Waitrose FGS!

The whole 'budget banquet' just felt like, to me, a way of saying - right-o, we've basically solved all the problems shown in the show.

Thanks for the recipe darren!

expatinscotland Fri 12-Jul-13 18:34:32

Why, yes, Three, I do all I can to get these people out of power. I don't find it okay to throw up my hands and think, well, fuck it, we just have to semi-starve and put up with them whilst they live in second homes we pay for out of a pittance and 'debate' on how anyone in this country can eat on £14/week whilst those in office spend that on a fucking hamburger because they had to work late one night.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 18:42:30

Interesting reading on the The Peoples Assembly website, I fully support their aims. But what is civil disobedience? Sounds a bit too much like "Rioting" to me......

Latara Fri 12-Jul-13 18:43:04

Bessie123 those meals are a good idea but you need to be able to cook and to be inclined to do so.

I suffer with depression and mental illness. ADs and anti-psychotics are working now luckily so i eat properly although i'm fairly skint.

But once I could hardly make toast, in fact one time I could barely bother to get a glass of water. I lived on cereal bars and still do at times.
Luckily (but sadly) I didn't have children to care for - but what the hell do parents with MH problems do??

To budget and cook decent meals you need to be healthy mentally and physically in the first place I think.

ThreeMusketeers Fri 12-Jul-13 18:49:56

I have become somewhat obsessed with trying to find enough food to feed a family of 4 for £14 a week. How lucky I am to only doing that as an exercise sad

Apart from the 'menu' I posted upthread, I can't find many things to fit the budget and I can't imagine how people have to survive on same stuff week in week out.

I could do it for 2 weeks if absolutely pressed and the what.......
What a disgrace a rich country like this one has people living in such conditions.

expat, politicians are corrupted and greedy regardless which party they represent.

Well, some might start out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, full to the brim with idealism and world improvement. That soon gets squeezed out of them by the bureaucratic machine that is 'government'.hmm

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 19:22:06

We should be bloody rioting.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 19:23:19

Bogey - Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance. In one view (in India, known as ahimsa or satyagraha) it could be said that it is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 19:30:07

I tend to agree, IfNot, but the People's Assembly is aiming for peaceful protest stuff like standing in the road to block up traffic, people not going in to work, and so on.

If the weather stays hot, will we have riots ... ? Dunno. I'd love to see a mass occupation of the Houses of Parliament.

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 19:32:39

I remember the days when they used to teach girls children to cook in schools.

We did Chocolate refrigerator cake at primary school.
Secondary school - lesson one was tea and toast, lesson two was coconut pyramids. We progressed to fat-less sponge for a swiss roll, a very nice quiche recipe and bread (made with fresh yeast from the local bakery sourced by the school). And cakes, lots of cakes.

I'm not sure it really helped me cook, I certainly don't think that it was turning out a generation of children who could budget and cook for a family. Helping my parents was what taught me the cooking skills I have.

bumbleymummy Fri 12-Jul-13 19:33:20

Was it not a family of 2 that were spending £14 a week on microwave burgers?

I actually do agree that it is possible to feed yourself much nicer/better/healthier food on the same budget. Yes, it would be very 'samey' after a while but not as 'samey' as burgers/nuggets/chips 7 days a week! They can hardly be happy on that!

I also notice that some people are saying about not having the cupboard staples eg salt/pepper/stock/dried herbs/spices etc but if you even bought one thing a week/a fortnight (eg. tesco table salt 29p, stock cubes 15p) then that would gradually build up. Although, I've just had a quick look on some of the supermarket websites and you can buy some jars of pasta sauces etc for less than what it would probably cost to make them. (pasta sauce 39p, chilli con carne sauce 57p) Not ideal but still nicer than burgers/nuggets etc.

Some of the larger bags of rice/pasta are only very slightly more but would last 2/3 times as long so eating pasta an extra night one week to allow for the initial outlay means that the following week you don't have to buy it at all - more money to buy another 'staple'. Special offers on dried goods/jars such as buy one get one free also means you can gradually stock up the cupboard.

I'm not trying to say that this is the nicest way to live or anything but it is possible. Asking 'how would you like it?' doesn't really mean much when most of us are coming from a position of having much more - of course we would find it hard but surely when you are coming from the position of eating microwaveable/nuggets and chips type meals then it is an improvement? Isn't that improvement based on education and having (very) basic cookery skills that would enable you to boil up pasta, cook a bit of meat and add a jar of sauce?

Latara Fri 12-Jul-13 19:35:08

I prefer nuggets and chips to pasta personally... I think a lot of people do!

bumbleymummy Fri 12-Jul-13 19:37:48

I guess if you're happy enough eating that 7 days a week then why would you change? I suppose I was looking at it from the point of view of them thinking that they don't have a choice because the food is cheap rather than because that's what they like eating.

Sparrowp Fri 12-Jul-13 19:40:20

There was a survey done to find out what the minimum cost of groceries was that someone could live on, with decent nutrition. It was checked by dieticians to make sure.

The cost was £50 for just one person. As you add more people cooking together in families there are economies of scale for each extra person, but £50 is the baseline.

Latara Fri 12-Jul-13 19:40:46

Nuggets and chips were beyond my capability when I had bad MH problems.. so spag bol would be definitely out of reach.

bumbleymummy Fri 12-Jul-13 19:43:52

Latara, my post wasn't solely directed at you. You've just told us that you could barely be bothered to drink water some days. Should I not have posted at all because my suggestions wouldn't have worked for you in your darkest hours?

Latara Fri 12-Jul-13 19:45:12

Sorry bumbleymummy not having a good night really.

DENMAN03 Fri 12-Jul-13 19:46:27

I have been trying to save money. It is only me to feed though and I'm lucky enough to have a garden. I've grown my own potatoes and veg, bought 2 packs of chicken thighs for £6 and it has fed me every night for a week. I make sandwichs for work so reckon I've spent about £10 on food each week.. It does get boring having pretty the same food each night however. Also that's just for one so it must be pretty difficult to feed two on £14 a week!

bumbleymummy Fri 12-Jul-13 19:48:00

Me neither Latara. Sorry for snapping.

Latara Fri 12-Jul-13 19:52:22

That's ok.

Mumsyblouse Fri 12-Jul-13 19:58:45

I think, Latara, that you point to a very good point- while your depths might have been an extreme example, there are many many women who have low level depression/taking AD for whom life becomes a drudge and grey and cooking wholesome nutritious food (and running all over town to get the ingredients) just slides down the list of possibilities.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 20:00:16

I did wonder if it was nonviolent resistance Garlic but I would be very worried that it would soon turn to violence and that would put me off attending any rallys.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 20:01:41

If you do have a butcher, as an aside, (a real one as opposed to a poncy one) do use them, as they won't survive without custom.
Mine is a godsend. They are slightly cheaper than my local supermarket and loads better quality.
Their record for animal welfare is better too, as they buy from local farms and know their suppliers well.
I am sure our butcher knows I am on a tight budget since my weekly meat budget is pretty small and I buy mince a lot, and I am certain they give me extra for nowt! They are also good for cheap cuts.
I realise I am really lucky though, and most people don't live near a butcher anymore.

EllaFitzgerald Fri 12-Jul-13 20:18:21

Ermahgerd Your post is spot on and sums up how I grew up perfectly. Our 'treat' came on a Friday when we had a bottle of orange squash and once that was gone, it was gone. The idea of having a slow cooker or a freezer was unimaginable. There were times when we didn't have gas or electric. However, we were lucky as our mum could cook from scratch and was incredibly resourceful. Thinking back, we definitely didn't get our five a day, but we never went hungry.

We all had Home Economic lessons at school teaching us how to cook. However, when you're presented with a list of ingredients to bring to the lesson that come to 25% of the weekly food bill, there will be some kids off 'sick' on those days. We certainly were on more than one occasion.

I'm very lucky now because I've got a good wage. Not massive, but enough to keep a store cupboard. However, when I go back to where I grew up and see some of the people I grew up with, it takes me straight back. There is no bulk buying of food, no daily baths (strip washes are the norm; not many social housing properties have showers), no freezers. If you're cold, you put another jumper on. Heating and lighting are not things that are guaranteed. Everyone buys on tick from the tally man, Christmas finally gets paid for in November and the need for a healthy balanced diet is often an alien concept.

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 20:19:54

I just wanted to chime in with a bit of support, Latara. I still do have mental health (and physical) problems. I have to try and take this into account, so there's at least some sliced bread in the freezer for toast on bad days. In theory, I cook & freeze half so there should always be something microwaveable, but a recent stretch of three weeks down saw me living on biscuits & vitamin pills blush My meds make me crave carbs. Shopping correctly for my health would be a complicated challenge on a decent budget - as it is, I see an awful lot of rice and toast. And couscous! Just add boiling water, and sugar if I'm antsy. I've gained a ton of weight.

I absolutely don't blame people not being arsed to cook, with such a grind to get through. The anxiety causes depression, if you didn't have it in the first place -> poor diet exacerbates the depression -> ability to be constructive with fucking pulses diminishes -> gimme nuggets!

Oblomov Fri 12-Jul-13 20:23:25

I too feel ill at some posters not having enough to eat. Please come to mine. I have plenty and can give you some of my ridiculous budgethmm

garlicsmutty Fri 12-Jul-13 20:25:00

There are three butchers in this little town, IfNot, and the local produce is good. But cheap it ain't! Last time I had a fit of doing healthy "peasant" cooking, I asked the butcher for a cheap neck of lamb. It was a bloody fiver and shrank to a handful! Aldi's premium mince and 1kg bags of frozen chicken are far better value, food-per-pound wise.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 20:35:43

Thanks rubbish garlic! I love Aldi, but dont have one nearby,wish I did.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 12-Jul-13 20:41:10

Spot on about the ingredients for a home ec lesson EllaFitzgerald.
When I did home ec, we always made something utterly pointless, using massive amounts of something we never had in normally, to be desecrated by me into an inedible mess.

MiniTheMinx Fri 12-Jul-13 20:44:48

I have just had time to watch the programme.

Right at the end one of the judges, with a beaming smile says....."These chefs today have proven to us that you can have delicious, nutritious food for almost nothing"

So really any further critical analysis is a waste of time because politicians and supermarkets can take that away and have a clear conscience. angry

Sparrowp Fri 12-Jul-13 20:48:04

That bit was a bit ridiculous mini.

But interesting as part of the debate on affordable school dinners...

EllaFitzgerald Fri 12-Jul-13 20:56:09

IfnotNow Same here. inedible rock cakes or meals for five people for three days? It's not a difficult choice.

RedToothBrush Fri 12-Jul-13 21:30:25

I think they should repeat the programme... but this time make it more realistic by factoring in the following:

1) the amount of time normal people have to go hunting all the bargins
2) the cost of transport to do the above hunting
3) the cost of cooking this marvellous food, using electricity
4) the cost of washing up after cooking all this marvellous food
5) the health of the person doing the cooking - are they actually able to go out and make the effort to cook this marvellous food
6) the fact that there's probably a good number of people who can't read these marvellous budget recipes

Oh and whilst we are at it, wheeling out celebrity chefs who do a weekly cookery programme (James Martin I'm looking at you) which generally has recipes that most people - even though on a good wage - couldn't reasonably afford on anything other than special occasions, was hardly going to inspire. Just piss everyone off. Maybe they should consider budget far more often on these type of shows.

Bogeyface Fri 12-Jul-13 21:57:46

I have often thought that Masterchef could do budget series. Its very easy to create amazing food with an unlimited budget, but to do it on a fiver really shows skill and creativity with the added bonus that it could show what really is possible with very little money.

yep, I cringed at the judge's sum up of the experience....

I reckon its taken me more than 10 years to get a 'store cupboard' of herbs, spices, etc etc. THAT's the other expence I thought was brushed under the carpet.

Why didn't they take the families out shopping?
Why didn;t they show 'variations on a theme' such as potatoes, pasta, rice etc.... basic cuttign skills and food hygiene/storage....

So much could have been madeof this...

OhMerGerd Fri 12-Jul-13 22:52:56

£5 masterchef? Cancelled after three episodes followiing 50th plate of variation on a tomato based mince dish.

I don't think it helps to post budget plans, menus and recipes without a real understanding of the realities of living in the bottom 10%.

I'm very lucky to be earning a top 10% salary and to know the difference between poor and thrifty and being poor and being patent.

OhMerGerd Fri 12-Jul-13 23:00:33

Sorry posting while falling asleep

I think it's quite telling that even when they have true to do budget cookery shows (there was a BBC one a few years back with a man and woman presenting? They made a lot of stock?) The budgets are actually quite high from an actually being pretty broke PoV.

Sainsbury's ran it's feed a family of 4 for £50pw meal planner which was really good - until it disappeared (presumably because it no longer cost £50!)

I'd like to see an honest budget tv show that worked out the cheapest you could do a balanced diet for from reasonable provisions - eg only using ingredients from one shop, low cooking times it if high doubling up oven use etc.

I think what made me think is that I save a lot of money bulk buying, storing [often under beds or in silly places!) batch cooking, freezing etc. But this is because we have been lucky enough to have just enough to forward plan. I.e. I have so much for the month ahead and can buy, rather than just a fiver left t=for the week if that makes sense.

And my freezer
And my slow cooker, big pot, good plastic tubs for storing etc.

We eat cheeply and have low income but would be impossible if we hadnlt saved for the above [mainily my Xmas pressents!]

And buying for one seemed a nightmare.

Bumpstarter Sat 13-Jul-13 00:00:20

I really want the 20p pressure cooker. My kids love beans, but the electric is so expensive (key meter).

I think the price of quality second hand stuff is really variable, and I suspect that in wealthier areas you can get better bargains.

Also I like the gas barbecue idea.... How much is one of those second hand? I have a calor gas bottle already...

Bumpstarter Sat 13-Jul-13 00:02:14

Oh mer gerd, Thanks for your description. Especially the chafing.

Breadandwine Sat 13-Jul-13 00:18:02

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?

MalcolmTuckersmum - you* need to get in touch with your local college or - in this county - Somerset Skills and Learning. You can do a short, one-term course that will give you all the skills you need to teach adults.

(*Or anyone else who thinks they'd like to teach.)

That's what I did 20 years ago, when I retired and I've never looked back. I teach breadmaking, but recently, my line manager told me I was the only cookery teacher in her area - and could I please (as well as the breadmaking courses) run a 5 week vegetarian cookery course? So I'm running one in the autumn.

Once you're trained, hopefully there will be work for you, but if not, then my advice to you would be to volunteer where ever you can. I volunteer my services quite a bit, and it almost always leads to paid work.


Ps. I haven't read all the thread - sorry if this has already been said.

Bogeyface Sat 13-Jul-13 00:38:59

Masterchef was just an example, it would just be nice to watch a programme that based in reality! One that showed recipes that dont require ££££ worth of ingredients, but is also entertaining enough to watch.

One question, I have "Nick and Margaret, we pay your benefits" recorded, should I watch it or will it make me shouty? It says that these people will go through the claimants spending habits.......even describing it makes me feel angry.

I have read This review of the program and I rather think that I will be shouty!

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 00:47:47

Controversial i know, but am i the only one wondering how working people with children (and therefore child benefit and working tax credit) can possibly only have £1 per person per day for food? Whatever are they spending the rest of their income on?

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 00:48:53

And diehard right that the larger family dont receive watch, then they must be on a decent wage

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 00:49:35

Grr stupid spell check

And if I heard right, not diehard!

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 00:57:23

Try again,

If the larger family don't qualify for wftc then they must have a decent wage

Darkesteyes Sat 13-Jul-13 01:03:50

Bogeyface you will be shouty ESPECIALLY when you come across Debbie.

AudrinaAdare Sat 13-Jul-13 01:17:41

topsy they are probably pissing away the majority of their income on rent (bedroom tax) heating, electricity, council tax (all people of working age now have to pay) water and sewage bills, television license and basic insurance. That's how I roll with my income as a carer to two disabled children.

Quite often, said children need new clothes and shoes. This is because they are growing, unlike me and DH who are now up to five years on the same winter coat and shoes and are prepared for another five.

And before you ask, communication is vital. I don't have the latest phone by any means but my internet connection is free with the package and is vital for moneysaving. Look at all the tips on this thread, and on the credit-crunch forum.

AudrinaAdare Sat 13-Jul-13 01:43:26

That's a winter coat and pair of shoes each for me and my husband. We're not that frugal!


Darkesteyes Sat 13-Jul-13 01:54:21

council tax (all people of working age now have to pay

Yep They got their poll tax through after all.

sashh Sat 13-Jul-13 06:36:15

but if you even bought one thing a week/a fortnight (eg. tesco table salt 29p, stock cubes 15p) then that would gradually build up.

If you have that spare 29p or 15p.

bumbleymummy Sat 13-Jul-13 07:24:31

Sashh, as I said in my post, it may mean having the same basic meal a couple of times in one week but that would make it possible to build up other supplies. Eg. The women eating a £1 microwave burger once a day. A jar of sauce and a bag of pasta would cost less than that £2 and the pasta would last more than one day - now there's a bit extra to buy something else etc. Again, I'm not saying that it's a nice or easy way to live but at least it's not microwave burgers everyday!

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 07:40:29

Audrina, I know you are bing, you know, funny, but having previously qualified for wftc I can tell you that there is no problem paying for all of those things you mentioned and a car and a holiday and two mobiles and the supermarket shopping and clothes and clarks shoes and outings whether you are under the salary limit so qualify for wftc, or just over the limit so you don't. The income limit is really quite generous.

You don't know what other people's costs are though do you? How much their mortgage/rent is, if they have other debt etc Topsy - the limits have all gone down lately anyway. We get no wtc or ctc as of April this year and it has been a big hit for us.

Bluecarrot Sat 13-Jul-13 08:16:55

Have only made it through half the pages but wanted to add- my local church, who collect food for food parcels and distribute through social workers (no local official good banks) also run a lunch programme a few days a week for children who receive free school meals.

I'm thinking of trying to work out a below the line menu with my family but I'm pregnant so probably won't actually take part unless I can make it v nutritious. I'm sure there are pregnant folk on it though, with no choice sad

DP would happily eat spaghetti and toast daily hmm

Whothefuckfarted Sat 13-Jul-13 08:45:49


WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 08:48:18

Why the hmm whothefuck?

Gas & electricity prices must also make it difficult with cooking. I regularly do stews in the winter. They are on the hob or in the oven for a good 4 hours. We pay by dd but if you're on a key meter, especially in the winter, you'd be preserving the money for heating & eati food that cooks faster.

burberryqueen Sat 13-Jul-13 08:56:55

not sure about that, we have a key meter, surely a stew on the very lowest heat for four hours doesn't burn up the money?
last winter i had to turn the hot water off and only do quick lo temp machine washes....this i could not have imagined 10 years ago....

Alfonso1 Sat 13-Jul-13 09:01:41

Our weekly food budget is £150 for a family of 4 and I don't think we eat that extravagantly. We cook meals from scratch, make our own bread, but do buy good quality meat, fish, fruit and veg which cost a fortune. If I had to save money on our weekly shop, fruit and veg would be the biggest cost-savers. Healthy food is more expensive and its a disgrace that only rich children have access to good nutrition. I think the real issue here is poverty and not really that poor people need cooking classes. Cannot believe there are food banks in the UK.

WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 09:01:42

I've no idea how fast they eat away at money.
I remember going back over 20 years ago, living at home & we had one. We were needing to put on at least £20 per week on it. And that was with a coal fire & not having the water heating up etc...

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 09:08:28

It isn't only rich children who have access to good nutrition, I think your grocer bill is actually rather high.

We don't get any wftc and my weekly grocery bill for five incl nappies, meat and cat food and toiletries etc is about £100

Alfonso1 Sat 13-Jul-13 09:20:20

Yes £150 is high, but then we spend a lot on fruit and veg as we have a mainly vegetarian diet. We also have two (fat) cats. My point was going to be that fresh fruit and veg is very expensive. If you cut on these or only buy very basic fruit, you will be a lot better off. Its a lot cheaper to send your child to school with biscuits and crisps than strawberries and nectarines.

burberryqueen Sat 13-Jul-13 09:23:11

in the one post alfonso you said it was high due to the good quality meat and fish you buy, in the next you state it is high due to all the fruit you need being 'almost' vegetarian.
either way you could budget better if you needed to, £150 is v high.

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 09:24:13

I dunno alfonso, I'm not convinced, I see kids with families moaning that they cant afford things where kids have cheese strings and fruit shoots. I am not trolling about it, it just annoys me as these types of family clearly wouldn't struggle to buy fruit and veg for the kids if they laid off the coke and cheese strings.

Unless someone has debts or an astronomical mortgage, I just don't see how food poverty can really exist in the uk if people make sensible life choices like thousands of other Britons do

LadyFlumpalot Sat 13-Jul-13 09:34:59


DH and I are on a decent wage for our area. We receive £30 a week Tax credits. The reason being that we actually spend MORE a week on childcare and commuting than I MAKE in a week.

Yes, in order to actually go to work, I have to spend more than I earn to allow me to do so.

Extortionate childcare costs is where our money goes. It's not even a fancy nursery, DS goes to a local childminder who is competitively priced.

So, even though we essentially earn over the limit for tax credits, we an only earn that much by spending out so much we are allowed some. If I gave up my job (which I don't want to - I like it) we wouldn't be entitled to anything because DH's 21k wage (£1200 a month after tax) is deemed enough to allow us to live.

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 09:35:50

Topsy whether everything is enough when on WFTC is entirely, totally dependant on your other expenses and indeed what you have access to. If you live in a cheaper area, it'll be much easier than if you're in the south east, for example. The income limit doesn't factor in commuting costs. Some people can walk to work, some people would have to spend £100 a month on public transport or perhaps even more on a car. Some people's DC grow out of their school shoes every 3 months, some every 6, some every year. Some people live in poorly insulated homes leading to higher utility bills, some people's houses are considerably more energy efficient. Some people in the south west pay twice as much for their water as elsewhere in the country. Council tax in some local authorities is much higher than others.

So to make a blanket statement like you did is totally ludicrous. There could be hundreds of pounds difference every month in even basic, bare bones costs.

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 09:37:55

Ladyflump I think if you were only on 21k between you then you'd get some TC, if you have DC/s. Isn't the income limit 23k for one child?

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 09:38:48

Rent. Or mortgage.
I could also afford (just) to run a cheapie car, and have a holiday once a year if I got a council house, as the rent would be half what I pay in a private house.
I still qualify for a teeny amount of housing benefit (I work) but in a local council house I wouldn't, even if I only worked three days a week, because rents here are so high.
I worked out that with the lower rent and CT I would be about £180 a month better off.
In addition, housing benefit in my area has been reduced by about £20 a month.
Council tax now has to be paid by non working people as well.
Also, debts, for some people.
I am on a DMP now, but ran into trouble with debts when I lost my job through redundancy. I had no savings, having been a LP for years, with no maintenance, and I was buying food on my credit card.
Travel also costs a lot in some places-I pay £80 a month on bus passes for myself and ds.
Childcare-you can get help with tax credits for childcare, but when you were on them I suspect the percentage you could get was higher (It is much lower now).
I know plenty of couples on low incomes who no longer qualify for any childcare help.
Honestly, with a clean slate, no debts,everything working OK, not having to replace the washing machine, or the fridge, (I will have to get a new washing machine soon aaargh!) we would have around £100 a week after bills for food and clothes/ school trips/savings everything else, which is OK, but as someone working nearly full time, it doesn't feel like enough.
And generally, my income has gone down by approximately 10 % in the last 5 years (in cash terms, not real terms), whereas food, gas, water, travel, school dinners, council tax etc have all gone way up.

bumbleymummy Sat 13-Jul-13 09:38:58

But wouldn't you be better off LadyFlump? It's great that you like your job but surely it doesn't make sense to keep it up if its actually costing you to work? confused

Flojobunny Sat 13-Jul-13 09:45:46

Has anyone considered the price of gas in all this?

LadyFlumpalot Sat 13-Jul-13 09:46:22

Chunderella - I honestly don't know. I did enquire with them and was told that if I stopped working we would receive nothing and that the child care costs is why we get what we do. But then, I have little to no faith in the tax credits helpline having been told wildly differing things in the past.

I probably would be better of financially if I didn't work, but I need to do it to keep sane. We live in the arse end of nowhere with no public transport, and only one car that DH needs to get to work. I would literally be stuck at home all day everyday with nowhere to take DS, also no pavements, and dangerously windy 60 mph A roads, and we would both go stir crazy. I did go slightly do-lally by the end of maternity leave.

It's ok though, I'm studying for finance exams that will lead to a much better job so there is light at the end of the tunnel for us.

AudrinaAdare Sat 13-Jul-13 09:47:06

Morning Topsy. Sounds like you were doing well when you qualified for wtc.

burberryqueen Sat 13-Jul-13 09:47:22

but if ladyflump gives up her job now, by the time her children are at school, she will be at a disadvantage in the job market, and have missed out on any promotions, pay rises etc that might be on offer in her present losing out now is like an investment for the future.

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 09:52:51

Yes I'm not saying ladyflump should stop working, not at all. Just that the income limit for tax credits when you have one child is 23k as far as I know. So I'd have thought a family with a single earner on 21k with one DC would get a bit of CTC, no WTC.

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 09:53:56

Audrina, not sure what you mean?

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 09:54:29

We had a salary below the limit and two children? Rent around £750 PCM.

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 09:54:57

Ladyflump you might get more sense if you check using the online calculator

AudrinaAdare Sat 13-Jul-13 10:06:15

Sorry just that you were living well, as you said. Car, holiday etc Some people can, as has been pointed out, it depends on your expenses and outgoings. True about rising costs and lowered thresholds for wtc now though.

Alfonso1 Sat 13-Jul-13 10:11:08

Burberryqueen, yes we buy high quality chicken for the children and we eat fresh salmon twice a week. I don't need to cut my food budget. I am only mentioning it because I think as a family we eat a healthy diet. i can see how we could cut it down to around £100 and still not suffer, but I think in London if you are to have a decent diet for a family of 4 and maybe have a couple of pets, you do need £80-100. Cheesestrings is of course cheaper than strawberries and knowing how fussy my own children are sometimes its about buying something you know your child will eat and which will fill them up. Its patronising to assume that poor people cannot cook and don't know what a healthy diet is.

bumblingbovine Sat 13-Jul-13 10:14:44

Did anyone who is saying it is possible actually watch the same programme as I did? The chefs found it almost impossible to shop with e budgets they were given. It was most difficult for the smaller families or people living on their own because of the expense of shopping in small quantities.
Even when when the chefs could and did stick to the budget in the cook off at the end they had a massive store of basic cooking ingredients to use that wasn't included in the budget such as spices, herbs, olive oil, garlic etc.

Maybe some of the people needed better cooking skills but given that most of them had full time jobs working long hours, it was not always possible for them to spend an entire day shopping for one meal which is what the chefs had to do.

Cooking skills can't make up for dire poverty where there is just not enough money to buy what is required.

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 10:18:26

The council housing point is a good one. I have a HA home in a cheap area, which is one of the reasons I'd probably be alright in a WTC situation. Band A council tax in a not particularly expensive authority. We also live within walking distance of 2 supermarkets, a couple of pound shops that sell food too, several charity shops and a market. And I have family nearby, with whom I could split the cost of larger bargains. Or a trip to a further away supermarket or ethnic food shop. DH and I both need to travel for work, but we live in a city with a reasonable bus service which we could get passes to use for £60 each a month. And only one DC, and no debt.

This would be a different tune entirely if we had a mortgage in the south east, more expensive commutes, more council tax and no family or cheap shopping locally. Although someone will no doubt be along in a moment to tell us all those things applied to them and they still managed to do X, Y and Z.

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 10:26:03

The chefs found it nearly impossible because they were doing a one day shop. If you let them shop for a month I don't think they would have had such difficulty. My point though wasn't that it is easy to eat well for £1 a day, because I don't think it is, but that I couldn't think of any situations in which one would only have £1 a day

bumbleymummy Sat 13-Jul-13 10:27:06

I don't think advanced cooking skills/a huge amount of free time are required to boil pasta and add a jar of sauce (which, as I pointed out earlier, can be cheaper than making it from scratch yourself) Plenty of people manage to work full time and still cook healthier meals than microwaveable burgers.

maxybrown Sat 13-Jul-13 10:35:41

It's 26000 for one child

stressedHEmum Sat 13-Jul-13 10:44:08

I didn't see the programme but I understand exactly how this happens. My DH works 6 days a week and earns around 17k a year. £3,500 of that goes straight back out on public transport to get to work. The there is gas and electric, rent, council tax, tv license, phone, internet, insurance, blah, blah blah. His salary doesn't even touch that and that's before you buy food, clothes and shoes, haircuts for the kids, etc.

I have less than £50 a week to provide for 7 people, including things like toilet roll, cleaning and laundry stuff and toiletries. it's perfectly doable and different from managing for 2 people on £14, but it is tiring and depressing. Always having to say no is the worst bit. And the sick feeling when you get to Thursday and realise that the kids have finished to bottle of value squash that you bought and that you can't get another one until Monday, or when the peanut butter runs out mid week so you have nothing to put in their sandwiches/toast.

it's all made worse by having a handful of ASD children who can't eat certain things and by having ME and having to eat regularly so that you don't get even sicker.

it's a whole different ball game when you are constantly struggling that to just have to do it for a couple of weeks.

You are bring extremely bonkers and naive topsy - did you watch the programme? It was pointed out at the beginning that the families all had no other areas where they could save money in their personal budgets.

It doesn't really matter why. Personally we would not struggle so much now if we had not git into debt when things were very bad for us financially - the debt has paid off in that we know have much mire coming in - but it's still tough to pay off AND cover all the other irregular bills, eg plumber to deal with sudden massive leak, car needing work to pass mot etc

Sorry typos on phone

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 11:00:46

its 26 k maximum for any family, no matter how many kids.
That includes any housing payment. its much less for one person one child.

Lioninthesun Sat 13-Jul-13 11:10:07

For me it is the energy prices hiking up at the same time as the food. Luckily my council tax is £200pm and has been kept the same for 3 years, but next year it will rise again. I have to spend £380 of my £800 budget on these two alone (gas.elect and council tax) per month.

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 11:28:39

IfNot I think you're mixing up the benefit cap and the income threshold for tax credits. The new rule is that no family can get more than 26k annually in benefits. Child tax credits are withdrawn at certain income thresholds. So you get none if you have 1 DC and earn 23k or more, 2 DC on 32k or more etc. So you could have eg 3 DC and earn 30k but would still get child benefit and some tax credits. This would mean your annual overall income would obviously be above 26k, but as you'd be getting less than 26k in benefits alone it would be fine.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 12:06:27

Am i?
I thought that tax credits couldn't be used to push anyone's income over 26 k .As in, no-one could get more income using benefits than the average wage?
Confused now!

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 12:26:44

The 26k cap just relates to how much you're getting in benefits only. That's why, for example, you stop being entitled to CB at higher rate income tax level rather than 26k. If you only have one child or none, yes you won't get any tax credits if you earn 26k. But that's because of the withdrawal rate of tax credits, not the benefit limit per se. Hence a family with 4 DC earning 26k would still get quite a lot of tax credits, particularly if there are childcare costs too.

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 12:30:53

So you can qualify for some benefits if you earn 26k or more, provided the amount of the benefits doesn't come to 26k. In practice I don't think you could be earning that much and get 26k in benefits on top, unless you had loads of DC and/or were all on DLA. Obviously not many families containing several severely disabled people would also be capable of earning 26k.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 12:41:21

OK thanks Chunderella!

ThreeMusketeers Sat 13-Jul-13 13:08:43

This would feed a family of 2 adults & 2 children for a month.
There are no special deals included, all are regularly priced items.
Tesco is on every corner, well, so it seemshmm, so there are no special trips needed to shop.

Anyone who can cook could make decent and nutritious meals out of the items below.

Milk and fruit (apples/bananas) to be bought fresh weekly, for about £5.

To use the £15.60 per week and add £5 for milk/fruit, the monthly budget would be around £80.

Awfully low but could be done without any ready meals.

Vegetables approx 13 kg
Pulses/grains approx 7.6kg
Protein (meat/poultry/fish/eggs) approx 6.4kg plus 30 eggs
Pasta/rice 3.25kg
Flour 6kg
Tomato puree/passata/chopped 4kg

Total : £62.66

Tesco Everyday Value Carrots 1.5Kg £0.92
Tesco Everyday Value Small Potatoes 3Kg £2.07
Tesco Cauliflower Florets 1Kg £1.10
Tesco Leaf Spinach 1Kg £1.00
Country Store Garden Peas 1Kg £0.99
Tesco Everyday Value Broccoli Florets 907G £0.98
Tesco Everyday Value Onions 3Kg £1.89
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Vegetables 2Kg £1.50

Miscellaneous Granulated Sugar Packet 1Kg £0.99
Tesco Everyday Value Table Salt 1Kg £0.34

Tesco Hot Curry Powder 80G £1.00
Tesco Hot Chilli Powder 50G £1.15
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Herbs 30G £1.00
Tesco Everyday Value Ground Mixed Spice 80G £1.00
Tesco Everyday Value Chicken Stock Cubes 100G 10Pk £0.15
Tesco Everyday Value Beef Stock Cubes 95G 10Pk £0.15
Tesco Everyday Value Vegetable Stock Cubes 100G 10Pk £0.15
Prymat Ground Black Pepper 20G £0.35
Prymat Sweet Paprika 20G £0.35

Tesco Distilled White Vinegar 568Ml £0.49
Tesco Pure Sunflower Oil 1L £1.50
Tesco Ingredients Lemon Juice 200ml £0.50

Tesco Everyday Value Lasagne Sheets 250G £0.32
Tesco Everyday Value Spaghetti 2Kg £0.76
Tesco Everyday Value Long Grain Rice 3Kg £1.20

Tesco Everyday Value Oats 2Kg £1.50
Tesco Wholefoods Green Split Peas 500G £0.68
Tesco Cous Cous 500G £0.69
Tesco Yellow Split Peas 500G £0.49
Tesco Pearl Barley 500G £0.59
Tesco Everyday Value Dark Red Kidney Beans 400G x 6 £1.26

Tesco Everyday Pork Shoulder Joint 1.9kg £5.92
Tesco Everyday Value Mince 950G £3.00
Tesco Everyday Value Turkey Drumstick 900G £2.92
Tesco Everyday Value Smoked Back Bacon 300G £1.64
Tesco Everyday Value Chicken Breast Fillets 1Kg £3.99

Glenryck Pilchards In Tomato Sauce 425G x 2 £1.96
Glenryck Pilchards In Brine 425G x 2 £1.96

Tesco Everyday Value Eggs Minimum Weight Box Of 15 x 2 £2.68

Allinson Dried Active Baking Yeast 125G £0.64
Tesco Everyday Value Self Raising Flour 1.5Kg x 2 £1.30
Tesco Everyday Value Plain Flour 1.5Kg x 2 £1.30

Tesco Everyday Value Chopped Tomatoes 400Gx4 £1.24
Tesco Everyday Value Passata 500Gx4 £1.16
Tesco Everyday Value Tomato Puree 200Gx2 £0.70

Tesco Sunflower Spread 500G £0.75
Tesco Everyday Value Butter 250G £0.98
Tesco Everyday Value Clear Honey 340G £0.99
Tesco Everyday Value 80 Teabags 250G £0.27
Tesco Everyday Value Mixed Fruit Jam 454G £0.29
Tesco Everyday Value Orange Marmalade 454G £0.27
Tesco Everyday Value Lemon Curd 411G £0.22
Tesco Everyday Value Strawberry Jam 454G £0.29

Tesco Everyday Value Milk Chocolate 100G £0.30
Tesco Everyday Value Plain Chocolate 100G £0.30
Tesco Everyday Value Rich Tea 300Gx2 £0.46

ThreeMusketeers Sat 13-Jul-13 13:11:18

Of course got some quantities wrong, pasta/rice should read 5.25kg

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 13:44:36

I don't think that s enough food at all. Half a dozen eggs a week, we are 5heads and eat about 3 dozen a week.

I didn't notice bread, and milk fr us would cost £7 a week with fruit on top

topsyandturvy Sat 13-Jul-13 13:47:06

But saying that, even if you topped the order up with bread, eggs and milk, it would still be a very modest spend, certainly no more than £1 per person per day. The problem with the program is they were trying to shop for a single day without any cookable store cupboard ingredients.

fatlazymummy Sat 13-Jul-13 13:59:35

£14/week for 1 adult and 1 child would be very tough indeed. That said, I don't think that lady was making the best choices. I don't mean that as a criticism but she did have other choices than eating a microwave burger every day. My 1st choice is usually beans on toast when I have very little money.
Can't really comment on the other families because I didn't catch the figures.

meddie Sat 13-Jul-13 14:08:12

lovely list threemuskateers now could you list the full months recipes that would use all these ingredients and nothing else?

GoodtoBetter Sat 13-Jul-13 14:08:25

I think the problems for a lot of people is that they don't have the access to cheap healthy food or the means to cook it, never mind knowing anything about nutrition.
For example, they movve into council housing with no utensils and no money to buy them.
They live in area where they only have corner shops etc and the supermarkets are a bus ride away so they can't carry stuff back and buy in bulk or they can't afford the bus fare to get there.
They don't have any spare money so can't spend a bit more to buy in bulk and therefore save IYSWIM. They don't have much freezer space for example so can't buy loads of cheap stuff near to sell by and then use it later.
There are no kitchens in schools any more and no subjects like home economics/nutrition etc so people don't know anything about nutrition.

GoodtoBetter Sat 13-Jul-13 14:09:31

And maybe they don't have any store cupboard ingredients (they need the money to buy them and the nutritional knowledge to know what things to always have in).

meddie Sat 13-Jul-13 14:19:22

Exactly goodtobetter When I first divorced and moved into my house with my 2 kids I had a bed and sofa and a small fridge with just an ice cube tray section. I knew how to cook, meal plan, budget, but I didnt have the upfront cash to buy in bulk. I had no containers to batch cook and store in the none existent freezer that I would need to do this. I had no basic utensils apart from a basic cutlery set. I didnt have the spices, herbs etc to make a chili con carne, spag bol,cottage pie etc.
Until I gradually built up my store cupboard and managed to buy a second hand freezer I couldnt take advantage of reduced items, or Bogofs etc so my weekly shop was more expensive.

Its easy to save money on food when you have the facilities for it.

BangOn Sat 13-Jul-13 14:25:26

I just don't know how people on low incomes manage. Dh earns a reasonable salary, i earn a bit, & after bills, mortgage, petrol (for work) etc we usually have around £400 pcm for a family of 4 for food & household bits. I plan meals, & cook from scratch. we hardly ever eat meat but somehow we never seem to have enough food in the house that we don't have to worry about eating frugally. We still seem to run out of the basics daily. Dd moans that teachers tell her she 'doesn't have enough in her lunch box.' & that all her friends have 'nice things' but we literally can't afford for her to have more than a sandwich, drink & a couple of pieces of fruit. And on paper we're not badly off at all.

ThreeMusketeers Sat 13-Jul-13 14:36:21

There is 6kg flour included, surely that's for baking bread, making pancakes, cakes whatever.

There are so many problems that poverty brings, the list above is just an illustration what one could buy for £15 a week. Plus £5 for milk and some fruit, not much, admittedly.

For the meat, if one could cut up the 1,9kg pork joint and use about 300g sliced/diced per meal, it would give the appearance of 'meat' and topped up with pulses, vegetables etc, could make a better meal than processed crap, such as microwave burgers.
Quite frankly, I'd never heard of such beastie before and would rather eat a plain potato than touch something like that.

I didn't make that list to expect people to make gourmet dinners out of it but to see what one could buy for such a measly amount and yet try to make half-decent and somewhat nutritious meals for a family of 2 adults and 2 children.


WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 15:06:10

ThreeMusketeers that's a good list you've given.

Could you give some recipes please?

I'm stuck in a cooking rut & could try some out!

garlicsmutty Sat 13-Jul-13 15:07:29

Home-baked bread is better for you, but no way is it cheaper than value sliced or end-of-day shop bread. Maybe if you have a 25kg bag of flour in your pantry, a yeast plant on the go and a breadmaking machine ... but not if you're using supermarket bread flour, a sachet of dried yeast and an oven.

Don't forget there will be more & more people without ovens and other appliances, now Social Fund grants have been abolished.

burberryqueen Sat 13-Jul-13 15:15:16

i am sure it is cheaper and bargain/value shop bread is really nasty

GoodTouchBadTouch Sat 13-Jul-13 15:26:55

I cant get too worked up about it really. Im not sure its so hard to survive on benefits.

I don't donate to food banks because Im just not sure they are needed. I know people on benefits who manage to afford to smoke and have obese children.

Plus, what is the criteria for using a food bank? You presumably have to be in receipt of benefits, but do they screen out smokers? Or people who have come in a car?

Ive only read to page 7

GoodTouchBadTouch Sat 13-Jul-13 15:29:30

Anyone can look up a recipe on the internet!

marriedinwhiteagain Sat 13-Jul-13 15:31:04

Your list is admirable three musketeers but it denotes a bloody miserable existence. I would struGgle to feed two teenagers and two adults on 80pw and I cook from scratch and we don't have choice cuts every day. DH said he fancied fish pie tomorrow (yep I know bonkers in this heat) but two fillets of cod, one of smoked cod, pckt of basics prawns, a lempn, some parsley, some butter, some milk. The fish was on special offer - that will do four dinners and a couple of lunches here. For 20 quid. Not a luxury dinner but throw in the spuds and the green beans and it's more.

burberryqueen Sat 13-Jul-13 15:33:06

obesity comes from eating crap food tho goodtouch......
Some people have to drive...!

SoftSheen Sat 13-Jul-13 15:38:58

marriedinwhiteagain your fish pie sounds lovely, but you could make it much more cheaply simply by using fish other than cod, which is one of the most expensive species you can buy. For instance, a mixture of pollack and smoked haddock works well. I could make a fish pie + veg for 4-6 adults for about £7-8 (though I would still consider this dish an occasional treat rather than a staple).

ThreeMusketeers Sat 13-Jul-13 15:42:19

There are loads of used appliances sold on eBay or Freecycle/Gumtree for not that much money.

I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be having to survive on tiny amounts of money for food, specially if one has childrensad.

However, there are thousands upon thousands who have to get by and I suppose they just have to be resourceful and ultra imaginative.

Many posters who are in such situation have commented upthread that they don't have time to shop for bargains, don't have Lidl, markets, etc near, actually prefer processed food to home cooked, ad nauseum.

Hence there are no bargains/special deals on my little list and baking bread at the same time as one makes a large lasagne/shepard's pie/ vegetable curry/ simple cake/etc makes the process more efficient.

WireCat, I never cook from recipesblush.
From the list above, I would make potato/cauliflower/spinach/onion curry;, pork goulash with 300g of sliced/diced pork; egg fried rice with mixed vegetables and bits of bacon; pilchards mushed up with spices and fried with onions served with pasta; turkey leg would make a huge pot of soup, mixed vegetables, barley, split peas, fried onions and a rasher of minced and fried bacon to add flavour etc etc.

Will continue later as must dash (if you're interested that is).

garlicsmutty Sat 13-Jul-13 15:42:24

GoodTouch, you're saying you would refuse food unless people are completely on their uppers - unless their lives are absolutely, unrelentingly, miserable?


This might be a good time to remind the thread we live in the world's sixth richest nation. And we're too selfish to feed our own poor.

WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 15:42:55

The problem of obesity & lack of money go hand in hand. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous & a few years ago, I'd have probably thought. The same thing.

But carbs are cheap, especially crap carbs. It's cheaper to buy some cheap flavoured noodles & cheap sliced bread than it is to buy whole grain bread & some eggs for instance.

I was in a supermarket in a deprived area a while back. Same supermarket chain as I go to near me sometimes. The offers were are crap food stuffs. I had gone in to buy a top. I needed a 12. I struggled. The sizings were mainly 20, 22, & 24.

Again, I also google recipes, but if you don't have e knowledge to cook in the 1st place then you won't.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 15:44:01

I actually went back on the fags (roll ups) when I was in the shit financially. Don't underestimate the stress of worrying all the time, every day about bills, school shoes,a roof over your head and just how it's all going to get paid.
I am not saying that me spending a fiver a week on baccy was a great idea, but people are human beings! We sometimes buy a bar of chocolate, or occasionally give in when our kids are desperate for a particular comic.
It' s all very well to make shopping lists (although frankly I would keel over if I ever witnessed ds eating a lentil) but for many many people the grind of poverty is EVERY DAY.
And of course people need food banks. Why do you think they use them?? For giggles?
And actually I bet a LOT of people using them are working, and not just "on benefits" (by which I assume you mean unemployed GoodTouchBadTouch"

Chunderella Sat 13-Jul-13 15:45:52

I rather suspect GoodTouch is extracting the urine. Married I agree with your post generally, but anything with prawns is luxury! Sounds nice though.

WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 15:46:11

Thank you threemusketeers

GoodTouchBadTouch those who use food banks are not just used by the stereotypical fag smoking, beer drinking, feckless, flat tv screen owning single mum.
Working people also use them.

As do people on benefits in genuine need.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 15:48:06

"stereotypical fag smoking, beer drinking, feckless, flat tv screen owning single mum."

Are you stalking me WireCat..?!

WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 15:49:38

Yes wink

I can see your 100" tv from here.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 13-Jul-13 15:53:56

<Waves and cracks open another Bacardi Breezer>

WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 15:55:27


JerseySpud Sat 13-Jul-13 15:55:52

The list works

If you have a tesco/asda/morrisons/sainsburys

Living in Jersey we have none of the above. We have Waitrose, M&S, Co Op or Iceland. And local tax means iceland is higher priced than the uk

Cost of living is higher than wages but not by as much as is currently on the uk mainland.

I would honestly kill for a tesco at the moment tbh as even buying the basics for the family per week costs me about £80 not including luxeries and we are a family of 4.

garlicsmutty Sat 13-Jul-13 15:59:06

Yeah, but your fags, booze and giant telly are cheaper wink

JerseySpud Sat 13-Jul-13 16:03:43

Fags are cheaper by a little, booze not a chance and giant tv's? You're having a laugh, its cheaper off amazon!

Holliewantstobehot Sat 13-Jul-13 16:04:13

ok goodtouch when they don't bother sorting out my benefits for two months like they did last time and I can't pay the rent I will sell my crappy car (probably still won't cover the rent) and then cut my chances of being able to find work in my rural area by about 90%.
The only reason I as a lone parent can survive on benefits is because my exh pays child support which brings my income up enough to survive. If he didn't pay I'd be screwed. I really feel for lone parents with no maintenance coming in.
Some people like the disabled or lone parents are likely to be on some benefits at least on a long term basis - who are we to say whether they can have a car or a tv or a sofa to sit on?

JerseySpud Sat 13-Jul-13 16:05:06

I wish it was cheaper for fags and booze. i enjoyed my bad habits once. sigh.

GoodTouchBadTouch Sat 13-Jul-13 16:08:32

"you're saying you would refuse food unless people are completely on their uppers - unless their lives are absolutely, unrelentingly, miserable? "

Not sure how you got that from my post, but of course not. I said that if you choose to smoke rather than eat, I don't see that as a real problem, more a choice. So I don't feel the need to donate.

Wirecat - interesting about the cheap food making you fat. I can certainly see how that would be the case. Don't agree about the cooking though. There are walk-throughs on the internet, from how to boil an egg, to make a white sauce.

Ifnot - Im sure people don't use food banks for um, giggles. But they may well use them to help cover the cost of say, tobacco.

DaddyPigsMistress Sat 13-Jul-13 16:09:47

A its been pointed out before but

Its all good and well reeling of a bunch of meals that are cheap and balanced foods but you have to be able of afford the electric to cook them. Yes they could make their own bread with a 15p sack of flour but the cooking it would cost a fortune!

WireCat Sat 13-Jul-13 16:10:10

I was brought up by a single mum who was on benefits till I was 18. (She went to work when the youngest went to high school)

I can remember being hungry all the time, especially in the school holidays.

My mother could cook. She could make a white sauce, bolognaise, stews etc.

She didn't drive. There were no supermarkets within walking distance, only corner shops.

It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. The daily grind of worrying where the next meal comes from, takes its toll.

If my kids need a snack, there is something available, apples, cheese, dare I say a bag of crisps. They have a choice of breakfast cereals.

My mother bought apples on a Monday. Once they were gone, they were gone.

This programme (& the following one with Nick & Margaret) has taken me down a memory lane that I try to forget.

When a low food budget is for life, it sucks the life out of you.

And it's only being a parent that makes me realise how heart wrenching it must have been for my mother, knowing her children were hungry.

zoraqueenofzeep Sat 13-Jul-13 16:17:46

My food bill is enormous, a lot of it dp won't eat, he likes junk so he get's crap processed food like chips, burgers, pizzas, chocolate, crisps etc... His food costs are a fraction of mine and toddler dds. I'm constantly amazed at the fantastic food deals on crap foods, you could stock your fridge and freezer in lidl for 20 euro full of stodgy filling meals and put lots of sugary treats in the presses. Far more appealing to a hungry stomach than a plain vegetable soup!!! Anyone can eat cheaply if they have access to lidl or aldi, but I don't think they could eat very well if we define 'well' as healthy and satisfying!!

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 16:23:30

GoodTough if and I am saying if a Mum or Dad used a food bank "to help cover the cost of say, tobacco" does that mean their kids don't deserve the food from said bank either?

Am completely gobsmacked you don't donate simply because you know a few poor people that smoke. Do you ever think about all those that don't?!!

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 16:25:43

Sorry GoodTouch - Freudian keyboard slip maybe wink

GoodTouchBadTouch Sat 13-Jul-13 16:55:00

"if a Mum or Dad used a food bank "to help cover the cost of say, tobacco" does that mean their kids don't deserve the food from said bank either?"

Well, if you have parents who prioritise cigarettes over feeding their children then they need social services involvement.

Im not saying who deserves what, just that I don't donate to food banks. We give to charities, but from what I see myself, I don't feel food banks is really necessary.
Maybe Im being dim, but if one family can afford to eat and smoke on benefits - cant they all afford to? Maybe its not that simple, I don't know much about the system.

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 17:06:50

Well, I did say "if". In reality I highly doubt people sit down and think, you know what, we'll use the food bank cause that way we can afford some fags. I'm fortunate enough to never have needed to use a food bank myself, though I do give to them, but I've worked with families who have. Trust me, none of them wanted to go there. There's a lot of shame involved.

Fair enough, it's entirely up to you to give to whom and what you choose. But, honestly, if you have a flick through this thread you will see just how necessary food banks are.

Most families on benefits work. Just like any working family, they have different incomings and outgoings. (Rent, council tax, energy, transport costs, just to get you started...) So some might have a fair bit of extra cash at the end of the month and some might only have pennies - just like anyone not on benefits.

crashdoll Sat 13-Jul-13 17:17:32

"Well, if you have parents who prioritise cigarettes over feeding their children then they need social services involvement."

Wake up and join the real world. Social workers are up to their neck in dealing with real problems.

GoodTouchBadTouch Sat 13-Jul-13 17:30:46

I did watch the show, and I don't understand how two working parents are so poor. That's definitely tragic.

crashdoll - Id say that constitutes a real problem. Starving your children so you can smoke is surely neglect. Probably indicative of other parenting problems too.

cheekylilbint86 Sat 13-Jul-13 18:00:53

Have just read through the whole thread and have to admit that I am one of those people who buy meat and bread when they're reduced and freeze them and couldn't understand why people weren't doing the same.Having taken into consideration people's comments about electricity needed to do so,distance from supermarkets etc I now understand that it just isn't an option for some people and I find that extremely sad.We are a very frugal household (I live at home with my disabled Mum,stepdad and brother) and while the boys would quite happily waste money on rubbish,Mum and I are constantly on the lookout for reduced items or offers on things we usually buy (we live in a village with just a Co-op so even reduced items are often more expensive than they would be in a supermarket).We also use coupons where we can (another good use for the internet,some companies will post them to you rather than you having to print them).We eat well and healthily but won't buy a chicken unless it looks like it will do at least a roast and a risotto for 4 (bones and leftover meat are then used for stock and frozen).We also buy reduced fruit and veg,blanch and freeze them or make them into jams and chutney.Mum would have chickens so we didn't have to buy eggs if my stepdad would let her but we already have 3 dogs and 2 cats who also need feeding (dog food meat from local butchers £1.40 a kilo,but again not everyone has this option and then you still have to cook it,using gas or electric).I didn't realise until I watched the show just how lucky we are and now I'd like to do something to help.We have a local food bank but I'd like suggestions of what would actually be useful to donate,rather than me just taking them stuff that we would have.Thank-you for any replies xx

TotemPole Sat 13-Jul-13 18:14:51

cheekylilbint86, tinned and dried foods. Things like pasta, tinned fish, meat, fruit and veg.

BeQuicksieorBeDead Sat 13-Jul-13 18:19:28

Sorry but when I am in my period I spend five quid on sanitary in hell is fourteen pounds enough to shop for a week for two?! Soap, washing powder, toothpaste, bleach, and a bag of value pasta? What about five a day?! It's a bloody joke. On us. How anyone lives like this week in, week out, and doesnt decide to blow the lot on white cider is the amazing thing.

The Bbc should be fucking ashamed for even trying to tackle this issue from an education standpoint. However clever you are, dragging yourself miles in old shoes to buy kilos of lentils is just going to make you feel depressed and like eating shit instead. Those chefs were not feeding the meter, using corner shops, working twelve hour shifts before even starting a meal and had professional cookware and a store cupboard box of goodies for fucks sake. So yes, give them a medal for being so wise and creating a meal that still didnt cover the five a day on budget. Well done bbc. All helping to propagate the daily fail style myth that poor people are choosing to be poor.

nkf Sat 13-Jul-13 18:19:46

Some people wouldn't go near a lentil. Never have, probably never will. Some people wouldn't recognise a chick pea if it was put on their plate. The staples of the third world (dahl, polenta, couscous etc) are the meal deals of the relatively educated and aware, possibly midldle class in developed countries. That said, you'd be better with value pasta, pasta sauce from a jar and some cheese than a microwave burger. Healthwise that is. But the burger is probably tasty to people whose taste buds are used to high salt, high fat foods.

cheekylilbint86 Sat 13-Jul-13 18:32:45

Thanks totempole,will they not take any fresh foods at all?xx

Bogeyface Sat 13-Jul-13 18:33:11

Goodtouch one of those parents is on this thread, why dont you ask him?

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 18:34:14

cheekylilbint as Totem said, I do also take some fresh fruit (underripe bananas, apples, etc) but check with your local food bank.

I also take tea, coffee, UHT milk, sugar, cereals, bread, and some biccies and cakes - I volunteered at a food bank years ago and people always brightened when there was a little 'treat' type thing in their box.

Tinned stuff is good because at a pinch it can be eaten cold.

garlicsmutty Sat 13-Jul-13 18:44:54

It's been interesting to notice how my taste has changed since getting poor. Some of this is due to health issues, but not all of it by any means. A 2kg bag of sugar used to last more than a year. Now it's more like two months (also, it's granulated white rather than raw cane sugar.) I used to buy an 800g loaf at the weekend and throw half of it away the next Friday - now I get through two or more a week. I'd buy or make a really good fruit cake every two or three weeks; now I finish two packets of biscuits a week. I use more potatoes, white rice, white pasta, couscous and pulses. I eat a lot of pancakes, made with white flour and sunflower oil.

Richer, I ate mountains of fresh fruit & veg and had high-quality protein (organic meat, eggs or fresh fish) three times a day. My diet now has less soluble fibre, more heavy foods, fewer proteins, more chemicals, more simple carbs and more sugar. Probably more fat, too, as I now eat things like toast & marge with jam when I would have had something more interesting & nutritious.

TotemPole Sat 13-Jul-13 19:07:30

marzipanned, I didn't realise some take fresh food. That's good to know.

marzipanned Sat 13-Jul-13 19:14:05

Yes - nothing refrigerated but the one I go to will take certain fruits - nothing like berries but I guess bananas, apples and oranges are pretty sturdy! They won't take any fresh veg though which is a shame as some lasts for ages.

BlackholesAndRevelations Sat 13-Jul-13 19:26:46

I did want to watch that programme, but now I don't. I sm going to look into donating to food banks too. I know how lucky I am at the moment and I remember having no money as a child, although I don't think I ever went hungry. Reading this it's clear to me that my parents (and then just my mum, as my dad left the scene) would probably have gone hungry so that we could be fed.

It breaks my heart to think of hungry children whose parents can't afford to feed them sad

cheekylilbint86 Sat 13-Jul-13 19:34:09

Thanks marzipanned I'll check with the church that runs our local one smile xx

cheekylilbint86 Sat 13-Jul-13 19:35:26

Oh!also,are they likely to take pet food for those families or older people with pets does anyone know?xx

cheekylilbint86 Sat 13-Jul-13 19:38:35

Sorry to keep posting,just found this xx

crashdoll Sat 13-Jul-13 19:39:58

GoodTouch On these sorts of threads, there's always a few posters suggesting that the reason some people cannot afford food is because they smoke/drink but these sorts of people are the minority. It's just another stick to bash the poor with.

Holliewantstobehot Sat 13-Jul-13 19:42:09

Goodtouch - most people use foodbanks as a stopgap when their benefits are delayed and they have no money coming in at all. This happened to me when I became unemployed and had to claim jsa. I put all the forms through but didn't get any money for weeks as they have to be processed and they were missing a piece of paperwork but didn't bother to tell me for two weeks and then after I had sent it off and called the call centre they said everything was late because they were all on strike and there was a delay. Luckily I managed to get through without having to use a foodbank but many people in this situation can't. It's not people not managing their money - it's people having no money to manage.

GobbySadcase Sat 13-Jul-13 19:45:41

Thing is GoodTouch this isn't a benefits thread.
There was a WORKING family, a WORKING lone parent, the only person featured who was on benefits was a pensioner.
So why try and make it about benefits?
Not that £72 a week is rolling in it, but its not the issue here.

ItsAFuckingVase Sat 13-Jul-13 20:19:47

I do a monthly big shop for our local food bank - tins, cereal, biscuits, pasta sort of thing.

But I'd like to know - what about household products? I have tons of sprays, bleach, washing liquid, soap powder etc because I work for a company developing them and a perk of the job is a shit load of free stuff each week.

MissPricklePants Sat 13-Jul-13 20:30:39

I commented ages ago on this thread! I am a working single mum with 1 DD!! Childcare has increased, housing benefit decreased meaning I have to find an extra £100 a month and an extra £45 for council tax. Bus fares to and from work have increased too as well as other bills. I am not unemployed on JSA, I had £8 last week to do a food shop. I am dreading my period as tampons are expensive. DD needed new shoes this week and I found a lovely pair in a cheapie shop for £4 but they won't last long. Ex is not paying any maintenance, although the CSA are chasing him up and as of next week with it being the summer hols DD loses her 15 funded hours at nursery meaning childcare will outstrip my wage. I am trapped in a low paid job (I am applying for others) I have a Masters Degree and cannot get any help for other courses. Ex has the life of reily and barely sees DD where I struggle and will do for the foreseeable!

Mum2Luke Sat 13-Jul-13 21:22:15

We are a family of 5 (4 adults and 1 child) and there is absolutely NO WAY you can feed us lot healthily for £14 per week. We shop at Lidl or Aldi and very rarely Asda but food prices are creeping up even at Lidl for basics such as potatoes and veg.

I agree with you Wallison you cannot just buy one egg, its 6 or 12 and even they aren't cheap anymore. Bread is not cheap either.

Plus as one poster stated you have to have a cooker/hob and utensils, if you live in a shared B&B this is not an option or if you live in a hostel too. I wish people would stop looking down on people.

bumbleymummy Sat 13-Jul-13 22:29:27

The £14 a week was based on 2 people having £1 a day was it not? So a family of 5 would have £35 a week.

PatsysDouble Sat 13-Jul-13 22:58:18

I read lots of this and then got thinking.......
What scope is there to pair people who are going without, with those with space for an extra body or 3 at their dinner table from time to time?
There must be loads of people, average, not massively well off, who could do this.
Would people accept such offers of help? Where would you start?
Possibly way too idealistic, but one of the posters had a daughter the who must be the same age as my youngest - just got me thinking, pop round, kids play, have dinner, home for bedtime. No expectations either way. Best case outcome, a friendship gained and fully tummies.

Darkesteyes Sat 13-Jul-13 23:03:29

Good Touch said.
Maybe Im being dim, but if one family can afford to eat and smoke on benefits - cant they all afford to?

yes because they are one big homogenous mass. This has to be the most idiotic question ive seen on here.

So a stupid question deserves a stupid answer.
Harold Shipman was a middle class doctor.
Would you say all middle class doctors were like him.

Or do you only save the generalizations and disscrimination for people who claim benefits and/or the working poor.

cheekylilbint86 Sat 13-Jul-13 23:14:04

For all that people are slagging the BBC one good thing has come of all this in that it has raised awareness of the problem xx

garlicsmutty Sat 13-Jul-13 23:43:45

That's a lovely idea, Patsy, not perhaps as a solution to the problem of food poverty in a rich country, but as genuine community support smile It reminds me of the Jewish 'extra guest' at Friday supper - I know some families really do invite a needy person, instead of just setting an empty place. It's a good thing to do.

CheungFun Sun 14-Jul-13 03:13:53

I've had a quick look at the BBC website and it says the menus are designed to be used in conjunction with store cupboard ingredients - all well and good to live on £14 a week if you have a fully stocked food cupboard and only need to buy a little fruit/veg and meat hmm

I don't really know how my Mum managed to feed me and my brother as a single mum. She did a lot of cooking from scratch, and she worked at a green grocers for about 7 years so she got some free fruit/veg. I remember we used to have a whole sack of potatoes in the kitchen, lots of cheap dishes like tuna pasta, bacon, onion & tomato crumble, bacon & cabbage potato bake etc.

We were always cold in the winter, we didn't have central heating or double glazing and we could only have one bar on the calor gas heater (3 bars on Christmas Day smile, we used to wear wooly jumpers to bed, and I remember getting dressed in the living room against the heater as I hated being cold!

nkf Sun 14-Jul-13 08:06:05

I know food banks are, well, food banks, but do you think it would be helpful to put in things like toiletries? I know when I used to do Crisis at Christmas, we made up packs of toothpaste, toothbrushes etc. And I know it's awful to have to eke out sanitary protection.

Bluecarrot Sun 14-Jul-13 08:24:35

That show said toilet roll was in high demand, so ill be putting some in in my next shop.

zamantha Sun 14-Jul-13 09:00:33

It makes me so sad we are talking about food banks in wealthy Britain sad sad

I think also it is brave to ask the opening question - poverty can breed all sorts of deprivation and cooking lessons and inspiring others - fresh produce is desirable is just so crucial for good lives.

We had a boy, Tyler to tea and mum turned her nose up at what we served her son - "he eats chicken if it is in nuggets and carrots if they are from a tin" - she said quite snootily to me. Sadly, I found this woman vulgar - a cultural mini-shock. It is dreadfully sad though when fresh food is seen as strange and inhospitable to her son.

Parmarella Sun 14-Jul-13 09:14:55

Zamantha, that is a very honest post.

DS' s friend came to tea and when I asked the mum what he likes to eat she said " normal stuff, like sausage rolls and chips", boy says this s what he eats most dinners. Sometimes nuggets. Never fruit or veg.

So we did that.

Sad thing is bth patents work really hard, but have no money or time to eat well. They are not a poor family, so how on earth do really poor peope cope ? !

merrymouse Sun 14-Jul-13 09:17:22

I remember home ec at school.

I remember making quiche, milk pudding, something in aspic, bread rolls, coffee and walnut cake and omelette. The omelette was useful, and I still do the washing up in the way I was taught, but don't think any of it would help me to feed a family on a low budget.

Bluecarrot Sun 14-Jul-13 10:17:30

Is it really the schools responsibility though?

My parents taught me to cook and made it fun. I wasnt really specifically taught finances in a sit-down-and-listen way. More absorbing through osmosis, and doing practical things like errands to the shop and having the responsibility of a whole £2 in change shock

I do remember being around 10 and my mum asking me and my brother (6) to do a weekly shop for her. We planned meals then went to the supermarket with her and she stealthily followed us around browsed the magazine aisle. We did very well actually. Though we (I!) had miscalculated slightly and thought we could also afford a bottle of coke as a treat but it had to go back when at the tills we realised we were 10p short on cash. The lady behind offered to pay it but I knew enough to say no as I was embarrassed enough at my poor maths skills.

I loved the idea of Jamie Olivers Ministry of food and wish it had taken off more! I tried something similar but generallu people just turned their noses up - only people interested were those whose skills were level with mine. And £1 each in bought us wine which prob defeated the purpose!

Lilymaid Sun 14-Jul-13 10:39:03

Current items required for our local food bank which reflects their current stock needs:
Cereal (small & medium packs)
Tinned vegetables: sweet corn; peas; carrots; green beans
Tinned tomatoes
Tinned Sponge Pudding
Tinned Rice Pudding
Fruit Juice (carton longlife)
Milk (UHT 1 litre)
Granulated Sugar (500g)
Pasta Sauces (Jars)
Biscuits (sweet)
Instant coffee granules - small jars
Tea bags (everyday) 40’s & 80’s
Treats e.g. Small bars of chocolate; small packs of sweets

Not very exciting is it?

Groovee Sun 14-Jul-13 10:40:35

When I had home economics at high school, I learned how to make Banana Bread, jam buns, apple pie, cheesy potatoes, baked apple!

Nowhere was there, "how to cook an actual meal!" Fortunately dd is learning how to cook properly and has made pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, chicken fajitas, soup, macaroni cheese and things like that. Every 3rd cooking week is a healthy baking activity such as museli biscuits.

One of the nurseries I worked in had a home support teacher. She did simple budget cooking with parents and it was a popular course. Quite a few of them said they were able to feed their family cheaper than the chippy and the children were getting a nutritious meal too.

Bogeyface Sun 14-Jul-13 10:56:17

That Nick and Margaret actually proved my point a bit.

That stupid Debbie woman shouting "get the fillets!" instead of a whole chicken, is one of the very people I am referring to when I talk about education re; budgeting and cooking.

A whole chicken is far cheaper per kilo and will feed far more people, it isnt just about spending less. Assuming that boiling the carcass for stock isnt going to happen (lets face, who can be arsed at the best of times?!) that is still 2 good meals. Chicken fillets are one meal, so what are they meant to eat the next day?

And the "why do they need 2 hot meals a day" thing was just stupid. School meals are meant to be healthy, well I dont think that a wodge of mash or a few chips, a sausage or "beef grill" (burger by any other name) and a spoonful of mixed veg, followed by a sugary cake is that healthy. I have always given my lot a decent meal when they get home, sandwiches just wont cut it after crap like that. It might be hot but it isnt a dinner in my book. Tinned soup is hot and that isnt a dinner either!

Bogeyface Sun 14-Jul-13 10:57:07

I do wonder if Debbie was pissed off because it was clear that the reason the benefit claimants managed better than she did on her earnings was because they had a bit of common sense and she clearly didnt!

extremepie Sun 14-Jul-13 12:11:03

One of the reasons I wanted to become a chef is because cooking is a dying skill and I wanted to be able to pass that on to my children even if I didn't work as a chef for my whole career.

It's amazing how much I learned from my training about wastage and the most economical food - that debbie woman wound me up something chronic because the other woman (kelly?) was 100% right to buy a a whole chicken - that could do 4 or 5 meals if you used it right, even if you padded your chicken fillets out with veg or something you would probably only get 2 meals at the most! What a lot of people dont realise either is that fillets are not breasts, they are the small bit that sits underneath the breast on top of the carcass. When the butchers remove the breast they pull the fillets off and sell them seperate! If you buy a whole chicken you get : 2 breasts, 2 fillets, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings plus the carcass for soup/stock and whatever other bits of meat you can pull off the carcass (sometimes good in sandwiches) - that's great value compared to a pack of 4 breasts where you get....4 breasts minus the fillets. For the same price (or similar).

LayMizzRarb Sun 14-Jul-13 13:08:52

I hope Sainsbury made a large donation to a food bank in return for all the free. Advertising and custom they had on the programme.

Skinidin Sun 14-Jul-13 13:30:00

When I was helping my son move out of his hall of residence at the end of his first year at Uni I was horrified by the amount of good quality cookware and the piles of food left by the other students.

I'm talking Palestinian olive oil and designer items standard. We took as much as we could fit into sons new flat. Apparently it's the same every year.

I'm going to contact the local food bank about this, I bet it's the same in every big uni town.

Thanks for making me think about this.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 14-Jul-13 13:36:44

I buy occasional extras for the food bank collection bin in Sainsburys eg two tins of tomatoes, one for me, one for the food bank. And every time I do, I feel angry that in an affluent part of London (average house prices for the postcode are £1m) food banks are necessary. It's ridiculous.

I also get cross at Sainsburys and the other big supermarkets, whose way of letting customers save money is to reduce the per unit cost of items bought in bulk (eg loo rolls, tins of baked beans, big bags of frozen stuff, three chickens for £10) totally missing the point that unless you have a car and adequate storage you simply can't take advantage of the offer, and have to buy what you can carry and store at the higher price.

Much better to be able to shop little and often in markets, greengrocers and butchers - but who has those nowadays, and it does take time to go from stall to stall to work out which is best to get the cauliflower, which is best for the carrots.

I also got cross (spotting a theme?