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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?

ClementineKelandra Thu 11-Jul-13 20:28:42

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

Toadinthehole Thu 11-Jul-13 20:58:34

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?

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