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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?

Wallison Mon 15-Jul-13 22:40:05

Exactly so, Latara - thank you. Also, it grinds my gears when people seem to be saying "Well, you can get a jar of sauce for 25p therefore you can afford to make Bolognese which is proper food so I don't know what these poor people are moaning about".

Latara Mon 15-Jul-13 22:42:13

My Bolognese anyway:

Use a non-stick pan with NO oil or butter.

Stir continously Lean mince & onion until brown.

Add: tinned tomatoes inc juice, diced carrots and celery, Worcester sauce (yes!), tsp of curry powder, a Beef Oxo stock cube and tsp of dried mixed herbs, season with pepper.

Use wholemeal pasta if possible.

Latara Mon 15-Jul-13 22:43:35

Btw Lean mince is the healthiest for those who are dieting; and of course therefore the most expensive.

bumbleymummy Mon 15-Jul-13 22:45:39

I'm only discussing the second part of your last post Wallison. Ie. who cares that it's not authentic bolognese in the jar. It's a jar of pasta sauce! It livens up plain pasta! It can feed a family! It is not a microwave burger or chicken nuggets!

This does not mean that I think it is acceptable that people in the UK are struggling to feed their family - just that it seems ridiculous to be worrying about whether a pasta sauce is authentically Italian or whether or not they can add a dash of Worcester sauce to their stew.

Latara Mon 15-Jul-13 22:46:48

I now realise that what I thought was Mum's 'fun' cooking (mince mixed into baked beans, beef stews with lots of lentils and potatoes) was her way of padding out our meals without spending too much on meat.

ElectricSheep Mon 15-Jul-13 22:57:14

Ha ha, I can't believe people are still banging on about how to live on £14 a week for food. Well done, the ruling classes! You've got the plebs squabbling amongst themselves, blaming each other and certainly not holding the govt to account.

I totally agree that what we should be talking about is how to ensure that no one has to live on £14 a week for food. Why is it necessary? Why does a govt (of mostly millionaires) not act to make sure that that could never be the case?..... because, of course, the great British voter is just too apathetic to do anything to stop it.

AudrinaAdare Mon 15-Jul-13 23:09:04

The minimal meat has just reminded me, speaking of people who can't cook, my own parents didn't even know about balanced meals. I couldn't stomach meat as a child so I had potatoes and peas / beans for dinner and roast potatoes and veg on Sundays every day when I was little apart from one, when we had fish-fingers.

I was ten when we went to Spain and I had egg and chips for the first time because my parents couldn't find anything they wanted to eat on the menu. Why the hell they couldn't have given me an egg (or even some cheese, I loved both) with my dinner for all those years I can only put down to utter ignorance.

Thank Christ for the beans and the milk I was told off for drinking too much of!

GobbySadcase Mon 15-Jul-13 23:38:03

Electric - don't forget their mates are also connected with businesses such as Wonga. Their mates are bankers. Their mates are retail giants and investors in property.

Changes for the better would hurt them and their mates, so it won't happen.

Wishihadabs Tue 16-Jul-13 06:25:54

I really don't think people should be forced to live on £14 pw for food, that is truly outrageous, however to expect meat most days and not to have to worry about how to feed yourself/your family at all......well that is not how most of the world live. My mum had to budget, her mum certainly did. Why should we have an entitlement that it's different for us and we shouldn't be demeaned by such things?

LuisSuarezTeeth Tue 16-Jul-13 07:05:45

I think you are right Abs most people have to budget. But I don't see any sense of entitlement going on, just desperation to make nutritious meals out of very little .

If we are talking about entitlement to adequate nutrition in a supposedly rich and civilised country, that may be different.

To be honest that is offensive to those struggling.

sashh Tue 16-Jul-13 07:10:24

I don't have Worcester sauce in my cupboard. Am I missing out on something?

Not really. I bought some a couple of months ago because it appears in so many recipes. It doesn't seem to make much difference, a slightly different taste and one I can live without.

I won't be replacing it.

Wishihadabs Tue 16-Jul-13 07:28:41

I didn't mean to cause offence. It's really the meat thing I was talking about, it is neither sustainable or desirable to eat meat everyday. Ppeople's despite to eat meat daily on a low budget has given rise to the junk food industry. Which is the main cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both common on low income groups.

I am not for minute suggesting that people shouldn't have enough money to feed their families and £1-2 a day is clearly not enough. But some budgeting and comprise is necessary for the vast majority off people. I am talking about things like apple's and bananna s rather than berries or not being able to buy basmati rice iinstead of basic.

TotemPole Tue 16-Jul-13 07:28:46

I agree with Wallison and IfNotNowThenWhen. There is something wrong if a working family is worse off than me. I'm on JSA and also get CTC. I receive the minimum amount the law says I need to live on. So how can anyone else be in a position where they have less?

LuisSuarezTeeth Tue 16-Jul-13 07:41:06

Low wages Totem, high rents etc. that's the problem, not everyone has the same outgoings.

TotemPole Tue 16-Jul-13 08:02:00

Luis, if their income is low enough they should get some WTC top up and rent top up too.

A working family will have more than me coming into their bank accounts. What makes the difference is the cost of working(travel, childcare, clothes) plus the extras you get on passport benefits.

I think these are some of the areas the government should be addressing.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 16-Jul-13 08:12:40

I'm not going to have a massive hiss fit about this, because i'll get the rage yes lots of people could eat less meat.

But a) a vegetarian diet is not suitable for everyone, for my family personally it's very difficult because I absolutely cannot have a high fibre diet for health reasons and my DD is lactose intolerant. That doesn't leave us with a lot of veggie recipes

b) saying right, cut out all the meat is a huge and intimidating change. Personally at our lowest of the food budget I made sure I was making food I knew the children would eat because there was NOTHING ELSE. The few things I tried that were cheap but completely unfamiliar went down like a lead balloon. Cheaper versions of traditional meals will always be more appealing for this reason.

If my post earlier was confusing, I was trying to explain earlier that despite our income rising a lot over the last few years (from unemployed to good job) the costs of food, fuel etc have risen so much we are only minimally better off.

The government shouldn't be allowed to keep finding off the fact that people are struggling as poor budgeting skills etc - 90% of the country needs a significant payrise, profit limits on essential things need to be considered... I don't really kind what they do - but they have to do something because things are not sustainable as they are.

mijas99 Tue 16-Jul-13 08:31:28

Families in Britain have plenty of money, people are going hungry because food isnt prioritised, and families, friends and neighbours do not help each other out.

I moved to Spain 6 years ago, here you have 1 million households living on 500 euros per month, and another 5 million unemployed living on next to nothing. But the majority of these people do not go hungry because
1. They get lots of help from their extended family and neighbours with free food, money donations etc
2. Almost all families have a vegetable plot or some land on which to grow food on

Then there are priorities. Here people would sell their car before going hungry, they would sell their TV, they would have no paint on the inside of their house. You may have 3 or 4 brothers/sisters sharing a room or sleeping on an old mattress, but people wont skimp on their food, they know how important it is

British families are so incredibly lucky, I saw the programme and the one about benefits and families were bringing in 2k a month! OK, I understand that things are expensive these days, but there will always be low earners in whatever country, look at the US, it has 10s of millions of people living a much lower quality of life than any British person does.

British familes have high expectations of what they need in their life - and good food actually isnt one of them

Alwayscheerful Tue 16-Jul-13 08:39:04

Savestheday - you are right, most people find their expenses have gone up and their income has gone down, this applies to most income brackets but affects those unable to work the most.

This thread is still going strong because everyone has a valid point, those who are making frugal suggestions do so because it is second nature to do so, i suspect whatever their income they would be thrifty and economical.

No one is saying it is not a struggle, we are all agreeing its not right but in the meantime, surely every thrifty tip is welcome?

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 16-Jul-13 08:53:19

We have sold our stuff before - but tbh, there is not much benefit in doing it to subsidies a low food budget, not unless you can tell not having enough money will be a short term situation.

If you sell your telly to buy extra groceries one week you will still be short for groceries the next week, and you won't have a tv. At some point you will run out of things to sell and, guess what - you still won't have enough money for a full grocery shop!

I think the fact that families with 2k coming in are struggling is an indication of just how high the cost of living is. It was stated that there were no other areas they could cut back on but food.

Perhaps moving house would save money, but it costs thousands to move as well here, more if you are in negative equity. It's not a simple option.

I find most people's expectations of quality of life are quite low compared to our parents growing up tbh.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 16-Jul-13 08:56:06

I don't object to tips, I just think it's worth pointing out the parts that are unrealistic or aren't cost effective because otherwise there is a danger of slipping into the attitude that those who struggle would be fibe if only they did x,y,z - instead of this being a huge issue that needs addressing by higher ups to have any chance of going away.

GoodTouchBadTouch Tue 16-Jul-13 09:01:25

"It was stated that there were no other areas they could cut back on but food"

That just cant be true though can it? For 2 people working full time?

They could cut the TV licence for a start.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 16-Jul-13 09:07:02

Why not good touch?

How do you know they had a tv license? (not that £12pm is going to make a big difference to 6 people)

it's well established that having the internet is more cost effective than getting rid of it, so keep that as well before you bring that up.

mijas99 Tue 16-Jul-13 09:10:29


You're not telling me that a Spanish family can live on 500 euros per month, but a British family cannot live on 2k, that is nonsense. The thing is the British family have way more things and "luxuries" that low earners in other countries don't have

Their housing for a start. The families on those programmes had way better accommodation then you will find low earning Spanish families in. Here the low earners may have to share with other family members e.g. a small flat with the grandparents, parents, brother-in law, children and cousins is not unsual. And you may have 4 children in 1 bedroom, and the brother in law sleeping in the living room

My wife is Spanish and very middle class but at one point when she was a child there were 5 adults and 6 children living in her modest 3 bed flat because people in the extended family needed somewhere to live. When a cousin becomes unemployed, everyone chips in to make sure that he doesnt go cold and hungry

British people just blame the state and the government "the government must give more", but the government doesnt really exist, but people do. How many people here would give up their home to their relatives who were struggling? Based on the many threads complaining if a relative even wants to stay a couple of nights, and then demanding money if they eat something, then I would say very few

Be careful, it sounds like British society hsa become so selfish, in such a society there will be nobody to help you if you ever fall into a bad situation

GoodTouchBadTouch Tue 16-Jul-13 09:12:50

I just cant understand where the money would go.

They lived in Notts so it couldn't be on housing.

OK, keep the car and internet, that's understandable. But if they got rid of all extras such as mobile phones, professional haircuts, smoking, drinking, going out, jewellery, hobbies, then surely they would be able to eat?

Unless they have a large amount of bad debt, which wouldn't be typical.

I dont think things are as bad generally as that show made out

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 16-Jul-13 09:25:33

Erm. No. I'm saying you are being unrealistic about what the cost of BASIC living is here compared to wages. I can't comment on what it is like in Spain, because I don't live there are don't know what the situation is like.

Since the start of the recession rental prices in the UK have consistently gone up.
So have fuel bills.
So has the price of petrol and the cost of public transport.
So has the price of food.
Tax/benefits changes mean most families have lost some money.
Wages are mostly frozen.

I am not talking about people not being able to afford sky or for their kids to have their own rooms or go on holiday abroad because they have nothing to do with the very real fact that cutting jack every penny you can you can still be left with tiny amounts to feed your family - because you cannot do anything about the unit price of gas from your supplier, or how much the bus ticket to work is.

How is it not totally obvious that this has a huge impact on budgets?

I didn't say the government has to give more, I don't believe that wouldn't be helpful at all, personally. It can do something about profit margins of energy companies, rent control, wages etc if it so wishes and these would help enormously.

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