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breadline britain - cheap fresh healthy food IS possible

(151 Posts)
afterdinnerkiss Mon 19-Nov-12 16:39:28

cannot see another active thread on this so sorry if there is

following the guardian stories on families in recession and some on the relyted MN threads e.g. here and was thinking that actually is possible to feed a family of 4 decently enough for five pounds without resorting to ready meals.

What I cook:
a tin of tomatoes, an onion and some cheap dried herbs with cheap pasta can feed a family with enough change left over for some cheese to sprinkle over??

a few boiled potatoes and carrots and a dash of milk makes fresh mash. add frozen peas and frozen herbs and you are still under five pounds.

am i being näive or do you do this too?

Bonsoir Mon 19-Nov-12 16:42:10

Lentil or chickpea soup with lots of vegetables would be even more nutritious and very cheap.

afterdinnerkiss Mon 19-Nov-12 16:42:22

i can cook but cannot spell on MN.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 19-Nov-12 16:44:05

Pizzas made on wholemeal pitta bread.


afterdinnerkiss Mon 19-Nov-12 16:49:49

verysmallsqueak agree. 6 eggs plus oil costs £2.50?? with bread and herbs and leftover vegetables included you can still feed 4 and have change left from £5.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 19-Nov-12 16:51:09

Tonight I'm making fishcakes with a tin of reduced salmon,bulgar wheat,and sweetcorn.
That's got to come in pretty cheap.

TheProvincialLady Mon 19-Nov-12 16:55:47

It's possible to eat healthily for that amount but:

You need to have adequate shops in your locality (within walking distance)
You need to have adequate cooking equipment and money to pay for cooking fuel
You need to have adequate storage facilities - a fridge, ideally a freezer, tupperware etc
You need to know how to cook, to shop, to menu plan,
You need to be in reasonable mental and physical health
You need to have already eaten fresh, simple, cheap food - or you will probably find it unpalatable compared with salty, fatty, takeaway food

...and even then, your diet will be very limited and repetitive and you won't be having optimal nutrition.

naughtymummy Mon 19-Nov-12 16:59:11

Tonight chez naughty is butternut squash risotto. Butternut squash 75p, rice £1, parmesan £1.25, butter 50p total £2.50. Dh and I will probably get lunch out of it as well

VerySmallSqueak Mon 19-Nov-12 17:01:42

I'd agree with that TheProvincial.
I am not a good cook and I have no freezer. For getting fresh food in between the main shopping,or to look for bargains,it's a over 2 mile round walk for me.
It does present a challenge!

dashoflime Mon 19-Nov-12 17:05:41

Provincial Lady: adding to your list, a decent herb and spice cupboard. My ability to cook cheap and healthy really didn't take off till I managed it. And it took time and money to build up

afterdinnerkiss Mon 19-Nov-12 17:06:08

yes, it is easy to be näive about access to cheap ingredients if you live in town and do have access to an aldi, lidl or asda.

cafebistro Mon 19-Nov-12 17:10:42

I agree with you afterdinnerkiss.
It is possible to do this. I do it all the time.
The problem is there is a lack of education and some people just can't cook.

CharminglyOdd Mon 19-Nov-12 17:14:53

I agree about access to a large supermarket - I live in a city centre for work and pay a similar rent as I would in the suburbs but my access to cheap and fresh produce is limited. My diet has been so much poorer since I a) left all my spices/herbs and cooking equipment at home with DP and b) found that the only fresh food places within walking distance were metro-style shops. Of those the 'Little Waitrose' is actually the cheapest hmm I tend to buy my stuff during 'bargain hour' when everything is reduced.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 19-Nov-12 17:20:25

Personal fall-back cheap lunch/supper is always the Big Pan Of Chunky Soup (contents variable according to availability and what's cheap but usually onions, spuds, carrots and lentils/beans feature) that may take a while to cook Day 1 but which gets reheated on subsequent days and serve with some bread. Breakfast... porridge oats. Dirt cheap. Well under £5/day. Money saved during the week goes on a chicken or similar at weekends... bones of which are boiled up as the base for the next Big Pan Of Chunky Soup... and a few tasty bits like bacon, eggs, cheese etc. so that things don't get boring. Fruit limited to mostly apples. Has got me a through a few sticky months in the past and no-one's health suffered.

TobyLerone Mon 19-Nov-12 17:20:56

If I were so poor that I was struggling to feed my family, I'd bloody well learn to cook. There are plenty of resources from which to learn.

As it is, I cook fresh, cheap, healthy food from scratch every day, more because it doesn't make sense not to than anything else. It's more than possible, and despite not being on the breadline I can't see why I wouldn't try to save money where possible.

afterdinnerkiss Mon 19-Nov-12 17:24:11

cogito tell us how you make soup.

TheProvincialLady Mon 19-Nov-12 17:29:23

Well good for you TobyLerone. It's lucky that you have the education, the social skills, the IQ and the mental health to be able to emply these By-The-Bootstrap techniques, as well as access to a library/internet, and all the stuff I described above. Not everyone does.

afterdinnerkiss Mon 19-Nov-12 17:37:34

(shouts encouragement for more meal ideas to redirect thread to a more optimistic note)

2 tins of chickpeas/kidney beans, an onion, tomato puree and some garlic= £2. plus bread or rice.

TobyLerone Mon 19-Nov-12 17:38:42

Look, TheProvincialLady, I'm not sure why you're being chippy with me, but I don't think it's necessary.

I don't really know what education, social skills, IQ and mental health have to do with the majority of people struggling for money. Many, many people in the UK are very short of money at the moment and have a decent education and social skills, and 'normal' IQs and mental health.

It is absolutely possible to learn to cook for free, or very cheaply.

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Mon 19-Nov-12 17:47:38

there's eating cheaply, and there's eating slop, tbh. assuming a half-decent pre-recession storecupboard, a good dahl costs buttons but is a great deal more inspiring than a coupla cans of beans, an onion and some tom puree tbh.

amillionyears Mon 19-Nov-12 17:53:15

I would second the poster who mentioned variety in what you eat.
I sometimes think people get ill because of what they dont eat.
It is surprising how many people, young and old, who eat the same things week in, week out.

Vivalebeaver Mon 19-Nov-12 17:54:53

Naughtymummy, your ingredients are £3.50 for a meal that feeds two.

Chips are 90p from the chippy. Pockets of crisps even less. Neither of which require cooking ability, an actual hob or been close to a supermarket.

bigkidsdidit Mon 19-Nov-12 17:59:48

Soups and lentils are very cheap.

That article was infuriating I thought. There will be so many families really struggling and cutting back on everything and they pick one who in one breath says 'I can't afford £20 a term for fruit at school' and in another 'we won't give up the sky package'. It's a shame as it will invite people to think everyone who is struggling is also paying for bloody sky

TheProvincialLady Mon 19-Nov-12 18:02:42

I'm not being snippy with you personally Toby and I'm sorry I gave that impression.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Mon 19-Nov-12 18:03:56

It takes time and effort and it takes a while to get up to speed. There might be a good few weeks of unrewarding meals before you build up a decent spice and herb cupboard, as someone said. If you don't know what the destination looks like (as some people in that Guardian series clearly don't) you are unlikely to persevere.

So basically I think it probably is about education, or at least a culture change.

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