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Could you eat for a week on £18 per person?

(84 Posts)
StrippedBear Thu 07-Mar-13 07:17:22

Was prompted to think about this by Helen Goodman MP, who decided to live for a week on £18 - the amount she says people will have left for food after the bedroom tax. I'm not a Tory and don't agree with leaving people on the breadline - and I'm obviously very differently resourced, as I have access to a cheap supermarket, lots of time to cook and equipment, like a breadmaker and so on... but Helen Goodman says it is HORRIBLE. She says she had to eat porridge with water, went to bed hungry etc... and it set me wondering what would be possible.

Thinking about yesterday, when we ate as we ordinarily would - our food costs for a family of 3 was as follows:
B'fast - porridge made with milk (Iceland 4 pints for £1), banana, toast - £1 for all of us.
Lunch - homemade bread made into sandwiches with smoked salmon & cream cheese, yoghurt and raisins - £2 for all of us.
Dinner - homemade mushroom and cheese tart with green salad, boiled new potatoes and coleslaw. Pudding - homemade rice pudding £4.50

Drinks - teas and coffee and tap water - 50p

So my total cost for the day was £7. So if the budget is £18 p.w., that's £2.57 per person and £7.71 for the 3 of us... so I did it - even without thinking... and no one was hungry! However, I could be cheating, as I'm not sure our child would have the same budget allocated to them?

She also says that meat and fish were impossible - yet again, I know I can buy a kilo of best quality mince for about a tenner and make a fab chilli that comes in at about 80p a portion. I think I am probably quite a careful shopper - I buy value brands a lot where I don't think it will impact quality, eg. Tesco Value bananas are just fine - I buy stuff which is on offer (like the smoked salmon, and I'm a reasonable cook - so would attempt most things - and have loads of time on my hands atm....

However - not that I want people to have their benefits cut to the bone, you understand - but am wondering if my lifestyle/meals are very different from most families - and whether more effort should be made to teach home economics, so that people can manage on less - just from the perspective of thrift and good practice - rather to shave a fiver off the benefits bill, you understand!

LineRunner Sat 09-Mar-13 17:07:57

I think it would nigh on impossible if you start having to deduct essentials like toilet rolls, cleaning products, washing powder/launderette, washing up liquid.

gaelicsheep Sat 09-Mar-13 17:18:20

I wonder if that £18 a week includes the cost of actually getting to the shops to do the shopping? Unless you are "lucky" enough to live more or less in a supermarket car park, you need to get to a shop. For a lot of people that either means an expensive journey to a proper supermarket, or a shorter journey - perhaps on foot but not always - to a very expensive local Co-Op, or Spar or whatever.

gaelicsheep Sat 09-Mar-13 17:19:30

We are being as meagre as we can be at the moment, and we cannot do our entire weekly shop for £18 per person. It is at least 1.5 times that by the time all other essentials are added in.

gaelicsheep Sat 09-Mar-13 17:20:25

Oh, and we currently don't have a freezer, just a small fridge with an ice box. That makes everything a whole lot more expensive as you can't take advantage of a lot of bulk buy offers.

CrispyHedgeHog Sat 09-Mar-13 18:06:50

What about people with allergies/intolerances.

The food that's cheap and filling tends to be the stuff that causes most problems doesn't it? Grains etc? So they're screwed in that circumstance.

InMySpareTime Sun 10-Mar-13 08:40:20

My DS is milk allergic, and though Soya milk costs more than cow's milk, we save on cheese etc. and it's cheap to cook with tinned tomatoes.
Potatoes and rice are good fillers, and we cook from scratch a lot which saves on processed food costs too.
We're well under £18/person/week, even including toiletries etc.

serin Sun 10-Mar-13 18:49:38

The problem with our nation is that a lot of us have forgotten how to budget, store food, grow things and how to cook.

The government needs to urgently address this issue.

My friend does voluntary work with the Trussell Trust (foodbanks) and says quite often people will choose instant 'add water meals' rather than fruit and veg because they are easier to prepare.

Home economics in school is almost a joke, (except it's not funny) our DC's have brought home the most ridiculous 'meals' that have required almost no skill to prepare.

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 19:15:01

I have not forgotten how to budget, store things or cook. But two years ago our budget for food and household goods was £300 a month. We had to up it to £400 and we often now exceed that now that I can't cook in bulk and freeze things.

TotemPole Sun 10-Mar-13 21:08:11

It's possible but meals could get quite repetitive or boring. It depends on so many different factors.

At our nearest supermarket we can't buy a single onion or loose carrots, everything is in packs. A single person would have to have the same veg over the week to stick within budget.

Without a decent store cupboard, you'd be relying more on jars for sauces. Usually a jar is 4 servings and once opened use within 3-5 days. So you'd either waste it or have the same meal 4 days in a row.

With me and 1 DC we sometimes get the packs of chicken thighs/drumsticks, 2 packs for £6 when on offer. I can get the base of 4-5 meals out of that for the two of us. But these are use immediately, so once you've opened the pack you either need to freeze or cook what's left. It does start to smell if you don't.

Our nearest butcher and fishmongers is more expensive than the supermarket. For others it will be the other way round.

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