I went shopping and took my daughter along so we could double check the shop. What feels like a challenge rapidly become very anxiety inducing. I made a list and had an extras list in case we were under budget. How different this is to usual, when I just buy what we want and don’t really worry about the cost. We debate the ‘extras’ – shall we buy raisins to liven up the porridge? We don’t have enough. Or more veg? Ditto, not enough. Or something nice to go with our pancakes? We settle on 3 bananas. I have a car, so we go to Aldi (where we usually go) but I can see that, if I had to walk to the local Coop, my shop would be much more expensive… The poor, as we know, pay more.
Our total food cost is £9.64 for the week but with almost no vegetables (a cabbage, ½ cauliflower and 3 bananas). The rice and lentil portions look worryingly small (100g lentils and 200g rice a day seemed a lot but it actually isn’t). Syrup was too expensive, so we have sugar instead and lemon juice in a bottle (as it was cheaper than a real lemon).
So far, it’s not been too bad, though mostly because I ate 3 biscuits at work and had 2 cups coffee and then my best friend brought me cake for lunch (as she knew I was doing this). And then, someone sent my daughter birthday cupcakes (10 days late but very much welcomed!) and we had 1 each with a cup of tea. We plan to have another one while listening to Boris Johnson tonight.
Our menu for the week is:
Breakfast – porridge with sugar (raisons, fruit and syrup are out as too expensive)
Lunch – for me, leftovers: for my daughter – bagels with baked beans or spaghetti hoops (no margarine or vegan cheese – way too expensive).
Dinner – rice and dahl with cabbage every single night – we can stretch to potato or cauliflower fritters on 2 or 3 nights if I am careful.
Pudding – vegan pancakes (to cheer us up) with sugar and lemon (no fruit). We don’t usually eat pudding but flour is cheap and I don’t want my daughter to feel hungry.
Drinks – tea with milk or lemon juice. No coffee, no herb tea or rooibos (my usual favourite).
Norwich foodbank receives referrals every day from people who say they are completely on their own with no friends or family to ask for help or who have exhausted these options due to family and friends personal constraints or embarrassment at needing to ask for help ‘again’. Our communities are so different from previous generations when people knew their neighbours and whole street and you could just pop round to ask for a bit of food or company or whatever was needed, because chances were you would do the same in return if / when needed. But currently, regardless of lockdown, this just rarely happens and so many people are genuinely alone and not known and worringly, the charity expects there are even more ‘hidden’ people in need who aren’t receiving their or any other support.