Live on £1 a Day: Emma’s Shop

Years of meal planning and budgeting with a young family (two grown ups, a 7 year old and a toddler) have left me feeling well-equipped for this challenge.  Although £4 per day for a family is a smaller budget than I’ve had in the past, I am interested to see what is achievable with some thought and planning.

I confess that after half an hour browsing online grocery shopping my enthusiasm was waning a little.  I don’t know what sort of food to prioritise – pasta, bread and porridge to keep us full, but we need fruit, veg and protein too and I’m surprised at how expensive this is.  We definitely can’t afford tea, coffee or chocolate, puddings or yogurts. I realise we will also miss stock cubes, herbs, salt and cooking oil a lot this week.

I find room in the shopping basket for a packet of biscuits, and think about how much money we spend on food we like rather than the food we actually need.  I can’t find a way for us all to have enough veg and a piece of fruit every day, and I’m not sure whether the kids will eat some of the dishes I have planned.  (What if they don’t?  They’ll be hungry without snacks to keep them going.  I realise what a privilege it is to have options and how awful the pressure to feed your kids must be if you don’t). Its stressful trying to balance all these priorities and I don’t know what the right answer is.  Feeling like a bad mother I pack the shopping basket with tinned tomatoes and pasta, and hope it will all fall into place somehow.

I thought about ‘click and collect’ but this would cost £2 – I never really thought about the hidden costs around our weekly shop! I spent £18.74, leaving £1.26 to spare. 

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We are so grateful to all those who support us with donations. This blog reminded me that we have really incredible donors and some of them will do a food shop and have it delivered directly to the foodbank warehouse! Sometimes this is done anonymously and sometimes we have the donor’s details so we can thank them which is great and we’ve had deliveries from all the major supermarkets. Just remember to switch the address back to your home address for the next shop… we received someone’s shopping once because of this! If you are thinking of donating, check with your local foodbank as to what they need most – Norwich foodbank currently needs long life sponge puddings and pasta sauce please.

Live on £1 a Day: Imelda Day 2

Yesterday’s experience has resulted in much discussion around the wider issues of coping on low income amongst not only ourselves but also friends and family reading our blog. It has been so interesting to hear wider perspectives and to dwell on them. Our daughter raised some thoughts around the social issues and the knock on effect this has on wellbeing.

Today we have an actual example of that. We have our granddaughter here for the day and my friend and her granddaughter coming over to play and share lunch. How do we host them on our budget? In the ‘real world’ this would indeed be an issue. However, we have the luxury to decide not to involve them in our challenge. We have plenty of eggs & cheese in the ‘house’ fridge (we have set aside the other fridge as our Lent fridge… goodness, I feel so guilty having two fridges now!). We can offer them scrambled eggs on toast with grated cheese on top. Oh how I longed for grated cheese on top of my beans and jacket potato last night! We are however using our Lent loaf for their toast!

As my mind is focused on this topic, I had a discussion with my friend this afternoon about buying goods cheaper in bulk and the fact that those on a tight weekly budget can’t afford the initial outlay. For example, I talked about buying 4 tins of tuna to get a cheaper cost per can, but with my budget, I could not afford the multipack and would have to opt for the much dearer single can. My friend said she used to wonder why people on reduced income bought small packets of washing powder as it is so much cheaper to buy the larger sizes. Now she knows.

During the last two days we have learnt that keeping busy seems to be the best way to distract from the need for food. We were well ready for our evening meal today! Burgers in buns, made with crushed kidney beans, grated carrot, onion and cumin. Surprisingly yummy! See photo.

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Another good point made about quantities and prices here. Due to the labelling and related health and safety / food safety issues around splitting big quantities (all the information needs to be recreated from the original and for most foodstuffs, being airtight would be a requirement), the majority of foodbanks ask for smaller items to be donated – 500g of sugar instead of 1kg, smaller packs of washing powder rather than ‘family size’ ones – because two 500g bags can help support two families, one 1kg bag can only help one family, albeit for a longer period of time. We are genuinely grateful for all donations and we do understand that smaller quantities can cost the donor more, but hopefully this explains why we are sometimes so specific in what is needed!