Eating for £2 a day – part one

1 Jul

A few days ago I posted a semi-coherent rant, provoked by the UK government’s dismembering of the welfare state and by reading tales of people in work (the ticket to self-improvement, according to ministers) yet struggling to eat well.

Off the back of this, I’m penning some posts looking at how far you can get on £2 per head, per day – that’s a few pence more than enjoyed by UK prisoners, or a few pence less than the minimum NHS hospitals lavish on patients. It also roughly equates to the ‘Feed your family for £50’ campaign run by Sainsbury’s – recently shelved over concerns it was misleading shoppers.

I’m not trying to demonstrate the bare minimum you can part with to keep from starvation, but rather some routes to eating cheap things that also taste good and aren’t bad for you.

I spent £25.20 at a supermarket on a week’s eating for two adults. An additional £2 went to a greengrocer, one of my meals uses £1.50’s worth of chicken that was in my freezer – and I had some cupboard items in: oil, rice, lentils, spices and soy sauce.

Against that, I’ll have cheese, bacon, onions and potatoes to carry over into the next week – and a couple of items, including that bacon, would normally have been cheaper but were replaced by pricier versions owing to what was in stock. All in all I may be running fractionally over my £28 budget, but if so it’s by pence.

I’m not going to exhaustively detail everything I’m eating this week – you can take it as read it’ll be toast breakfasts and leftovers or sandwiches in the middle of the day. But everything I’m including, I still tuck into regularly now I’ve hit the dizzy heights of £3 per head, per day.

My point, and the original reason I set up this blog, is that you can dine pretty well for a small amount of cash. But it takes planning, and pence saved on a given week needs ploughing into stuff that sits in the cupboard like salt, rice, spices and oil.

Given the coalition government’s fondness for using Channel 4 presenters to burnish its caring credentials – and the unlikelihood of low-income households becoming better off while it is in power – maybe it could extend my exercise via an information campaign. It sounds an ideal challenge for former face-of-Sainsburys Jamie Oliver.

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