Gransnet forums


Too poor to eat properly

(336 Posts)
Nannyto3 Thu 10-Jan-19 14:28:50

The media seems awash with the fact that families living on Universal Credit or who are otherwise disadvantaged can't afford to eat properly, with children going hungry.
I feel so sorry for people in this situation. But I do wonder just how much 21st century expectations of what constitutes a proper meal (and how to cook it) are to blame.

Years ago we, our mothers and grandmothers cooked most things from scratch, using cheap cuts and whatever was in season to keep costs down.

Even now I make a chicken stretch to 4 different meals for the two of us. I make soup every day out of whatever vegetables I have to hand. Mince is cheap and so versatile and features heavily in our weekly meals. I use my slow cooker on a frequent basis to produce cheap, nutritious meals.

I long to be able to tell families who are struggling just how easy it can be to cook good, wholesome food at a reasonable cost.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 14:37:26

Its nice to have a good store cupboard and veg to hand, but I think for a lot of people things have gone too far for that.
1.2 million using food banks, too. (I think)

Bridgeit Thu 10-Jan-19 14:44:35

Yes I agree,and this is how most people I grew up with managed to feed their families. Just like you, I continue to make these meals.
I think there are several reasons why some younger people don’t do this, many don’t ’t have enough money for gas / electric, some have never been taught how to cook the most basics of meals.
I don’t think schools teach them either. It really should be a top priority.

notanan2 Thu 10-Jan-19 14:49:37

Agree with Miss Adventure, I can whip something tasty up with a cheap cut of meat and some veggies...

.... because I have a cupboard full of spices, a freezer with frozen fresh herbs & home made stock, a slow cooker, a steamer, casserole dishes, a crock pot, I can afford to put the oven on for however long I need etc, tinned tomatoes & flour, dried lentils/pasta/rice etc

Without my store cupboards some plane mince and a carrot would be miserable and barely palatable. With my store cupboards full and bountiful I can transform that mince & carrot into: chilli, burgers & slaw, Chapattis and spicey mince, meatballs & pasta.... the list is endless.

But my stores are well stocked and the cost if that is way more than a pack of mince and a carrot.

M0nica Thu 10-Jan-19 14:51:51

I think many families just run out of money, full stop.
When, about 10 years ago, Jack Monroe published her book A girl called Jack about life on benefits, , her food budget for herself and young son was about £10 a week. Even mince or cheap chicken is beyond that kind of budget - and she certainly couldn't afford to buy a slow cooker and would have had to think about the fuel cost if slow cooking in the oven.

Having said that, many of the children going unfed to school, are from families with substance abuse or with other other social management and mental health issues that are exacerbated by benefit poverty.

Having said that I do think we should do more to help these families, or at least there children.

Pittcity Thu 10-Jan-19 14:53:31

It is those who work antisocial hours for little pay who are using foodbanks. They do not have the time nor the skills to whip up a cheap meal from scratch.
Our grandmothers had the luxury of time.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 14:58:02

I think there is a vast difference between going through a lean time, and living in constant poverty.
Anyone can manage for a few months, but appliances wear out, stocks deplete, and so on.

notanan2 Thu 10-Jan-19 15:08:46

Jack Monroe is the FIRST to speak out about how noone should ever be in the position she was in when she had to count out 17 pennies for a tin of kidney beans.

The trauma of her poverty has probably contributed to her breakdowns and her alcohol problem.

She is not a poster child for how "fine" it is to cook on a tight budget, she campaigns. She was no merry pauper. It took its toll.

And her chance rise to fame came about because she was NOT managing on her tight budget, and needed to £250 she got for selling her first story!

notanan2 Thu 10-Jan-19 15:10:57

(She also points out that you can no longer get a tin of kidney beans for 17p)

Ilovecheese Thu 10-Jan-19 15:19:06

Absolutely spot on notanan2 and MissAdventure
It needs a lot more than 100grams of mince and a potato to make a tasty meal. It needs, seasoning, power, time and skill.

eazybee Thu 10-Jan-19 15:21:13

Always excuses for the lazy.
People who work anti-social hours have time during the day to shop and prepare food; shops are open far into the night. Our mothers and grandmothers had to walk or bus to the shops several times a week and carry home all the food, no refrigerators to store it, or they grew it, even more time consuming. In between washing by hand, drying clothes without heat, (after making many of them), and cleaning their houses without any labour saving devices such as hoovers or even detergent.

sodapop Thu 10-Jan-19 15:26:42

Times and expectations have changed over the years. Pittcity is right to an extent today's parents are time poor but they don't see the value of cooking from scratch.
I really don't see things changing any time soon, maybe all Grandparents should be on a mission to re educate their grandchildren. I don't think it should be the sole responsibility of the mother, fathers need to help out when mothers work outside the home.

notanan2 Thu 10-Jan-19 15:28:51

Nice rose tinted glasses you have there eazybee

When my grandmother was raising her children there were times when what they were surviving on was definitely not nutritionally adequate.

Sometimes the ends are too short to meet, no matter how good you are at stretching them.

Point is we should have moved on from that and we shouldn't in this day and age have children living in food poverty.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 15:34:14

Walking to the shops several times a week works if you have money to buy shopping.
Washing your clothes by hand is great if you've at least something to use as detergent, some way of getting the excess water out; a garden or spin dryer?
Some people don't have those things, nor the time to go shopping.
Lots of grandparents on here say how their adult children can't manage so they do their ironing, washing, look after their children AND fund most of it.
Some people don't have families to do that.

Framilode Thu 10-Jan-19 15:35:06

I also think it must be hugely difficult to stay motivated when the present is so bleak and so is the future. I can see how people can sink into depression when every single day is a struggle without any hope for things getting better. Even making decent meals on very little requires motivation.

Nonnie Thu 10-Jan-19 15:49:02

Some truth in all of the above.

Of course there are people who cannot afford to feed themselves properly but there are also those who don't know how or can't be bothered. There are some whose priorities are wrong too.

I have thought about whether it would be a good thing to give out recipes at food banks or even have someone there to help and advise but I suppose that would be thought patronising. I wish there was a way to help people to understand just how cheaply they could feed their families if only they knew how without causing offence.

It would also be helpful if those administering Universal Credit could get their act together and do it properly. I think most of us would agree that the principal of one welfare payment which helped people to get back to work is a good idea. However, they seem to get it wrong so much that it must be really difficult for those penalised without reason.

I don't agree that it is necessarily so expensive to collect together some pulses, they are very cheap, basic chopped tinned tomatoes, onions etc. Supermarkets often have sub-standard potatoes, carrots etc at a cheaper price, they just need a few extra minutes of preparation. DS has lots of items with yellow stickers in his freezer because he shops carefully. Of course not everyone has a freezer but I think most do.

It would not be so expensive to make a stew on the hob turned down low and a big one could do more than one meal. Cheaper cuts of meat do need more preparation but often taste really good. Porridge is cheaper and healthier than packet cereals.

Not sure the media helps much when they interview 'the poor' and show them with dyed hair, fancy nails, expensive products in their kitchens etc. Why do they select those people and not the genuine poor? It is hard for those of us who don't have recent experience of being poor to really understand no matter how hard we try.

Nannyto3 Thu 10-Jan-19 15:53:50

No matter what our views are on the necessity for herbs/spices etc to make a meal tasty. Or the question of time poverty. Or how difficult it used to be without modern labour saving devices, I think we are all in agreement....... the situation that has developed, where families can't afford to eat properly is intolerable.

The biggest question is what can WE do about it??

Nonnie Thu 10-Jan-19 16:17:22

What do you suggest Nannyto3?

paddyann Thu 10-Jan-19 16:23:29

Nonnie as the new owner of a smart meter I can assure you that 2 hours of simmering for a stew will cost a fair bit of cash.I had no idea that turning on my gas made my hourly bill jump from 12 pence an hour to over 58 pence an hour.If they had to use that much power every day on top of other use that would be way out of the reach of low paid families.
I use a pressure cooker which will stew the beef in 35-45 minutes but even that will cost a reasonalby high amount when budgets are strained to breaking point.Fuel poverty is not new I know but it is becoming more and more common with the inroduction of UC .The rise in child poverty is unacceptable to most ...discounting the tory govenment from that ...they seem happy to see the poorest being used as fodder in their divide and rule tactics .The poor ,the sick the elderly are all talked of as "benefit scroungers" when in fact many are just folk who have hit hard times .

Newquay Thu 10-Jan-19 16:29:28

Our church-which has a very well used food bank-is now setting up cookery classes to show how to prepare cheap nutritious meals. I’ve always thought benefits were supposed to be a safety net not a career choice. However the idea that Universal credit will get people back into work is pie in the sky IMHO. Where is this work then? Not round here and poorly paid. And what are you supposed to do with children?

Nonnie Thu 10-Jan-19 16:32:07

Paddyann if it took 2 hours at 58p an hour (although simmering is possibly cheaper) that would be £1.08 for, say, 2 day's meals. If that meant meals were cooked at half the price of ready meals or more expensive cuts of meat it would represent a saving. Also adding pulses and lots of root veg would make it both cheaper and healthier. I do know as it is the way we cook, nowadays for reasons of health as we no longer need to be as frugal as before.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture, there is not a simplistic answer.

I prefer not to get into a political argument about this, too complicated over too many years.

notentirelyallhere Thu 10-Jan-19 16:44:17

My mother was a widow in the 1960s and we lived on a very tight budget. I wouldn't want to condemn anyone but I do agree that people these days don't seem to understand how to prepare a meal from just a few ingredients. It doesn't need lots of spices or slow cookers though perhaps the processed food that poor people buy is adulterated with hidden sugars, palm oil and additives that give a taste that cannot be matched at home.

No one has mentioned being vegetarian and it's hardly unheard of these days! Meat is expensive and protein can be found in a mix of vegetables, pulses, dairy food and even tofu. We are vegetarian, as are my adult children and we eat well for not very much.

When I had a young family, the cookery writer Rose Eliot's books were my bible, they presented simple yet nourishing food. It's all Jamie Oliver and fancy, imported ingredients these days but it doesn't have to be that way.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 16:51:32

I've just bought vegetarian food. Its more expensive than a bag of frozen nuggets and chips, that's for sure!

notentirelyallhere Thu 10-Jan-19 16:56:04

Processed vegetarian food is just that, processed, with all the attendant costs. Real vegetarian food cooked from scratch is something else!

Cabbie21 Thu 10-Jan-19 17:18:02

A fair number of people who are obliged to use food banks do not have access to cooking facilities. Special “no cooking” food parcels can be provided, or those that need just a kettle, eg pot noodles. Hardly a good diet but the best available to them.

Nonnie Thu 10-Jan-19 17:23:25

We need to ask why the 'are obliged to use food banks' and address that issue.

Baggs Thu 10-Jan-19 17:26:23

cabbie's post makes me wonder if at least part of the problem is less one of food poverty but more one of housing poverty. People who only have access to a kettle for 'cooking' clearly are not well-housed.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 17:28:09

Long term poverty is all encompassing, I think.

Cold Thu 10-Jan-19 17:34:14

I wonder how many of us could cope with 1-2 months of absolutely no income? This is the average wait if you are on UC.

It is not just the cost of ingredients. If you are poor you may not be able to afford to have the stove on for a couple of hours to take advantage of those "cheap cuts". Power is expensive these days and the poor pay a lot more if they are on pre-payment metres.

Many people these days are also living in temporary accommodation with a family of 4 living in a single room with a microwave and kettle - no scope or ability to have store cupboard ingredients. Probably no fridge either.

Like it or not - food that is not nutritious is often a lot cheaper if you are hard up. Places like Iceland and Lidl make ready meals for about a £1 that microwave in a few minutes - you couldn't make a stew portion for that.

Luckygirl Thu 10-Jan-19 17:47:34

Unfortunately the principle of encouraging people into work - who could argue with that? - has morphed into the imposition of punishing schedules of job searching (most of which is impossible to achieve) and of unrealistic medical parameters for being recognised as too sick to work. And the poor get penalised from every side.

I do not judge those who do not have the wherewithall (in so many ways - financial, motivational, educational etc.) to create wonderful nourishing dishes from almost nothing at all - I have never walked in their shoes.

Fennel Thu 10-Jan-19 18:12:21

Cold wrote:
"Like it or not - food that is not nutritious is often a lot cheaper if you are hard up. Places like Iceland and Lidl make ready meals for about a £1 that microwave in a few minutes - you couldn't make a stew portion for that."
I've noticed that too.
I've mentioned before a series that Jamie Oliver started, helping non-cooks to start with basic meals. He had to give up - most didn't have a decent cooker, never mind the posts and pans needed.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 18:14:48

People who are in bed and breakfast accommodation have to go out after breakfast and not come back until a particular time.
Others share kitchens between lots of tenants, too.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:14:58

Just reading about a " Minister for Hunger " about to be appointed. There'd been a demand by MP's apparently.

I wonder how much their pay will be ?

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:15:49

What next ? A minister for silly walks ?

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 18:16:23

Well, they certainly won't be missing out on their food, or anything else.

Grandmashe43 Thu 10-Jan-19 18:28:26

Dear God, have things deteriorated so much that a Minister for Hunger is required, I, hang my head in shame, that I a Grandmother havebeen so negligent letting the Government

Carry on with this appalling austerity programme in one of the richest country in the world.
My MP will be getting a blasting.

notentirelyallhere Thu 10-Jan-19 18:30:18

I wouldn't judge anyone although I have walked in their shoes. We were seriously poor, my mother had little education, did cleaning jobs in school terms and, I later discovered, had pawned and sold her engagement and wedding rings which were the only valuables she owned, poor thing. She was fortunate in that in those days, widows received a pension for life and had support from her sisters. I got a grant for my school uniform and had to queue at a second window in the dining room at school with those few who also got free school dinners. I am right up there with the situation and sentiments expressed in I, Daniel Blake!

What is different now it seems though is the preponderance of cheap food made from cheap additives and the housing shortage. It is appalling that the housing situation has returned to one where landlords can do what they like. One of my enduring memories is of my mother receiving a letter putting up our rent with the rider 'if you won't pay the extra, then consider this letter your notice to leave in two weeks'. One of the Labour governments introduced rent control but the Tories removed this, I can't remember the dates now.

Aldi do actually do packs of cooked rice and packs of pulses, eg. curried chick peas for £1 a time. Also cheaper tinned food such as tomatoes and so on. Without judging anyone, poor diet produces children who don't grow properly, who often have poor behaviour and who don't do as well at school. Later on, poor diet leads to chronic health problems. I think shrugging and saying oh well, it's up to them what they eat is avoiding looking at what choices are made available to them through the political system we have. In France, children eat incredibly well and are fed good food at school and encouraged to appreciate food and to know how to cook it. We could do that too if we supported different political choices that provided proper support for those who need it. That goes for giving grants for cooking equipment too!

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:32:03

It's shameful, Grandmashe43. Shouldn't the third world countries be helping us out now ?

Grandmashe43 Thu 10-Jan-19 18:37:56

No Ellan third world countries ha e enough too contend with, it is not necessary for anyone to be hungry in the UK,
It’s plain greed and an uncaring government to blame.

Lily65 Thu 10-Jan-19 18:47:53

We can't go backwards.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:53:01

I was likening this country to a third world one.
It is greed and it's spread like a disease.
Another area of complaint as far as I'm concerned is heating costs. Why can't bills be capped ? These companies got away with murder, literally, when over 50,000 people died last year when the " beast from the east " hit us.
The government can intervene if they wanted. They're not doing enough to ensure the health and welfare of its citizens.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 18:54:55

Its hardly surprising that mental health issues are so prevalent.
Its depressing just thinking about it.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:57:03

379 pensioners died last year--------every day ! We're talking about those " younger " ones 60 and over included.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 19:09:05

I'm glad my mum's not around to see headings like this as she'd have been permanently in floods of tears. She had a " thing " about always having plenty in------just in case.
Forever baking for everyone and meals that Desperate Dan would have been proud of.
How she did it in the '50's I don't know. It used to upset her greatly to see someone, especially a child, who was poor. It worried her then she'd get an upset stomach.

Grandmashe43 Thu 10-Jan-19 19:17:00

Sorry Ellan, I agree, Greed has taken over, I thought the Thatcher years were as bad as our generation would see, how naive was I.

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 20:18:00

It's easy to talk about managing to make meals from scratch from practically nothing but poverty can also be depressing and people lose the wherewithal to make things happen, to source cheap nutritious food and cook it. Living on cheap food could also lead to a loss of energy - the type of food provided by food banks is not fresh food; it may be good, but fresh fruit, vegetables are not allowed to be donated.

Izabella Thu 10-Jan-19 20:34:18

Low income families pay more than that for their fuel if they have prepaid metered supplies Nonnie. I accept people can do what they like with benefit money but I was very frustrated working with families putting cigarettes and alcohol before putting a meal on the table. Having said that many had no table or cooker either.

I can remember my own mother telling me how they went hungry as children and how the uncles would go poaching to get trout or a rabbit. Her family even 'shared' funeral clothes they had so little. I don't pretend to have any answers. I have survived on next to nothing in the past, but have always had utensils, a cooker, access to home grown vegetables that I grew myself and a good sound knowledge of cookery.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 20:36:27

Don't forget having to actively prove that you've been jobseeking for 35 hours a week into the equation.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 20:39:54

And of course up to 2 hours at a time on the phone, waiting to be put through to the dwp, sometimes three times a week, depending on how much wrong info they give you..

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 20:45:57

Slow cookers are an economical way to cook but first you have to buy one.

Lily65 Thu 10-Jan-19 20:47:41

Roundar waywe have alady giving outslow cookers

mcem Thu 10-Jan-19 21:10:23

Even taking on all of the above and credit to our virtuous and thrifty parents and grandparents. Why aren't we to blame if we didn't teach our children and grandchildren. I'm not an expert or interested cook but my 3 AC can all cook well from scratch as can my 21 and 18 year old GDs.
As a retired teacher it was my job to teach my own children to cook, while teachers are responsible for the maths, language, reading, science, etc, etc, etc.

mcem Thu 10-Jan-19 21:12:21

Ps agree that using foodbanks is a necessity and not a lifestyle choice.
(Sorry, Lily, don't understand your post!)

Nonnie Thu 10-Jan-19 21:13:32

Right, we should spend more on preventing poverty, that's us, not the government. It comes from our taxes and if the government pays out more we pay more taxes. How will we get people to vote for that? LibDems promised to put a penny on taxes to give to the NHS and people didn't vote for them. How do we persuade people to vote for an increase in welfare? Please don't castigate me, we don't pay enough taxes for all the things people think the government, any government, should provide. I don't have the answer.

phoenix Thu 10-Jan-19 21:18:26

A couple of years ago, we were in really dire straits (without the kindness of some GN members, our Christmas would have been very bleak indeed).

We would actually walk round Lidl with a calculator to see if we could have a small jar of coffee.

However, I was able to produce meals, chicken thighs (a large pack of which from Lidl were pretty cheap!) featured heavily, in things like chicken hotpot,1 thigh per person, but lots of carrots and potatoes,(We still have it sometimes now, but go mad with 2 thighs each!) as did things like macaroni cheese, and of course what became known as "random vegetable soup"!

But I think there may be 2 different issues here, yes, maybe some people really do not know how to cook from scratch, but also it may be that some others are just without funds while waiting for their benefits to be sorted?I

Lentil and bacon soup is filling, cheap and nutritious, but if you don't have the ready money to buy the ingredients, what can you do?

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 21:31:49

Buy nuggets and chips from Iceland?

GrannyGravy13 Thu 10-Jan-19 21:34:20

Teach home economics in school

mcem Thu 10-Jan-19 21:39:13

Again I ask, why is it yet another responsibility of schools? Parents? Grandparents? Where does their responsibility lie?

GrannyGravy13 Thu 10-Jan-19 21:51:33

Unfortunately many of the young have young parents who have not been taught the basics themselves.
Some come from broken families or have been through the care system. Whilst I agree in principle that it is not the schools responsibility in some cases it is the only constant in these young people’s lives.

Eloethan Thu 10-Jan-19 22:07:49

Some people are keen on referring back to the "good old days" when mothers and grandmothers cooked healthy, nutritious meals.

No doubt some people were comfortably off and lived quite well but significant numbers of people had poor housing and sanitation and also suffered from poverty-related diseases such as rickets, TB, bronchitis, etc. It was not all rosy, and the current increasing numbers of people on the breadline is starting to affect people's health once more.

Perhaps it suits some people to shrug this off on the grounds that these are merely "excuses for the lazy" but my own feeling is that the decisions made by this government, such as cutting benefits and making them more difficult to access, and starving local councils and vital services of cash plays a very large part.

I also agree with those that say the cost of housing is having a severe impact, even for people on average salaries.

In April 2017 the Sun - hardly a left wing rag - reported:

"BRITS renting outside of London now spend more than half of their disposable income on rent.

"The average rent in the UK now stands at £761 a month, with those in London forking out an eye-watering £1,879 for a place to live."


"With rent prices rising by 63 per cent in the last ten years, house prices inflating and continued low interest rates, it is becoming harder and harder for anyone to put away enough cash to get on the property market."

lemongrove Thu 10-Jan-19 22:16:23

In any case, food is food.It doesn’t have to be home made lentil and chicken carcass soup.Protein, carbs and a bit of fruit and veg is fine.Children have school meals at lunchtime.
I had a poor upbringing with a Mother in full time work.
Meals were often a meat pie and canned soup, chips, or just cheese on toast and a banana ( suited me!) It’s all food.
Neglected children are another matter entirely.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 22:33:49

Growing up I had pilchards on toast, beans on toast, tomatoes on toast, mushrooms on toast. Sardines on toast. Mince on toast. Meat paste sandwiches and mum used to go to the fish shop ( for fish pieces for the cat ) ahem, complete with large flakes for fish cakes with home-made chips. Then there were the stews.
Dripping on toast ( when there were decent cuts of beef )
We lived like Lords hahahaha. These were obviously before pay-day meals.

Imagine giving kids pilchards on toast !

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 22:46:57

We eat a lot of toast. Cheap and cheerful, and reasonably healthy.

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 22:48:03

Pilchards on toast would be quite nutritious - I was thinking that it is better than a cheap pizza!

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 22:50:10

I took a tin of pilchards to put in the food bank box today, strangely enough.
Brain food!

Chewbacca Thu 10-Jan-19 22:54:21

Hungry children 'eating from school bins' in Morecambe

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 22:57:08

When my daughter left school and we had both started new jobs, we had to work a month in hand.
She had to take bread and butter for her lunch because we had nothing to put in it. grin

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 23:11:28

Sometimes we had pilchard salad just to vary it. Aunty in the IOM used to send us a box of kippers and some Manx butter.

A rabbit for 1/6 from the butchers for Sunday roast.
Looking back, we ate very well indeed in the '50's compared to present day.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 23:15:03

I think perhaps there wasn't so many options of cheap, stodgy, filling food in the 'olden days'.
Its probably cheaper to buy a happy meal from MacDonalds than to make a casserole.

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 23:16:15

We had a lot of home-grown food.

People now say there is no time but DF worked long hours, travelled by bicycle to work and still managed to provide much of our fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers from the garden and his allotment.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 23:22:29

Do you think a lot of poor people have gardens?
I'm not saying they don't, but I've never had one, and I'm not the poorest person I know. Almost, but not quite.
I still do grow things in pots..

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 23:39:55

No, they may well not have.
Gone are the days of building houses (council or private) with those long, thin gardens but which were all turned over to vegetables to eke out post-war rationing.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 23:44:49

I always think there should be some way of pairing up people.
Say, someone with a big garden who is struggling, with a family who could help out, grow some veg, and spend time doing outdoor, healthy stuff.
Its a win/win situation.
It would help with people who are isolated, too, to have contact.
Then they could cook what's been grown, and all enjoy a happy meal together.
I know that's really simplistic, when life isn't, but it would be so worthwhile.

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 23:52:31

People I know were doing that - a local woman could not manage her very large garden and two couples took it over - the garden was kept in good order and they all enjoyed the produce.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 23:56:27

I would like to be the minister for community inclusiveness..
An older person could teach how to cook from scratch, even just sitting and giving instructions..
There is so much scope to do just so much good for everyone.
I'm tempted to sing "Imagine all the people.. living life in peace" now.

Razzy Fri 11-Jan-19 00:09:26

I’ve lived on next to no money, I’ve lived with no carpets, no running water, caravan etc. I worked my way out of it...but that is just background.
People say £1 for a microwave meal is cheap but if family of 3 or 4 that is £3 or £4. You can buy a 5kg bag of lentils for under £10, works out about 20p a portion, then add chickpeas, cheap veg. I also used to cater 3-course dinner for 14 regularly on a 2-hob camping stove. If you want meat, tinned toms, mince, some oxo cubes (cheap equivalent). Chuck in whatevers cheap, cook a big pan full, spag bol then chilli then curry. I lived so cheap, no phone, no TV, no heating, no car. You make do! I think a generation has believed there is this fictional pot of gold that the government have, that is theirs for the asking! You can also get free berries in hedgerows in season. And cans of veg when discounted. I was working 3 jobs to pay off debts and career change but still had time to shop and eat dirt cheap. I think our idea of poverty has also changed.

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 00:47:50

I just boil up a teatowel and make soup..

M0nica Fri 11-Jan-19 06:50:19

Didn't Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall start a scheme like that.

These schemes sound good - and I am sure there will be takers, but many of the poorest are working very long hours and live in inner cities. The houses with large gardens needing help are many miles away. Those who would most benefit from this may well know nothing about growing a pot plant let alone vegetables.

In my village, where there are many houses with large gardens, most of our allotments have been put down to grass because no one is interested in using them. This has been unaffected by the construction of over 300 new houses in the village in the last 5 years, most with tiny gardens and all of them being within a couple of hundred yards of the allotments, which are in the centre of the village

RosieLeah Fri 11-Jan-19 07:07:26

This thread and its replies just shows what a mess our country is in. We all got a proper school dinner, and for the poorer children, it was free. Girls learned cookery from their mothers and were also taught cookery at school. We were taught to knit and sew. What exactly are children learning these days? Perhaps there needs to be less concern about gender and more emphasis on learning life skills, because we appear to have a generation of dependent snowflakes who have lost the ability to do anything for themselves.

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 08:05:18

Nobody knows about growing things until they learn, and besides, in my scheme they would have advice and guidance from the garden owner.

Craftycat Fri 11-Jan-19 10:25:32

Although not a quick solution I really believe that cookery classes for both boys & girls should be re-instated in schools & I KNOW how stretched they are already.
Basic knowledge of how to make cheap, nourishing meals is essential. Even if not at home then when they go to Uni or whatever in their late teens.
I teach all my GC to cook & they enjoy it. My 14 year old GS is very adventurous & will have a go at anything. I sold it to him in the beginning that when he goes to Uni he will be a wow with the girls if he can cook.

Witzend Fri 11-Jan-19 10:35:01

I think lack of proper cooking facilities - or money for gas/electricity - can be a major factor, especially if people have those pre-pay jobs, which I believe work out considerably more expensive than paying normally. Which IMO is a scandal anyway.

Having said that, I know from previous exceedingly-broke years (a long time ago now thank goodness) that it is possible to eat well enough very cheaply - if you know how to use cheap ingredients - seasonal veg, lentils, pearl barley etc. - and have the wherewithal to cook them.

I was lucky in having a very frugally-minded mother (often a necessity) in an era when cheap junk food simply wasn't available. Many nowadays just don't have that background to help them.

For quite a while dh and I virtually lived on thick vegetable soups, with the cheapest processed cheese on the side, for protein. Might add that dh still loves 'dustbin soups' as my mother called them, i.e. made with whatever she had. I still make them a lot in winter.

But I must admit that I do get very cross when people imply that healthy food always has to include things like fresh salmon, chicken breasts and blueberries.

Lesleyann9 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:38:46

I used to be the coordinator for the local food bank. The reality is that by the time people visit us they have run out of all resources. They have paid rent gas electric and have nothing left often because they are on thes zero hours contracts or they are waiting for six weeks for benefits to kick in. The good thing about the food bank is that a lot more than food is supplied. There are cleaning materials toiletries nappies baby milk pet food sanitary towels and also a pack of basic food items that lasts three days but can stretch further. There are often a soup pack as well stock cubes lentils etc. I used to put vegetarian items in as well as they really stretch the contents things like chickpeas beans etc can make a good curry . Unfortunately there is no fresh fruit and veg only tinned sometimes bread . But this is limited to three or four weeks. It is not a permanent solution. Thank goodness for schools providing breakfasts. We never turn anyone away. I take the point about learning to cook. Often friends pool resources if someone has credit in there gas they will cook there. There are also kettle packs or cold packs for those wouthout recourse to a cooker
There are also cooking classes for those interested. Now the people attending food banks have complex problems and the food bank zI was involved is now a hub with housing support mental health and other agencies.

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 10:48:39

So, do all food banks offer cookery classes?
If not, maybe some of the people who cook from scratch could ask about the possibility of setting up some sessions?

Saggi Fri 11-Jan-19 10:50:37

Like notanan2 I keep an extensive store cupboard as did my mum. My best friend (same age) doesn’t !!...consequence being she can only cook what she buys on a daily basis . It’s odd how people brought up in same generation could be so unlike in batters of cooking . I too have always homemade soup ‘on the go’ and use what’s to hand. Youngsters don’t seem to ‘cook’ anymore. My 11 year old grandson is doing ‘food tech’ at school but all he’s learning is pizza’s ...pasta’s...cakes...brownies... nothing substantial. I feel for them all because they are going to be at the mercy of the food giants filling them with salt..sugar... and unnecessary fats.

Lesleyann9 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:50:42

Hi my final comment is that foodbanks give out basic recipes on how to use the food given out to last three days. What they supply are more menus. There is always pasta rice and tinned potatoes corned beef etc. They suggest cooking pasta adding it to tinned soup etc. As someone said earlier some families have no access to cooker so there is a kettle pack or vcold pack. We also hand out a list of where people can get free food. There is a lovely lady from housing that helps get rehoused.

Jayelld Fri 11-Jan-19 10:51:40

Just to clarify, I am one year away from receiving my pension. I live on ESA due to a chronic long term debilitating illness that means I, unfortunately, cannot work.
Not living in a rose tinted bubble it is not families living entirely on benefits who are in poverty, (unless substance, alcohol, gambling or massive debt problems exist), but those where one or both parents work and receive £1 or £2 above the limit to qualify for benefits, or singles trying to exist on £75 a week.
A family fully on benefits can have upwards of £350 a week income, rent and Council tax paid, (CT - 80% paid).
My income of £254.30 per fortnight pays all my bills, provides all my, fresh food, (I cook from scratch) with enough left to enjoy the odd coffee or lunch out. My brother, on £75 a week,, paying the same bills, barely manages and often uses the food banks, community kitchen or the family to keep going. For him it's a case of - pay the bills or buy decent food. His shopping consists of economy tins, cheapest/reduced items and ready meals. It's no wonder he's severely depressed. He isn't working because ge suffer a minor heart attack 5 years ago and employers won't take the risk of employing him, (he's been told at job interviews or in letters, that he's too high a risk!).
Poverty isn't about being on benefits, unless you're single, it's about how well you manage, or not, your income, your expectations and how willing you are to forgo the latest gadgets and technology in favour of a warm home and decent food.

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 10:58:27

A portion of rent, of course, if people are living in privately rented accommodation.
That can mean 300 pounds a month shortfall which the tenant has to 'top up'.

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 11:04:08

Or more, by the way.
I was stating what I know my upstairs neighbour paid out each month on a two bed ex council flat.

Sheilasue Fri 11-Jan-19 11:04:43

We married at the end of the sixties and our children were born in the 70s. It was a struggle but we always managed to have a good meal 3 times a day.
Also work wasn’t a problem, you never had a problem getting a job.. we didn’t claim anything, even though my husband was on a low wage at that time.
Times have changed it’s not easy, food is extremely expensive, and so is rent, fuel and a mortgage if you have one.
We have been able to manage because of the early days of being careful.
Nowadays it’s harder.

inishowen Fri 11-Jan-19 11:04:46

In an ideal world the older generation would teach the younger ones how to cook. I'm not sure if they want to learn though. I heard of a young man who declared "I don't eat house food". When asked what house food was, he said anything made in the house, he only ate takeaways!

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 11:08:29

Well, that's just one person.
There are probably people who would welcome help and have nobody to give it.

Margs Fri 11-Jan-19 11:12:28

The grand architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan-Smith, once notoriously claimed he could very well live on £53.00p per week - what on earth was he trying to tell those who actually have to?

So, come one Duncy - you said that some years ago but have you not got around to doing it yet?

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 11:18:49

Talk's cheap, as my mum used to say..

Grannyris Fri 11-Jan-19 11:19:04

I was watching Back in Time for School on TV last night, and reminiscing about the Domestic Science classes I did at school. We learned to put a nappy on a doll, and had a room where we had to learn how to clean the floors and furniture - and to wash up properly! But most importantly we learned to cook simple basic meals, about different cuts of meat, about proteins, carbs etc - such useful stuff that has served me well ever since. It is a real shame that there is now a huge emphasis on exams and league tables which seems to preclude schools being allowed time in the curriculum to teach the practical life skills that are so necessary. For boys these days as well of course!

Hm999 Fri 11-Jan-19 11:24:21

Usual stuff about schools teaching kids how to do different things. There really isn't enough time on the timetable to teach all the other new initiatives.

Head on the TV this morning saying they didn't have a Food teacher, wanted one but couldn't afford it from the budget so some teachers were being taken from other subjects for a few lessons a week (which btw places disproportionate stresses in other areas that I wont go into).

Other schools with no Food specialists have converted their Food rooms into ordinary classrooms.

Finally in 1989, the National Curriculum decided what should be taught. Food, especially teaching cooking, was 'downgraded'.

Nonnie Fri 11-Jan-19 11:25:13

I haven't had pilchards for years and I like them. They are going on my shopping list.

There is a scheme where those who can't manage their gardens agree to someone else using it and enjoying the produce but I don't remember what it is called.

I had to buy biscuits for some workmen coming to our house and was amazed at how cheap they are, one pack was 28p and others were 2 for 80p. Supermarket offers seem to be mainly on the unhealthy food.

Its not just the poor or uneducated who can't cook. Not so long ago I was in a boarding school being shown round by the principal. He told us they were joining forces with a local day school (private) to build a kitchen to teach the seniors how to make tea and coffee and cook simple meals. I suggested that was the parents' job and he said the parents didn't teach them. Surely parents should take responsibility? I taught all mine to cook, to iron (not very successfully) and to look after their property. Some things they are better at than me and some not as good. However, they all cook their own food from scratch and they all eat healthily and economically. They do this so they have money to spend on other things. Colleagues in the same jobs don't and complain about all the things they can't afford.

Ilovecheese Fri 11-Jan-19 11:28:02

Ah, Margs you must mean the Ian Duncan Smith who claimed £85 expenses for his breakfast.

sarahellenwhitney Fri 11-Jan-19 11:40:40

MissAdventureTaking the trouble to find how to give yourself and family nourishment on a low income is not difficult.
Supermarket 'own brands' are cheaper than major companies and lets face it who provides these 'own brands' You don't have to be a superman/woman to work that one out.
There will always be those who would rather buy 'frozen nuggets and chips' than take the trouble to look around the shelves and freezer cabinets to see how you can do it yourself with 'own brand' products to suit both 'veggies and vegans'.

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 11:44:32

Of course there will always be 'those'. Those who are too idle to bother, those who have no idea what healthy eating even is, those who couldn't care less.
That is not everyone though, and its a shame to tar everyone with the same brush, I think.