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Too poor to eat properly

(337 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 Sun 13-Jan-19 21:34:27

Its just as disappointing for me to find that some people think I'm lazy, with a drink or drug problem and unable to work out for myself how to budget.

MagicWriter2016 Sun 13-Jan-19 21:44:21

My mum was a single mother in the 50’s-60’s, there were no benefits to speak of and she drank and smoked, got my clothes (my sisters were older, not sure if they were the same) from the local WRVS branch. We had no indoor toilet, no heating apart from the coal fire (old man living next door would throw a few pieces of his coal delivery over our wall to help us out), but we always had at least one good hearty meal a day. She would send me to the butchers for ‘bones for the dog’ as they were free. We didn’t have a phone and our tv was a rental. You fed money into the back of it, no money, no tv. I remember sitting in candlelight because we had no money to put in the electric meter.

I am not saying folk should go back to living like this, but I do sometimes wonder if their priorities are all wrong nowadays. A roof over your head was always number 1, then food, anything else was a bonus. And strangely enough, most of my childhood memories are of happy times, playing out with my pals all day.

But believe me, life was very, very hard back then!

PECS Sun 13-Jan-19 22:16:29

nonnie when I have face to face conversations with friends we ask each other questions about what each other have said! confused Why would I have a 'problem' with your post?? I was genuinely asking you the question ..if social housing has been sold off and not replaced, private LL are not always keen on social housing tenants , so where will poorer folk live?

Jalima1108 Sun 13-Jan-19 23:02:20

My mother had taught me all about boiling vegetables and stewing meat, but nothing fancy like roux sauce
I can make a roux sauce (it was one of the tasks my mother passed on to me) but rice is another matter entirely - so I buy the boil in the bag which is not a cheap option.

Grandma2213 Mon 14-Jan-19 01:14:25

I have really started to think about food a lot lately as I frequently have to feed DGC (3 or 4 or more days a week) and always try to provide a balanced meal. When they were babies I blended what we were eating and stored it in mini cartons in the freezer, chicken, pork, beef, fish with vegetables and potatoes, rice or pasta. As they got older I chopped to make them more chunky. Friends of their parents were envious and commented on how good they tasted compared to tins or jars of baby food. I never added salt (or sugar) by the way. It also probably saved them a fortune too!

I believed that as they were fed this diet from an early age they would continue to prefer it. How wrong was I? When they are at home with mum they have fast food or take-aways, pizza, doughballs, tinned soup or pasta being common. School lunches consist of crisps, sausage roll, choc bars etc.

Now when they are with me I struggle with waste. One doesn't like potatoes or any vegetables, one won't eat meat (too chewy even though I pull it or chop it), has gone off cottage pie, bolognese, fish, etc etc . Very little fruit apart from grapes or strawberries (not for DGS yuck!) So far they will all eat sausages though only the blandest ones and bacon butties laden with ketchup. However a MacDonald's or KFC is wolfed down and pepperami pizzas get eaten (not a home made one though)

To be fair, the youngest (age 6) still eats most things including veg, salad and fruit She loves cucumbers and peppers but can't take to tomatoes despite trying several times. She is also the healthiest!!!! Mind you I am dreading when she too turns....

They have all cooked with me too, which is often advised to gain their interest in food, and though I consider myself well educated in the provision of good food for children this has me beaten!! I get so frustrated scraping plates into the bin and being the wicked grandmother saying no to sweets or puddings because they are clearly not really hungry!

ReadyMeals Mon 14-Jan-19 08:09:50

Grandma2213, is there still a school that allows crisps and choc bars in the lunch box?

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 10:15:13

PECS the reason I asked the question was because the last line of my post was "So I'm not against selling off the houses, just think the money should go back into housing for those who need it." That is why I didn't understand. Perhaps you didn't get to the end of my post?

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 10:20:59

newnanny I can understand how you must feel about the judgmental attitude. I am not, and never have been, a LL but I am sure they are not all wicked. I find most people on gn are fair minded and reasonable but there are the odd few who seem quite blinkered.

PECS Mon 14-Jan-19 10:26:32

Yes but the money has not gone into social housing, Nonnie!

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 10:29:42

But PECS that was part of my post, I gave my opinion about what I thought was right, I didn't say that is what had happened. I still believe it is better to mix different types of household rather than separating them into home owners and social housing. How else can people understand others who have different lives?

PECS Mon 14-Jan-19 10:56:07

Maybe I misunderstood Nonnie I do not disagree with the concept of mixed housing. In fact where I live is pretty much like that!

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 11:44:54

Thanks PECS, I think you did misunderstand but that is what we do when we have other things on our minds. I always appreciate it when someone does that, so many just ignore it when their mistake is mentioned. I always say when it happens to me. Only polite.

PECS Mon 14-Jan-19 12:11:38

Nonnie smile ..and what we would do if we were talking face to face!

Fennel Mon 14-Jan-19 12:24:33

I buy a weekly magazine, it has a separate food section.
One lady wrote that she tries to give her children balanced meals, including some protein. Her teenage daughter said "But Mom, nobody eats protein these days!"
It's an american magazine btw.

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 12:25:13

I'm sure we would be fine PECS. I suspect there would be things we would agree to disagree about but we wouldn't hurl abuse at each other.

PECS Mon 14-Jan-19 13:03:03

I hope not! ..hurl abuse I mean.. but yes we would probably agree to disagree. I cannot think of anyone I agree with 100% on everything!

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 13:45:44

Much easier face to face to express what we mean than in posting on here.

PamelaJ1 Mon 14-Jan-19 15:52:44

I refer to a few earlier threads that explained that you didn't have to be as thick as a brick if you din't understand how to cook.
My DD rang me up from uni. to ask me how long you had to boil a potato. I'd never given it a thought-rather depends doesn't it? Until it's soft?

Nonnie Mon 14-Jan-19 16:02:25

Pamela maybe she was just feeling a bit 'needing mum'? Or perhaps had been in a discussion with someone else about it. Some do seem to think there is a mystique about cooking and get quite a surprise when they find out there isn't!

annep Mon 14-Jan-19 19:34:30

I get your point newnanny. I know there arw good LLs. But many aren't and its a huge problem. And the thhing is you can sell your property at any stage. Social housing provides ( or used to and still should) a home for life that the tenant can improve and make theirs with the security and good mental health etc that brings.

newnanny Tue 15-Jan-19 17:33:01

I appreciate I could sell at any time but i tell my tenants when they move in I won't be selling until X (date mortgage is repaid on interest only or until Z won't be selling in my lifetime as repayment. So every tenant knows where they stand and I do allow them to paint rooms themselves and put pictures up etc. if they wish provided if they move out they repaint it back to Magnolia. I know a lot of other LL and we all think/do the same to be honest. I have only refused to repay deposit once in 17 years and that was when a couple had smashed the mirrored robes and I deducted the amount it cost to be replaced. I know a lot of LL and the ones i know are all fair to tenants and keep the properties well maintained. Apart form anything else it does not make good financial sense to buy a property and not keep it maintained. I do see the rogue LL programmes on TV though so they must be about. There should be a certain standard to meet certified by council. I would welcome that as the few bad LL gives the good LL a bad name.

newnanny Tue 15-Jan-19 17:36:02

I don't actually agree that social housing should be for life. Some people with SH become very wealthy and should no longer be entitled to SH. It should be assessed on need every 3-4 years. In jersey that is what they do. A friend lived in SH and when their DD left for uni they had to move from a 3 bed to 2 bed. 2 years later when her son left for uni they had to move into 1 bed. Otherwise you get families with 4 children in 2 bed house.

Nonnie Tue 15-Jan-19 17:50:14

newnany prepare to duck! When I said that a few years ago I received a lot of flack. I don't know if it is still true but there was a very highly paid union leader who was still living in a council house. Imo that was wrong, he should have given it up to a family who needed it more than him.

In NL you can qualify for SH if you have lived long enough in the particular place. A friend has sold her house because she needed to when she retired and has been given a SH flat. The good thing is that her rent is based on her income. I know it is an unpopular idea but if SH rents were based on income those who could afford to buy their own homes would choose to either do so or pay a higher rent which could be used to subsidise those who earned less.

It must be hard if you have lived in your home for many years to have to move to a smaller home but if it is a choice between that or a family living in a b&b I think the family should have it. If we had more smaller SHs it would help.

Anniebach Tue 15-Jan-19 17:58:31

There is something of a two class system in people in social housing should downsize, not from choice, those who can’t afford to buy shouldn’t have roots, shouldn’t have grandchildren to stay, they have a house not a home

Lily65 Tue 15-Jan-19 18:32:21

I don't know if it is still true but there was a very highly paid union leader who was still living in a council house

I don't know if it is true but there was a very rich politician subletting his home to make money.

Charleygirl5 Tue 15-Jan-19 19:17:18

Lily I think there has been more than one because I know of one, long time dead, who lived in the centre of London in a council flat.

M0nica Tue 15-Jan-19 22:09:12

It was Bob Crow, leader of Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, who died a few years ago who was doing that.

In 2013 he was quoted as saying 'I have no moral duty to move out of council house', despite receiving six-figure salary as RMT boss

M0nica Tue 15-Jan-19 22:09:56

I wonder why the last chapter of 'Animal Farm' comes to mind?

Eloethan Tue 15-Jan-19 22:26:02

What he could have done was bought it at a good discount and made a huge profit.

annep Tue 15-Jan-19 23:51:47

I agree Newnanny. People should be told that once your income reaches a certain level you have x number of years to save a deposit and buy. I understand the difficulties with shortages and downsizing but it seems very harsh to make older folk leave their home. The problem wouldn't exist if we had adequate social housing. It is self financing and eould provide jobs so whats the problem.

paddyann Wed 16-Jan-19 00:40:34

there has never been the same attitude to council houses here as there appears to be down south.Its quite normal for a couple to have had the same house since they married ,bring up their families in it and stay in it when their families move out.Nobody looks down on them or thinks they are taking something that someone more "worthy" should have.
Council housing ISN'T subsidised,it should pay its way and give the councils something to raise loans on when needed .The people who rent them are as deserving of a home for life as anyone who buys ....lots of folk dont want the noose of a mortgage round their neck for 25 years and are happy to upgrade the council house they live in.
When I got married in 1975 we were allocated a brand new two bedroom and boxroom house with a kitchen /diner sitting room and back and front gardens .It was "normal" in this area for newly weds to get these new homes.We stayed in ours for 8 years until we had our business established and then bought a flat
.I'm still freinds with many of my neighbours from then who still live in their first homes, a lot who didn't buy them ,most of the ones who did made a killing on selling them on and depriving young families like them from the council houses thay were so pleased to get.

absent Wed 16-Jan-19 01:19:42

I am well aware of how hard times in the past were for many, but the world has changed. Obviously contemporary expectations are rather different from those of our grandparents' times, but day-to-day life has also changed dramatically since we were young. Look at the increases over the years in water rates, fuel bills, rents, house prices, fares, petrol prices (some people cannot function without a car because of the cuts in public transport) and so on, then think about the increases in what people earn – not the top of the scale people but those who do low- and middle-paid jobs and have to stretch every penny to survive. The differential between the haves and have-nots, which has always been unfair in the UK (and many other countries), is now so disproportionate it is ridiculous.

In the past, among the poorest both mother and father had to work to make ends meet, but otherwise it was very common for mums to be homemaker and for dad's wages/salary to be enough to support the family – not necessarily in luxury, but adequately. Nowadays, few families can function without both parents being in full-time paid work. That is the reason why granny duty is so widespread now, but wasn't when we were kids.

The economics of managing a family, even a small one, are complex. Yes, it would have helped if traditional cookery lessons hadn't been abandoned in schools. Yes, if you work a night shift, you might well have time to do some careful frugal shopping during the day, if only your body clock wasn't all over the place.

It is easy to sit back and make judgements about other people – as if we don't all have failings and weaknesses. I'm not sure that we can walk in someone else's shoes until we have to wear the same shoes, but I think we need – and our media needs – to bite tongues a bit more often.

M0nica Wed 16-Jan-19 10:30:00

Paddyann The attitude in the south has only been different since the numbers of people in the south unable to afford to rent any property has become so critical. The housing situation in the northeast, northwest and parts of the midlands is far less critical than in the south east.

newnanny Wed 16-Jan-19 11:16:34

I think it would be very hard for an elderly couple who had raised their children in a three or four bed home to have to move into a one bed home. However i agree when faced with that choice or a family with three or four children living in B&B then the family with children should be given the larger home. That way both families do have a home. Also elderly couple might be reminded that when they had small children they were given a home and chance to raise their family so they should not deny another family the same security.

I really feel strongly that if your income is above X you should not be allowed to remain in SH. It is just unfair.

Fennel Wed 16-Jan-19 11:55:41

Another point about the N/S divide - the cost of houses.
You can buy a nice little Tyneside flat for 40-50k. But probably income is lower here.

M0nica Wed 16-Jan-19 19:12:16

What people in social housing want is stability. It should be possible to give tenants long term tenancies tied to age or family circumstances. for example. while there are children under 25 or dependent relatives still living at home, or until the age of 60 or similar, with discussions on alternative accommodation in the run up to that.