So as a follow-up to my Cost of Living post, I bought this book:
Partly because we are still spending far more on food shopping than I would like, and I am keen to see how else we can cut down. Partly because I am always up for trying new recipes out!
Now, apart from the usual recommendations to shop around for deals and buy frozen fruit and veg etc, this book was an eye opener.
Firstly, this book was published in 2020. I suspect that right now it would cost more like £30 a week to cook the same meals due to inflation.
Secondly, in order to make a budget of £20 a week work, you have to plan not just a month of meals as I have been doing, but a whopping 8 weeks of meals at a time. So the only way to reduce the initial costs is to buy 2 month’s worth of groceries in bulk and then freeze everything.
You need to have £160 upfront for the food shop, as well as a massive freezer and a willingness to meticulously plan 3 meals a day for 8 weeks and stick to it without deviation, in order to get the costs down to £20 a week. And if we are adjusting for inflation it would be more like £240 upfront. For many people living week to week on benefits that is just not possible to achieve. it also doesn’t allow a lot of flexibility if a friend comes to stay or you have extra leftovers to use up, etc.
Thirdly, this book assumes that you have the time and willingness to do things lilke make your own yoghurt. The amount of time and effort involved in making your own bircher muesli, or overnight oats, breakfast muffins, and so on, as well as cooked lunches and dinners, quiches and stews, could only be achieved by a stay at home parent with no other employment.
If you had a full time job, and let’s say you couldn’t find the time to make your own yoghurt every week, your budget is immediately blown. It also doesn’t factor in things like packed lunches and snacks for children or fussy eaters who won’t eat 3 or 4 of the recipes in the 8-week plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like this book and we will definitely be trying lots of the recipes and I may well start factoring these into my monthly meal plans, but reading it and understanding the enormous level of effort involved in getting your meals down to £20 a week is mind-blowing.
And it once again makes me realise how terribly out of touch our government is that they think poor people are just crap at shopping on a budget or don’t know how to batch cook meals etc. For someone living on this budget, figuring out how to cut every single corner there is to save a few pennies and making their own damn yoghurt, it’s an absolute smack in the face to be treated in such a condescending manner by people earning obscene salaries and getting expenses for their second homes….