Working Mum, Beth Kitchen, Accepts The £30 Shop Challenge:
‘I decided after seeing all the food packages that the government thought were acceptable, that I would see how much food I could actually get for £30.
The infamous Government ‘Food Hamper’
I have been in circumstances myself a couple of times in my life where I had to do my weekly shop on just £10 a week, providing for myself and my 2 children. Living on a budget is hard, and people don’t realise what it is like to chose between foods that you would think aren’t a luxury, more of a necessity, so that you don’t over spend the £10 you have. You have to adapt – learn tricks and it encouraged me to try new foods and develop my skills in the kitchen. And even now I am ok for money, I am still in habits that means if I can save money, I will.
I am now in a position, where I can buy my own shop and a £30 shop for someone else. So why not.? I may need the support someday, you never know when the tables may turn.
I was also infuriated by the stereotype accusations that were being made about the families who were accessing the food vouchers and also food banks. The families are in need. They are not “families who have been on benefits all their lives”.
A lot of the people asking for support, are frontline care workers, nurses, teaching assistants – who have contracted COVID and have subsequently got long COVID, meaning they are unable to work. Or families who have been stable for years, but all incomes have stopped due to redundancies.
Myself, I have worked since I was 16 and I have a good career, yet I have had weeks where I found myself with one £10 note in my purse.
I wanted to help and show that, using my past experience, you can buy a lot of food for the £30 and it can be balanced and nutritious. My aim was to fill a families cupboards, so where I have brought 5 bags of pasta (3 being wholewheat), on a weekly basis you wouldn’t buy this. Instead you would add a bag of carrots, a bag of potatoes, eggs, milk and maybe some meat. I used to buy meat with the yellow stickers “ooopsie” on and freeze. If I couldn’t afford meat I would replace it with a cheaper protein alternative such as lentils that are 53p a bag.
However, the other fact that you need to think about, is that some of these families do not own or can not afford to run and fridge and freezer. They may not have a hob, just a microwave or kettle.
All the food I purchased can be cooked in the most simple ways, but having a tasty and balanced meal.
I have also been following master chef winner, Simon Wood and his journey in helping families cook simple, budget meals which are on his Instagram and the hashtag #feedingfamiliesfor30. He has also set up a website, www.feedingfamilieswithsimonwood.co.uk which has all the recipes and videos on to show people how to cook them.
My daughter, who is 6, loves cooking and often cooks meals for us. She has made many meals using 3 or 4 ingredients with minimal cooking prep. Some of her favourites are cheats carbonara, which is spaghetti, soft cheese and wafer thin ham. This works out as £1.70 for all these ingredients, and you won’t use all of these in that one meal. You would then maybe make cauliflower cheese with the left over soft cheese and lentil spaghetti bolognese with the left over spaghetti.
Another favourite is chicken pie. This can all be done with a microwave and kettle – simply defrost the frozen chicken strips In the microwave, add a tin of chicken soup, and add on top some smash (add some butter into it if you are able) or sliced cooked potatoes or ready roll pastry; pop in the oven and serve with some tinned peas.
I ordered my food shop to a click and collect service, and decided I would donate it to my local village food bank “milnrow pantry”. I love my community and I am always keen to help out and get involved in community projects. “Milnrow pantry” had only been open a couple of weeks and I thought I would share my photo of all the food and challenge people on Facebook to see if they could beat me, and then donate the food to local food banks.
I spent £30 and got 49 items for this, these items should feed a family of 4 for over 2 weeks.
Beth’s £30 Shop
Myself and my friends are very competitive, but they also know I am very thrifty with my money, so I am excited to see if anyone beats me. But more importantly, the challenge will result in families in need, being able to have one of the basic needs in life – food.
I would encourage anyone to try the challenge but if you can’t afford £30, try seeing what you can buy on £10 or £20, or even why not see if you can buy a “meal kit” for £2. It is still 1 meal for a family who may have gone without. It doesn’t have to be weekly, just whenever you can, maybe on payday’.
Take a photo and use the hashtags #feedingfamiliesfor30