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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Benefit Scrounger

I started out earlier wondering how someone can manage from scratch with £12 for the next 7 days.

Imagine that just before Christmas you left your abusive partner and found temporary accommodation for you and your 2 kids under 5.  You left in a hurry with the clothes on your back and a very small amount of money to get through Christmas and into January.

You are now very very short of money (just like many people at this time of the year).  Your cupboards are empty and you have £12 to feed yourself and your 2 kids for the next 7 days.  You can’t ask for help of friends and family, you’re completely alone.

You have no back up provisions apart from 1 packet of spaghetti, 1 toilet roll and 1 tin of tomatoes. Here is your shopping list:

6 eggs
500 gm minced beef
6 sausages
12 fish fingers
1 kg potatoes
500 gms Onions
4 Carrots
1 cabbage
2 loaves of bread

Child cough medicine
4 toilet rolls
1 surface cleaner

You get to the check out and you are over by £3.50. What will you leave behind.

I asked my friends on Facebook…the majority leaving out the cleaner and the cough medicine.  So having established that, what will be your meal plans for the next 7 days? I’ve done one…it’s tough.

Monday Tuesday Weds Thurs Fri Sat
Breakfast Dry toast 2 slices each Dry toast 2 slices each Dry toast 2 slices each Dry toast 2 slices each Dry toast 2 slices each Last 2 eggs Eggy Bread 3 slices
No seasoning
Midday Spag Bol using 1/2 mince & half 2 Onion soup + 2 potatoes 3 sausages, mash, 1/4 cabbage 2 carrots for soup + 1  potato Cabbage soup with 1/2 cab Cabbage soup
1/2 tin toms and one onion for thickening No seasoning. No seasoning
no seasoning No seasoning No gravy, no seasoning
Early evening Omellete 2 eggs 3 slices of toast 2 sausages for 3 sandwiches 3 potatoes make chips 2 eggs for eggy bread 3 slices Fishfingers 2 each & chips Fishfinger sandwiches 6 slices
Omlette divided for 3. no spread No spread/seasoning No seasoning No seasoning No seasoning No seasoning/spread

I am still working on Sunday main meal. Cottage Pie with the last 250 grams of the mince, last of the pots, onion (probably no onion left now) and the carrot. Plus some cabbage.  No season, no gravy apart from that made with the tinned tom and water.

You may have noticed there is no milk…often a staple for young children, no cereal…let’s hope they get breakfast at school!
I have heard so many people saying they could manage easily on hardly any money…and I am pretty sure that they forget all the often essential items they actually have at the outset.  If you ever been on a truly self catering holiday you will know that those small basics can make such a big difference to what we’re serving up each day.
How would you cope? Do you have the skills to cope?  A friend mentioned foraging (common here in France, but in a large city in UK??)  Another friend would very sensibly ditch the sausage and  fish fingers replacing with lentils and chicken…and then we need to consider food education and how well our “Benefit Scrounger?” has been taught both at home and school.
I cannot imagine a day in day out struggle to provide food like this for my growing kids let alone how bland and boring it is.  No tea, no coffee, no wine, no milk, not a luxury in sight.
I used the Benefit Scrounger title to get attention.  So often we don’t see the real lives of the truly poor and desperate people living their lives behind closed doors.
I am grateful I have choices, money, a roof over my head and food in my house.