You may have seen the headlines recently regarding an MP who stated that people could cook fresh meals from scratch for just 30p a day.
The Trussell Trust, the largest network of food bank providers in the UK, tell us that 2.1 million meals were given out during the period April 2021 – March 2022. This is up 14% from the same period last year. The average person on benefits now has just £57 to live on each week after their housing costs. That needs to cover soaring energy costs, council tax, other bills, food and all other essentials. The simple fact is that income is not in line with the current true cost of living. This doesn’t only apply to people on benefits either, our pensioners are also suffering as well as those who earn average incomes or below.
We had a look to see whether we could manage to cook one day’s meals on 30p. Just to clarify, that’s not a single meal, that’s meals for a whole day. So presuming a person eats breakfast, lunch and tea (or dinner, depending where you are) that’s actually 10p a meal. No snacks.
Our latest set of ‘Cooking on a Budget’ classes started last Wednesday. They’re already fully booked, with a waiting list. We use the cheapest ingredients we can (our recipes are based on Aldi prices as the cheapest supermarket) and we choose recipes which minimise waste. We haven’t yet been able to find a decent example of a well-rounded, filling, nutritious meal which would work out at 10p per portion. (We’ve managed a fruit salad sponge for 11p per portion, but one can hardly live on that and expect to remain healthy. Nor should one have to).
As an example of one of our budget dishes, we have our salmon and sweetcorn chowder:
Tinned potatoes – 34p
Sweetcorn – 20p
Salmon paste – 29p
Stock cube – 5p
Total cost – 88p (44p per portion).
Just to return to this 30p a day claim, or 10p a meal, there is a presumption that people can actually afford to get to a supermarket, especially the lower cost ones. That they can then afford to put the oven on or that they’re not too frightened to use the hob. That they even have the equipment to cook a meal from scratch. That they are in full health and are physically able to cook. That they don’t also have children to feed and clothe too. That they’re not so exhausted from working a minimum wage job all day which doesn’t even cover their bills they can find the energy to put something together.
Our cooking on a budget classes cost around £150.00 per session to run. If you’d like to donate towards them, you can do so here.
Beth Currie - Fundraising & Communications Manager, Huddersfield Mission