Thursday, 28 February 2013

Emergency Rations

What does your shopping list look like when you are literally broke, and also exhausted, when you have a tendency to not eat at all over eating something you don't fancy (or spending time making something) and also have a child who would no sooner eat a lentil than he would walk on the moon?

Well for me, it firstly looks like making sure said child is either at childcare or off on jolly adventures with friends/family covering as many mealtimes as possible. Making excuses when people suggest coming over for lunch, while wildly accepting any offer of lunch anyone else accepts. This is horrible. I intend to pay back fully all lunch (and dinner, and breakfast) debts as soon as I am in a position to do so.

For work lunches, which if I was being lazy would typically cost me £2-4 per day:
6 tins of value soup @ 24 pence each
2 tins of not-value-honestly-look-at-all-our-colours-on-the-label soup, which had a slightly more interesting sounding flavour, @ 42p, and an adventurous tin of Scotch Broth (because it sounded filling, and I was hungry all afternoon after my tomato soup today) @ 59p.
6 pot noodles at 3 for £2
2 value "pot noodles" @ 35p which require additional flavouring to be added. (Curry paste has many uses!)

For at home when I'm too tired to even try:
Broken mandarin segments @ 23p per small can (in 2004 you could get a full-sized can of peaches for 6 or 7 pence, but alas no more.)
Tesco "8p" noodles, which now cost 28 pence!!
Value bread @ 50p per loaf, for toasting straight from the freezer (so it doesn't go off)
Lemon curd and (probably horrible) marmalade @ 27p each, and a tub of squeezy marmite in my cupboard, to make the value toast seem actually appealing.
Tuna for eating straight out of the tin. About £1 per tin. My excuse is that I can also stretch it out with pasta, but I don't always do this.

You'll notice this is all the stuff that doesn't spoil, because there's no point in buying fresh food unless I'm absolutely, 100% sure that we will eat it. If we don't eat this stuff, it saves for another day. I buy in bulk - when the supermarkets run their 3kg bags of pasta I am very, very happy. I will do top up shops intermittently, often from the expensive local shops, for things like milk and fresh bread (and again always select the longest life stuff and often choose wholemeal, because it tends to stay fresh longer, and tastes nice even when you buy the dirt cheap option.) Real, salted butter for the toast, sandwiches, and is awesome on pasta, and a nicely stocked storecupboard (when I'm feeling flush!) with spices and other ingredients, tinned tomatoes I am lucky to have an excellent and reasonable greengrocer locally, it's just getting there and remembering to have cash and all of the other things that I'm too disorganised or too tired or too whatever to remember to do.

I buy things like sausages, fish fingers and chicken nuggets when they're on offer (because they're awful when really cheap, often on offer, and my son likes them) and 1kg bags of frozen vegetables for £1 because, again, they don't go mouldy. I try to convince myself that it doesn't matter if he eats the same thing every day when he's at home, because he's eating 80% of his lunch and dinner meals elsewhere anyway. And I promise myself that I will fix it later, when I'm not so busy, not so poor, not so exhausted.

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