Friday 5 July 2013

Embarrassed, Frustrated and feeling Very Very Fortunate

An awful title but it sums up my feelings right now. I went to the PO delivery office in Wisbech to pick our parcels. This is situated just behind Mr T's Emporium so like most other folks I availed myself of their car park and walked through. More about my parcel at another date.

I only had a few things to buy so popped in and grabbed a trolley. Just inside they have a stand set up to collect non perishable foods for a local food bank, Mr T has pledged to top up all donations by 30%.

For the last little while we have been living out of the freezer and larder just buying dairy, fruit and veg. I have saved a tidy sum even though during this time I happened upon a few bargains and snaffled them up.

I had a quick think and ran through my blessings in my head while doing my shop, £9 63. I set my weekly budget at £50, I could cut that but I am fortunate in that I do not have to.

If I was facing the wall I would want to slash that to to minimum so having thunked I decided to put my shopping in the car and take my trolley back and see what it would cost for a week using the basic range.
I started off with the basics, pasta, rice, tinned potatoes, peas and carrots, remember these have to be non perishable, I added 1 tin each of tuna, corned beef, spam and luncheon meat, 2 jars of pasta sauce. Then it was baked beans, spaghetti, 2 each of those, then 1 each of macaroni cheese,  spaghetti bolognese, beans and sausages. I added a bottle of tomato ketchup, 2 bottles of squash 1 orange and 1 blackcurrant with apple, 1 family pack of custard creams and 1 pack of jaffa cakes, then I went back to tins and added 1 rice pudding and 1 custard.
Merrily through the checkout and WOW how cheap a third of the £25 I had in mind.

I took it to the very nice girl manning the display ( A dead ringer for Adele BTW) and handed it over.
I went back and bought it all again but twice as much,
 I added coffee, tea and hot chocolate as extras, I don't know how I forgot them in the first place, that added £2. ish to each of the 3 shops, so over budget but completely my own fault. Reading this I realise that I forgot sugar, that is because we do not use it. Duh!

Now as to the title,
 I am embarrassed that I have not done this before, I have read many articles about how essentials food banks are becoming.
I am frustrated that I could not give fresh food.
And I feel very very fortunate that I was able  to make this small gesture today.

Reasons to be grateful,

1. I do not have any financial worries.

2. The sun is shining.

3. My wonderful parcel from America.

4. I do not have to go to work tonight.

5. I do not HAVE to go to work, I choose to.

I am not a "do gooder" sort of person, I do not feel the need to stroke my ego or do the "lady bountiful" thing.
Today everything was in the right place and I did what I felt was right for ME.
I do not think that it is the answer, teaching basic skills in cooking, shopping and setting a budget would be a good step. The question is who should and could take it on and how do you tell a woman with 3 children and a husband living in very basic accommodation struggling to pay fuel bills that she has to do this. It is demeaning enough to have to literally beg for food without somebody inferring that it is your own fault for not having a certain skill set.

Her comes my good fortune again, I grew up learning these skills without realizing it. I have friends who never got the chance to learn, they were never allowed to stand next to mother/ grandmother and watch pastry being made and pie fillings cooked, bread being made and a massive rice pudding slid into the oven to cook in the residual heat and provide a sweet finish to dinner.
Never shown how to cook up a chicken carcass to make stock and soup for pennies, or how to stretch a joint of meat   to 3 or even 4 days meals.

Enough, cease and desist !

I had planned to show some sewing today, really thrifty pretty sewing but that can wait for another day.
I will get off now and play in the kitchen.                TTFN    Pam


  1. That was nice. The cynic in me wonders if the supermarket would still top a donation up by 30% if it came from a different supermarket, but the main thing is that people in need get food, so good for them. Anyway, it is a pleasure to do something good for others even if you don't know them. I was taught thrifty skills by my mum (brought up in the war, didn't ever believe rationing was over!) and cookery by my school; hated it at the time but oh boy am I glad I was forced to do cookery for 3 or 4 years!

  2. It's sad that these food banks are becoming more and more necessary in this day and age.The one local to me is run by the local churches , different denominations joining forces.They have permanent bins set up in the local sainsbugs as well as other places.As well as food they offer counselling services, budget help,and other practical support which I think is a good thing as you say.Sainsbugs have had a deal on lately where if you spend a certain amount you get a free pack of nappies and I have seen the foodbank wheelie bins overflowing with nappies donated by people with no little ones the past weeks.It all helps someone in real need.I usually pop an item in each visit, little and often I don't notice the impact on my food budget at all.That was a lovely gesture for you to make and well thought out xx

  3. Hi Pam,
    what a lovely thing to do, because you wanted to and could. Like Attila, I grew up watching my Nan & my Mum and Cookery was taught at school using ingredients from scratch, not like today when pupils are told to bring in a packet mix and jar of sauce to make a homemade pizza.
    Loved your bit of gardening yesterday, it looks lovely. How is Bertie today?

  4. I really feel for the women who are in need, I can only try to imagine how desperate they must be because they can not feed their children. It is an appalling state of affairs and there is no easy answer. We do have a very high immigrant population in the area, I work with people from many countries. Some people have come here looking for the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow, only to find that it is just iron pyrites. I have heard grumblings that foreigners are living on handouts. My response is that every child regardless of race or creed has to be fed and nurtured.

  5. I was a child in the 1950s and my Mum cooked from scratch. My Gran didn't bake at all. Mum made apples pies and suet puddings. Mum didn't really teach me to cook - apart from Viota mixes - I did very little. At School I had cookery lessons so learnt the basics - how to make pastry etc. When I married it was a case of having to cook - so I did - first roast dinner took a while.
    I had children and then husband became seriously ill and couldn't work for 5 years so it was benefits. I built up a stock of bakeware from jumble sales and boot fairs likewise cookery books. Taught myself to bake cakes/biscuits, buns and pies. Made jam, chutney and pickles. Once you have tasted home made cakes etc - you don't want the shop ones.
    I saw bags of chopped onions in a supermarket today - !
    Re living on benefits - been there and done it - if money is spent wisely - possible to live on it. I helped at school jumble sales so I had first pick also ran second hand uniform shop for two schools.

  6. Pam, what a thought provoking post. There but for the grace of God! What a wonderful gesture.X

  7. Hi Pam. I've just been catching up on your blog and thought I'd send a wee note to say how helpful this post has been.

    After reading this I did a quick google and discovered a food bank has been opened up in our region within the past couple of months which I hadn't heard about. Now I have a place to take those extra little bits of food we've been able to purchase when our budget allows.

    I can think of a few people who are in need of food banks (i.e. they do not have money for food) but will unlikely use them. Instead they'll ask for money from family and friends when they don't have food to put on the table... then buy the absolute basic food to allow them to go to the bingo, the betting shop, have their alcohol at the weekend oh and try to pay the loans that have been taken out for them under another person's name... you get the jist. I was one of those people who'd regularly be asked for money and the guilt of knowing that there wasn't money for the little ones to eat would mean I'd pass over the money and try to ignore the fact that the majority of it would be going on non-food items, until the day came and I got so frustrated after numerous failed attempts to help with budgeting, cheaper meals etc and decided, no more.

    It doesn't mean I don't still feel the guilt of being, 'hard' and 'tight with money' though.

    This has been such a ramble, but my point is that now I have somewhere to donate food to reach the people that need it, it will relieve my guilt and hopefully help a family out there somewhere. Thank you for putting the thought of searching for local food banks into my head! Sx


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