Once upon a time, there was a mythical land, filled with good and inexpensive things to eat, called The Reduced Section. Most people were unaware that it even existed, busily filling their trolleys with artisan olive bread and organic cucumber dip, pouring their money into the hands of the Man, who laughed his big corporate laugh all the way to the bank. The Reduced Section was Nirvana for the skint intrepid explorer; crammed with slightly dented tins and sauces without labels, stuffed with pizza bases and crumpets that had a week’s shelf life to go. Yesterday, I found this mythical land. It felt like this:
My reduced haul included crumpets, pizza bases, cereal with a broken cardboard box and 30p soya milk (yes, 1l for 30p!) and best of all, some of that fancy bread that princesses eat (ie. ciabatta) down from £1.20 to 20p! I am going to make some posh garlic bread with that, yes I am. 🙂 The reason that the quest for yellow stickers was a quest, rather than a simple look-around, was that Sainsbury’s has placed their reduced section in the far corner of the pet food aisles. In fact, if you haven’t got a cat of a specific age and breed, you would never see these few little shelves at all. We went to town, my partner and I, because we had already bought every essential item that we needed and still had a few pounds left of our 15 quid. The fact is, this foodbank fast is getting easier.
I actually feel like it’s a little unfair, how easy it is. For example, I had so much stuff left from my last shop that my third shop was little more than topping up. I feel quite guilty that I am building up a nearly-full storecupboard, when the reality of foodbank handouts is often that 3 visits is the limit. My other half recently met a man on disability benefits who has had his benefits changed, and subsequently used up his three foodbank parcels whilst trying to repay massive debts. Under this government, the most vulnerable are suffering. We are very privileged in comparison, and we hope that this experience will change the way we eat from now on. All of the money we save this Lent will be donated to End Hunger Fast, and perhaps this habit of saving and donating could become permanent. I certainly don’t need to spend £3.00 on overfished cod fish fingers, for instance, when Sainsbury’s offers a Basics 10-pack of MSC certified pollock fish fingers for just 60p. Little savings add up, and if I don’t need that £2.40 I just saved, then someone else will.
We’ve learned a lot during the last week, about how to make the most of what we have. We have been buying one form of carbohydrate on each shop, going without meat and making sure we eat lots of cheap non-animal protein such as lentils and beans, making big batches of re-heatable meals and using cauliflower leaves as our only greens (delicious, by the way). Shop 3 was £14.63 altogether, our best shop yet, and Lent is only just beginning. As we journey with our Lord through the wilderness, we are realising that the well-packaged and overpriced temptations that the supermarkets offer are just that: temptations, which turn out to be worthless when we find out that more money does not equal better food.
Until next time,