of four on $125 a week can only be done if you buy "junk" food according to the manager of one of the major supermarkets - or so it was reported.
The Senior Cat read this in the state newspaper and then pounced on me. Was this really so?
I hastened to reassure him it was not. I could, I told him, feed a family of four on that money and they would not eat "junk". They would not be eating fillet steak but they would still be eating good food.
As I had to do a supermarket shop later in the morning I also looked around there. Could I really do it? Yes, I could. Would there be fruit and vegetables? Yes - those 5kg bags of potatoes on special this week and those bananas are a good price. I prowled on. Breakfast cereal - yes, those wheat or oat "bix" - 48 in a packet with the plain unbranded milk. A loaf of wholegrain bread - yesterday's bread at cut price... Eggs - an egg sandwich for lunch for the two school goers? Meat? If you eat it then those chicken legs are an absolute bargain, a good size too.
By the time I had bought our essentials I knew I could, if I had to, come in below that budget. No, they wouldn't be the most exciting and lavish meals but it would be good food - and there might even be the occasional treat. I wouldn't need to buy "junk". I wouldn't be buying cheap fresh white bread and "home brand" jam overloaded with sugar either.
I pondered this as I pedalled home. Why did the manager say it was hard to do?
I think the answer may be that, if both parents go to work, there is less time to prepare food. They want the fast options - which means they want to buy more items which have already been at least partly prepared. There is "no time" to cook - even if they know how to cook. Their children don't always eat with them or eat the same foods. There are other issues too but I suspect that the time and knowledge issues are big issues.
I was taught how to cook by my paternal grandmother. I know I was very, very lucky. I have taught Ms W to cook - and she has had lessons from other people too. She wanted to learn because she cares desperately about caring for her father. He can cook but says it tends to be "plain and ordinary". Hers is more adventurous - but she stays within budget. She has a friend of Italian extraction who is encouraged to cook as well. Between them they catered for a "dinner party" for her friend's grandmother on her birthday. From all accounts it was very successful - and they appreciated some help cleaning up afterwards.
But it seems most children and teens will never get that sort of help or chance so I suppose they will struggle to feed their families on the equivalent of $125 a week when the time comes.
It is an unhappy scenario. Food should be interesting. It's a major part of life!