Saturday, 29 July 2017

Feeding a family

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!

1 comment:

Jodiebodie said...

I don't know how people can afford to buy most junk food (or any super processed foods). I don't know why they would want to eat junk foods either - many of them are filled with unhealthy additives or have packaging that contributes to the litter stream.

As you know, I have a very tight budget. I rarely buy junk food. The junkiest things I buy would be plain potato crisps (about two large bags a fortnight which get doled out into smaller portions to be eaten across the fortnight) but I only buy if on special; and the occasional packet of muesli/oat bars as a convenient snack to keep in the bag for a quick energy boost in emergencies.

I get at least 4 meals from one large chicken and I make all my meals from scratch. Sometimes it means we don't eat our main meal until 8 pm at night but my kids are happy to wait. After enjoying the benefits of healthy, home prepared meals, they have no taste for the junk foods. We make large batches and freeze portions for those busy evenings when we need a quick meal or when I am too tired to cook.

Our pantry is never fancy, but my children have never gone hungry. The pantry has all the basic staples so if they children want to bake or prepare extra snack foods they can find a recipe and do that - they learn good life skills too. I see other families with children who seem to catch every bug that goes around and my children remain remarkably healthy (and happy!) I always say that a "If a child is truly hungry, the child will eat what's in front of them (providing its edible of course!)."

I have always been disturbed though that healthy options like milk and fresh unstrained fruit juices cost more than the unhealthy soft drink options.

I was also disturbed when a mother of young children who doesn't enjoy plain water introduced cordial to her children's diet because of her own taste preferences when all the evidence is there that sugary drinks with artificial colours are not healthy for children. Condequently, she brings up another generation who will choose an unhealthy beverage option over the healthy. If you start out with water as the main drink in the house, the children know nothing else and they accept in and begin to realise that it will quench their thirst better than anything sweet.

Cat - you always know how to get me going on a topic, don't you? ;-)