Healthy Cheap Food: How to do it Right
Recently, I was introduced by an ex-colleague to a food blog in the UK that focusses on healthy cheap food.
This isn’t just any food blog. It wasn’t written by someone who’s love of food prompted them to see if they could ‘make a bit of money’ or ‘get a following of fellow foodies’, but rather a blog about survival. About food and survival.
Life can be a struggle
Ms Jack Munroe, Southend on Sea, as she signs off each blogpost, hit hard times. She was in a good job, had a nice home and a three year old son. Unable to manage, she had to leave the job and 18 months down the line is still looking for work. I don’t mean looking for a few jobs a week, but hundreds. Any job. She can hardly manage on the assistance she receives and, as a way to cope, she starts blogging about how she’s managing on £10 a week for groceries. Making tasty food that is not just lentils.
I’ve read a lot of her posts, in fact I couldn’t stop! You really feel – no, you go through her struggle with her, her pain when her son asks for more food than the weetbix with water he’s just eaten for dinner when she’s had none, her frustration at the 14 job applications she submitted in one day with no response and you share in her joy when she gets a trial, and eventual job, pulling pints in a pub.
She produces recipes at such a low cost, it’s amazing. She’s still crawling her way out of back payments on rent and utilities and shares a room with her son in a flat with 5 people, but she’s inspiring.
Sharing Through Volunteering
Jack’s story made me think back about the Voedselbank (Food Bank) here in Amsterdam. People who are earning much/anything can pick up a box of, usually expired or nearly expired, food each week. The Voedselbank actually started another foundation called Op Eigen Kracht (on Your Own Strength) which is where I volunteer occasionally.
Hille, who runs Op Eigen Kracht, approached me and asked me to write and give a workshop to different groups around Amsterdam who receive food boxes from the Voedselbank. So since January I’ve been talking to groups about:
- What is ‘Healthy Eating’?
- How can you shop inexpensively?
- How can you make your food last longer?
I’m always surprised by the enthusiastic response to the talk and encouraged by how much people want to learn. I wanted to volunteer a year previously with the Voedselbank and give people that wouldn’t be able to afford my services access to good nutrition information, but at the time my Dutch was almost non-existent and I didn’t have access to this group of individuals in another way.
Doing More with Less
Before I came across Jack’s blog, I had seen some books such as How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet…- by Gill Holcombe and Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 Budget Meals, but none of these gave any practical prices or where to buy these cheap ingredients specifically.
Since I’ve been in Amsterdam I’ve seen a fantastic book that the Voedselbank uses, called (I’ve forgotten the name and will add it later!), but of course it’s only in Dutch. So, until I find an English alternative I am loving Jack’s blog!