I am not an advocate of ready meals, I am not a great cook but I am starting to enjoy it even if I am only cooking for one. However, having recently had my employment and support allowance cut back to the basic amount as I wait for an appeal, I have had to eat for less money. This is not easy when you have a wheat allergy and the cheapest you can buy a loaf of bread for is £1.79!
I wandered into my local Iceland recently and left with a few ready meals (mostly curry), all naturally wheat free and the most expensive one was £1. I ended up with dinners for 4 days at a total of £7.50 and if I had tried making any of the meals from scratch it would have cost me more than that for all the ingredients. Obviously, if I had all the ingredients in already it would be around the same price as a ready meal but I didn’t and still don’t. This is why people shop in places like Iceland, it isn’t just to do with a ready meal taking less time to cook but because it can often be cheaper. For example, Tesco sell 3 everyday value ready meals that are wheat free – chicken korma and rice, cottage pie and fish pie and they are all very tasty and just 95p each! The only addition needed to the 2 pies are a few peas or carrots (I had both) and you have a quick meal.
Buying ingredients is not necessarily cheaper at least in the long term. You can buy a kilo of carrots relatively cheaply but I live alone and unless I eat carrots every day they go off before I can eat them all as it only takes 1 or 2 carrots for me to have as a vegetable accompaniment to my meal. Potatoes don’t last here either for the same reason but, with the exception of new or baking potatoes, I can’t buy any loose ones unlike carrots.
An increase in the global price of wheat doesn’t affect me in the main as I don’t buy anything containing wheat but I have noticed that the price of food is going up anyway, not by much but when you don’t have much, an increase of just a few pence is a lot!
I am fortunate to live a short walk from the local food-bank which I have had to use twice in recent weeks but it does take the pressure off and they are willing to add extras into my supply because of my wheat allergy, each time I got the pulses that no one else wanted! I have resigned myself to giving up meat for the foreseeable and will be wandering down to the Asian supermarket to stock up on lentils and chickpeas.
So, next time you see someone leave Iceland with bags of ready meals or you see me hovering around the reduced and dented tin sections in Tesco, spare a thought, we could both be spending our last few pounds on a week’s worth of food.
Once you have read this, please don’t pity me, that isn’t the reason for the post. I am quite accepting when it comes to my current situation and I am genuinely looking forward to having tons of pulses in my kitchen as I love them! However, if you can, when you next go shopping, buy a little something extra and donate it to your nearest food-bank as it could help someone you know.
You can find more information and your local food-bank here