Sunday, 28 August 2016

Food & Charity

My meanderings to other people's blogs have inspired me to make some comments about food budgets or food and money.
In no particular order:

  • I think one of the easiest and fastest ways to cut the food budget is to go vegetarian (or semi vegetarian) The money it costs to buy even cheap meat can buy a whole lot of vegetables/ pasta/ legumes or quite a few eggs
  • A few years ago I had an acquaintance who would sometimes offer me to come and  pick up free food after others had taken what they needed. At one of these pick-ups the man was inquiring about my family and I told him that hubby was away visiting family. I was never offered the free food again. The interesting part of this is that I was cut out of the process because he decided I didn't need the help but he didn't really know anything about our circumstances and he didnt check. My husband might have been gifted the tickets, we may have been supporting more people than he realised or there may have been other factors. On a similar note, I have a friend whose husband had a generous income and family assets, he paid for the children to attend private school but she was solely responsible for providing food for their large brood. All of this raises the question of how to fairly distribute food help.
  • I am aware of a group who advertises free packages of very basic items such as bread and potatoes. When recipients arrive to pick up their simple parcel they find that there is a range of other items in the pack, things like bagged salad, fruit and vegetables. I think this is a very clever way of selecting recipients.
  • Once a day our local supermarket brings out a trolley of "aging" produce and customers can fill a small bag with this produce for just a few dollars. ( I recently picked up two punnets of strawberries, one punnet of cherry tomatoes, two leeks and a couple of pears. The regular price would have totaled over $15) For people on a tight budget this discount trolley would be a godsend but there are two problems: the timing is irregular so you would potentially have to wait a few hours to be there at the right time. Also, Nobody knows what will be on the trolley so meal planning would not be possible and the cook would need to be savvy enough to think of potential uses for the produce very quickly before the trolley is empty.
  • I haven't verified this but a friend of mine tells me (and it makes some sense) that a combination of tomatoes and spinach/ chard/ silverbeet provide everything we need from our veggies so if money is tight, these are the things to eat. 


  1. Nice post. Every Monday early morning one of our local grocery stores has deep discounted meats. It is unadvertised and they have to be processed quickly, but they are very discounted and would be a great find for someone with a limited budget.

  2. Assumptions are dangerous and divisive aren't they? I remember a time when having a job was enough to keep the wolf from the door most of the time. Sadly there is now an ever growing group of working poor - even before a crisis hits.
    I don't think our supermarkets do the discounted food thing. I will have to check.

  3. Anne,
    Discounted meats would be highly prized! The only meats I usually see heavily discounted are ones that are extremely pricey to start with so they are probably unsuitable for people with a very tight budget but maybe a nice treat for anyone who can manage to splash out a little.

  4. EC,
    There is something wrong with the whole system when people who do plenty of honest work can't afford basic necessities and I think that financial abuse is probably much more pervasive than anyone realises.
    The supermarket I am referring to is a woolworths, i believe they have the same system everywhere.

  5. Thus is the war waging in the world wide economy. Earn less than $350,000(US)per year and your income is the fat that fuels the avarice. Odd how even in retirement I am making 40% less now than when I retired (forced) 16 years ago. Adapting to the ever evolving changes (more taxes,less income) is the new daily work of the once middle class wage earner.

    Funny though that when there is a benefit or program available here in the U.S. the qualifier is always pretax income. We (I) don't particularly care for meatless meals but then one does adapt.

  6. Mark,
    A 40% cut in income is substantial, especially when it probably wasn't high to start with!
    I have just been reading about working people in Sydney who live in their cars because rents are unaffordable.

    Bring on the revolution, I say

  7. British supermarkets have only recently been persuaded to stop throwing away unbought, perishable food but to pass it on to food banks, charities etc. The level of food waste across the country is still absurdly high though, not just from shops and restaurants but from ordinary households that buy more than they need because they don't plan their meals.

  8. Interesting post. As for the final segment, I’ll just say that greens cost a lot here, and the cost is even higher when you consider that once they’re cooked, they’re a fifth to a tenth the size of what you started out with. Peggy likes greens—and I do too—but I prefer to buy frozen ones because they’re a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, this pretty much limits me to spinach.

  9. Nick,
    If i remember correctly Australia wastes almost as much food as it eats so you are in good company with that.
    And supermarkets here are still completely irresponsible. Not only do they throw out a lot of food but they lock the bins so that the intrepid are prohibited from dumpster diving

  10. Snow,
    Why are greens expensive there?

    We can get frozen spinach, frozen broccoli, peas, beans, broadbeans. They can be soggy but I guess better than nothing

  11. “Why are greens expensive there?”

    Food here often gets transported long distances and greens are both fragile and take up a lot of space. Still, something like iceberg lettuce is cheap while chard and collards are so expensive that they qualify in my mind as luxury food. With something I eat raw, the price doesn’t seem too bad, but when I cook it, it’s another matter as there’s so little left that I know I would have done better buying frozen, which really is quite cheap. Unfortunately, spinach is the only green that I can find frozen.

    About transporting food…Here, food is designed not so much for taste but for uniformity and how well it stands up to transport. This results in markedly inferior foods, watermelon being a prime example.

  12. I hate wasting food. Eggs are my usual sin - stupid really considering how much can be done with eggs.
    Meanwhile, I would be a bread and potatoes girl - I admire the ingenuity of that group.

  13. In my local supermarket there is a large wire basket for people to add an item of food from their shopping to the food bank for those that don't have so much. Our church does the same thing.

  14. “We can get frozen spinach, frozen broccoli, peas, beans, broadbeans.”

    I think that broadbeans are what we call string beans here. You know, I would imagine, that freezing in a refrigerator freezer isn’t so good as freezing in a freezer-freezer because of the temperature difference. Also, frozen foods are often fresher than “fresh” foods that aren’t frozen because they are frozen soon after being harvested, and this allows them to retain more nutrients than foods that remain in their harvested state for many days after being picked.

  15. Ms Scarlet,
    We go through eggs like water here so they dont get a chance to go off, fresh fruit and veg are the t hings I dont manage so well but I'm getting better :)

  16. LL cool Joe,
    My church got a basket for food donations just this week. I wish we could provide fresh food to people, non perishables get pretty boring to eat

  17. Snow,
    Broadbeans are bigger and much less tender than string beans. You might call them fava beans?

  18. "You might call them fava beans?"

    I'm not really familiar with fava beans, although I've heard of them.

  19. One grocery store puts out a shopping basket full of reduced produce. The thing is, they take stuff that has been cooling and put it out where it is not cool at all. Usually, that basket has a stench of old, rotting vegetables. The same store puts in a small freezer meat going out of date. These are usually real bargains. If I could eat beef, I would have bought about twenty packages of ground sirloin. The chicken is never a bargain, costing more at half price than at full price elsewhere. Then, there is a deep cooler with dairy reduced in it--yogurt, milk, chocolate milk, oj, etc. You never know what is in this cooler either. I cruise the reduced area when I go into this store. Many days, I leave with nothing. Occasionally, I find a dairy case bargain.


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