OK, as titles go it might seem a little melodramatic, but few things are more essential to survival than food and, once again, I find myself staggered by the cost of a week’s groceries. The following, including a week’s ready-meals, currently comes to £71.00 delivered. In reality it’ll be somewhat lower, as there’s always something not available and, at Sainsbury’s, it’s not possible to specify alternatives.
Cupboard or freezer stock.
1 x Allinson Wholemeal Medium Batch Bread 800g – Total Price GBP 1.50
1 x Fattorie Giacobazzi Cruet Balsamic Vinegar 250ml – Total Price GBP 2.04
3 x John West No Drain Tuna Steak With A Little Sunflower Oil 130g – Total Price GBP 4.18
6 x John West Sardines In Sunflower Oil Skinless & Boneless 95g – Total Price GBP 3.96
2 x Sainsbury’s Steak & Kidney Shortcrust Pastry Pie 235g – Total Price GBP 3.50
2 x Holland’s Meat Pie 142g – Total Price GBP 2.00
2 x Sainsbury’s Broccoli, Cheese & Tomato Quiche 170g – Total Price GBP 2.40
1 x Sainsbury’s Lean Beef Steak Mince 750g – Total Price GBP 5.50
Ready-meals for the week.
1 x Sainsbury’s Beef Stew 450g – Total Price GBP 2.30
1 x Sainsbury’s British Classic Braised Steak 450g – Total Price GBP 2.40
1 x Sainsbury’s Classic Liver & Bacon With Mash 450g – Total Price GBP 2.30
1 x Sainsbury’s Classic Minced Beef Cobbler 450g – Total Price GBP 2.30
1 x Sainsbury’s British Classic Minced Beef Hotpot 450g – Total Price GBP 2.30
1 x Sainsbury’s British Classic Shepherds Pie 450g – Total Price GBP 2.30
1 x Sainsbury’s Classic Cottage Pie Meal 450g – Total Price GBP 2.60
Odds and sods.
1 x Sainsbury’s Wiltshire Cured Ham, Taste the Difference 240g – Total Price GBP 4.00
1 x Sainsbury’s St Helens Farm Goats Cheese 240g – Total Price GBP 3.00
1 x McVitie’s Breakfast Oats Biscuits, Oat & Honey 6×4 – Total Price GBP 1.14
1 x McVitie’s Breakfast Oats Biscuits, Apple, Sultana & Cinnamon x6 – Total Price GBP 1.14
2 x Robinsons Double Concentrate Orange Squash, No Added Sugar 1.25L – Total Price GBP 5.30
1 x Sainsbury’s French Mayonnaise 500ml – Total Price GBP 1.59
1 x Sainsbury’s Rcycled Big Roll Kitchen Towel 4×75 Sheets – Total Price GBP 4.20
2 x Savlon Antiseptic Dry Spray 50ml – Total Price GBP 5.88
As you can see there are no treats,** or luxuries here, only essentials, and it represents slightly more than half my pension.
**Well, OK, the Wiltshire cure ham isn’t absolutely essential, but as I don’t drink or smoke, or go out at all (though I’m hoping that will change when the weather bucks up**), I reckon I’m entitled to the occasional indulgence.
**I can’t wear boots, shoes, or even socks (feet are too swollen), and bare feet at this time of year, even in a powerchair, is a seriously bad idea.
Of course, were I still able to cook for myself, the price would come crashing down but, like a lot of disabled people, I’m not. There’s meals on wheels, which a few of my neighbours get but, while I have no idea what they cost, the portions are really tiny.
The ready-meals are, as you might have noticed, all beef-based. That’s because I won’t buy chicken unless it’s free-range and organic, and what’s in the meals is neither – probably knackered old battery hens – and I’ve not seen any pork-based meals, but they’d carry similar baggage to the chickens if the meat is imported.** I might try lamb next time, but I generally avoid it as it can be fatty (Tesco lamb meals, by the way, are fine).
**Pigs are often factory-farmed in other countries.
The mince is to make a batch of my own ready meals, if I’m able to (if not it goes in the freezer until I am).
The breakfast biscuits are a new venture. I haven’t eaten breakfast for decades, but these days the day invariably starts with crippling nausea, and I’m hoping a snack like this might do some good.
The orange squash looks like an indulgence, but that’ll last for a month, on average, and Sainsbury’s French mayo is arguably the best supermarket mayo available, tastes way better than Hellman’s, and is much lower in salt, too. Few things are better, when I’m feeling crappy, than a plate of crunchy, salty, chips, with a puddle of mayo to dunk them in.
I do get through a surprising amount of balsamic vinegar, as it’s excellent on canned fish (this brand is one of the best of the cheaper range). Also, if I’m too buggered even to nuke a meal in the microwave, a small bowl of olive oil and balsamic, with a little sea salt and some decent bread to dunk in it, makes a passable meal. It’s also good for perking up ready-meals – just stir a little into the gravy, or drizzle it on fish, or otherwise dull vegetables.
The alternative to shopping online, by the way, is to load my powerchair into a taxi and do it in person. I might find a few more special offers that way, but it won’t compensate for the almost £20 return taxi fare!
All of which makes me wonder how, if I were younger and sucked into the massively dishonest ESA/PIP shambles, I could possibly afford to even eat – the fact that I’m terminally ill is unlikely to stop the bastards at Atos finding me fit for work, or denying me PIP.
And, by extension, how the hell do others, in my position, who fall foul of Atos manage? Or even pensioners without the “luxury” of DLA?