The Cost of Survival…

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

Non-food items.

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?

4 thoughts on “The Cost of Survival…

  1. hi Ron. i am just about to do my monthly online shop… doing it monthly means i save £10.30 minimum on delivery charges per month or around £44 a month on taxi fares.
    Wiltshire or any other type of ham or other cooked meats to me are not a luxury. tho yes can be costly. (beauty of going to a supermarket personally is you can see discounted stuff which isn’t always online, i go with my daughter sometimes to Morrison and often one or more of their meats are reduced to 99p per 100gms.i pick some up then as extras) but i also buy in for sandwiches which are my staple for tea. i always try to have a dinner at lunch time.

    pigs are occasionally factory farmed over here though depends on what you mean by factory farmed. my ex worked at a farm which was as near to being factory farming as i imagine it could be. conveyor belt like when putting the boar to the pig, nothing natural about it, killing of piglets that aren’t quite as the farmer thinks they should be. and pigs/piglets kept indoors 24/7

    breakfast biscuits are a bit dry but ok to nibble on. i have often taken them with me on a drive out n sat eating them if i got hungry,

  2. Hi Ron and everyone. I’m 1 of the unlucky sods to be a new claimant of ESA I’m in the assessment stage ie haven’t reached 14 week mark and nowhere near yet, £70 pw is a joke ( which I did say to DWP when I found out) it’s not living it’s barely surviving. I had my ATOs form before I even had my 1st payment from the buggers, anyway I got my daughter to help with it. I did a bit of research about the examination that I will inevitably have to go for in a few weeks and apparently the score should be 15 points or more to carry on getting ESA, should be fun. Will keep you updated. Anyway a bit of history, I went to see my GP with what I thought was a bit of RSI about 10 yrs ago, turns out it was osteoarthritis so hello painkillers ) and put on sick for 3 months ( still on it now), she also told me I had asthma hello inhalers. About 3 years ago I was really ill new GP said chest infection hello antibiotics and new inhalers, well that 1 lasted about 1 month followed in 2011 with another 1 which lasted 3 months and put me on my back most of the time. 2012 yet a 3rd 1 so referred to respiratory clinic at hospital oh joy, after all the usual tests ie lung function CT scan bloods etc I was told my asthma is COPD, lung function was at 25% so yet another sick note from consultant this time and inhalers changed again, I was managing it all until 3 weeks ago hello chest infection and antibiotics and steroids again, still feeling pretty crap now but this bugger hit hard. Now lets see how many points I get from the dreaded ATOS, they’ll probably say I’m fit as a fiddle and go get a bloody job 🙂

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