What £10 bought for 5 days

I’d like to pretend that I bought all my food from a single
shop, because anyone struggling to live below the poverty line will not have
the time or money to schlep around multiple places.

I nodded in agreement at criticism of this BBC article, which
took a pick and mix approach to combining the cheapest ingredients from three
or four supermarkets in virtually every meal. 

Normally, I do a big online order
every so often from Sainsbury’s, topped up from whichever shop I’m passing in
the few streets round my house. It’s much more about convenience than searching for the lowest price.

But the combination of a tiny budget, fear of hunger and a highly-competitive nature sent me on a tourist trail of local food shops,
driven by the desperate desire to shoe-horn as much as possible onto the list.

After scrabbling through Sainsbury’s bargain bins, an
educational outing to Ridley Road market, a diversion to Iceland for eggs, a side-trip
to Morrisons and a less-then-glamorous late night shopping trip to the
Tottenham Tesco Superstore, I finally ended up buying this:

A symphony in beige.
Just add a box of a dozen eggs, left behind in the fridge

The final list in full:

47p   Loaf of wholemeal
bread (800g, Tesco Everyday Value)  

53p   Skimmed UHT
milk (1 litre, Tesco Everyday Value)  

40p   Long grain
rice (1 kg, Tesco Everyday Value)

19p   Spaghetti
(500g, Tesco Everyday Value)        

75p   Frozen mixed
veg (1 kg, Tesco Everyday Value)  

75p   Mushrooms
(375g, Tesco Everyday Value)       

15p   Can of new
potatoes in water (567g, Tesco Everyday Value)  

27p   Box of 80
tea bags (250g, Tesco Everyday Value) 

15p   Vegetable
stock cubes (box of 10, Tesco Everyday Value)

29p   Strawberry
jam (454g, Tesco Everyday Value)      

65p   Scottish
porridge oats (500g, normal Tesco! Not Everyday Value!)  

35p   Two Gala
apples (235g from Tesco)                  

39p   Can of East
End chick peas in brine (400g from Tesco)         

38p   2 x dented
cans of chopped tomatoes (2 x 400g, Sainsbury’s Basics)  

14p   Dented can
of red kidney beans (400g, Sainsbury’s Basics) 

18p   30g Red
Leicester cheese from the deli counter (Sainsbury’s)  

81p   Cooking
bacon (500g, Morrisons M Savers)

20p   Tin of
pineapple in syrup (425g, Morrisons M Savers)   

50p   Bowl of
carrots (574g from Ridley Road Market)  

50p   Bowl of
onions (682g from Ridley Road Market)  

60p   Pack of TKS garam
masala (100g from Ridley Road Market)  

9p     Bulb of
garlic (shop on the High Street selling garlic by weight)     

£1.25 Box of 12 eggs

Total: £9.99                                                                                                                                   

Ta dah and all a penny under budget. I may yet be able to
justify adding some salt from the store cupboard…

Compared to my first attempt, the second litre of milk and
optimistic packet of sponge mix had gone by the wayside.

However, tracking down cheaper alternatives and a trio
of marked down tins meant I could include the vital tea bags and curry powder,
add an extra 6 eggs, persuade the bemused guy on the Sainsbury’s deli counter to
slice me a smidgen of cheese and stretch to a tin of pineapple and two (count
‘em) apples.

Laid out on the worktop, it looked pretty beige – all that
rice, pasta, bread, oats, eggs, milk, potatoes, onions, garlic, chickpeas and
mushrooms. I’m used to buying a rainbow of colourful fruit and veg. A few
carrots, token apples and a pink bag of bacon didn’t do much to lift the

I fear the lone pot of Everyday Value strawberry jam, our 29p luxury
item, will have its work cut out. No wonder the supermarket value ranges are laden
with a comfort blanket of cheap cakes, biscuits and crisps.

With nothing left of our budget, this is all the food my husband and I have to live on for the next five days.

To donate to Unicef at Live Below the Line, the
global poverty project, click here:


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