Let them eat cake! With a proposed food budget of pound;20 a week, Bill Hicks finds out how the other half lives

30th September 2005 at 01:00
What's the price of a loaf of bread and a pint of milk?

This question, so often used by interviewers to embarrass politicians, film stars, or even, as in a recent survey, iPod-toting teenagers, would certainly not trouble many of our TES forum users, if a busy thread in the personal forum last week was anything to go by.

First an apology: if this column is more disjointed than usual, it is because while writing it, I was also having a little skirmish with a rogue poster who thought it would be clever to start lots of threads with naughty titles such as "cum", "pooh" and "wee". Every few minutes I had to go back to the forum to mop up his latest droppings, while waiting for the technical guys to give him the snip. Looks like the Opinion forum will need a thorough hosing down tomorrow morning.

Sorry for that - where was I?

Oh yes. For some reason, ilovesooty wanted to know this: "Could you feed yourself for a week on pound;20?"

What with stories of pound;100,000-plus headteachers and the impression that many classroom teachers are at least as well paid as, well, let's say education journalists, this topic was surely a hypothetical one, except of course for our student unemployed readers.

But the detailed answers suggest that thrift is alive and well in the teaching profession, and that plenty of you are still flying the flag for self-sufficiency, 1970s style.

Polo2's contribution suggested an attractively bucolic lifestyle, at least initially: "For myself, yes, easily. I'd make a large pot of stew with potatoes and plenty of veg in it and alternate portions of that with something based around pastabulgar wheat. I've got my own chickens and as they pay for themselves I could manage some interesting salads and sauces."

Then it all went a bit Cold Comfort Farm: "If money was getting tight by the end of the week I'd just have to get my brother to rustle up a rabbit for me (yum)."

Flutterby Kid was bursting with good advice: "Farm shop or market for veg and fruit about pound;8 or get an allotment, for about pound;15 a year, you can grow fruit and veg to your heart's content!"

"Cheap tins, who needs brand names, I'm not posh!"

"Meat, get to know your local butcher." And more in this vein.

Fairynuff claimed to have lived in Stirling for a year on pound;18 a week:

"I walked everywhere... ate a lot of fresh fruit, veg, tinned fish and reduced supermarket meat (not economy brand, as I don't trust it) and still was able to go out for a pint on a Friday night."

Crowndale went for the record: "I feed a family of five (one adult, three teens and a pre-teen who eats like a teen!) for around pound;85 a week."

But economies of scale apply here: disqualified. Have to agree with the advice on Chinese supermarkets, however.

Not everyone has access to such places, nor to hippy wholefood warehouses.

No problem, according to anniebaker; you can buy your week's worth of food from our most profitable supermarket, and still get 30p change out of your Pounds 20. Annie's shopping list was posted in full to prove the point.

So there you are. Our forum users know the price and value of most things.

Just as they can answer the age-old question, what's in a name? But that's another story...

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website. www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

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