Food bought by the Stott Family for the 2015 Welfare Food Challenge

Sarah Stott, Prep for the Challenge

The day before: No food for the soul

So, we’re feeling a little nervous with our food purchases for the week – will the food last us, fill us, and nourish us? Have we made some key errors in our planning that will become blindly apparent near the end of the 7 days?

For our family of 4, we have a budget of $84 for the week. Usually, we’ll spend around $300 for a healthy, varied and often organic diet for our active family (and for Darren who is a 6ft 3 sporty vegetarian and always hungry!). We know this is a luxury, but we see our food choices as core to our social, environmental and economic values. As expected though, we have seen the welfare budget strip us of many of our usual freedoms:

  • No shopping at our local independent grocer, where 15% of what we spend goes back to our children’s school as a fundraiser. We just had to go to where the food is cheapest or reduced because of imperfections that standard stores won’t accept.
  • No buying of anything organic, free-range, non-GMO, non-hormone, or local. High quality food is just not an option on this budget, so already ‘healthy’ has to be sacrificed for ‘cheap’.
  • No meat, cheese or fruit juice – just too expensive.
  • No small treats/snacks suggested by the kids – none of their requests were unreasonable and really were trying to be helpful, but we just couldn’t afford anything that wasn’t a necessity, so they just got a series of “no’s” from us.

By the end of the shop, I realized I had stopped browsing the shelves looking at the food items themselves, but had instead been browsing the shelves purely looking at price. If it was under a dollar, it got my attention.

I believe food is good for the soul, as well as the body. But when I open our fridge or look at our cupboard shelf the night before our challenge officially starts, I feel deflated. The shelves look bare, and everything is a shade of white or yellow. There’s nothing enticing or comforting about food when it looks like this. Already, I realize I have stopped looking at the food as something to enjoy but rather as fuel with a price tag.

Welcome to life on welfare.

Food bought by the Stott Family for the 2015 Welfare Food Challenge

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