Skip to main content

The BBC has embarked on a series examining the state of poverty in Britain. As part of this they invited three celebrity chefs to stay with those in food poverty and produce nutritious and satisfying recipes for a "Great British Budget Menu" competition. One linked up with a single old age pensioner, the second with a family on unemployment benefits and the third on a family with both parents working. Despite this, that family has an average of £1.66 ($2.49) each per day to spend on food once the other household bills have been paid.

The competition was judged by three professional food critics who also judge the "Great British Menu" competition. This is an continuing annual competition leading up to a banquet or similar - another one off programme in 2010 concentrated on food waste.

Other chefs were also invited to invent recipes that would fit into similar budget and the BBC has 54 on its site. While food tastes and the costs of food differ between the USA and UK, there are some general principles that apply to the situations in both countries. The very poor tend to rely on pre-prepared meals from supermarkets (or fast food outlets) which have poor food quality. These often contain high levels of salt, fat and sugar even in savory foods. There are however some excellent hints about producing healthy and nutritious food cheaply. One interesting starting point was the need for a base store cupboard of spices etc:

The first step was to put together a list of the ultimate store cupboard essentials (the complete list shoppable at under £20 in a number of high street supermarkets), a variety of these ingredients can then be used across the 52 recipes, each designed to cost under £1 per portion.

The store cupboard ingredients are charged to recipes on a pro rata basis while all extra ingredients are charged at the full supermarket unit cost to reflect realistic shopping opportunities. The store cupboard is designed to last over a number of weeks.

This does perhaps point towards one need that food banks - in both countries - could address along with practical help and advice on cooking techniques. Obviously the two sets of base products will be different in the two countries - the British for example have a passion for curries to the extent the favorite dish in restaurants is said to be chicken tikka marsala. The recipes are for main meals. Economy breakfasts would perhaps consist of porridge (with a banana rather than sugar or syrup for sweetening) costing the equivalent of 30 cents for a filling and healthy meal.

One advantage in the UK is the general availability of fresh fruit and vegetables even in the poorest areas - which tend to have reasonable access to national supermarket chains like Tesco, Asda and Waitrose. Indeed, one of the problems encountered by the chefs in the challenge was their having to go round several of these to find the best bargains so they could stay within their host's budgets.

Note also that the times for the next broadcast are for repeats. The first showing was tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. on BBC One, their main channel, immediately after their very popular soap "Eastenders". As an aside, I wonder if any US main networks would devote a similar peak time slot to such programming when their principle aim is to gain income from advertising rather than to "inform, educate and entertain" - the public purpose of the BBC as set out in its Royal Charter (.pdf)


Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site