Jul 15

My Week on £10 – Day 3

It’s obvious that I’m going to be opposed to refined ‘junk’ foods.  They tend to be high in salt, sugar and less beneficial fats, and are almost certainly one of the many factors contributing to the problem of chronic disease (1).  I can remember the last time I ate in a fast-food burger place.  It was at least 7 years ago, when I was travelling a lot for work, had been on a job longer than expected, and was unprepared.  It was quite revolting.

Picture of 'junk' foods

Refined foods can be tempting when on a budget, but at what cost?

Since starting this challenge, I’m beginning to see the attraction.  Fast food is cheap, and at least temporarily filling.  Remember that salt craving I mentioned yesterday?  A fast food meal would more than satisfy that for 99p.  I intend to complete this challenge without resorting to refined foods, but I am beginning to have more understanding of people who decide otherwise.

I’m thinking about this because this morning I was reading a report of a poll where 60% of those surveyed said that obese people should pay more for NHS care (2).  Now, I must point out straight away that not all obese people eat junk food.  I am obese, and I work really hard to avoid refined food.  However, obesity is often associated with poverty (3), and food poverty means eating what is affordable, even when that is fast food, and encourages one to seek highly flavoured foods, even when the flavour comes from salt and additives.  Meanwhile, the cost of vegetables in the UK has risen by 199% in the past 30 years, whilst the cost of ice cream has fallen by 50% (4).  This trend is mirrored in developing countries such as Brazil and Mexico (Ibid), where both obesity and chronic disease are also on the rise.

So what are we proposing?  To add an extra financial burden to some of the most vulnerable in society?  To discriminate against people who may never develop chronic disease at all?  To penalise people for making ‘bad choices’ when for many the potential to choose freely has been severely compromised?  Is that really the mark of a just and equitable society?  I think it is particularly telling that those polled were members of the food industry, some of whom may be partially accountable for the issues which I discuss above.

Coming down from the soap box, what have I been doing today?  Food supplies are beginning to run low, so I tried to do some forward planning, and realised that I may not have enough to last the week.  I was proposing to skip lunch, as I had a lunchtime meeting, and thought that being busy would distract me from needing food.  Unfortunately the meeting was cancelled and I was hungry!  So I made Kushari, which is now likely to be my go-to budget food; filling, tasty, and even included some vegetables.  I estimate the cost per head to be around 25p, depending on where the ingredients come from.

My super-easy split pea burgers.  Find the recipe on my new page.

My super-easy split pea burgers. Find the recipe on my new page.

Regular readers may want to know what happened with the split pea burgers.  I am delighted to report that they were an unqualified success.  I estimate the cost of ingredients to have been about 35p; they used only 4 ingredients and were really simple to make.  You can find out how to make your own here.

Some of you have been asking for my recipes.  In order to avoid excessively long blog posts (although today’s is rather longer than optimal), I have created a new tab, ‘Recipes‘.  Most of the recipes I have used so far can be found here, and more will be added as the week progresses.

Happy, healthy eating.



1. Lloyd-Williams, F., Mwatsama, M., Ireland, R., & Capewell, S., (2007).  Small changes in snacking behaviour: the potential impact on CVD mortality.  Public Health Nutrition12(16), pp871-876.

2. http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Regulation/Obese-should-pay-more-for-healthcare/?utm_source=Newsletter_Subject&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BSubject&c=TOBlmq76YgmFzu3aArg4DRQYM%2F2yeaNf

3. Drewnowski, A., (2012).  The economics of food choice behaviour: why poverty and obesity are linked.  Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series,  73, pp95-112.  It’s interesting that this study was commissioned by Nestle, a company not known for its ethical food practices.  Even they have to admit that there is likely to be a relationship between poverty and obesity!

4. http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Manufacturing/Healthy-foods-are-costing-more


  1. Lindie

    Loved reading your blog!

    1. Susannah

      Glad you are enjoying it, Lindie. Plenty more to come.

  2. Tomek

    Brawo. Gratulacje dla autora

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