"Yesterday was very emotional. I had a friendly phone call from an old family friend. A lady who's known me since I was a kid, she's like a grandma to me, my kids call her auntie. I love her and I know she loves me too. She's the only person from my past whom I still trust, the only person who has my phone number as I know she'd never give us away to my ex or family. She's the closest to family I have. We were chatting nicely, she was filling me in on her various family members and their very upper middle class struggles, it was refreshing to know some people's biggest struggles are over flowers or missing the farmers market, etc. Things that seem crazy luxury to me but that is very normal for most people apparently. It was also humbling to learn about some of her family members who's health is worrisome: it doesn't matter how much money one has if their health is forefit. Well my son came to me while I was on the phone, saying he was hungry. She's rung me before I could eat my lunch, so I offered it to little man who loudly shocked me by saying "I am hungry mummy but I can't remember when I last saw you eat, you must eat mummy, I can wait." He's five. At five he shouldn't need to worry about such things, about me, though of course I'm proud of him for his empathy and kindness (and I did persuade him to take my lunch anyway as he's a growing lad). He didn't notice I was on the phone when he came through, and I didn't mute the call whileni talked incase he wanted to say hello. It was very embarrassing for this family friend to hear my lad say what he said. No fault of my lads, just me feeling ashamed. She's a very upper middle class lady, she's very kind and generous and has sent us money before to get treats for the kiddies or help with emergencies, but I hate feeling indebted to her. She's not a bad woman, very sympathic, just she has limited experience of our situation. But she is very kind. I just don't want to need help. If that makes sense. She was crying when I got back on the phone, after tending to littleman, and asked to send me money. I said I couldn't accept cos I was too ashamed of needing such handout. So we talked about other things again. After a while she said she wanted to send me money for a new fridge freezer, she knew my current one to be old and small from past visits. Her logic was if I have a bigger freezer then I'll have more space to bulk buy meat and veg to store longer. She said she had to help me somehow and she thought it might be a good way as it'll enable me to have more options when food shopping (alot of people miss how much food shopping is effected by storage options). It's a good compromise, she isn't sending me money out of pity but with a practical purpose, which helps me feel less pathetic. So I'm going to get a new fridge freezer, twice the size of my current one. I'm actually really excited, silly as that sounds. It'll arrive mid August. It'll mean I can buy and freeze more options. I might be able to get a monthly box from local butcher, cheaper than supermarket but I didn't do before as I couldn't store so much meat for such a long period of time. Sounds silly but it's amazing the little things that can effect a budget. When on benefits we must often take what we can get, the fridge freezer I got when I moved in was a freebie from a local charity, which I'm grateful for as we had literally nothing back then, just some clothes and toys. We built our home comforts up slowly, through kindness and careful budget. But we had to go with the cheapest of everything and freebies where possible. And it was great when we could shop around for bargains and go out every week for cheaper foods. Long term storage wasn't a factor then. Now I get paid monthly and I have to make it last. Having twice the freezer space I have now will enable me to store twice the food options, which will help save money and help provide more nutrition for kiddies. I've gone through my budget and predicted I'll have saved about £20-30 per month on food (plus possible electric savings as current fridge freezer is a energy rating of C but new one of A+), but I'll know for sure in a month or so. Silly things that excite us, hey. Its also got a built in water dispenser, which saves me buying a filter jug and should encourage my kiddies to drink more water. Feels like a huge luxury. But also kinda fascinating all the seemingly little things can make big differences.
Here's another one for you, a little thing that seems simple but can effect food budget: cooking tools. For example, not everyone has the money to buy kitchen equipment that can enable them to have more options when home cooking. We've one pan and one small frying pan, which slows cooking down. And our over uses alot of electricity to cook even a basic meal, I often try to cook lunch and dinner together to save on energy bills. I have a slow cooker, Christmas gift to myself our first year here, which also helps but can be an expensive tool to others. And the small things like measuring scales and storage containers, seem cheap but the price quickly adds up and lots of families have to spend that money on other things. Most people also don't understand how expensive herbs and spices are, as they often only need to buy the odd tub,adding less than a quid to a trolley. But need to buy four or five herbs or spices and those prices quickly mount. I used to make lots of curries and soups from scratch but it's too expensive to buy all the herbs and spices, jared sauces are cheaper but less healthy. Storage is a factor, but so is transport to do shopping (which isn't a bother now as I don't go out if I can avoid, but if I could I'd be limited by when I'm physically able to carry). So many small things can effect a budget. We've an old man on our street who walks by often, he sometimes comes asking for food and I give him what we can, but I have to make allowances for what he can carry and what he can cook with his available resources/tools, sometimes leaving bags by door so he can grab something lightweight on his way past. And I'm not one of the people who has to worry too much about food. My kids will eat most foods, they are picky eaters but not out of rudeness just cos they're sensitive to texture. So long as I've got plenty porridge in they won't starve. But it's not as bad as some, I know people with celiac who are struggling to find suitable food on a budget without going out. Or others who kids have severe food sensitivities or allergies and need to budget to allow for that. So many factors that can effect a budget. "