Adventures in Generosity

The occasionally coherent ramblings of a Stewardship Advisor in the Church of England

Living below the line – The Shopping Trip


Well, here it is – my entire storecupboard for the week – and all for the grand total of £4.97 (I’m going to cheat I’m afraid – 5 sprays of ‘frylight’ oil is 1p so will be using the bottle I already have in to stir fry some rice or soften some onions for a chickpea dahl).

Shopping was certainly a thought provoking exercise.  I hadn’t realised just how unconsciously I shop.  OK we have a budget and I’m not one for Fillet steak and caviar – but basically our  household budget means we can afford to buy everything we need without really thinking about what each individual item of our shopping list costs.

The other thing that struck me is the power of bulk buying – I usually buy huge bags of dried staples like chickpeas and rice (and boy am I glad we live in an area with a large Asian population so I can get spices at a fraction of the cost of those ridiculous piddly little jars from Schwartz). But modern packaging causes a dilemma when you are on a tiny fixed budget – I could afford 500g of chickpeas – but the smallest available bag is 1kg and that is over budget.  So again, I must admit I cheated – I worked out how much 500g would cost and weighed out what we already had at home.

Now this challenge is really about reflecting on the 1.4 billion people around the world subsisting on £1 per day – where supermarkets and their packaging policies would be very far from the top of the list of concerns, but it did make me think about how our convenience shopping culture affects our own poor communities.

I remember when I was at Uni there was a shop in Newcastle called the Weigh House – where you could by just about anything (including washing powder) by weight – a Godsend for we poor students, but not something I’ve seen in years. So, in a consumer culture where everything is pre packaged and priced how do we expect anyone on a low income to go for the healthy ‘cook it yourself’ option when basic ingredients are only available in large packages which cost twice as much as the ready made, high fat, low nutrient alternative.

It’s going to be a thought provoking week, to support me and raise funds for Christian Aid go to


1 Comment»

[…] in our bookshops, on our televisions. It is plentiful, it can (for most of us – see Mondays blog) be reasonably cheap, but it’s the variety that we probably take most for granted. If I have […]

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