“I was living on 30p meals and it was exhausting and appalling after just three days.”

Budget meal testers start with a red lentil curry recipe estimated to cost 26p for a four-serving meal, including chopped tomatoes and garlic puree

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Lee Anderson says food bank users need “cook training.”

A Tory MP who claimed that “generation after generation” of people in his constituency can’t have a budget and there’s no need for giant plaques has his views put to the test.

Nottinghamshire MP Lee Anderson made headlines earlier this month after claiming in the House of Commons that a nutritious meal could be cooked for just 30p.

The Ashfield MP’s comments came as food prices have soared as a result of the energy crisis and the cost of living has also risen, having a huge impact on families and individuals.

What extreme measures have you taken to save during the cost of living crisis? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk

Tory MP Lee Anderson said people used boards because they couldn’t cook or budget

Tester Caroline Barry, from NottinghamshireLivetest it and here is her diary:

day one

Today is my planning day so I spend ages scouring the internet to find decent cheap recipes to make. It’s harder than it looks because many recipes are so far removed from reality that they suggest expensive or hard-to-find ingredients.

Ironically, I opt for a Jack Monroe red lentil curry, which estimates a four-serving meal at 26p and includes chopped tomatoes and garlic puree.

I have to admit, if it wasn’t for Monroe’s meticulous math, I would have had to spend hours figuring out what to make. I find my first issue of 30p meals almost immediately – time.

For this to work, you need to have all the energy left over to get creative with cooking and budgeting.

You need quiet time away from childcare to focus on math, and that’s no good either if you’re also struggling with your mental health.

The ingredients are the cheapest you can buy

I have ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and anxiety so this would never work out for me. I get increasingly stressed and annoyed trying to calculate the numbers at the grocery store and often end up putting away things I can’t afford.

Some of the items were out of stock which also affected my math but I managed to get some of the exact items listed in the recipe which was created in 2018.

I should emphasize here that I am a single person who cooks just for me. This would be even more stressful and impossible if I had a family to provide food for or if I had dietary requirements that meant I needed special ingredients. In the end the meal worked out at 87p per meal and that was with half the stuff missing that I needed.

day two

I again have the lentils for lunch which gives me enough to get me through the day but there is very little fruit and veg in the meal.

The food doesn’t always look appetizing

My day was spent thinking about food — and not in a good way.

I had to plan every spare cent to make sure I wasn’t wasting anything. Nobody should have to live like this or find out that it’s because of poor budgeting.

I can honestly say that when you’re so close to not being able to afford the meal, not a dime goes unaccounted for.

I come home from work and I’m absolutely ready for my dinner, but my stomach is churning at the thought of more lentil curry. That’s all I thought of, and I annoyingly worked through the four servings for three meals, so I’m stuck.

I heat up the lentil porridge and prepare to enjoy another bowl of it. Enjoy is too strong a word for what looks like red wallpaper paste.

day three

I start the day again by preparing meals, which means getting up early so I can get this done before work. The energy it takes is excruciating as I prepare for the longer trek to Tesco as I only have one comparatively more expensive small co-op near my home. I also mentally exhausted myself before working on meal planning, so I’m tired before I even started.

I decided to invest in Tesco Farfalle sheets at 75p a pack, which will give me an estimated six servings at 12p each. I’m adding a 70p jar of Tesco vegetable pasta sauce to my basket. If I get the same portions out of it it’s 12p per dish which means I’m now at 24p for that meal. That means I’m full but there are no veggies left over to go into the meal, so where does this supposed nutrition come from?

After three days of this, I can honestly say that preparing nutritious meals for 30p is not feasible. You can choose nutritious or filling thanks to the cost of pasta compared to the price of vegetables. Not to mention, no one has to live with the planning and energy expenditure that goes into making these meals.

Food banks do important work in our communities, but they cannot do it alone. When you consider food banks or meals for 30p, there’s literally nothing left to waste. So how are you supposed to improve your budget when you have nothing left?

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/i-lived-30p-meals-exhausting-27031113 "I was living on 30p meals and it was exhausting and appalling after just three days."

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