So before I get into anything I may as well give you a little history lesson (but you may know already) about the Great Depression. The Great Depression was an era of economic downturn that occurred during the 1930’s. It started in the US and spread all over the world. In some areas of the UK, Australia and the US the unemployment rate was 70% and many people had to rely on a pittance from the government to live on. Families were large, food was scarce and many people in the UK, for example, relied heavily on food rations to get by. Below is an example of the food rations.
An egg a week. That was what really shocked me. We used to have an egg a day, everyday plus more when I baked. We easily ate double the amount of sugar in one week in the form of cakes, in tea and coffee, etc.
There is a silver lining for those who survived the Great Depression though. Those who came through that era live longer than any other generation. It seems that the routine fasting these people were submitted to was actually very good for longevity.
Above: A colour photo (originally black and white) of a family living through the US Depression.
I have, in the past, spend around $300 and even $400 (£150 – £200) a week on groceries and another $100 (£50) a week on eating out. Ludicrous isn’t it! Considering how many people both today and in the past live on not even a quarter of that makes it even more horrible. Make no mistake, there are many people living on rations today. Recently I spoke to several people from various places around the UK who are living on a meagre allowance and the stories they told me were confronting and upsetting. Reusing tea bags for days, watering down milk so they had four litres instead of two, even going hungry themselves just so they can feed all of their children, eating their leftovers once the children had finished their meals.
Above: A classic Great Depression meal
With all of this in mind I decided that my life of waste was over. I am lucky in ways, I don’t need a big expensive mortgage or german cars to keep me happy and don’t feel any pressure to follow the culture of consumerism. My needs are quite simple. My failing is that I overcompensate with food because I always worry their won’t be enough. Perhaps these feelings come from growing up in a family of 8 children where if you didn’t eat fast you missed out.
Above: One of my favourite photos. A woman and her three children, living during the US Great Depression.
Liking to make a firm decision, I set my budget at $100 (£50) a week. This would have to include everything from house and cleaning products as well as nappies. I planned everything to the final detail and planned my shop and my bill came in at $90 (£49) for the week. I have shared my meal plan here. I can tell you that this new way of approaching our menu has helped us save and include into our budget things like swimming and tennis lessons for our child, travel and family outings. We enjoy life more and aren’t as focused on what we eat.
I encourage everyone reading this to give it a go sometime and see what difference it makes to your life. It does take will power to stick to, particularly if your diet is rich, but it has its benefits in other (more important, in my opinion) areas in yours and your families lives.
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