This is a bit easy isn’t it?

Gwyneth Paltrow has vowed to live on just $29 worth of food for a week, after agreeing to take on a charity challenge aimed at raising awareness and funds for New York’s food banks.

The 42-year-old mother-of-two, who founded popular lifestyle wesbite Goop, posted a picture of her $29 grocery shop on her Twitter account yesterday afternoon, showcasing a range of healthy options, including a variety of fresh vegetables, some brown rice and some black beans.

‘This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store – what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week,’ she wrote alongside the image.

It’s not actually per family. That’s per person within a family (OK, perhaps per adult).

And seriously, eating for £3 a day isn’t that tough. Sure, there’ll be a shortage of steak in such a diet but dang, two or three thousand calories of interesting, healthy food on that sum just isn’t tough.

Any of us could do that in a heartbeat if we had to. Without hanging around the meat and fish counters at the end of the day looking for bargains.

Hell, dare I say it, just get one of Jack Monroe’s books.

Or even work out what makes peasant diets work. 2 thousand calories of stodge then look for something to flavour it and some vitamins. Cheapest one can find of all of them.

Actually, could be a good cookbook in there. “Stodge- How Our Ancestors Ate”.

48 thoughts on “This is a bit easy isn’t it?”

  1. We ate snails from our garden every week, in one summer a decade ago. They tasted just like French snails i.e. of butter, garlic, parsley and rubber. Only the butter was bought in. Oh, and the bread to go with them.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    Well at the risk of sounding snarky, for someone who appears to eat next to nothing except a handful of rice and beans every day, living on £29 a week shouldn’t be too hard.

    As long as she keeps away from the organic and homeopathic or whatever the hell she normally eats.

    I look forward to the hate mail though. She never seems to learn. Women hate other women. They are just usually too polite to say so. But being patronised by thin, rich, pretty(-ish) women married to rock stars is not the sort of thing that will encourage them to maintain that politeness.

  3. Except, of course, that everyone says the poor are obese because they are forced by evil multinational companies to eat processed packaged food made entirely from High Fructose Corn Syrup, as those same evil multinational corporations have made fresh food too expensive.

  4. I love it – the article puts the boot in, but they still put a feature in half-way down the page on how you can look as good as her.

    That newspaper really is psychotic.

  5. Hey, even in the UK 23p gets you a pack of Tesco Everyday Value Ginger Nut biscuits that provides 2/3rds of your daily required calories. That leaves about $26 a week for the rest of your nutrition and luxuries.

  6. It’s a lot easier to do it for a week than for a twelvemonth since vitamin deficiencies won’t impact on a normally healthy individual if you eat *nothing* for a week. Bread-and-water or bread-and-dripping would cost a fraction of $29.
    So food stamps are adequate for a healthy diet – *because the amount of food stamps is set at a level that permits a healthy diet*. It is tautologous.

  7. I see they still have Safeway over there. If Morrison’s had taken them over, she would have been able to head up there at 9.45pm when they are selling off the remaining pies. She too could have a figure like mine.

  8. bloke (not) in spain

    £21 a week? About 25€. That about what I do spend on food in Spain, when I’m cooking for myself. And I eat very well, thanks.
    I could probably manage it in the UK if my lifestyle here was more coherent.

  9. It appears Ms Paltrow has arthritis in her left wrist, which is keeping her from taking out her wallet and buying them more food.

    “what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week,”

    Families on SNAP aren’t allowed to spend any more on food that what they can get with food stamps? Not real bright, this Ms Paltrow.

  10. bloke (not) in spain

    I just noticed this:
    “showcasing a range of healthy options, including a variety of fresh vegetables, some brown rice and some black beans. ”
    And I do indeed eat fresh vegetables, rice & beans. The dried beans you cook yourself & form the basis of a lot of S.American cooking. But black beans are the most expensive ones you can get. And brown rice, again, is at least twice the price of bulk bags of white. OK, it’s probably marginally healthier. But if you’re doing the beans & the veggies, you’re already getting lashings of whatever white rice lacks, compared with brown.
    Why would you do this if you’re trying to hit a budget?

  11. @Rob, there is actually a very slight smidgin of truth in that, since the evil multinationals take much of the lower class produce and turn it into frozen supermarket readyshit (where you can’t tell if an apple or egg or piece of horsemeat was originally this or that shape or size).

    Most consumers only want to buy class 1 produce (all the ballyhoo about wrong-shaped eggs and differently-sized apples a few years back hasn’t changed that), so the lower grades which would be cheaper rarely make it to the shelves fresh.

    An exception is asparagus here in season (which has just started, nom nom) where all grades are sold in order to suit all pockets. This year, class I asparagus is giving entrecote a run for its money, in terms of euros per kilo.

  12. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    You rotten lot leave Gwyneth alone !
    She’s just trying to set an example that we could all follow. The more she saves on food, the more she can spend on getting steam-cleaned.

    ps You can live forever on spuds and milk and the occasional orange.

  13. bloke (not) in spain

    Keryst, MrRB. That looks like the basket of impulse buys the klutz who’s tagged on for the trip to the supermarket tries to run through on the shopping bill. I’m a pretty creative cook but I’d be searching for what to make for the second meal out of that lot. Two types of lettuce? What’s she feeding? Rabbits for the meat course?

  14. bloke (not) in spain

    An observation. If you want to try living poor you’re going to need to acquire a whole new skill-set. It’s why the newly impoverished can find it really tough going where the habitual poor thrive.

  15. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke (not) in spain – “If you want to try living poor you’re going to need to acquire a whole new skill-set. It’s why the newly impoverished can find it really tough going where the habitual poor thrive.”

    My observation is the exact opposite. The habitually poor, in my experience, are incapable of feeding themselves properly. Or doing much for themselves. But the people who do well are the newly poor – who in my experience tend to be female, older and retired. Especially if they went to a tough boarding school. They have no problems.

    Where there is a difference is if something big needs to be done like a new water boiler. The habitually poor often have a network of friends and friends of friends. Who know a guy. But the newly poor don’t.

  16. Bonus points – people can now use her example to disprove the ‘the poor can’t *afford* to eat healthy’ meme.

  17. So Much for Subtlety

    Agammamon – “people can now use her example to disprove the ‘the poor can’t *afford* to eat healthy’ meme.”

    She really has no idea how much people are going to hate her does she?

    We know that the poor can afford to eat well on food stamps. There is no nice way to put this but we know as 1. there is a thriving secondary market in them and 2. the poor tend to be really fat.

    If they were not enough for human existence the poor would not be selling them to other people and still getting fat.

  18. @ SMFS
    ” Especially if they went to a tough boarding school.”

    Is there any other kind? Boarding schools (at least most of them) were created to teach the minor aristocracy and upper middle-class to demand surrender from their enemies in grammatically correct Greek or Latin, which involved surviving long enough to do so; later pupils were expected to run an empire and make sure the horses were fed before the soldiers before the officers. Even in the 1960s they were tough and lacrosse – GBH with consent!

  19. bloke (not) in spain

    Sorry SMfS but again you have the point of view of the uniformed middle classes. I live with someone who comes from a poor so far the other side of your “poor” you can’t see it from where you’re standing. The real “dollar a day” poor. She’s a lot more capable of feeding herself than you are. Under any circumstances. i don’t criticise. i don’t mock. I try to learn. Might just need that skillset, one day.

  20. So Much for Subtlety

    john77 – “Is there any other kind?”

    There are degrees even within boarding schools. I know people who went to the sort of school that killed the Brontes.

    bloke (not) in spain – “I live with someone who comes from a poor so far the other side of your “poor” you can’t see it from where you’re standing.”

    Hey, no fair introducing Venezuelans into this discussion. If you’re going to do that you need some warning or at least a different word. You know, for real poverty.

    “Might just need that skillset, one day.”

    Let’s hope not. Especially as I have just had a picture of you, naah, let’s not go there.

  21. You really are a bunch of self-entitled bastards.

    Paltrow aside: you fucking live day after week after the hopeless grind of feeding yourself, maybe caring for children or whoever.

    £25 quid a week? Every week?

    Every week with no option?

    At the Job Centre, as it was, the advice was a tin of beans and the 500ml of the product Nutriment.

    You stupid, ignorant arseholes. You really do live in a different universe.

    Yep, take all the pride out of living with existence vouchers.

    Childlike, sociopathic, and false.

    £25 a week? In England? Long term? You would need to be Paltrow to do it. Maybe for a month.

    I don’t believe any of your smug anecdotes. You lie, like always.

  22. So Much for Subtlety

    Arnald – “You really are a bunch of self-entitled bastards. …. You stupid, ignorant arseholes. You really do live in a different universe. …. Childlike, sociopathic, and false. … I don’t believe any of your smug anecdotes. You lie, like always.”

    You know, he really is better than Ironman.

    I don’t recall anyone here claiming they live on $29 a week.

  23. When we lived in Queensland the local rag urged an austerity measure on us: because butter was so expensive we should just rub our bread with avocados. Ain’t abroad wonderful?

    Anyway, just remember: avoid HFCS and eat lots of honey. Fructose – the versatile food.

  24. Well we were all told that food rationing introduced in WW2 was good as our health improved. They wouldn’t lie.
    1947 food was interesting. No obesity then.

  25. I’m with B(n)IS on this. The poor are normally very good at feeding themselves. What they are criticised for is not eating what middle class people think they ought to eat, particularly because they are practical rather than faddish, know that there is no such thing as the nonsens of an “empty” calorie, and focus primarily on food which provides sufficient calories and feels “filling”. Which is illustrated by the middle class eatery where the more you pay, the smaller the portions, compared to a “workers cafe” which will have “large portions” written on a big sign in the window.

    In this, SMFS is pandering to his usual stereotype that there are only two types of people in the world; upstanding middle class professionals and a bestial residuum who cannot make the simplest decisions and breed like vermin while scrounging off the welfare.

    The middle classes that these “live on X per day” propaganda campaigns are aimed at do not understand how to eat on a small amount of money; so faced with cutting their budget by 10 or 20 times, they cannot do it and imagine nobody can, which is what serves whatever activists are promoting the thing. They don’t understand that eating cheaply means giving up on two things they are used to as effects of wealth; the first is variety. The second is random access eating (that is, being able to just eat something whenever you want from a large stock).

    Cheap eating means eating a much narrower range of foodstuffs (sorry, no rocket or sundried tomatoes, dear) and eating fixed amounts at fixed times to a much greater degree. They don’t know how to do a situation where you have seven meals worth of food for the next seven days. Today it’s fish fingers and potatoes. Etc.

  26. And by the way, as I’ve said before, I’m entirely opposed to degrading bullshit like food stamps, food debit cards and the like.

  27. Agree with that. I cook for myself every day with minimal variety: broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and tuna fish fried in a wok. Cheap, quick and nutritionally not too bad. In fact I spend more money cooking (meat and bones) for my six dogs than I do for myself. The thing is when I tell people I cook they look at me like I’m Jamie Oliver or something. It’s not difficult by any means so long as you’re too busy to waste time wondering about what to eat.

  28. Ian B
    April 12, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Arnald-

    25 quid a week for food for one person is easy.

    Very easy.

    25 BPS is around $36.5 USD.

    Without even trying – I eat out at least once a day – my weekly food bill hovers around $84USD. Cut that out and it would be under $55USD, with no other changes (soda, beer, specialty breads, too large portions, etc). I’m pretty sure I could find another 20 bucks to cut out.

  29. I’m a pretty creative cook but I’d be searching for what to make for the second meal out of that lot. Two types of lettuce? What’s she feeding? Rabbits for the meat course?

    That’s what I thought!

  30. They don’t understand that eating cheaply means giving up on two things they are used to as effects of wealth; the first is variety. The second is random access eating (that is, being able to just eat something whenever you want from a large stock).

    This is very true.

    Also, I’m not sure how many poor – particularly families – would look at $29 per week. My mother would have seen it as $120 per month, and buy in bulk. This is particularly important for the starch products, which make up the bulk of any poor diet: rice, pasta, and potatoes. She didn’t go to the supermarket and buy 1kg of potatoes, she bought a 25kg sack (the shop delivered). Ditto with the rice, she used to buy a huge sack from somewhere. So long as you have a place dark and cool and free of mice, it works out much cheaper. So the diet consists of very cheap starch, a small piece of relatively expensive fish or meat (cheap if you use offal instead of cuts), and the cheapest veg on offer (normally cabbage). But it gets dull very very quickly.

  31. bloke (not) in spain

    @TimN
    ” But it gets dull very very quickly.”

    I’m not so sure why it should do. The majority of the dishes Brits choose at their very expensive restaurants are variations on peasant cooking intended to make the more expensive ingredients stretch as far as possible. So, theoretically at least, they should be able to eat better poor than rich.

    And, as a complete one off novelty, I actually agree with everything Arnald says. Well said that tax-havener!.

  32. bloke (not) in spain

    And for your sake, SMfS, I’ll ensure your allusions about Venezuela are kept a secret amongst ourselves. The lady’s a Collombiana & a Paisa to boot. Which everyone knows is nothing other than a psychopath with a suntan who’s very touchy about national origins.

  33. bloke (not) in spain

    There’s something IanB says above, touched a chord:

    “The second is random access eating (that is, being able to just eat something whenever you want from a large stock).”

    When overweight, middle class Brit Cuz comes to stay I have to go do a special shop. Otherwise, when he goes to the fridge on staggering back from the bar or wresting himself off the sunbed he’s sorely disappointed. For, due to our personal histories, we don’t normally buy anything he can graze off. No little pots of yogurt. No chocolate bars. No packets of biscuits. It’s all meal food & mostly needs preparing.

  34. So Much for Subtlety – “My observation is the exact opposite. The habitually poor, in my experience, are incapable of feeding themselves properly.”

    Then how are they still amongst us?

  35. Philip Scott Thomas

    They don’t understand that eating cheaply means giving up on two things they are used to as effects of wealth; the first is variety. The second is random access eating (that is, being able to just eat something whenever you want from a large stock).

    As TN said, this is very true.

    Back in the mid-1990s I was living in north London. After the bills were paid there was about £25/week left to run the house on. Not just for food, but for all the sundries as well, such as cleaning supplies and toiletries and loo rolls. And there were two of us. It wasn’t £25/week each, but for both of us. At the time we didn’t even have a freezer, only a pantry fridge, so buying bulk frozen stuff was not an option. Oh, and this wasn’t just for a week or even a few months. It was for a bit over a year, while I was finishing my post-grad degree. There were times, thankfully few, when we quite literally didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.

    Fortunately I was, at the time, married to an Aussie farm girl who knew how to cook, had an eye for a bargain and was a pretty damn good budgeter. Also we were just off the High Street, where there were greengrocers and (halal) butchers and bakeries. As she didn’t work she was able to devote some of each day to scouring the shops for good deals. But it did mean just what IanB said, namely, there wasn’t much variation. And we also had to plan our menus a week in advance, so no whimsical what-am-I-in-the-mood-for-today shopping.

    These days, I budget four times that amount for myself alone. And as a supermarket is on my way home from work, I find myself stopping in most evenings and figuring out what I’m hungry for.

  36. Surreptitious Evil

    Stop being so mean, all of you. The lass means well and, as we all know, that’s all that matters in social justice.

    Our heteronormative patriarchal objectivist neo-liberal insistence on reality is just bullying a poor defenceless internationally recognised multi-millionairess.

    Oh, and snark aside, four adults in our house. $116 (£79.28) per week for food? Easy. Might have to shift a little to frozen or dried rather than fresh, and Tim N’s point about bulk is well made, but utterly trivial to achieve. It would be harder for just one, but still entirely possible (and that’s living in the UK without the same consistent access to direct from the producer that our continental correspondents enjoy.)

  37. “Cheap eating means eating a much narrower range of foodstuffs (sorry, no rocket … dear): rocket grows like a weed in our garden. In fact rocket is a weed in our garden. Once sown never forgotten.

  38. I see that in Maine people are refusing to volunteer six hours per week to qualify for their food stamps with the result that since this eeeeeevilllll vile neoThatcherite measure was brought in 80% of them have stopped claiming. The poor bastards must be starving! Arnald quick, stop trying to become an elderly pop star and fly over with a suitcase of rich tea and cuppasoups. Meanwhile I will locate the world’s smallest fucking violin and play something suitably sad.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/us/politics/states-tighten-conditions-for-receiving-food-stamps-as-the-economy-improves.html?referrer=

  39. So Much for Subtlety

    Gamecock – “Then how are they still amongst us?”

    Take out. Grandparents. Seriously. I know single mothers with nothing to do but collect benefits who cannot be relied on to get dinner on the table.

  40. bloke (not) in spain

    Collecting benefits, SMfS, is not a prerequisite for incapability to get dinner on the table. There’s quite enough mothers, single or otherwise, too preoccupied with career building, shopping, socialising, sports participation & any other diversions to make up the numbers.
    But you do seem to get your idea of the poor almost exclusively from the Daily Fail. In real life, idle dole bludgers are very much in a minority. Even most of those “third generation without anyone working in the house” stories’ll be a long way from the truth. Because the truth & the poor end to be shy friends. Third generation on bennies, maybe. But that doesn’t mean nobody’s been putting in 12 hour shifts on “the black” to pay for the BMW in the curb & the widescreen showing SkySport. Not totally up-front the poor, always. Different world, you see.

  41. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke (not) in spain – “Collecting benefits, SMfS, is not a prerequisite for incapability to get dinner on the table.”

    I know. That is what makes this worth saying. I know lots of busy women who work and raise children. I don’t know any that cannot be relied on to get food on the table. Even if they have take out, it is planned. It is not them coming rushing back at the last minute from something they cannot explain, to find no food in the home and so giving the child some cash to get take away.

    If I had to make an assumption, I would say that the sort of character traits that make you middle class also mean that you get food on the table. Being chronically disorganised makes it hard to hold down a job, or feed your children but not, alas, having them.

    “But that doesn’t mean nobody’s been putting in 12 hour shifts on “the black” to pay for the BMW in the curb & the widescreen showing SkySport. Not totally up-front the poor, always. Different world, you see.”

    There are dishonest people who collect the dole and make money on the side. In fact virtually no one I know who was on benefits did not work at something on the side. More so if they were male. That is beside the point. I wonder how often families with BMWs and SkySport fail to make proper provision for dinner.

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