A poverty of life skills

Caroline Herewini, of the Porirua Māori Women’s Refuge, says tinned meat and anything for children’s lunches is more useful than tomatoes or chickpeas. “What are our people going to do with chickpeas?”

[…]Two refuge charities caused a stir on Wednesday when they denounced tinned tomatoes and canned chickpeas as unfit to feed to clients.

Auckland-based refuge charity The Aunties has issued an outright ban on tinned tomatoes, saying the versatile fruit was useless for the women and children it supports. Meanwhile a Porirua refuge boss publicly pondered what people would do with donated chickpeas and lentils.

But Hamilton’s Salvation Army is in the midst of a tinned tomato shortage and says the refuges are “being a bit fussy”.

[…] Cans of tomatoes, chickpeas and lentils are included in almost every Salvation Army food parcel given to families, alongside items such as spaghetti and Weetbix.

Usually there are two cans in every food parcel, but at the moment they’re only managing one at most.

And tomatoes are a must-have for low-budget cooking, Canty said

[…] Lentils, tomatoes and rice are the makings of a dahl and rice dish that goes a long way, Canty said.

I understand why the two women’s refuges said no to the two items and I don’t think that it is because they are fussy. The reality for those two refuges I think is that there is a poverty of life skills amongst their clients.

Learning to cook on a very tight budget and learning how to make something out of almost nothing is a valuable skill and people used to learn these skills from their families. My Mum’s idea of a night off cooking was toasted sandwiches. We didn’t get takeaways she made everything. I watched my Mum buy cheap fatty offcuts of lamb and then turn them into mince herself with a hand mincer. She would buy trays of cracked eggs from the local farm because they were cheaper. She would put stale bread in the oven on a low heat until it was crunchy and then put it in an airtight container to use as homemade crackers. We ate offal and loved it. She used a pressure cooker to make the cheapest meat tender.

When I headed off to University I bought myself Alison Holst’s Dollars and Sense cookbook and taught myself how to cook a few basic and cheap meals.

What are some of your tips for low-cost eating, your favourite recipe books and your favourite low-cost recipes?

What do you remember your parents doing to make a dollar go a long way when feeding the family?



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