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How we need to prepare


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Living on the breadline

We are adaptable. When we can afford the best food and all the extras we are happy to spend the money and live that way. When our income is reduced we reduce the quality and the items we purchase to adapt. If our income reduces even more we repeat the process until we reach the situation where we are living on subsistence amounts. Figures show over a million people in the UK are living at this level at the moment. It is these people who are living hand to mouth in one of the most affluent societies in the world.

If you can afford the best food and all the extras you cannot reduce your purchases to subsistence levels. You simply stop reducing the amounts and the quality long before you get there under the impression that you just cannot reduce it any further. As far as you are concerned you are already at rock bottom. It is simply not true as most people in the UK at living at this level already. They are the backbone of our society. They live cheaply and live well but if something unexpected happens they reduce their standard of living to absorb the costs and then restore them when they can. They could reduce their standards if necessary but again are happy to live slightly better.

It seems where we can we spend our money on food and live at the highest food standard we can attain. That is clearly our first priority.

After an event we will all be living, if we get the planning right, at higher than subsistence levels. I would say less than the average now but certainly higher than subsistence. We will consider this living well and it will be a long time before we get beyond this. Many who have not planned will live at subsistence levels or lower. Some will starve.

What I was originally looking at doing was finding a way that we could live at subsistence level for a week to see what it was like. Besides actually leaving your home and living in a homeless shelter or living homeless we cannot really replicate this situation. So we are not even going to try. What I am suggesting though is that you stop using your food stores and try and live on the minimum food you can for a few days. Limit yourself to £4.50 for food a day for a week, 7 days is £31.50. Put aside £31.50 buy a weeks worth of food or spend it daily, it is up to you. Don’t get anything on credit, or dip into your stores, items in the freezer or fridge. Eat nothing you have not bought with the £31.50 for one full week.

Have fun.

(In case you are wondering that figure of £4.50 is what the DWP say you can live on for food. I have no idea what it is based on.)

26 comments to Living on the breadline

  • fred

    Baden-Powell said: “Nobody roughs it. A good bushman will always make himself as comfortable as possible.” Same principle.

  • Skean Dhude

    Fred,

    The Scouts are good role models to follow. Even their motto ‘Be prepared’ is one we agree with. Pity more people now are not in them instead of the Tottenham Cribs or whatever.

    Although I suppose that the lure of having a knife makes the difference. Scouts No knife: Tottenham Cribs : An Uzi

  • Skvez

    > Millions of people in the UK are living on
    > [subsistence amounts] at the moment.
    Rubbish. Even the ‘poor’ in the UK are well above subsistence amounts. The little thugs who were rioting earlier in the week were wearing £100 jeans and training shoes. They can afford to smoke, these are *luxuries* are do not reflect a subsistence existence.
    There are true homeless-jobless in the UK living hand to mouth but their numbers are in the tens of thousands, nowhere near the millions you imply

  • moosedog

    I always have contingency plans, one of which is eating cheaply if necessary. Ignoring water to drink or make tea with I think you could eat simply but well for £15 a week. That’s using quality brands like Heinz as I HATE cheap beans. Decent bread as well. I wouldn’t want to do it for long though as it’s a pretty boring menu but for an emergency plan it works well. Water complicates things a bit, do you take off a percentage of your water bill? Having lived off grid for 5 years I know water can be obtained for free, though it might need boiling before being drunk.

  • Skean Dhude

    Skvez,

    I hold my hands up here. I took that figure from a website on Google where it said over a million. I put the ‘s’ while typing. The rioters are generally kids where their parents get money for them and they prioritise the spends. Those living poorly are usually single people, men and women, homeless with no real help. Many are drug addicts and there are predicted to be some illegal immigrants that have no protection because of their status. As it is all guesswork anyway we have no real idea how many are living like that so I’m happy with the million figure until we have something else.

    Moosedog,

    You can because you have prepared, have thought about it and know what are the best purchases. In fact most reading sites like this are probably in the same position. It is those with a reasonable income that will have the greatest culture shock. They should learn before an event rather than after.

  • Ronnie

    I agree with Moose dog. £15 is fine.

    I was a student in 2005. I ate for £7-8.00 a week. Had a ‘Netto’ and local veg market. Could get two bags of seasonal veg for ~£3-4.
    Couldn’t really afford meat or fish. Fruit/dairy, was luxury.
    6 eggs a week ~70p. Loaf of cheapest bread, bags of pasta, oats and rice, stock cubes and tins from Netto. Then you could buy a tin of beans/tomatoes/sweetcorn/spagetti for ~8-20p.

    Obviously prices higher now than 6 years ago, but I think double would cover it. (Although I don’t know what the cost of 6 battery eggs or own brand bread is anymore).

    I bet there were people living there on half what I was eating and feeling grateful for it.

    £4.50 is hard if you’re wanting to live off frozen pizza and take out, otherwise should be easy.

    I like to stretch out a chicken for a couple of days then make stock for soup… My gran had to do the same – with a can of corned beef!

  • Skean Dhude

    Ronnie, Moosedog,

    £15 may be fine when you are young and not doing heavy work. I’m not so sure it would keep you going whilst you were planting, hunting and walking a lot.

    I’d be interested in knowing what you spent the £15 on.

  • Skean Dhude

    Moosedog, I meant that question for yourself rather than Ronnie who has already answered it.

  • Hi Skean,

    Yeah on the breadline, well the Mr`s and I are moving into our new gaff very soon, we`re moving out of the city into the suburbs, it`s gonna be tight and living as cheaply as possible will be the norm, prepping will continue of course.

    I`m planning raised veg gardens at the mo and looking at getting two more hens, also looking into bucklers for self defence in SHTF situation.

    Prepping is fun eh!

  • moosedog

    It was a “back of the envelope” calculation based on my current online order for Sainsbury’s: some things, like the Weetabix, may be unavailable individually, others, like the Tuna, are on special offer this week.

    Each day (in the plan, not what I actually eat nowadays with plenty of money available) is the same: breakfast 1 weetabix with semi skimmed milk, 1 glass orange juice. Midday: cheese on toast (2 slices) with half tin Heinz beans. Evening: half tin of tuna in 2 slices of bread. Glass orange juice.

    I have no idea how nutritionally complete this is but it has protein, fats, carbohydrates & vitamins so I hope not too bad. Remember, this is a short term plan for getting over a financially tough period.

    The cost: Weetabix 6p/biscuit. 4 pack Heinz beans £1.50. 2 loaves bread £2. 4 tins Princes Tuna £4. 2 litre Cravendale £1.80. Cheese £2.50. 2 x orange juice £2.50.

    No coffee, no butter, no Duff Beer, no Caviar. Just the basics to survive short term in a far superior way to a large proportion of the world population. Your local shop may be more expensive, as I said, it’s a quick calculation based on my current order.

    • Mark

      in reply to the tuna, we have a national shop or 3 local to us (home and bargains) tuna is still £2.60 ish, for 4 tins, not the rip off £2.00 each at tesco, asda. Princess not the best I know but adequate, in sunflower oil or brine, best buy before they all gone.

    • james jackson

      i have to agree with moosedog. I am living on sickness benifits after comming out of an op on my spine, food is out their if you can manage it. on my sainsburys order i have the 6 bottles of longlife milk that i store in a coal house as well as my tins, i eat the cheap baked beans and just add a bit of tomarto saurce to make it taste better, oj can be the cheep long life ones that are about 60p uless their is offers on. I personaly find the long life things are worlkling out cheaper, and less chance of waste. A good thing for milk thats just about to go off is rice pudding, warm and filling and the rice for it is something you can have in for years

  • John Johnstone

    As someone who works in the food retail business (security) I see people from all walks of life everyday in our store for their shopping.

    The senior citizen, for her paper, two rolls, tin of soup and and a couple of slices of cold meat.

    The unemployed (self inflicted and not) with their daily shopping, including gigs, drink etc.

    The ‘better off’ with the overloaded trolly, every second or third day and many other individuals that I see and know personally on a daily basis.

    I know people who admit themselves that half the stuff they buy is wasted and others who have to rely on budget value items to feed thenselves daily.

    I see the daily pricing offers (mostly cons) that the retail industry uses and it gives me the advantage of monitoring the real bargains for my own prepping.

    There are many people out there that will find it difficult to downsize their living standards when the need arises and they will be the panic hoarders with the cash that will probably grab what they can (even if it will be wasted).

    As recently as 2008 and later, during the threatened fuel delivery shortages, food retailers were asked to stockpile extra supplies and take over delivery as the government no longer does this. In fact one retailer, (TESCO) wanted a place at hte top table in the COBRA meetings as they were to be they major controller of food distribution in any crisis.

    The recent riots (fortunately not here) have shown what can happen when the mob strikes at stores and when I asked my manager what contingency plans we had in place for such an event he was at a loss.

    I showed him an emergency plan that I had submitted two years ago to the previous manager to protect our staff, customers and store in the evnt of any civil dispute/disturbance/emergency and he had no idea what to do or say except that we were a low threat priority and walked away.

    This morning I was contacted at home by phone by a manager on a personal basis and not on behalf of the company and asked if I thought there was any need to update my plan in view of the recent events.

    I was told that several members of our own staff were worried about safety considering our location and area.

    I will be speaking to individuals on this matter tomorrow and next week when I am back on duty.

    Trust me, when I say that when TSHTF most of us will be on our own.

    To those of you who are already prepping and to those of you who are thinking about it or just starting out I wish you well.

    To the web master and to everyone who has contributed I thank you for doing so and hope that all the skills and prepping that that we do never has to be put into use.

    John.

  • Skean Dhude

    Moosedog,

    Thanks for that. It was interesting.

    John,

    Welcome.

    Thanks for the update, From the comments I’ve worked out that we can live on very litle. Maybe we are paying toomuch on welfare. 🙂

    I’ve already found that people talk about contingency plans and they are treated as simple checkboxes. They don’t really think it through and don’t believe it will happen.

    We will be on our own. That is one reason I agree with you and hope that we never have to put it to use.

  • flashbaztard

    our family of four spend less than £50 a week on shopping and over half that is on pet food, so your budget would be luxury to us [although i dont know what we would spend it on as our food is great.] not eating meat must save a lot i presume,rice is eaten 3 times a week,free eggs from the chucks [and their feed is in with the shopping] we shop around a lot for the cheapest ,not just one supermarket.
    problem would be wtshtf where would we get any food from? just keep stockpiling.
    by the way did you all see the police ‘visiting’ the rioters at home . the average front door opened in seconds with that ram of theirs. i will have to do something to my doors or my stock will soon vanish any idea’s

  • Skean Dhude

    Flash,

    I’m beginning to think I don’t live as close to the edge as I thought. I’m going to have a look at my expenditure.

    I’ll do an article on the doors. Basically, Solid door, metal if possible. Metal frame with a special bar on down the sides. Won’t stop the looters getting in but it will not be a two second job.

  • Kenneth Eames

    In a survival situation you should add to your food reserves Wild Food. There are many plants that can be used. Dandelion, Nettle, Red Clover, Sea weeds if you are near the sea. Many more out there plus mushrooms and of couse, what you are able to fish and hunt. With your food reserves and these wild foods, you can live well.

  • Skean Dhude

    Kenneth,

    I hope so. I’m setting up several wild food area which is all I seem to be able to keep alive. Mainly by ignoring them.

  • Linda

    I have no problem living on a limited budget for food and agree with being able to live healthily (although not always very appetising)on £15 a week, what I struggle with is the increasing cost of utility bills, petrol (necessity to get to work), rent cost, etc. When you have already cut back on food, it is very difficult to make ends meet.

  • Skean Dhude

    Linda,

    Welcome.

    I can understand that. Everything is going up, and quite a bit, without our income keeping track. However,the more you can reduce your reliance the better. You are already in a better situation by what you have done.

  • katie

    My partner and I did a weeks food shop for both of us for £32 at a well known supermaket it can be done you just need to look for the bargins and be open to trying new things. Buy the weekly offers which are especially good in the freezer section as they will keep and buy “own” brands only the label is different!

    • Skean Dhude

      Katie,

      Welcome. Once you start eating your own stuff from the garden you will reduce it more than that if you wanted to. Good luck.

  • james jackson

    mm i know its a good point, but think back to ration books, where food was little! But people were healthy and did a full day of manual work. Im trying to get lists of what they ate and use that as a guide to how we could resort to eating less. I know we can live on less then what we do now, i can make a stew that lasts 2 days for 2 people by adding potato to the meat and veg, bulking up on veg is a key to it, when living in lapland i ate lots of porridge (alot), home made bread, soups. Same kind of diet as the students (minus the beer), beak beans, pasta, rice, oats and flour are a good bulker to any larder. thats without adding anything you grow yourself

    • james jackson

      How much food was one person allowed to buy per week during the war?

      The weekly ration varied from month to month as foods became more or less plentiful.

      A typical ration for one adult per week was:

      Butter: 50g (2oz)

      Bacon and ham: 100g (4oz)

      Margarine: 100g (4oz)

      Sugar: 225g (8oz).

      Meat: To the value of 1s.2d (one shilling and sixpence per week. That is about 6p today)

      Milk: 3 pints (1800ml) occasionally dropping to 2 pints (1200ml).

      Cheese: 2oz (50g)

      Eggs: 1 fresh egg a week.

      Tea: 50g (2oz).

      Jam: 450g (1lb) every two months.

      Dried eggs 1 packet every four weeks.

      Sweets: 350g (12oz) every four weeks

  • Kenneth Eames

    I remember this too well having lived through the war. I was seven years old when the war started. Not only was food rationed but clothing and shoes were too. Even vegetables were rationed in a way. Theoretically, vegetables were not rationed but the supplies to greengrocers were limited. When my mother went for veg, somedays she could have two or three pounds of potatoes and another day one pound. One day there might be cabbage or not. It was a hard time and people were like bean poles. Kenneth Eames.

  • My grocery bill is £200 every four weeks which for my wife and I comes down to £25 per week. Some of that is also made up of non food products like cleaning and personal hygiene products. This is then below what the DWP say you can live on. Of course because we shop every four weeks and buy quite a bit in bulk we can get things cheaper. Also cooking for two is slightly less expensive that cooking for one. We eat well out of this and have never felt like we are missing out. It takes being at least an average cook and often nifty organisational skills but it can be done.

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