What would be best to give a friend in need (i.e. food)?

(40 Posts)
jgjgjg Fri 07-Dec-12 19:28:46

A friend rang me today in a bad state because she has basically spent every single penny that she has, and has no food in the cupboards apart from some bread and a couple of potatoes, to last until Monday when she hopes to get more benefits). Also has no toilet roll, kitchen roll, toiletries, etc.

Very long story behind it which I won't go into here, involving domestic violence, child protection issues by the father, ongoing health problems, legal claims against her ex-employer, etc.

It seems that she has now managed to borrow £20 from someone else which will buy her some things for a few days. I'm really, really reluctant to get into lending her money, but I've said that I will take over a box of things for her on Monday.

So the question is, what would be best for me to take? I really hope that this doesn't come across as patronising, but I'm very lucky in that I've never had to live on a really tight budget so I am struggling to decide what would be best.

Does this sound sensible:

Weetabix/cornflakes
Milk
Bread
Butter
Bottle of squash
Rice
Pasta
Jars of pasta sauce?
Potatoes
Cheese
Sausages
Mince
Baked beans
Toilet roll
Kitchen roll
Washing up liquid
Shampoo
Soap

Thanks
Julie

buildingmycorestrength Wed 12-Dec-12 11:57:36

What an amazing thread. This is all that is good about human nature...the true meaning of Christmas.

AlmostAChristmasHipster Tue 11-Dec-12 13:38:45

Good for you. I've done this for a friend before and I agree that it's better than loaning money. I'm still waiting to be repaid by two friends - I guess the trick is never to give anything you can't afford to lose smile

I'd second the crisps and a bit of chocolate as a little treat for the kids if they usually get nowt.

jgjgjg Tue 11-Dec-12 13:30:16

Hi, she's in Thornton Heath, which is on the outskirts of Croydon

It sounds really sad to read this, we really dont realise how lucky we are. Could you tell us which town she is in and maybe one of could help out. I have a working microwave that needs a new home.

ProfYaffle Mon 10-Dec-12 07:11:32

If she goes to CAB they can issue food bank vouchers. Some of us also keep an informal 'food cupboard' and can issue a few tins direct to clients in an emergency.

BodyOfEeyore Mon 10-Dec-12 06:56:40

Yes freecycle is wonderful. We Got our microwave from there.

Feckthehalls Mon 10-Dec-12 00:19:43

you are a true friend

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Mon 10-Dec-12 00:07:27

Have you tried freecycle? There's always people on my local one advertising microwaves and washing machines

jgjgjg Sun 09-Dec-12 23:10:15

Thanks for your comments everyone.

In the end the other friend actually 'lent' her £50, although of course it remains to be seen if/how she will ever pay it back.

I invited them over to tea yesterday and made sure that both of them ate well, and then sent her home with a couple of big bags of supplies. Didn't have time to get quite everything on the list because the tea idea was a bit spur of the moment but I managed most of it.

I've also investigated nearby food banks for her in case she ever gets to crisis point again. It turns out to be suprisingly difficult to use a food bank! Essentially you need a voucher, which you can only get from social worker/GP/health visitor etc, which of course is very hard on a weekend. Not to mention that 2 of the 3 local ones are closed on a weekend. It seems that you can only have a crisis and need a food bank on a weekday around here...!

She doesn't have anything to sell unfortunately, but I'm investigating charities at the moment to try and get her a working washing machine and microwave.

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Sun 09-Dec-12 13:11:30

What a nice friend she has in you grin

My aunt did the same thing for us when we were really struggling and I will always be grateful to her, I have a friend who is about to be in a similar situation and plan to give her a food hamper as a house warming present.

This is what she put in it

Bread
Milk
Eggs
Cheese
Pasta
Tinned tomatoes
Tin sweetcorn
Frey bentos pie
Onions
Carrots
Potatoes
Butter
Tinned tuna
Rice
Frozen peas
Tea bags
Hot chocolate
Flour
Caster sugar
Sugar
Jam
Mince big family pack that I split into 3 and froze
Chicken breasts
Bacon
Pizza
Variety pack of cereal
Biscuits
Orange squash
Stock cubes

It helped so much because I had the ingrediants to make spaghetti bolognese, bacon pasta, chicken pasta, chicken pie, minced beef and onion pie, cottage pie, omlettes, jacket potatoes, tuna pasta bake, cakes and more, think I fed us for a month on what she had given us

BodyOfEeyore Sat 08-Dec-12 18:55:47

Surely the £20 she has borrowed will see her through until Monday?

ClareMarriott Sat 08-Dec-12 18:53:17

Can you give her some of your time? If she has confided in you about everything that is going on, can you take her out for a coffee. ? Just getting out from inside 4 walls and seeing a bit of daylight/sunshine can change your mood.

CordeliaChase Sat 08-Dec-12 15:23:41

Can you be my friend too, you sound wonderful smile

When I'm living on a budget (have had to many times due to changing circumstances) I tend to buy stores own brand noodles, a teriyaki sauce, tinned beans etc, lots of fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables and some freezer bags.

I make the noodles up, chuck a cooked chicken breast in with some cooked veggies (usually from the frozen lot) and some teriyaki sauce. Cheap teriyaki noodles, my two year old loves them. Every time I cook a meal, I portion some out into a freezer bag and chuck it in the freezer for when I'm skint. I use as many of the fresh veggies as poss, then chuck the rest in a big pot and make a soup. Sweet potatoes, carrots etc make a great base for a yummy soup. I only chuck one stock cube in for a big pot of soup, it goes a long way.

Not sure if any of this helps, but sure your friend will remember your gesture much longer than if you'd just given her money. X

meditrina Sat 08-Dec-12 14:09:01

Lovely idea!

I'd also include toothpaste, shampoo/shower gel and an all-purpose spray cleaner.

bubblepop Sat 08-Dec-12 13:59:05

What a lovely friend you are. I wouldn't lend her money because she may expect it from you again. Get some basics like value rice pudding, porridge,milk,beans,bread,pasta,ham,perhaps some fruit.

Does she have anything she can sell ? like a mobile phone perhaps or some jewellry ?

unexpectediteminbaggingarea Sat 08-Dec-12 09:24:00

what a good friend you are.

There are porridge pots that just need boiling water added (I suppose they have powdered milk in) - might be nice for hot filling breakfasts for the kids? Oastsosimple or something like that I think.

second what the others have said re stuff that will last - tins, frozen, dried etc. jars of pasta sauce sounds perfect, she can add it to mince for spag bol, or just pour in on for a quick meal.

What about a bag of chicken breasts for the freezer and some jars of chicken tonight type sauces?

Frozen chips if you want to treat the kids, or alphabet shapes.

I'm trying to think of stuff that does't need much prep because she's probably really stressed.

Some sound financial advice or a shove towards CAB would be helpful too, if she hasn't already had it. As someone above said, just doing a bit of googling with a clear head might be amazing if she's in a panic. If they kids don't get free school meals making sure that gets sorted.

Honestly, reading your post has made me a bit teary-eyed, because it's just such a nice thing to do.

Shinyshoes1 Sat 08-Dec-12 09:10:05

You sound lovely smile

I too wouldn't start lending money . A "friend" of mine borrowed £40.00 she was in a very similar situation , she has 6 kids . I never did get all the money back

I wouldnt lend money. As already suggested take store cupboard staples but buy the value type brands so you get more for your money.

When people get themselves in this sort of situation they often 'can't see the wood for the trees' so could I suggest you start making some calls on her behalf or Google local charities to see what is available.

Possibly also help her with her weekly budget to see what she is buying. Find out when the markdowns are done in the local supermarket, I do this and then I batch bake and freeze.

There may also be additiinal benefits she is unaware of.

Does she have anything saleable you could put on Ebay? Does she have any skills she can use to make money?

SelD Fri 07-Dec-12 20:07:58

What a wonderful thing to do for your friend.
I would only say, not porridge or wheatabix, you need milk to eat them both.
www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/18/food-banks-on-hand-outs
The list seems good, I would second fruit/veg.
If you were worried what to buy Tesco do a vouchers so you could gift a voucher if you were unsure what to get.

Cahoootz Fri 07-Dec-12 20:01:31

Probably best if you give her the money rather than lend it as you may not get it back.
I would go to your local supermarket and see if they have marked down food at theend of the day. Take your list but play it by ear.

Good luck.

YOu sound lovely.

I tend to look at store cupboard and freezer items

So tinned or frozen veg.
tin toms
uht milk etc

maybe even a couple of home made meals (if she is in real state she might not be able to cook)

basically anything italian can be padded out
chili is good too
tinned tuna, cheese, condenced chicken soup =tuna pasta bake

can you be my friend? Just in case I´m ever in need of a hand up?

jgjgjg Fri 07-Dec-12 19:57:40

More good suggestions thanks.

Yes I know what you meant about the treats, maybe I'll reconsider the crisps and add some chocolate!

Thanks all

That's lovely.
Porridge oats and a bag of sultanas?
When we were really tightly budgeting this made sure the DC had a hot, cheap breakfast.
Tesco value ones were perfectly fine.

Pancakeflipper Fri 07-Dec-12 19:54:07

You are lovely. Add a bar of choc in it will you as a treat? There's not nutritional value but everyone deserves a little treat.

Viviennemary Fri 07-Dec-12 19:53:52

That sound very generous. What a kind friend you are. I'd also take round a few tins, coffee, tea bags, and washing powder/tablets. If you can manage that.

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