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Tuesday 6 November 2018

Sorry for the lack of Meal Plans.  I've been busy getting our citizenship process done, which is thankfully sorted now because it very nearly broke me.  I also had a really bad head cold and cough for a couple of weeks that took ages to shake off. 

It's GCSE mock exam time for us so this week and next so that will be a challenge.  Add in a couple of school trips this week, one that leaves at 4am, and you get an idea of the 'fun' times in our household at the moment. 

Breakfasts will be porridge as it's a filling breakfast to see will set us up for the day.  On the weekend we'll have pancakes and homemade crumpets.

Packed lunches will be Wholemeal Savoury Swirls with crudites, a piece of fruit and a baked treat for afters.  Weekend lunches will be soups from the freezer.  I cooked three large batches of soup using the vegetables from a couple of yellow sticker Wonky Vegetable Boxes.  I was able to buy 6 kg of mixed vegetables for £1.  The soup was frozen in silicone muffin cases then put into containers so we can use however much or little we need.  The rest of the vegetables are being used in dinners this week.


Fish and Chips

Slow Cooker Bolognese

There's no shopping list this week as I went to the supermarket with my friend. Due to an online shopping issue I couldn't use my usual method of grocery shopping.  I'll be back with another Meal Plan, complete with shopping list next week.  

Reverse Advent Calendar #FoodbankAdvent

Sunday 4 November 2018
We're one of the millions of JAM (just about managing) families in the UK.  There's not a lot to spare each month and we have to be really careful with our money.  There's been times in the past when we've relied on the Food Bank.  My husband lost his job and had to retrain when our eldest was 6 weeks old, we were without regular income for a year and the Food Bank was a godsend.  We also turned to the Food Bank when my husband had a brain haemorrhage 7 days before our youngest daughter was born and was off work for 5 months. 

I make sure that we regularly donate items to our local food bank, even when times are tight for us.  They were brilliant when we needed help so I donate a few items each week.  We increase our contributions this time of year because there's so much extra demand. 

To encourage our children to get involved, and make our contribution more festive, we've been taking part in the Reverse Advent campaign for several years.  During November we put one item per day into large reusable grocery bags, then donate the items to our local Food Bank in early December.

With a normal Advent Calendar, you take something out each day, with a Reverse Advent Calendar you put something in each day.  Our children really enjoy picking out items to put in and we make sure to include non food items such as toiletries, etc.

Why regularly donate to the foodbank? Because over 90% of the food that foodbanks provide is donated by the public.  The Trussell Trust Foodbank network provided 1,332,952 three day food supplies to people in crisis between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, a 13% increase from the previous year. And the Trussell Trust typically sees a 45% spike in referrals for the three-day emergency food parcels in the two weeks before Christmas.

There are many reasons for the increase in demand for Food Bank parcels at this time of year such as higher energy bills as temperatures drop, the cost of extra meals when the kids aren’t at school during Half Term and the Christmas holidays, and November is a 5 week month which means wages are stretched further than usual.  For many families there's just not enough money coming in to cope with the cost of living let alone Christmas.

We gather our items in November so that the Food Bank has time to process them in early December before peak demand hits.  If you want to take part in the campaign contact your local Food Bank to see which items are most needed, and also if they are making up Christmas hampers comprised of a specific list of items.

As well as canned and dried food, consider donating toiletries, nappies, baby milk, baby food, sanitary products, and pet food.  Our local Food Bank prefers 500g packs and 1 litre cartons, and currently has a list of urgently needed items. as well as asking people to register to fill a Christmas Hamper with specific items. 

If a whole Reverse Advent Calendar seems daunting, put a couple of items in the donation trolley at your local supermarket when you do your shopping. Every donation helps, for the cost of a takeaway coffee you could purchase items which will really help those in need.

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I hope you'll join in the #FoodbankAdvent campaign and help make Christmas a bit more bearable for those in need.  Start a new family tradition, get workmates involved, give what you can because it all makes a difference.

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