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Great British Budget Menu

Thu Jul 11, 8-9pm, BBC1

Foodie Britain and austerity Britain have been living parallel lives for some time now. In this ‘Great British Menu’ special, they meet at last and it’s often uneasy viewing. Tonight, Angela Hartnett, James Martin and Richard Corrigan all spend time in households suffering from food poverty.

Each is shocked by the extent of the deprivation they encounter: indeed initially, Corrigan seems shocked at the prospect of eating spag bol without parmesan. And soon, they’re discovering for themselves how impossible it is to eat healthily on a budget of around a £1.50 a day in a country where food costs are rising at three times the speed of wages. Oh, and note to Daily Mail readers: no benefit scroungers here – there’s real heroism in someone like working mum Joanna, who regularly skips meals entirely so her daughter Carly can eat.

Eventually, the TV format wins out and the whole project descends into a bit of a competitive backslap. But it does feel like a well-intentioned nudge to the government (we’d prefer a bottle in the face, but there you go) about the need to regulate the food industry, raise the minimum wage and generally, stop treating poor people as if they’re the feckless architects of their own misery.


Tom Savage
Tom Savage

Uncomfortable indeed. Three of Britains top celebrity chefs found it almost impossible to eat healthily on a budget of £1.50, thus proving the left-wing viewer right. They then went on to serve up a banquet, no less, on a budgrt of £1.50 a head, proving the right wing viewer right. Que the obligatory panel of celebrity food critics to judge the outcome. Sausage-meat balls up against budget chicken and rice. The only thing this programme really proved is that whilst families may well be struggling financially, the really important thing is that the format of anything with 'Great British and Menu' in the title must be followed.

Lucinda Dolinsek
Lucinda Dolinsek

The programme was good as far as it went BUT did you also take into account the price of cooking the food ie gas/electricity??