A Row Over A Bag Of Pasta Misses The Point About The Cost Of Living Crisis

People have boiled down the squeeze on household budgets to the price of dried goods, and it has kicked off on Twitter.
A customer shops for pasta at a supermarket
A customer shops for pasta at a supermarket
TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images

The cost of living crisis is truly starting to bite this month as bills skyrocket – but some people are still trying to split hairs over the cost of a bag of pasta.

Kevin Edger, a Conservative supporter with a large Twitter following, hit out at a report from BBC Panorama about a nurse who said she sometimes skips meals so she has enough to feed her three children.

He tweeted in response: “Yet you can buy a big bag of dried pasta, that would feed a family, for about £0.50...

“If you shop and cook properly, you can eat healthy meals really cheaply. I would love to see how she spends her salary...”

This triggered a huge conversation about just how much money is needed to cook a single meal.

Well-known budget chef Jack Monroe replied to Edger, pointing out that a 500g bag of budget pasta can actually be purchased at 29p sometimes – but that means “5 meals of 100g plain pasta, no butter, no salt, no sauce, no nutrition and a whole 155 calories a meal”.

The cooking expert noted this adds up to 456 calories a day if this was eaten for all three meals – a hard ask for nurses, who work in shifts on their feet.

They added: “Operating at a deficit of 1,544 calories a day is perfectly sustainable in your head, right? I sure hope so, because I’ve got a challenge for you pal!”

They asked Edgar to go to Asda, buy three packets of cheap pasta for under a pound – this does make up 15 very cheap meals, if nothing else is added.

Monroe said: “No tea, no coffee, no squash, no energy drinks, just this MAGIC PASTA that you think is the answer to everything.

“Come back to me on Wednesday and let me know how things are working out for you.”

They also pointed out that the 29p pasta was the exception – usually, it’s 70p for penne instead.

“Show us all how it’s done and I look forward to your bestselling cookbook on the subject,” they concluded.

In additional tweets (and blog post) the expert also broke down all the additional costs of cooking a meal, including buying the utensils and using energy, as well as running a household – showing that 50p bags of pasta are far from the full picture.

As the energy price cap was lifted on April 1, the average household is now expected to pay £700 more in their yearly energy bills. Council tax is also increasing, as are national insurance contributions and inflation.

Edger’s tweet did certainly trigger a reaction as a result, with many people arguing that dried pasta isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the crisis looming over the UK right now.

Then there were the inevitable jokes...


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