Bless those who curse you.

20131031-182917.jpg

THIS fantastic print is hanging on my wall – I got it at the Urban Expression conference earlier this month, to hang by my desk. It says in full: “Bless those who curse you. What credit is it to you if you only do good to those who are good to you?” It’s by Micah Purnell and it’s one of […]

Read More →

Quick banana custard

20131021-201852.jpg

I had two sad little bananas in the fruit bowl this evening and fancied a quick comforting dessert – so here we have it, banana custard! Makes around 3/4s of a pint (served three): Ingredients: 2 bananas 300ml cold water 6 tsp dried skimmed milk 2 tbsp flour 2 egg yolks (the whites can be frozen until needed – don’t […]

Read More →

It’s cheaper to make it: Jack’s Macaroni Cheese, 43p, versus supermarket ready meal, 75p.

20131021-160924.jpg

So today I decided to set myself a new challenge, to cook a like-for-like replica of a supermarket ready meal, but cheaper. Harder than it looks, as the ready meals are made in bulk using low priced ingredients – and I have to buy those ingredients at ‘retail’ price, not ‘wholesale’. I decided on a basic macaroni cheese meal, 75p […]

Read More →

Ethics vs Economics: Choosing free-range.

So, I’ve caused a minor furore with my latest Guardian recipe by using free range sausages at £2.79 for 6. Not as big as the furore I caused by (quelle horreur!) using basic baked beans and rinsing the sauce off them to reveal little white haricot or cannelloni beans underneath (more on that later) but a furore all the same. I hardly eat meat at all these days, maybe twice a week, and usually sausages or chicken. I tend to get my proteins from beans, pulses, fish and vegetables – I lead a pretty hectic, active lifestyle, and am a healthy size for my height with good general health, so I think I’m doing alright. I do a lot of research into nutrition, and have a permanent mental list of great sources of B vitamins, iron, protein and vitamin C – a lot of which are staples on my shopping list – but I’ll blog that in detail one of these days. The point is, I try to get as much nutrition for my budget as possible. If I didn’t care about nutrition, I’d never have started this in the first place – I’d have carried on feeding SB a third of a ready meal and staring glumly across the table while he ate it. Times have been bloody hard over the past year, and I bought Basic 80p sausages for my Live Below The Line challenge earlier this year, […]

Read More →

Tripling in foodbank usage sparks Trussell Trust to call for an inquiry. (Trussell Trust press release)

20131016-082112.jpg

Photo: The Guardian. Over 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year. The Trussell Trust says that UK hunger is getting worse and the charity is calling for an inquiry into the causes of UK food poverty and the consequent surge in […]

Read More →

What can you give up for a food bank?

Who remembers 22 meals for a coffee? A few months ago I urged readers to give up a luxury, like their morning latte, and instead buy the equivalent shopping for their local food bank, or donate £3 to the Trussell Trust by texting FBUK13 £3 to 70070. Well the response was overwhelming, with hundreds of readers donating both by text and from their shopping baskets, and if you Google ’22 meals for a coffee’, it was mentioned on other peoples blogs far and wide. But as new figures show that food bank use is still on the increase, it’s time for me to ask again if you can spare one little luxury that you might take for granted – be it your morning latte or takeaway breakfast, or that pint after work, or a packet of ten cigarettes – and instead donate the money to your local food bank, or to the Trussell Trust by texting FBUK13 £3 to 70070. The Trussell Trust are launching a similar campaign tomorrow called Give It Up For Foodbanks – and I can’t emphasise enough that a three day emergency food box, or an extra three pounds, is absolutely crucial to some families. I’ve got a list of suggested food bank donations that I wrote for the Women’s Institute and Urban Expression last week, and I’ve blogged it here. Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe.

Read More →

The Pink List 2013

20131013-002855.jpg

From today’s Independent on Sunday: “When the first Pink List was published in 2000, it was essentially a list of 50 influential people who were brave enough to be “out”. This year we received more than 1,300 nominations and had to reduce thousands of potential contenders to just 101. The judges decided that a Pink List contender can no longer […]

Read More →

Reader recipes: Ali’s go-to quick and easy lunch, 30p.

It’s been a while since I posted a reader recipe, but I got this one in my email inbox recently and just had to blog it. I’ll be making this for my lunch myself this week as I fancy experimenting with the value range soft cheese, and the other ingredients are things I usually have in the house. Here’s Ali’s quick and easy go-to lunch, which she’s worked out at just over 30p per portion… “My current go-to lunch is pretty instant but I think for your readers who don’t have time to cook it could be good! So all the ingredients are from the Sainsbury’s Basics range… Tomato & Onion pasta and sauce (17p) cooked until 2 minutes from done. Add 100g of frozen mixed veg (7.5p – 75p per 1kg) and 20g of soft cheese (6p – 61p per 200g) and finish cooking (microwave or pan). It’s really tasty and at least you’re getting some veg and calcium in there too! Perfect if you just don’t have the time to prepare something or if you’re injured and can’t chop anything. Oh, and adding a bit more veg and a slice of bread each makes it enough for a lunch for two.” If you have a great frugal recipe you’d like to share, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk – thanks!

Read More →

Reader Recipe: Laura’s Porridge-and-Yoghurt Breakfast

I received this lovely email recipe from a reader after I posted my Express Porridge idea, and loved it so much I thought I would share it. I know my Small Boy would love this! Good morning Jack, I saw your recent post about creating your own instant oatmeal. Here’s something I make that’s cheap and easy to make, and my daughter loves it. One 450g/500g tub of yogurt Some cheap, fine cut value oats *fruit (optional) Spoon the yogurt into a bowl, and gradually add the dry oats and stir them in. Add enough oats so the mixture is between overly creamy and dry. Put the top on the container, and keep in the fridge overnight. The next day you’ll have creamy, fluffy yogurty oats to spoon into a bowl and enjoy. *Most of the time, after I pour the yogurt into the bowl, I add some frozen blueberries, frozen blackberries or raisins before stirring in the porridge. This is made in our house once a week, and it provides about 3 breakfasts for myself and my daughter. It goes down a treat. Best wishes, Laura. If you have a recipe you want to share, email it to jackmonroe@live.co.uk

Read More →

“Calling your cuts a war, is an insult to my father, and to my brother, and the service they gave this country. This is not a war. It is a massacre.” Conservative Party address, Jack Monroe.

The question we were asked to answer today, was “are food banks a sign of hope or failure?” I think we all know the answer to that – or at least we think we do. Here’s my story. You might think you know it already, but listen carefully. Here it is without any media spin, without any internet commenters, without any details carefully left out by left wing or right wing newspapers that don’t want to upset their readers. I’m a girl called Jack. I’m 25 years old, and I was unemployed for 18 months and claiming benefits. However, I had my first job at the age of 14 or 15, working as a waitress in a local restaurant owned by a family friend, earning myself some pocket money on a Saturday and Sunday. Before that, I had spent weekends at my grandfathers guest houses, folding sheets and making tea for a tenner in my back pocket. I have worked in retail, in coffee shops, and eventually, Essex Country Fire and Rescue Service. I left the Fire Service after having my son. I returned from maternity leave to find that working two day shifts and two night shifts, on different days and nights every week, with an 18 month old boy to look after, was next to impossible by myself. Comments on the internet imply that I sailed out of my job because I knew the welfare state would pick […]

Read More →

Lentil and spinach Daal, 66p.

20131003-085459.jpg

So, if you’ve made the Beetroot, Feta and Lentil salad that I kicked off my Guardian recipe column with – or you have some lentils and spinach still kicking about, here’s a recipe for a quick warming winter dinner. It’s easy and filling – I love mine with pitta breads dunked in… Ingredients (serves two): 1 onion 1 red chilli […]

Read More →

A Blog I Love: ‘Garden Rage’ by Joanna Dobson

This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read for a long time and articulates brilliantly some of the things in my head that haven’t made it onto paper/the Internet yet! I have been quietly following Joanna’s blog for a while, and enjoy both her food and her philosophy: “Growing my own vegetables has brought the issue of food justice more sharply into focus than anything I have ever read or watched on the television. Harvesting bowl after bowl of raspberries from just a few canes in the back garden has made me both more grateful for the food that I have and more angry about the fact that so many are not able to do even this very little thing. Giving away lettuce to anyone who would take it and still feeling that we would never get to the end of it exposed for me like nothing else the lies that dominate our consumer culture and fuel a system where around 4 million people in one of the richest nations in the world do not have access to a healthy diet. The lies are perpetuated by the god of consumerism, a god that needs us to be fearful of not having enough, because otherwise we might stop buying things.” Please read Joanna’s article for the rest, I find her writing a refreshing calm among all the noise: Garden Rage by Joanna Dobson Jack. X

Read More →