Have yourself a cheaper little Christmas: My £2.25 Christmas dinner on the One Show!

I haven’t had a minute to blog every single one of the recipes, but I knew people would be curious about the individual costings for the Christmas dinner that I cooked for The One Show (Friday 19th December) so I’ve given them below.

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I cooked a roast chicken in place of the turkey, as it fits in the oven and I won’t be eating it for a week afterwards! Mine was a free range one, and I used half of it to serve the four taste testers, so I’ve said it serves 8. It was a pretty big chicken!

Portions are based on what I cooked on the day – and all diners went home ‘stuffed’ in their own words! I cooked for 4 that you’ll see on camera, and plated up dinner for me and the boy to have when all the fuss died down and everyone went home…

As usual, all prices based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics, all meat is free range, and all correct at time of going to blog/film/telly/etc…

The Christmas dinner main course was chicken roasted in mandarin juice and cranberry, with roast potatoes, sweet glazed parsnips, roasted carrots, sprouts with bacon, BIG pigs in blankets, and home made gravy…

I’ve blogged the recipes for the starters and desserts that I cooked – and I’ll do this one in full when I’ve dispensed with my banging migraine (day four) as it’s a bit…multitasking… But for now, here’s the cost breakdown for the curious…

Basted bird, £9.71 or £1.21 per head if serving 8:
Large free range chicken £9.63
1 tbsp cranberry sauce, 4p
Mandarin juice from tin, free ( using mandarins in dessert – costed there)

Veg, £1.23 or 20p each if serving 6:
1kg potatoes, 48p.
500g Carrots, 30p.
350g parsnips, 45p.

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Sprouts with bacon, 66p or 11p per head if serving 6:
400g frozen Sprouts, 40p
2 rashers of free range streaky bacon, 36p

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Pigs in blankets (makes 6): 66p each
6 rashers of free range streaky bacon, £1.07
6 free range sausages, £2.89

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Gravy: 14p, 2p per head
1 chicken stock cube, 2p
1 tbsp flour, 3p
Shake of mixed dried herbs, 3p
Drained juices from the roasted chicken, including mandarin and cranberry, free

Oil for chicken and veg: 150ml (10tbsp), 20p

Ingredients by total weight and price:
Potatoes £1.19/2.5kg. Carrots 89p/1.5kg. Parsnips 90p/700g. Frozen brussels sprouts £1/kg. Colmans cranberry sauce £1/265g. Free range streaky bacon £2.50/14 slices. Free range sausages £2.89/6. 10 chicken stock cubes, 20p. 1.5kg flour 65p. Sunflower oil £4/3l, or 2p per 15ml.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msJackMonroe

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60 Comments »

  1. OK I have more than a few problems with this costing…
    You’re starting to behave just like other cooks on TV, Jack, sadly 😦
    The main obvious one straight away is you’ve costed the chicken for 8 people but all your other costings are for 6 people. Making the chicken for 6 adds at least 30p straight away.
    The other main problem is exactly what other cooks do, assume everyone has all the ingredients already to hand. Example, 1tbsp cranberry sauce 4p – you probably only have cranberry sauce at Xmas, and you certainly can’t buy it for 4 pence.

    • If you read the article, I said:

      “I used half of it to serve the four taste testers, so I’ve said it serves 8. It was a pretty big chicken!”

      The rest serves 6 as it physically served 6, the 4 diners, and me and SB after. We had the remaining chicken the next day.

      I also costed in the cranberry sauce, if you read the article in full.

      • I’ve read the article. You’ve certainly confused the issue if your chicken serves 8 but the rest of your menu only serves 6. My comment about the cranberry sauce I’ll stand by – you can only buy that by the jar – 1 quid, so you say. But you then cost it at 4 pence per person. When you’ll probably never have cranberry sauce again until next year. That makes it more like 17pence per person.
        And the electricity/gas costs of cooking the food, well I wrote another comment about that, that’s something neither you, nor any other cook I’ve ever seen, wants to include in their costings.

      • Well use the cranberry sauce for something else – it’s not rocket science. Think of a way of using it. That’s the fun part.

      • Cranberry sauce lasts from one year to the next, if it doesn’t get used before. Keep it in the fridge. Mind you, How can one not use up cranberry sauce, delicious stuff that it is?
        J x

    • Jack’s recipes are not costed for what a one-off shop will cost, but for what portions cost as part of a general shop. Jack often blogs leftovers recipes, if that’s any help. I definitely have cranberry sauce all year round; Jack can’t possibly predict which items people will and won’t have in their store cupboards.

      If you’re interested in a more tightly focused approach to costings, Thriftylesley’s blog is truly excellent, although the recipes are a lot more frugal and therefore less likely to be to everyone’s taste.

    • If you buy the cranberry sauce and want to use up any leftover before next Christmas, I use it as a sauce with boiled bacon/ham. Fry some sliced mushrooms, add the boiled bacon or ham slices, a couple of tablespoons of cranberry sauce to heat through with a dash of orange juice if you have it. Serve with a green vegetable!

  2. Oh also, something no TV cook EVER factors in, the cost in electricity in cooking the food. Since the chicken alone is probably being roasted for a good 2 hrs or more, given its size, I reckon you’re looking at a minimum of 2-3 KwHrs of energy which will cost 40-50pence at least.
    You’re a single mum, Jack, you must know all this.

    • I don’t cost electricity or gas because I can’t possibly do it for every possible variable of gas, electric, key meters, direct debits, what supplier, tarriff, etc. yes the chicken took two hours but that’s a sight faster than a turkey would have… I’ve explained not costing energy hundreds of times, and include energy saving tips in my recipes where I can.

      • that’s a cop out, and you know it. You can use an “average” figure easily enough. I’m sure I could google it for you if you like. But that would add to your costing figures wouldn’t it.. which I’m guessing Sainsbury’s etc. wouldn’t like.

      • I hate that you have to explain yourself so much, Jack. Every time I read a comment questioning your costing I want to throw my computer across the room. It’s like people think you’re trying to trick us into thinking you can eat on a low budget; like you’re some kind of Tory mouthpiece. I am sorry you have to read constant nitpicking!

      • Just a possible time saving suggestion – why not have a faq page and when someone posted one of these many asked questions, instead of having to explain it again just say something like ‘Refer to FAQ 4 for the answer’. You could do a link if you feel particularly charitable 🙂

    • Hi Kinnison, here’s a thought. You could start your OWN blog where everything you cook is precisely costed out to the kilowatt. If it’s as important as you clearly feel it is I’m sure you’ll have a ton of readers. In the meantime, perhaps consider a little less anger towards someone who is trying to do the right thing and does it pretty damn well? There are many people more deserving of your ire. Personally I think Jack already goes above and beyond with her pricing – e.g noting details such as the mandarin juice as she does here.

      Jack – Merry Christmas I think you are freaking awesome and hope you and the boy have a great one.

  3. The chicken looks amazing!! But no stuffing?
    If somebody wanted to do this without using free range meat I’m guessing they could save a whole lot more.

  4. Also as a single mother you know that both cooks and diners traditionally wear clothes, I don’t see where the cost of the clothing worn for both cooking and eating were factored in, you also completely failed to include the costings for cutlery and dishes or the washing up, as a single mother…. You’re doing great Jack, keep it up.

    • Actually a non cook anf someone who should have known better to say anything to me, actually did tell me that my meals cost more because of the soap and cost of heating the water for washing…..they were not joking.
      With my best theatre face, I explained that I let my two big wolfie dogs lick them clean then rinsed them with me when I showered.
      There was such silence after that.

    • Ha! Well said. Comments from people like kinnison41 make me despair. Jack is doing a far greater job than any chef/blogger I’ve seen to date by having our interests in mind. Doing an amazing job Jack you’re a true inspiration and I’m telling all my friends about you 🙂

  5. Please pop up the crumble recipe when you get a min. It looked sooo yummy and we have people coming on Sunday and need a cheap Christmassy pud. This looked perfect. Thought you were fab on the One show tonight by the way 🙂

    • I did actually put silly tags around that to show I was being unserious, but darn wordpress stripped them out – sorry 😛

      • OMG!!!! Get a life Kinnison41. Have you nothing better to do than whinge, moan and criticise; and then pretend that you’re joking?!!! Maybe you should try doing something constructive instead? Like costing the power for cooking the meal; sounds as though you haven’t got anything better to do!

  6. hi jack – this looks like a grand feast – have a question – do you know anything about the £10 Harp donation? assume the £10 per person goes on more than the food ?

  7. again another fabulous post Jack,only trying to help the genuine folk who really do need your advice and guidance, there’s always 1 smart a–e who thinks they are hilarious, cant stop laughing, NOT.
    WELL DONE jACK

  8. Dear Jack
    May I just wish you a Merry Christmas and a really brilliant 2014. You are the best and an inspiration to me and countless others.

    just two points. Instead of endlessly replying to all the nitpicking idiocy you have to put up with why don’t you write a post for each rebuttal and simply post a link to the blog, something like ” see xyz post – nitpickers guide to my finances ” etc (sorry – my sarcastic side
    sometimes gets the better of me).

    Also I think you are going to have to get help with the blog – someone to moderate the comments – you can’t do it all by yourself
    and next year is going to get crazy once those ads hit the telly. I’m sure somebody will volunteer who posts here.

    Please, please make time for yourself and Small Boy. Don’t let those Tory idiots grind you down.

    xx Win

  9. All these lovely free range recipes are giving me a sad, as the two big Sainsbury’s near me have been out of most free range meats in the last few weeks. Anything to do with extra demand stimulated by you, Jack, or maybe my local buyers have assumed people no longer want to spend on free frange? I’ll be asking them about it, but they may wish to consider that people are going to be associating them more with free range thanks to you, and they ought to be meeting that demand!

  10. It was a good TV piece on The One Show. I shall try the recipe on New Years Day as I am cooking for friends. I am joining friends for Christmas Day.
    Best wishes to you and SB for Christmas and the New Year. Best wishes to all your readers also..

  11. Jack – Im so pleased with what you have acheived and the difference you are making. Back in the 80s there was a TV programme with very patronising and inaccurate information about cooking on a tight budget. I wrote and said the real experts are the people who know what it is like to have limited income. The producer replied and said very interesting, would I like to appear on the programme? They would pay my fair to London. But they said they would not pay for any childcare, and as I was alone with two small children I could not afford to go.

  12. Dont bother answering back your detractors, they are not worth the time spent. Have a cuddle with small boy instead. Surely if people have such poor storecupboards they can’t drum up some mixed herbs they deserve to eat badly. Have a wonderful festive season and try get some rest.
    XX

  13. Saw the One Show and loved it. Well done, Jack.
    For those who struggle to find free range chickens at Sainsbury’s/anywhere I get mine from Aldi, although they are a standard 1.5 kg size.

    I can do some of your recipes a few pence cheaper than costings given by using Aldi, but as you have Sainsbury’s on the doorstep, it would make more sense to use them than waste time and money travelling to save pennies.

    I agree with posting a general ‘Please note that my costs…’ and not wasting any more time with those whose only purpose is to criticise and nitpick.

    The crumble looked gorgeous, lots of lovely fruit, just the thing to follow up with, rather than a stodgy pud.

  14. Dear Jack,
    From Brittany I follow your blog.
    Each time you answer some silly letters I think:stop reacting!
    I am an old lady, but I remember very well how people tryed to critisize me, wenn I tried to Live with little money.
    Now I am glad I learnd to, I feel rich with it.

  15. I agree with all the other supportive blogger comments. Keep up the fab work and prioritise yourself and your son.
    Hope the migraine clear, I am day 3 with one so know how you feel.x

  16. Jack Monroe on the One Show and the front of the Waitrose Magazine – brilliant! Well done! I hope you and your boy have a lovely Christmas! xx

  17. just a quick note here, i know it has nothing to do with cooking, but I suffered for 50 odd years with terriffic migraines till I went gluten free almost 2 years ago, haven’t had one since, just something to think about.
    Happy christmas and new year to all, especially you and SB.

  18. Can I echo Win’s suggestion. A FAQ section would deal with all the whys and whatabouteries (Why tinned potatoes? Why Sainsbury? Whatabout the cost of fuel?/…).

    You probably wouldn’t even have to direct the questioning poster to it because your regulars would do it for you. Also those of us who post BTL in the Graun could link to it when dealing with nitpickers.

    Excise this particular bit of negativity from your life and use your energies for positive things.

    Have a lovely Christmas with SB and, for the New Year, here’s wishing you the bluest sky and hoping something better comes tomorrow.

    • An excellent idea – hope you do it, so you don’t have to get sucked into the nastiness and negativity that some people seem to spend their life’s energy on. Then you can save your energy for the good work you do and for small boy.

      • Just to add that I’ve read that many internet “trolls” are really just bored with life, and they get their kicks from the reactions of the people they are trying to needle, so a FAQ section that means you don’t need to engage with them would take away their “reward”.

        The Daily Mail etc brigade are another kettle of fish and I imagine mostly politically motivated – perhaps to try to dissuade people from reading what you actually say about the reality of modern poverty? Some FAQs would indeed make it easy for others to reply for you to this nasty faction too.

  19. Hi Jack, a nasty neigbours of me came around and needed a tin of chopped tomato from me. I was middle of cooking and a box of basic chicken cube (20p for 10) was on my worktop. She got very angry with me that how can i do that in front of my young boy as a basic chicken cube comes from battry chicken. I was cooking free range organic chicken but she said i am a hypocrite by buying and using chicken cube. What is your thought about it. To be honest, i am still shock and shaken. Bybthe way, she still took a tin of chopped tomato annd so far it hasn’t be replaced. Are we hypocrite?? I was to shock and shaken to say anything 😦

  20. Having read through your post and all the above comments, I have to agree with Linda and Win. Don`t feed the whingers and do please know that your work is really appreciated by so many.

    I hope that migraine goes away! What a pain! I don`t know how you even blogged with it.

    Have a brilliant Christmas with all your loved ones, but most especially, SB.

  21. Oh dear, hope your migraine doesn’t hang around for too much longer. Stop doing stuff! Rest is the only thing that will work (in my experience) and it’s probably hard enough to get that with a small boy around so just back away from the computer and leave the hoards to themselves for a few days. 🙂 Just wanted to also say thanks for adding a couple of new, now standard dishes to my cooking repertoire since I found your blog earlier this year. And for opening my mind to a whole load of new things to do with carrot – I can’t believe for so many years I thought cut and boil (with an occasional roasted with parsnips for variety) was all you could do. Hope you have a peaceful and very enjoyable christmas and new year.

  22. I saw this on the TV, loved the look of the dinner and went straight out to buy the ingredients. Is there any chance that you could put the recipe on your blog? I’ve read through the costings and re-watched your slot on iplayer, but would love a bit more detail!

  23. Hi Jack, I will never understand why people pick apart and moan about recipes and costings, surely it is obvious that if I want to follow a recipe of yours I can either follow it 100% or I can use it as guidance and adapt to my own preferences. Common sense says you can’t factor in utilities as there’s too many variables. Don’t let the moaners get you down, the vast majority appreciate your efforts.

  24. Left over cranberry sauce is nice with meatballs and gravy ikea style, with chicken roast dinner, and in cheese and cranberry toasties. Who has leftovers? not me yum yum!

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