A week in the tummy of Jack and SB: What I made and what I have left, Day 1.

Good morning lovely readers!

On Monday night, I blogged and tweeted a photo of my £13.41 food shop for this week and a few bits left over from last week, and asked you what I should make out of it… (http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/27/turning-the-tables-heres-my-food-what-should-i-make-this-week/)

The response was overwhelming, over 250 recipe ideas and suggestions were submitted, and I promised to blog the whole week of recipes to show what could be made from a few simple ingredients. Of course – it’s what I do every week, but I don’t get around to blogging every meal that I make in my kitchen! However, it’s the thing I’m asked for most – is a comprehensive set of recipes based on my weekly shop – so I’ve risen to the challenge. It’s tougher than I thought – not the cooking, obviously I do that anyway – but to a cook like me, who flings and slings things together on a whim, actually weighing and measuring everything and carefully writing it down is a real effort – so I hope it’s a helpful effort!

In order to be ‘real’, I’ve included the bits that were lurking from the week before, that Turkey and chickpea mince mixture, some half bags of frozen veg, and seemingly bottomless staples like flour, a few spices, and oil. Because I’m not starting with an empty cupboard, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. That’s the point of my blog, it’s really about my real kitchen and real life. It’s not an experiment or a fun foray into frugality, it’s what I do. I’ve been blogging the recipes as I go along – so on Tuesday, we (SB and I) had:

Apple granola, using oats, apples, honey, and butter. http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/apple-crumble-granola/

Split pea soup, using an onion, two carrots, split peas, garam masala and yoghurt, with a toasted pitta bread for dunking in. http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/spiced-split-pea-and-yoghurt-soup/

A banana, pretty self explanatory!

Turkey meatballs, using that mince and chickpea mixture that was lurking in the fridge, spinach, tomato purée, onion, Greek cheese and pasta. http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/29/turkey-and-chickpea-meatballs-with-pasta-spinach-onion-and-crumbled-not-feta-cheese/

Which leaves me with four portions of granola, two bowls of split pea soup, and six little turkey and chickpea meatballs – and all of these ingredients to crack on with the rest of the week!

6 eggs
400g red kidney beans
A can of baked beans
6 mackerel fillets
7 bananas
5 apples
Broken mandarin segments
Lemon juice
Frozen spinach
Green beans
Chopped tomatoes
Tomato purée
Sweet corn
16 onions
14 and a half carrots
2 bulbs of garlic
Greek salad cheese – 170g
Natural yoghurt – 400ml
Soft cream cheese
400g milk powder (makes up to 4l of milk)
Pasta – 350g
Instant chicken noodles – don’t judge me!
Dried yellow split peas – 200g
A tin of potatoes
4 pitta breads
200g rolled oats

Thanks so much to everyone who submitted recipes and ideas – I’m loving this so far and am definitely considering doing it more often!

I’ll be blogging my recipes and ‘what’s left’ list as I go along so you can keep track – and feel free to keep those suggestions coming in! I feel massively inspired right now, buzzing with all your amazing ideas. I’m tempted to keep buying the same ingredients until I’ve tried them all out, but rest assured they’ve all been written and filed in my ‘inspiration folder’ tucked in a corner of my kitchen, so if they don’t get made this week (and let’s be honest, I can’t eat 250 meals in a week!) then keep your eyes peeled – they might crop up through the year! You’re all great. Seriously. I’m so happy and feel so blessed to have such generous and thoughtful readers. Gushing now, but you deserve it.

Jack xx

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Categories: Recipes & Food


  1. I’m loving this. Its so inspiring seeing what everyone is coming up with from a ‘real’ weekly shop and store cupboard.

  2. Sounds good. Mackerel quiche with lots of onions is an old but fab jocelyn dimbelby recipe which gets a lot of use in our house

  3. Yo Jack, we made the mackerel fishcakes from the Graun last night, only I forgot I’d taken down the potato & fish quantities, and we whacked the full chilli complement in there – OOPS!! I thought they were lush, but they were a bit hot for my wuss boyfriend! Delish though, and ignore all the kn*bhead comments underneath. You’re brill. x

  4. 250 responses to the request for recipes, 32,500 Twitter followers, Guardian and Sainsbury’s onside.

    This is how much you rule Jack. We flippin’ love you, always come back to the comments section of your blogs when you’re feeling down or stressed for the proof.

  5. I still think you should make kedgeree with the rice, eggs, tinned sardines, onion, chopped tomatoes and any spices/curry powder you might have knocking around! If you have fresh coriander growing on your windowledge that might add a nice freshness to it, too (: I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  6. To make those 6 little meatballs go further; fry some chopped onion, add a little tomato puree or paste add the meatballs and just cover with water (not too much we want to be left with gravy/sauce not soup) + stock cube bring to simmer and add some peas or chopped green beans and/or whatever else green you have handy and simmer till cooked, thicken to taste. Meanwhile chop some potatoes in chunks about size half walnut and fry till golden, drain and when meatballs ready chuck fried potatoes on top and serve before they become too soggy.

  7. I find your blog so inspiring! I have found a recipe for a lemon curd and yoghurt loaf cake, (as lemon drizzle cake is my all time favourite treat) and at the weekend I’m going to have a go with Tesco Everyday Value lemon curd (20p/jar) and low fat yoghurt. (45p/500g). Will let you know how I get on x

  8. Suggestions:

    Mackerel pâté with the mackerel, some of the soft cheese and yoghurt, to have with pitta.

    Mushrooms, spinach, garlic, cream cheese and powdered milk to make a sauce for pasta.

    Banana flapjacks.

    Spanish omelette from eggs, green beans, onion, potato and spinach. Have with sardines.

    Looking forward to seeing more recipes. I’m making soup from withered parsnips and oranges today.

  9. I love reading your blog and get excited by the recipes. However, my stumbling block my 2 fussy children. Whilst they have always had home cooked food on a budget, they have their limits. Hence, we eat an awful lot of tomato based pasta with veg chucked in! Does your son eat most of the things you cook? Is it a case of, if they are hungry enough they will eat it? I’ve lost count of the food I’ve thrown away and the boys have opted for a bowl of cornflakes instead. Any tips gratefully received!

    • Helen, my son eats almost everything I put in front of him – like all kids he has quirky days where he decides he doesn’t like onions or red food or ‘anything hot’ – so I try to coax, encourage and smuggle where I can. Simple things like blending veg into a tomato/carrot sauce to make them impossible to detect under all the orangey redness – this works for red lentils too, just whizz them up with carrots and stock for a thick sauce for pasta… I mix spinach into stews, casseroles and sauces, it breaks down and is hard for little people to pick out! I add a generous dollop of yoghurt to make curries cooler and creamier for small palates. A handful of grated cheese is helpful to top pasta dishes and hide the good stuff underneath 😉 And when all else fails, everything’s better with a scant squidge of ketchup on – I keep a bottle for emergencies and difficult moments, but to be fair to SB, he hardly ever asks for it!

    • Children are often fussy because of their developmental age rather than any true preference. Sometimes it is about trying to take control (I don’t like yellow things today) and other times it is because their brain is having trouble with the sensory input they are receiving (I don’t like peas). If you know that they like the consistency of pasta sauce, then run everything through a blender – soup, stew, sauces etc. Veges can be mashed and turned into patties with tomato sauce to disguise them. As kids develop, try reintroducing those things they rejected last year – eventually they will develop a taste for most things. Don’t be discouraged – they will eventually grow out of most of it and everyone is allowed to dislike some foods (just as long is it isn’t an entire food group)! 🙂

    • Helen, my once small daughter (now taller than me) ate anything given and then started to form opinions. I still cooked whatever I fancied and she had a sticker chart for eating all her food. I made sure she had portions small enough that she wouldn’t be over faced. It worked. Sometimes new tastes are interpreted as not nice rather than just unfamiliar. She still tells me she dislikes certain things but they still go on her plate (maybe smaller amount than the rest of us eg one brussel on her Christmas dinner!) and she still eats them. We work on the “if you’re hungry you will eat it” rule.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your food philosophy with us by documenting a week’s worth of what you buy, eat, cook and go on to make with the leftovers. The insight is so inspiring, helpful and useful. It will help a lot of people to acquire a sustaining set of household management skills along the way. It might just help to pull some people through their bleakest moments! So many of us were only given the notion of cooking discrete recipes with a set of ingredients and then we are at a loss as to what to do with the rest of the stuff next. You’re teaching and leading by example. Cannot wait to read more as well as delve into your forthcoming book. True gastronomy is where humble ingredients are transformed into amazing dishes with skill, flair and imagination. Brava Bella!

  11. Your post has just reminded me. I must go down and get the porridge and fruit into the yoghurt for my breakfast. I’ve become addicted to your berry bircher, Jack.

  12. Well done! That all sounds great. And it’s so good to see how varied and healthy SB’s diet is. So many kids miss out on that – and unfortunately it’s not because parents don’t have enough money to supply better food.

  13. I hope you are planning to write some cookbooks! You would make a killing. Stay true to you but use this opportunity and exposure and the love and admiration that so many have for you, to make a bright & prosperous future for you and small boy. No need for guilt for doing well in life. You deserve all the happiness in the world and that includes financial security.

  14. Well that’s my shopping list for this week to..then.. excellent ideas..as a single mum of an extremely greedy 10yr old (it’s all that football he plays)..your blogs are a blessing….

  15. Great idea for this week’s blog! I volunteer for a debt-counselling charity, CAP, and they have just shared your blog details on their FB page – they have a lot of followers and will help to spread the word. I’ve also quietly been doing my little bit. You are definitely of the Zeitgeist. Best wishes!

  16. Last year, I had a horrible time as a freelancer with very very little work. I survived in part because a friend lent (!) me her house free of charge for three months. (I know). I have a little house but had rented it out to avoid losing it. . In those three months, it was possible to turn life round again. One thing I learned was how important it was to be treated with love and not patronised – that breathing space, and that time limited offer made with great kindness, was enough to get back on track again. We need to be there for each other…

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