Tw*tbreads, 4p

I joke that ninety-seven percent of the spontaneous conversations that my friends start with me – especially mid afternoon or early in the evening – are panicked cookery conundrums, photographs of burned pans, musings about what to have for dinner based on photographs of their kitchen cupboards, or emergency cake queries. This afternoon was no exception.  It started off innocently […]

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Live Below The Line: The Whole Week

                                           Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe This was my Live Below The Line challenge to raise money for Street Child United – I’ll blog all of the recipes I haven’t got around to over the next couple of days. In the meantime you can read about it (and sponsor me!) over on […]

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Live Below The Line: Day 4 breakfast, 14p

This breakfast is so simple it hardly needs a recipe, but in ‘normal life’ it’s one of my favourite quick breakfasts anyway, so as soon as I had the peaches in my basket and realised the breakfast potential, I started looking forward to this. Imagine if the grapefruit had been in stock, I would have denied myself the small pleasure of tucking into this this morning – funny how things work out.   I used 80g from my rapidly-diminishing 500g natural yoghurt, which came in at 9p (the yoghurt was 55p for 500g in the Monday shop) and 50g of peaches, which worked out at 5p (they were 40p for 411g). So all in, a 14p breakfast that wasn’t as big as I’d have liked it to be, but I’m rationing remaining ingredients now – if I’m careful I can have this again as a snack or dessert today or tomorrow!  So far, with the generosity of friends and readers, I’ve raised £3,768 for Street Child United by doing this challenge – nearly double my target, and quite overwhelmed at all of the support and kindness. If you haven’t donated or want to check the page out, head over to http://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/agirlcalledjack Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

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Live Below The Line Day 3 Dinner: Broccoli stalk and yoghurt soup, 29p

Day three, dinner three, sees me over the middle hump of this year’s Live Below The Line challenge. In previous years, I’ve found myself at the end of the week with the scraps and scrag-ends of my £5-for-5-days food shop, exhausted, cranky, and willing it to be over as I try to be inventive with whatever bits and pieces there are left. I’m trying not to let that happen too much this year; in the same way I gently encourage my 5 year old not to leave the ‘green veg’ on his plate until the end for a dragged-out, miserable dinner experience (if anyone finds the answer as to why small boys are totally happy to eat their own bright green bogies and lick their radioactive-looking snot from their noses but abhor anything green that might be good for them, please, I’m dying to know) – I decided to shoehorn some of the ‘scraps’ into the week, rather than drag my heels and pouty lower lip all the way to Friday. So here we are, Wednesday, and a broccoli stalk soup. Rather this than the mushy peas, anyhow, that are glaring at me passive-aggressively from the worktop and filling me with fear. I decided to dice and slightly char the broccoli stalk – there’s no real knowledge or science behind this decision, I just figured it needs all the help it can get to take it from ‘thing I would […]

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The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook

 I’m very honoured to have been a part of this book, along with many friends and other cooks, chefs, dieticians, and nutritionists. I have lost two good and important men in my life to Cancer recently, and know that if this book had been around before now I would have given it to them, their families, and many other […]

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The longer we argue, the longer the queues at the foodbank get…

My column in Society Guardian, Monday 8th December 2014. “Poor people don’t know how to cook”, Baroness Anne Jenkin said at the launch of the Feeding Britain report yesterday, and suddenly it was as though ten months of evidence gathering, and 160 pages of written report, hadn’t happened, cast aside to be summed up in seven words. Welcome to the new politics, where every character counts, and every statement met with an equal and polarising one. Instead of discussing and debating the 77 recommendations in the report on Monday evening, as a former food bank user who had given oral evidence to the committee myself in July, I found myself on regional and national radio and television, being asked about Baroness Jenkin instead. And herein one of the big problems with politics today lies: instead of discussing the issues at hand, the baying mobs on all sides are waiting in the wings for someone to say something imperfect, and they pounce, hurling insults and escalating debate into personal attacks and rudeness, and nobody is talking about hungry people or how to feed them any more. Instead it’s all ‘those big bad Tories’ fault, or ‘the Church shouldn’t be commenting at all because they have a bit of gold kicking about’, or it ‘started under Labour…’ The longer we all stand on opposing sides shouting over each other, the longer the queues around the foodbanks get, and the longer the benefit […]

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Britain Isn’t Eating.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to collaborate on a film project with the Guardian, Royal Court theatre, playwright Laura Wade (who wrote ‘Posh’, recently released as the film ‘The Riot Club’, about the notorious Bullingdon Club) and director Carrie Cracknell, on a microplay film project based around current affairs. I was asked to be part of the food […]

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LIVE BELOW THE LINE 2014

This week, I’ve been taking part in the annual Live Below the Line challenge, living on £1 a day or less to raise money for Oxfam (you can sponsor me here). People say I should find it easy, considering my history of living on a tight budget for myself and my son. But I survived those periods by growing herbs […]

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HOW MANY CALORIES FOR A FIVER?

Last night I decided to work out the nutritional value of my Live Below The Line challenge. In previous years, I have felt in turn tired, lethargic, bloated, hungry and had carb spikes followed by huge crashes. My blood sugar is a bit bonkers at the best of times – I avoid lactose and too many unprocessed white carbs – […]

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SHOPPING AND PREP: LBL 2014

Well, the Smalls went back to nursery this morning, so I dashed to the shops afterwards on an empty stomach, clutching my fiver for this year’s Live Below The Line challenge. I no longer live in Southend on Sea next to the big orange supermarket that was my lifeline when I was living on an excruciatingly tight (and often non […]

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MY FEMALE FOOD HEROES IN TANZANIA

Last month I spent 10 days in Tanzania with Oxfam, meeting women and farmers who had been involved in Oxfam projects including Raising Her Voice and Female Food Heroes. Click here to watch the video. My trip to Tanzania is something that I think about every day. I miss Anna and Sister Martha terribly, and I hope to return very soon. With thanks to Oxfam Tanzania, Oxfam Ireland, Oxfam GB, Fred Nyatori (director), Mora McLagan (photography), and Caterina Monsanzi and Michael Tait at the Guardian. Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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THE RICE FIELDS: TANZANIA

We bounded into an Oxfam Land Cruiser early this morning – after a breakfast of mandazi (deep fried donuts) and fresh eggs and banana at the hotel. I’m really enjoying the local cuisine, but it deserves it’s own blog post I think! We (me, Mora from Oxfam GB, and Bill and Teresa from Oxfam in Dar Es Salaam) were setting […]

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WHY I’M IN TANZANIA

I watched the sky darken for the impending sunset at Heathrow Airport, in England, and a night-flight later stepped out into glaring sunlight – a brand new day in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. I am here with Oxfam GB, meeting up with Oxfam Tanzania, to work together on a few projects. I have been involved with Oxfam since their Walking The Breadline report last year, which exposed the scale of food bank use in Britain. I was one of the case studies in the report, and indicated a wish to work with Oxfam on further projects. Later in the year they asked me if I would consider being an Ambassador for their UK poverty projects, and I accepted. So why, as a UK ambassador, do I find myself in Tanzania? It is a good question, with no straightforward answer – but I will attempt to clumsily put down my thoughts. I was invited by Jane Foster, the UK country director for Oxfam in Tanzania, to visit some projects centred around women, motherhood, farming and land, and to write about them for Oxfam. I have guest blogged for Oxfam on a number of projects and issues this year, including the G8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, last summer, as part of the Enough Food If campaign. I have said since I first signed my book deal (and later Sainsburys) that I would be donating a percentage of my royalties to projects […]

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#JACKSPETITION – Investigate hunger and foodbank use in the UK NOW. Please sign and share.

Today I have launched a campaign in the Daily Mirror, a petition to investigate the causes of food bank use and hunger in the UK today. After speaking at both major party conferences this summer about the realities of food banks and poverty in the UK, after sharing my experiences again and again, after countless reports from Oxfam and the […]

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What can you do to help? Buy someone #22mealsforacoffee (That’s 22 meals for the price of a £3 coffee…)

While typing my previous post, I had a bit of a brainwave. And I wonder if I can get something going here, with almost 10,000 Twitter followers, 5,000 Facebook fans, 2,000 Facebook friends, 3,000 email subscribers… I wonder if… If, instead of spending £3 on a coffee today, tomorrow, this week, you could do this instead. Go to your nearest supermarket, and buy the following: (I’ve priced mine at Sainsburys, but other major supermarkets are similarly priced): 2 tins of baked beans – 22p each 1 jar of fish paste – 32p 1 can of sardines – 55p 1 tin of chopped tomatoes – 31p 1 tin of carrots – 20p 1 loaf of bread – 50p 1 jar of jam – 29p 1 bag of pasta – 39p TOTAL: £3.00 And go and put it in a carrier bag and take it straight to your local food bank, or a friend or neighbour in need. Because one latte = 16 slices of bread and jam + 6 portions of beans on toast + 2 portions of pasta with fish paste + 4 portions of pasta with sardines and tomatoes. One latte = 22 meals. No, not nutritionally perfect, but better than hunger. If you have the extra cash, replace the jam with peanut butter. Add some tinned spinach or more tinned tomatoes, some stewed steak or tinned meat. I don’t care what you spend that £3 on – just […]

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Day Eight, The End Of The Line

At the end of today, surveying the £5 food shop I did last Sunday, I have left: Bread, 4 slices. Lemon curd, one third of the jar. Cornflakes, 250g. Unsweetened soya drink: 200ml. Long grain white rice: 200g. Chopped tomatoes: 300g. Kidney beans: 200g – already made into kidney bean burgers on Tuesday, and frozen in patties. Frozen mixed vegetables: 300g. Spaghetti: 400g Onion: – NONE! Finally used the blighter! Broccoli, carrot, courgette and green beans: 120g – now eight days out of date. Mixed herbs: most of the jar. I could eke this out for another three days – but I need protein, fruit and whole grains. A week is more than long enough to demonstrate what nutritional deficiency there is in such a cheap food budget. Reading friends reported experiences during the challenge, who survived on 11p noodles and cheap crackers, I know I’ve done well to work in carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, tomato, courgette, peppers, bean sprouts and onions this week. Save two days when I managed to forget my lunch at work, I ate four times a day, usually toast for breakfast, cornflakes as a snack, rice and vegetables for lunch, and rice and vegetables for dinner. I averaged around 1000 calories a day – 600 below the recommended minimum daily amount for a woman of my age, height and activity level. I managed to consume around 30g of protein a day – less than half […]

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