Monday, 17 March 2014

A Girl Called Jack

I don’t know if Jack Monroe has reached the other side of the pond, but she is a hot commodity over here.

She is the face of poverty for the UK and her blog really made everyone think about what it is really like to live below the poverty line. In 2012, she was desperately trying to find a job--any job-- while being a single mum to Small Boy, trying to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table. She had cut their heating off in the dead of winter to save money and was trying to feed herself and her son for £10 a week.

Her angry young woman blog which describes in heart breaking detail feeding Small Boy the last bit of food in the fridge while she went to bed hungry. In the morning while Small Boy ate one weetabix with water instead of milk, his two year old concern asking, “Where’s Mummy’s breakfast?” and her replying she wasn’t hungry, but her rumbling tummy calling her a liar.


She ends with:

Poverty isn’t just having no heating, or not quite enough food, or unplugging your fridge and turning your hot water off. Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one Weetabix and says, “More Mummy? Bread and jam please, Mummy,” as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first and how to tell him that is there is no bread and jam.


All the while she was posting recipes that used the Sainsbury’s Basic brand products on her blog. She discovered early on that she could make cheap nutritious meals for far less than processed food. A tin of spaghetti hoops might cost 50p, but a packet of the cheapest pasta costs 34p and would feed them for many meals. Add a carton of chopped tomatoes  for 35p and you could have a home cooked meal. She grew herbs on her windowsill so she’d always have fresh herbs for cooking (a £1.25 investment if you bought the pot at Sainbury) and could go for months of meals if she could keep the plant alive.


This prompted a journalist from the Daily Telegraph  to come over for lunch--a delicious Moroccan Tangine that cost 49p a portion using a cheap tin of chickpeas, a cheap tin of tomatoes, a tin of carrots, a tin of potatoes and some dried fruit. Mix in an onion, some garlic and some fresh herbs and a chilli pepper she grew on her windowsill and you have a meal . Read the article here:


This eventually led to a cookbook deal and a regular column for budget food in the Guardian newspaper. Now that she has more money she is not vulnerably housed, she is able to care for Small Boy better, but she still eats for around £10-15 a week.

I am fascinated by her life and ability to eat so well on so little. I doubt we will be able to get our  budget that low--but I wouldn’t mind shaving off a bit here and there and still eating well.

I bought her cook book on Friday and am really looking forward to seeing what I can do. Stay Tuned for A Girl called Spider!

1 comment:

  1. wonderful story---and I love you so much for publishing about it.