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To have found this blog about childhood obesity intensely smug and annoying?

(305 Posts)
MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 22:39:01

Is it just me ... what kind of la la land does she live in, where everyone who is struggling for money lives in a nice house with a cooker and has plenty of time from not working two jobs to bake bread?

What she is describing is the sort of sensible cost-cutting I would expect most people who're struggling for money but not absolutely on the bones of their arses could do. I get what she's saying, I do, but the smug tone coupled with the failure to realize that quite a lot of very poor people don't actually have good enough cooking facilities to do what she describes is getting me down.

Am I being mean?

Plus the 'chicken to feed a family for a week' makes me slightly suspect her of embroidered truth. hmm

squeakytoy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:42:45

there is no mention of fresh veg in her blog at all..

or the cost of bread or milk either..

2 people can not live healthily on a tenner a week

Elderflowergranita Thu 13-Jun-13 22:46:11

Well, I think she does make a reasonable point. Baking bread takes very little time, and surely most people own a cooker?

Are you seriously suggesting that people don't have hobs and ovens? Leaving the bread baking aside, lots can be cooked on a stove top, including flat breads on a dry frying pan.

It's a mindset that can hold people back, not cooking facilities.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 22:46:19

I didn't even notice the lack of fresh veg ... true, there's not much. Tomato in the bread, I think.

MrsHuxtable Thu 13-Jun-13 22:47:06

If you look at her recipes, you'll see she uses plenty of vegetables. Veggie soups for lunch, curries etc for dinner.

Can't comment on poor people not having cookers though.

MrsHuxtable Thu 13-Jun-13 22:48:05

And as for milk, she uses soya milk.

squeakytoy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:48:28

I didnt look at her recipes, but if that is the case, then she is lying about her shopping bill only costing a tenner a week.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 22:48:38

elder - but she's aiming the blog at people who are really poor, I think?

Lots of people don't have a cooker. I am seriously suggesting that. If you're in a hostel or a B&B because you're waiting to be housed, you won't necessarily have cooking facilities. You could end up in a council house and not have a working cooker, it's not exactly unheard of.

I do think it's naive to assume that everyone has this stuff, has the outlay to buy all the pans and so on ... I mean, when do you do that?

If you're me, you pick up pots and pans gradually, and your mum buys you some at 18, and it's all pretty easy to acquire without thinking about it. But they do cost something.

I wouldn't mind at all if she were addressing a general audience of people who're not brilliantly well off, but she is specifically mentioning poverty.

Corkyandviolet Thu 13-Jun-13 22:49:31

I love how she makes casseroles, hotspots, gratins etc from scratch - and it takes her just fifteen minutes each evening! She could be serious competition for Jamie Oliver!

coppertop Thu 13-Jun-13 22:50:44

The confusing thing for me is that the blogger makes it sound (in the linked post) as though spending only £10 a week on food is something to aspire to. Yet if you look elsewhere on the same blog there is a link to this article:

This one describes the effects of spending just £10 per week in a very different light. confused

squeakytoy Thu 13-Jun-13 22:50:58

and having just looked at her shopping list... can someone point me in the direction of pitta breads at 22p, or tinned potatoes at 15p???

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:58

squeaky - maybe if you drive to Aldi at the edge of town? Easy with your magic free-petrol car.

Elderflowergranita Thu 13-Jun-13 22:53:36

Ok, if she is indeed aiming her blog at the very poor, then I take your point.

It must be horrendously difficult to cook healthy food under the circumstances you mention.

I do agree that the £10 budget sounds far fetched.

cantspel Thu 13-Jun-13 22:54:20

tins of potatoes and tined carrots is hardly cooking from scratch

expatinscotland Thu 13-Jun-13 22:54:28

I lived with only a kettle and a microwave to cook with for months. Still didn't gain a bunch of weight and eat healthily.

LadyBeagleEyes Thu 13-Jun-13 22:54:35

She sounds unutterably smug.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 22:59:05

elder - I read it that that's who she was aiming it at. I could be wrong, it was just how I read it.

I think her message is valuable, it's just the way she puts it across seems counter-productive because it is just so smug.

chickensaladagain Thu 13-Jun-13 23:01:31

Friend of mine has an oven but can't afford the gas to use it

5Foot5 Thu 13-Jun-13 23:12:10

I love how she makes casseroles, hotspots, gratins etc from scratch - and it takes her just fifteen minutes each evening! She could be serious competition for Jamie Oliver!

Yes I noticed that too! I cook most of our meals from scratch and have been doing so for years so I have had lots of practice and think I am pretty good at it, but there are not many main meals I can do in under 15 minutes.

BellaTalbert Thu 13-Jun-13 23:12:39

Very smug and totally living in La La Land. I don't believe it for a minute about £10 a week.

coppertop Thu 13-Jun-13 23:16:44

The linked BBC article is apparently about the blogger herself, and how she needed help from the food bank because £10 per week on food just wasn't enough:

"She spent £10 a week on food, which brought her a can of kidney beans, a tin of tomatoes, pasta, rice, a loaf of bread, a few loose vegetables, pulses and occasionally a pot of herbs or spice as a "treat". She very rarely had any meat or fish."

"While she and her son were attending a support group where single mothers could socialise while their children were in a creche, one of the workers noticed the pair were regularly going back for seconds and thirds of the free meal provided.

She asked Ms Monroe if she was ok and Ms Monroe eventually accepted the referral to a local food bank.

The food bank provided her with nappies and five items of food a week. She described it as "such a godsend", adding: "I don't know what I would have done without food banks."

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 23:20:20

Well, I'm confused, then.

She sounds totally different from that (and is claiming to feed herself quite differently).

coppertop Thu 13-Jun-13 23:25:07

I found the link on this page of the blog:

It's the food bank story in the right-hand column.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 23:26:57

Thank you.

(I feel mean now if I've misjudged her, but honestly, that article did make me rage a bit.)

coppertop Thu 13-Jun-13 23:29:36

I'm not defending the smuggery at all!

I'm just genuinely confused as to how she can be smugly telling everyone about how well she eats on £10 per week, yet is quoted elsewhere as saying how she relied on food banks because it wasn't enough.

It makes no sense to me.

BlackeyedSusan England Thu 13-Jun-13 23:31:35

I feed a family for a week on a chicken. protein is supplemented with beans and pulses.

she also uses the value stuff from supermarkets. things a year ago were that price. I think they may have gone up a bit since, can't sy i have looked recently.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 13-Jun-13 23:31:48

Oh lord, that blog entry was smug and very blaming.., she has lost her way and become a spokesperson for those who honestly believe that most of the poor are the 'undeserving poor' ...

She has alienated me with that blog article. Sold out, totally. Quite nastily too sad

Triumphoveradversity Thu 13-Jun-13 23:32:14

People living in total poverty will not be able to affird a bread maker if they do not already own one and they will be loathe to stick the oven on to bake bread as it uses too much power. Some people really don't have working cookers, nor carpets in their homes or even a proper bed.

There are people with MH issues that would not be able to manage cooking like this and source multiple ingredients even if they wanted to. I have met people with these kind of issues through voluntary work I do.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 23:33:09

I don't get it either, copper.

double - who is she, is she famous? Sorry, I don't know of her, just came across this.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Fri 14-Jun-13 00:49:03

She was a struggling single mum living a hard life like so many people, then she started to blog about her pretty clever ways of cooking to a swingeing budget, and newspapers picked up on it... And Lo! She has a book deal and isnt poor anymore.

I thought was/ would be a great spokesperson for how tough it is but also practical tips on how to be savvy and survive well against the odds. You know, a positive story for once! Kind of sad to see she appears to be distancing hersf from those other poor people not as skilled at cooking & budgetting sad

The story has shifted from 'look at this wonderful woman making it work against the odds', to 'I'm smug and wonderful and look down on everyone... Blame them allllll'

slapandpickle Fri 14-Jun-13 00:53:45

I have read her blog before and the recipes are great (although 90% are soup or bread), but that post is very smug and very irritating. And all her recipes require a blender or hours of soaking beans, I don't define that as easy, quick or cheap.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Fri 14-Jun-13 01:23:00

I wanted to get her cooking book, but gone off the idea now

TimeofChange Fri 14-Jun-13 05:47:47

I think there must be thousands of redundant bread makers in the back of kitchen cupboards. It might be worth asking on Free Cycle if any one wants one.

Baking bread in an oven uses a lot of electricity as it is baked at a hot temperature.

Another useful item worth asking for on Free Cycle could be a slow cooker.

HollyBerryBush Fri 14-Jun-13 06:20:50

That's Jack Molone isn't it?

She's quite an internet sensation at the moment - I keep reading about here everywhere.

She's a savvy shopper, the queen of yellow lable reductions.

She did an article on her blog, where he calorific content of her meals was taken apart, she is existing on something like 4-600 calories too little a day, purely because she cannot afford to eat much in the way of meat.

cory Fri 14-Jun-13 08:12:02

Dh has been baking for many years. Lovely stuff it is too, but it does not save money once you factor in the cost of heating the oven.

And I may be out of touch here- but when I was young and poor, electricity in cheap rented accommodation was often on metres, making it disproportionally expensive. Also, in several of the places dh rented in, the electricity would simply cut out after a time, making slow projects like baking impossible.

cory Fri 14-Jun-13 08:14:53

The thing that always puzzles me is how everybody who becomes poor is automatically whisked to within walking distance of a supermarket stuffed with value goods. Never seemed to happen in my day.

soverylucky Fri 14-Jun-13 08:26:59

Tbh - I didn't see much wrong with the blog post - a bit patronising I suppose but it is a blog so bound to be opinionated.

My mum got her breadmaker from the charity shop.

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 08:34:01

if you don't have a cooker, eating cheaply and healthy is going to be near/completely impossible.

but we have a serious childhood obesity problem and most people do have cookers. so lack of cooking facilities is not the main reason for this very serious problem.

people do frequently say they cannot afford to feed their children properly. the point the blogger is making is for most people this is disingenuous.

OTheHugeManatee Fri 14-Jun-13 08:54:00

It might be a slightly smug post but she makes a valid point too. Lots of people spend more than her on food, still claim they can't afford to eat healthily, and let their children get fat.

Ignorance plays a part, too. People who don't know how to cook cheap and healthy food, and a subset who don't care either.

MiaowTheCat Fri 14-Jun-13 08:54:01

Gosh a mummy blog being smug! Never!

I didn't have a cooker for a year and a half btw - never quite had the disposable income to buy one and got by on a veg steamer, george foreman gril, cheapo microwave and toaster. And I wasn't exactly living on the breadline - just an erratic income and it being lower on the list of priorities than paying the rent.

If you all read the blog from the beginning, it gives you a far more rounded picture.

This post as a stand-alone does not portray Jack Monroe as she is.

Trills Fri 14-Jun-13 09:16:57

It's a shame - I have enjoyed reading many of her posts - but I don't like the tone of that post one bit.

Was the Daily Mail paying for that piece?

tungthai Fri 14-Jun-13 09:26:07

In the first article that the OP linked to I don't think the blogger sounded smug at all. I haven't read the other articles yet as I find her site very difficult to navigate.

With regards to using foodbanks perhaps she had a bad month, an unexpected bill. When you are living hand to mouth it doesn't matter how good you are at budgeting and cooking from scratch. Not everyone has the luxury of preparing for the unexpected.

coppertop Fri 14-Jun-13 09:54:00

Tungthai - I wasn't criticising the use of the food bank at all. Times are tough and we all do what we have to do to get by. I've never heard of the blogger before and certainly have no axe to grind.

What I couldn't understand (and still don't tbh) is how there was an article describing how she needed help from the food bank because £10 wasn't enough to buy the food she needed, yet in the article she talks about how people can still eat well for that same amount of money. The BBC article specifically mentions the £10.

I'm glad she has been able to use her experiences to show others how they can prepare food on a low budget. I just don't see how someone can write a blog post along the lines of 'I can get all this food for £10 per week and it's really quick and easy to prepare it all. I don't understand why others don't do the same', yet they have been quoted elsewhere as saying that when they only spent £10 on food they were referred to the food bank because they were so hungry. It seems like such a contradiction.

TenaciousOne Fri 14-Jun-13 10:02:28

Her prices on below the line are disingenuous. You can't buy half an onion and also it assumes that you have an ASDA near by. Our local shop is a Waitrose we can walk there and do, if I didn't have a car it would cost £30 in taxi's to get to our local ASDA. I'm not living on £10 for two however, I hate seeing the break down of prices at 3p for half an onion, 10p for one egg. If you're going to do that compile a week meal plan that uses all of the onion and the bulk of the eggs.

WireCat Fri 14-Jun-13 10:11:49

What she says is right though.

If someone came on here saying they only fed their family ready meals & McShite people would be pulling up their judgey pants!

TenaciousOne, this post shows what Jack bought for LBTL13. Her blog over that week shows how she used it.

Coppertop IO think you're looking at it from the wrong end. It's actually "I was hungry living on £10 a week and had to be referred to the food bank - UNTIL I learned how to do this".

Quangle Fri 14-Jun-13 10:30:35

I didn't think it was smug and I tend to call smug bullshit on people if they think they know how to tackle obesity when they have never experienced it.

She's right. But she's obviously resourceful and dynamic and focused. Being very poor and struggling for every penny is depressing and I think that if poverty does lead to obesity it's probably because it leads to depression first and that in turn makes it hard to be resourceful, dynamic and focused. It's what makes it so stupid when politicians etc say they could live on £10 per week. Of course they could, for a week. Because they are energetic, engaged, focused, resourceful - having had a decent life where hard work pays rewards and having plenty of social capital to hand. They could do it for a week. Once life has ground them down and they fall into depression and lose access to the other connected, resourceful, engaged people around them, they will get depressed and feel as though they are stuck forever and then they won't find it so easy.

But agree that £10 per week sounds hmm

coppertop Fri 14-Jun-13 10:47:20

Flouncy - That makes much more sense. Thanks. smile

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 12:22:16

she is talking about obesity in children not adults which is an important distinction.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 14-Jun-13 12:35:50

I know she is. I think that's why it bugged me. I would imagine most normal adults could cope with disruptions that had them using only a microwave for a year or so, because that's not really a long time in an adult's life (god knows I lived off stuff I could do on one boiling ring for three years at university). But for a child it's going to be much more important I would think.

Bonquers Fri 14-Jun-13 12:39:02

A single mother on benefits does not need to only spend £10 a week on food. Benefits to single mothers are quite sufficient to feed a family plus free school meals etc.

halcyondays Fri 14-Jun-13 12:41:36

i think she"s seriously underestimating how much she actually spends in a week. "Roughly" £10 a week?? hmm

squeakytoy Fri 14-Jun-13 12:45:37

It jut doesnt ring true to me.

My stepdaughter was in a similar position, and she certainly had enough money in benefits to live on.

halcyondays Fri 14-Jun-13 12:45:58

30 ml wine 10p, yes lots of shops sell wine by the 10 ml, don't they?
handful of thyme free, yes if you shoplift it from Asda or have been given a pot of thyme as a gift

DamnBamboo Fri 14-Jun-13 12:47:53

fromparistoberlin Fri 14-Jun-13 12:50:18

My food shop costs on average, £10 a week. Yes, it does.


really, impossible

I want to see her food menu and bills

perplexedpirate Fri 14-Jun-13 12:55:25

Wow! I used to like her but that is unbelievably smug! What a massive sell-out. hmm

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 13:03:59

I never believed she spent only £10 a week to feed her and her son. I mean, that is not possible and has not been for a long time.

When she was having to rely on food banks, she had come out of work, beacuse of irregular shifts and was waiting for benefits to kick in.

That aside, i agree that poverty isn't the reason why there is obesity.

A lack of education and an unwillingless to accept that changes have to be made and why ,is why there is obesity, in these cases.

These blogs came on the back of a report into the amount of teens needing medical intervention because of being obese. This report did not include disabilities/health conditions.

The report just documented the families that the teens came from etc.

I know of many people who are living in poverty because they eat takeaways, only. Their shopping consists of drinks, bread, spreads,milk and things like bacon, literally.

I am sort of related to one such family, the mother sees nothing wrong with eating fast food (she is massively in debt) and likes her cooker and kitchen, clean.

I am cutting down to pay for decorating in my house, i have gone vegetarian and have cut down on the stuff i used to buy for my teens, i am saving a fortune.

We need to re-educate certain sectors of society, how to cut, eat and budget. The Children's Centre's run basic cookery courses and in all fairness are alway over subscribed. Our small local "collage" used to, but the budget doesn't allow for them.

squeakytoy Fri 14-Jun-13 13:12:08

The smugness is irritating, but also, she had a job, she packed it in because the shifts didnt suit her... she put herself into that position..

Many of the people who are in poverty have never had the opportunities that she clearly has.

I am also confused as to how she spent ages posting blogs from an "ancient nokia phone"..

Sorry but something about it doesnt ring true to me.. but not to worry as she has certainly made plenty of money out of it now.

Trills Fri 14-Jun-13 13:14:59

she had a job, she packed it in because the shifts didnt suit her... she put herself into that position..

I think that's an unfair thing to say - if childcare is unavailable for night shifts, or if the cost of childcare at non-standard times is such that they would have less money working then if they were relying solely on benefits, then you can't really claim that someone "put themselves in that position".

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 13:27:15

I hate things like this.

You cannot do this day after day if your only source of food is a tiny Spar shop, you've got shitty thin pans and burn everything through no fault of your own, and anyway you're working all hours and have no time or energy to give to it.

These days for many it is a privilege and a luxury to be able to cook healthy food from scratch.

znaika Fri 14-Jun-13 13:28:11

Maybe it's not a perfect example- living on 10pounds a week, but I really like this woman. I think she is creative, smart, resilient and I admire her greatly. She has a point. Of course most people in the UK have access to one cooking ring (at least) and a pan. Some may find themselves in dire circumstances for short periods of time but you have a welfare state and it's simply not true that the majority of single parents on benefits do not have access to these things. She's infuriated by excuses being made for laziness. People in much poorer countries feed their families using initiative and creativity like her.

cantspel Fri 14-Jun-13 13:30:13

She is not cooking from scratch she is opening tins and mixing it with rice or pasta

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 14-Jun-13 13:38:19

znaika, my point was she's talking about baking bread! Not that people don't usually have a boiling ring and a pan. Straw man argument.

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 13:38:44

I think this discussion highlights the absolute criminality of an education system that has failed at least two generations by not making it compulsory to learn basic nutrition and cookery skills.

That's why we have people like this poor woman (the one on tv with the obese children) she describes being wheeled out for the MC to look down on pityingly and people of a similar ilk to join in her surreal outrage.

The PP who said that value ranges are nothing more than an acceptable dumping ground for (literally) bollocks was spot on.

I volunteered to teach a community cookery class. It was cancelled as nobody signed up..

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 13:39:40

Someone much younger than me told me recently that cookery classes at her school included making a packet-mix cake.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 13:41:23

errr.. sorry but some of the above comments are both ignorant and nasty. She posts receipts for her shops and spreadsheets of how much the same shop would cost in different supermarkets.
If you read the post 'hunger hurts' on her blog you can see that she in no way thinks that this lifestyle is something to aspire to.

How about you all come down off those high horses and actually read through the blog properly before making nasty comments and accusing others of being liars.

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 13:41:32

... excuses being made for laziness. People in much poorer countries feed their families using initiative and creativity like her.

Spot on.

But they do so having learned this basic skill at home.

Unlike the woman on TV who has mastered the art of blame-passing and responsibility shirking.

And where does that come from

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 13:45:33

It isn't a basic skill, it is a common skill and that's a different thing.

There are many aspects to cooking healthy food from scratch and being able to use leftovers so nothing is wasted. Budgeting, knowing quantities, having a wide repertoire of recipes, planning ahead so one day's food feeds into the next. Not to mention investing in good equipment (as opposed to crap cheap stuff which breaks down or doesn't cut etc) and having the money to buy the right things in bulk.

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 13:48:06

And life doesn't have to get very chaotic before being able to buy food and cook it in an organised way goes out of the window.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 13:53:17

I didn't find it smug and annoying. Sounds more like she's encouraging and helping people realise that it's possible to cook healthy food on a budget (even if the £10 figure is a bit far-fetched).

How shocking.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 13:55:44

What a hideously Why isn't she railing against the fact that so few people are taught about nutrition and cooking at school nowadays?

I read some of the (not infrequent) posts on here about the astronomical costs of ingredients for school cookery classes which obviously means the poor can't afford them.

I've had conversations with people who don't know what foods are high in protein and what are high in carbs. This woman is clearly pretty well-educated. Many people are not.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 13:55:45

And so you starve if you can't buy takeaways?

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 13:56:47

which is pretty much what imademarion said but faster and better grin

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 13:57:48

It's always the government's fault.

Trills Fri 14-Jun-13 13:58:35

Most of the rest of her blog is encouraging and helpful, but the post linked in the OP is not.

I guess we all have ranty days, and if you judged us by our bad days without seeing any of our good days you'd think we were much less pleasant people than we normally are.

But some people's ranty days end up on AIBU.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 14-Jun-13 13:58:59

Fair enough artemisa, I wasn't familiar with her blog and just looked at this post.

I do still think it would have been better if she'd acknowledged she is not actually talking about the people who're struggling the most financially, but able people who're in a sort of 'stable poverty'. It's still helpful advice, though, I agree.

When my brother was working for homeless hostels, he used to teach people to cook, but I think he would laugh heartily at the idea of baking bread being a sensible place to start, or trying to source 'free thyme'. So I suppose I'd come at it from that perspective when she said she was talking about poverty. But now I understand the context better, and I still find it a bit smug but not so bad.

KatyTheCleaningLady Fri 14-Jun-13 14:01:35

Her food sounds disgusting and she sounds snug.

And baking bread from scratch is not cheaper than the value white bread, nor is it lower in calories.

KatyTheCleaningLady Fri 14-Jun-13 14:02:05


Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 14:04:04

Interestingly, in another part of her blog, she writes:
"This blog was never intended as a self-help guide to people as to how to live their lives – it’s a brutal portrayal of mine."

That was in April. Guess she's realised it's more lucrative to relax that position a bit.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 14:04:14

Katy how does it sound disgusting hmm

znaika Fri 14-Jun-13 14:04:24

ROFL Katy- Chickpeas curry doesn't sound like the most appetising option does it? OTH neither does Tesco frozen lasagne

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Fri 14-Jun-13 14:05:16

I love chickpea curry. But each to their own.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 14:05:50

katy maybe not cheaper, but a slice of proper home made bread will fill you up for longer than a chemical filled slice of white slobbery air from a value range.
value range bread is thus a false economy if you need to eat more to feel full.

I see nothing disgusting about bean burgers, curry and pasta dishes either.

I wonder why everyone is so defensive outraged over this?

Vintageclock Fri 14-Jun-13 14:06:06

I can occasionally get by on spending a tenner a week on food; but that's because I already have a lot of basics in my kitchen cupboard, chicken fillets and bolognaise sauce in the freezer etc. and just decide, 'we're a bit broke this week. We'll just have to manage on what we have in the house'. But there is no way that someone starting from a basis of nothing could cook seven healthy tasty dinners and lunches as well as provide a healthy breakfast for ten pounds.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 14:06:25

Fair play malenska smile

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 14:07:56

Who wouldn't? Who wants to be skint forever?

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 14:08:39

I like chickpea curry,too..

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 14:09:10

I think cooking per se is as basic a skill as being toilet trained.

And sadly all too uncommon.

Nutrition, budgeting etc I agree are more complex. But hardly brain surgery.

People haven't been taught. It's that simple.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 14:11:23

And a lot of people don't want to learn. No, it's not going to taste like a takeaway.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 14:12:37

I am a bit bewildered that someone trying to point out that healthy meals are possible on a budget is being called smug

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 14:12:43

I don't blame her at all expat - I wouldn't walk away from the book deal either if I were her. But her blog is no longer coming from the perspective it was. Quite understandably

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 14:14:40

expat god, don't admit to liking chickpea curry (which is an actual Indian speciality called chana masala, katy) otherwise you'll be branded as disgusting by the smug police

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 14:15:26


AThingInYourLife Fri 14-Jun-13 14:23:36

DH bakes bread all the time.

He reckons it saves 0p.

We like whole grain bread with lots of seeds.

It's expensive howsoever you make it.

AThingInYourLife Fri 14-Jun-13 14:25:07

Also, bags of flour are heavy if you are carrying your shopping home on foot.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 14:28:57

Maybe the people criticising the post on this thread should write their own blog post entitled 'if you are poor, your children are destined to be obese and it's impossible to do anything about it, sorry'.

And the content can be a list of reasons why -

- you won't be living near a cheap supermarket
- flour is heavy
- healthy food is 'disgusting' anyway
- you might not have a cooker or your pans will be thin

Now, I wonder, is that more, or less helpful than her post?

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 14:30:41

I love it , Art, and my kids do, too. I stopped eating lots of meat because I have a strong family history of heart disease.

Quangle Fri 14-Jun-13 14:31:05

Not sure where this leaves me cos I love chick pea curry, but preferably made by someone else (ie the takeaway)

I'm obviously disgusting, but rich. <unhelpful>

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 14:32:41

I use tinned pulses.

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 14:34:54

manufactured bread is generally lacking vitamins home made bread contains. this book explains the science behind this fact.

(all the nutritious stuff is fed to cows, leaving the crap stuff for people!)

LeGavrOrf Fri 14-Jun-13 14:35:29

I agree with you malensky. Incredibly smug and written from a rather middle class ivory tower. I like you anyway, who did you used to be?

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 14:40:48

How exactly is she helping people by telling them they're fat, poor and stupid?

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 14:43:27

And a lot of people don't want to learn..

IMO it should be as compulsory as literacy and numeracy.

No, it's not going to taste like a takeaway.

Thank fuck. <dons flame-retardant tabard>. grin

Elquota Fri 14-Jun-13 14:45:38

Switched off after "Enter me, stage left, mother of one Small Boy that eats about as much as I do"

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 14:45:50


Can't see where she's calling people stupid in there.

She's helping by explaining that there ARE ways of eating healthily on a small budget which people might not have thought of before.

meglet England Fri 14-Jun-13 14:47:24

Her kidney bean and carrot veggie burgers are good, although I added an egg to bind them.

ubik Fri 14-Jun-13 14:50:04

DP makes a fabulous chickpea curry.


The fact is that the population is getting fatter. Poverty is factor but so is the abundance of food available everywhere. Many middle class children are fat as well- there's just loads of food about and we are programmed to eat as much as poss.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 14:55:39

Don't you think this is implying people are a bit stupid?

But there seems to be an attitude among my generation, and some of the generation before mine, that you can stab some plastic with a fork, put it in the microwave for three minutes, and entrust your health and wellbeing to whatever happens to be in that plastic carton.

I’ve got news for you all. Supermarkets do not create their ready meals with your health and wellbeing in mind. They use them as places to harbour all of the trimmings and ugly things that you absolutely wouldn’t buy from a supermarket shelf in their natural state (testicles, eyeballs, horse, chicken pumped with water and bread full of chemicals, and sweeteners that are used as a chemical weapon in some quantities) and put them in a box labelled I Will Save You Time. And, “Look How Easy Dinner Can Be” and “Takes 7 Minutes In The Microwave”.

It's incredibly patronising and it's not going to give anyone a lightbulb moment.

LeGavrOrf Fri 14-Jun-13 14:59:41

She is probably one of those tiresome people who would say to an overweight person that in order to lose weight they need to 'eat less, move more' like they are some kind of Oracle and nobody has ever said that before.

ShadeofViolet Fri 14-Jun-13 15:01:25

If food prices are increasing, how does she manage to spend £10 on her food shopping now, if in that BBC article £10 didnt buy her anything?

There is another website with a meal planner to feed a family of 4 for £50 which is much better imo.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Fri 14-Jun-13 15:03:28

personally, i think she has indulged in a bit of simplistic thinking and played into the hands of the overarching discourse of 'the poor do it to themselves'. I really hope this is not her actual opinion, as it seems such a waste of a good role model - few and far between.

I dont think anyone on this thread is saying 'yes 'the poor' will be obese and lets give up on that'!

The reality is that there is an obesity problem, yes, and also, yes, its possible to eat more healthily than a lot of people do even on benefits. However that does not and should not result in a blame the poor attitude and tell them off, which is being used to excuse a lot of dreadful things at the moment.

The skills gap is clearly an issue, in cooking, and also menu planning, nutrition and budgeting.

The resources gap is also clearly an issue. If you don't have a cooker, or alternatives such as a slow cooker/ grill/ bread maker etc, or constant source of electricity to use these... then no matter what your skills, it will be incredibly hard to keep your family eating healthily.

Same goes for having money for an initial outlay of pans and equipment, spices and store cupboard items. If you start from absolutely nothing, then the barriers to getting yourself into a position where you can cook smart are high. Councils used to give start up bursaries to buy things like cookers etc, but as with so many things, this help has been cut.

Also add in the mental and emotional strain of being in a dire situation day after day. As someone else has said on this thread, doing this for a week is not in any way the same as living like this forever...

Then think about the environment in which people are living in poverty, the damp, and the cold, their food needs are different from someone living in a warm dry pleasant and healthy place. If your house is foul and virtually unliveable in, then you spend as much time out of it as possible, if you are permanently cold and your children too, then you look for hot and instant food to alleviate the misery. If your life is miserable then why not 'treat' yourself and your children with cheap and 'fun' food? Not saying this is a long term way of living, but I can see how the short term benefits can lock you into an unhealthy way of life.

I think someone who manages well in these circumstances is to be applauded, and held up as a great role model. I do not think that that one person should then become the benchmark of what everyone else should be expected to do or else... turning the exceptional into the base standard is not in any way helpful.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 15:10:38

The what is helpful? Because hand-wringing and excuses aren't.

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 15:12:29

takeaways etc. provide instant gratification. healthy foods generally don't. delaying gratification is an important lifeskill that plays a major determinant in outcomes for children, at income levels.

if your parents don't teach it to you, I don't know how you learn it though.

FudgefaceMcZ Fri 14-Jun-13 15:21:43

It's smug, and also a bit delusional to pretend that poor people are eating egg mcmuffins every day ffs. I have seen the blog before and noticed then that the costing was not done properly as it only counts the portion of something used, not necessarily ensuring no leftovers or waste so in fact the cost may well be higher. It's also not a good diet for a preschool child, any more than a McTakeaway one is, because it is far too high in indigestible fibre and low calorie-density. There's a reason the NHS advises full fat milk/dairy for young children- and in fact one of mine was still underweight on that, so although I have no personal experience of childhood obesity, I have experience of the other side of it where a child can need to be supplemented with high-calorie foods which is not possible on £10 a week. Not that anyone in a rich country like the UK should be living on £10 a week anyway, and it's disingenuous of her to claim poverty has nothing to do with obesity when inequality is in fact one major causal driver of it (see The Spirit Level, much better researched than some daft blog). Of course it's good to eat as healthily as possible, but it's also important not to pretend this can be done on fresh air and window herbs, because it can't.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 15:22:37

I agree, expat.

FudgefaceMcZ Fri 14-Jun-13 15:23:56

expat: What is helpful is stopping supporting poor-bashing rhetoric and instead moving towards a more Scandinavian, equality based system. That's much easier than pretending to be fine on £10 a week, and the people who can do it are in more of a position to take action too.

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 15:28:43

Scandinavian countries are moving towards the uk.

they also have a contributory benefits system with some people qualifying for higher benefits than others.

"Unemployment benefits are divided into a voluntary scheme with income related compensation up to a certain level and a comprehensive scheme that provides a lower level of basic support. The voluntary scheme requires a minimum of 12 months membership and a certain degree of employment during that time before any claims can be made"

Trills Fri 14-Jun-13 15:29:30

What would you think to having Jack in for a webchat? Then you can ask her these questions "in person", as it were.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 15:34:37

Fudgeface right...
I think Jack wrote her post with the current situation in mind, helping those who actually are poor right now, rather than just wishing we can magically be like Sweden.

DamnBamboo Fri 14-Jun-13 15:39:12

It's very smug, almost patronising post and many of the issues she raises and makes comments on, I doubt she has much knowledge of at all.

I like a lot of what she has done/is doing though so will read her blog with interest to see how it progresses in light of 1) her new found fame and improved wealth and 2) the wrath of mumsnetters

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 15:42:37

I have a sneaking suspicion that the 'wrath of mumsnetters' won't make the slightest bit of difference judging by how well she's done so far.

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 15:44:05

I'd rather see some actual help being given (early education? bursaries? planning laws changed so there's more than a petrol station shop in a huge built-up area) than people writing, once again, 'oh ffs poor people, if I can do it then it stands to reason that you don't because you are lazy and possibly stupid as well'
Which always plays well to one sector of the population but is actually just narrow-mindedness masquerading as common sense.

DamnBamboo Fri 14-Jun-13 15:46:17

It may well get back to her - only takes one quick tweet.
You seem ever so defensive of it all bacon !

I suspect her dogmatic and ill-judged opinions on this particular post, won't do her any favours, but nonetheless I wish her well.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 15:49:15

I'm with bacon, some of the nay Sayers on here are making spiteful and inaccurate comments e.g. Ridiculous value judgements that certain perfectly normal dishes are disgusting or claims that value bread is just as good as home baked etc.
Tbh it just makes people look like they are trying to defend their obese children or poor food choices

GoshAnneGorilla Algeria Fri 14-Jun-13 15:49:40

Double life is spot on. Also the comments are vile, just lots of sneering at human beings as if they are a lower species. Fuck that attitude as being anything to aspire to.

Minifingers Fri 14-Jun-13 15:50:32

She's lying about being able to feed 2 people for £10.

A single chicken, enough flour and yeast for a couple of loaves, 7 pints of milk, tea, coffee, vegetables, stock cubes, cooking oil, herbs and spices, butter/spread, pulses or pasta - this is a very basic shopping list for a week and would come to considerably more than a lb.

A medium chicken is around £4 on its own.

wordfactory Fri 14-Jun-13 15:51:34

£10 per week! What are they eating? Soil?

I just bought some chicken thighs, some vegetables, a carton of cream and a baguette and it was £8!!!!

GoshAnneGorilla Algeria Fri 14-Jun-13 16:00:38

A quite good takedown of a BBC article inspired by that blog is here:

KatyTheCleaningLady Fri 14-Jun-13 16:04:29

My children are not obese, and I didn't say that value bread was as good as home made. I said home made is not cheaper than or lower in calories than value bread.

That said, if we are talking about white bread, then I would also say there is no nutritional difference either.

Bake bread for fun if you like it, but you won't save money or lose weight.

MarianneM Fri 14-Jun-13 16:16:19

Bollocks! The blog isn't smug AT ALL - the blogger is talking sense!

The reason people don't eat properly is IGNORANCE and utter utter laziness.

Sure there may be people who don't have access to a cooker, but tell me, how do they heat their ready meals?

I lived in Halls of Residence with my boyfriend for three years with only microwaves in the communal kitchens and we cooked hot meals most days! It was amazing what my boyfriend could cook just using a microwave!

We then lived in a flat with only a hob, no oven, for six years, and cooked just about everything.

It is an absolute scandal how ignorant and indifferent people are about cooking/nutrition in Britain.

And the blogger is absolutely right: it is MUCH cheaper to make your own food than buy ready.

Time and again posters here cry "Smug!" when someone dares to question their eating habits or reliance on ready meals. I think the nation as a whole needs some serious re-education about food.

Whenever the school packed lunch threads start I am SHOCKED at what people think is a healthy lunch!

TheCrackFox Fri 14-Jun-13 16:25:29

Home made bread is delicious but it won't save you any money.

She may well live on £10 a week (unlikely) but who the hell would want to?

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 16:37:42

but not going to the shop to buy bread and coming out with other items you didn't mean to buy does save you money.

GoshAnneGorilla Algeria Fri 14-Jun-13 16:38:51

I love how writing something in block capitals automatically makes it true.

There have been so many studies into poverty and malnutrition (yes, you can be obese and malnourished), yet it would seem that looking over those isn't as much fun as having a good finger wag.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 14-Jun-13 16:38:55

Firstly it is a myth that poor kids are the fattest. They are not. The fattest are middle class kids. Its all those organic cereal bars and smoothies. (true actually)
Secondly, I saw this woman on telly, along with a nutritionist who said that on a tenner a week no way were she and her child getting enough protein or calories.
lastly, whether this is relevant or not, the woman doesn't actually like food. Yeah, I could survive on a bag of rice and a couple of tins of beans, but I would be so depressed! This woman underestimates the positive mental effects of yummy, plentiful food. Because she is one of those wierdos who doesn't really like food much. In my opinion.

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 16:45:35

Firstly it is a myth that poor kids are the fattest. They are not. The fattest are middle class kids. Its all those organic cereal bars and smoothies.

no - the poorest children are slightly more likely to be overweight.

znaika Fri 14-Jun-13 16:58:15

Why would she have a food blog if she hates food confused She just seems like an ordinary person who found herself in a shit position with money and tried to feed her DC as best she could. She wrote about it in a blog and it got picked up by the media. Why the vitriol? Why? One pot meals based around filling grains and pulses are eaten the world over, that's basically what she cooks and recommends. It's not super tasty, but it's okay and you can live on it. yeah she has a poncy bread maker- it doesn't mean she was pretending to be poor in an artful way. Or is it all made up and I'm a gullible fool?

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 17:03:52

She's getting a slating from some people because she adopted a tone which read like 'I can do this but you can't/don't/won't because you are poor and stupid' (and it turned out to be untrue anyway that she was properly nourishing herself and her child, by the looks of things).

Owllady Fri 14-Jun-13 17:06:47

I used to work as a manager in a budget end supermarket and people buy frozen meals/pizza because they know they will have a meal each day that isn't going to go off. It is what alot of poor people have always done, though it was jars and tins previously, now we are more onto frozen

fridgepants Fri 14-Jun-13 17:11:49

"Lots of people don't have a cooker."

I was looking at studio flats a while ago, and those that I could afford - which someone with a child who cannot afford the high rents here may conceivably live in - had a 'kitchen' consisting of a sink, a fridge and a microwave.

The kind of meals you'd be able to put together with those facilities, and on a tight budget, would not be especially healthy.

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 17:34:04

^ 'I can do this but you can't/don't/won't because you are poor and stupid'^

she is blogging on how she coped so other people can do the same as her..... which clearly in some people's mind makes her SMUG.........

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 17:39:39

'I'd rather see some actual help being given (early education? bursaries? planning laws changed so there's more than a petrol station shop in a huge built-up area) than people writing, once again, 'oh ffs poor people, if I can do it then it stands to reason that you don't because you are lazy and possibly stupid as well' '

Realistically, it's going to have to be something that is not provided by the state because those days, under this government or any other, are over. This idea that the government is going to teach all basic skills in life to every single person and then take the blame when obesity, literacy, etc. rates sore is one long past its sell by date. No government is going to be able to increase funding.

And yet some in the community who've offered cooking courses talk of poor enrolment. What gives?

I didn't see her blog or posts as smug at all, tbh. I don't think for one minute she and her son ate on a tenner a week, though, I think that's a crock.

It is possible to eat well with no cooker. But slagging people off who have done it and share it and doling out excuses why childhood obesity rates are soaring because benefits aren't high enough is easier, I guess.

TheCrackFox Fri 14-Jun-13 17:45:59

DH helped to organise a cookery course in a deprived part of Edinburgh - the take up was ok, not great, but ok. His big impression was the women were all very keen to learn how to cook better but their self esteem was unbelievably poor. Clearly no one had ever said "well done" or "never mind, you tried your best" to them in their entire life. They did come away from the course with improved cookery skips and seemed happier in themselves too.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 17:47:55

I mean, you have people on about those with no cookers, and then if they have a cooker they can't afford to run it, a bunch of hang-wringing and excuses about how it's impossible for people in poverty to eat well. Jack tried to show you how it's possible, and others, there are plenty of online blogs on this and another lady who is a lone parent and got a book deal here but it's easier to label them smug and point out all the negatives and enumerate obstacle after obstacle and dole out blame as to why childhood obesity rates are growing so much.

This problem is a function of many factors and ONE of them is the parents.

TheCrackFox Fri 14-Jun-13 17:56:31

One of the factors is the parents. But if they are used to having chips with brown sauce for their dinner every night I can't really see them suddenly rustling up a chick pea curry.

AuntieMaggie Fri 14-Jun-13 17:59:17

If you're going to slag the poor woman off at least read enough of her blog and story to know what you're talking about.

this is a good post.

She has moved/is moving into a bedroom in a shared house with her son so she can afford the childcare to go back to work full time. Her benefits have been suspended because like some on this thread the council had assumed she had received payment for her publishing deal and media work and were investigating her... this isn't the first time.

What I think she is really good at is showing another side to those single mothers on benefits instead of the stereotypes we are always fed and who struggle because of many cock ups in the benefits system.

When I first read it I thought it was smug. But the more I thought about it the more I agreed with her. Admittedly many people couldn't survive on the size of the meals she makes and she eats small portions, but she started doing this out of necessity when she only had £6 I think she said in this interview

I personally think if she was a fraud someone would've exposed her by now.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 17:59:22

Sorry, expat, who has said that benefits need to be higher?

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 18:00:00

Yes to everything expat has said smile

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 18:06:07

Whilst I broadly agree that the state hasn't got a lot going for it at the moment, I really want to weep at the state of what used to be called home economics in schools.

Every child should be being given some tools to leave school, be able to do some basic non-processed-food shopping and budgeting, and make a few meals which are genuinely nourishing and cheap. School is an ideal place to teach this, it's just that the standard of such teaching has been either really varied or pretty fucking horrendous (in my own case).

wordfactory Fri 14-Jun-13 18:08:08

I must say I find her lack of compassion for the poor a little odd.

She says she knows what it's like to be so poor that you have turn off your electricity, even your fridge...

She says she knows what it's like to feel so despairing you consider throwing yourself from a fly over...

Yet she's angry with people for buying dirt cheap filling food that takes seconds to cook?

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 18:09:37

Exactly, wordfactory.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 18:11:21

There are two things that most people are going to do in life:
- be in a relationship/have kids
- have to manage money/feed their family

And yet our education system is woeful in teaching them. I'm a strong believer that state education should give you tools for life, not just tools to pass exams. They are as important in getting on in life as basic literacy skills.

cantspel Fri 14-Jun-13 18:16:43

And what are parents for then?

Is the state should be responsible for pretty much teaching your child everything

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:19:25

'Sorry, expat, who has said that benefits need to be higher?'

The councils not providing bursaries for cookers - this is reliant on council, as they still do in Renfrewshire, the posts about people not being able to afford to turn on the cooker, etc etc.

By the same token, where does she say poor people are stupid?

Sadly, the vast majority of posts on here are about barriers, negativities and obstacles rather than what might or can be done.

This person made a blog about how she handled it, she is far from alone in that, but she is labelled smug and not in touch for having access to a cooker and gas/power.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 18:22:53

This costs the country huge amounts of money so rather than blaming people for making crappy choices, you need to look at why they make those choices.

But like everything, the government throw money at fixing the outcome rather than the source. It's all about quick fixes that make the current government look good. Education is a longterm solution and the benefits will only be felt years down the line - long after whoever is in power is long gone. So despite all the evidence from other countries that, for example, decent sex education actually reduces teenage pregnancy, we stick with the status quo.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:23:03

'I'm a strong believer that state education should give you tools for life, not just tools to pass exams.'

One person's definition of tools for life may be different from someone else's as well has how those things should be taught. Some people feel that is their responsibility and their job as parents and don't want that dictated by the government.

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 18:24:16

No, she's labelled unpleasant for being unpleasant about something which, in the end, wasn't actually an achievement or a demonstration of skill.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:25:13

And yet, if the government does interfere with those who are not being taught these basic skills, they get the blame for not being supportive enough.

They are only one part of the problem, however, because part of it is the parents. Each party has responsibility, but because some don't take it up, for whatever reason, doesn't mean everyone else should be subjected to it.

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:27:28

'wasn't actually an achievement or a demonstration of skill.'

Where did she claim it was? It's a blog with the career goal of all blogs - to get as much traffic through as possible - and she's far from alone in that, I just linked a book from another lone parent who also got a book deal from her similar blog.

She's damned if she did and damned if she didn't, but hey, she'll wind up making a living out of it so I can't deny that's resourceful.

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 18:33:07

She says in her blog post: I could show you how to do it.

And yet, she wasn't able to do it, because she needed the help of a food bank.

I am not denigrating her for having had no money, but it was false to assert that she could feed herself and her child healthily and well on £10 a week, when she was using a food bank!

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:36:20

I agree, I don't think she did it for a tenner. But how is that calling poor people stupid?

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:38:07

I suppose you can use a chicken to feed a family for a week if it's a) a large one b) a family of one.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 18:41:01

I agree with the op actually. The trouble is she is pointedly criticising other people based on her choices/abilities/lifestyle without thinking about other people's personal circumstances. "Well if I can do it so can you" kind of a thing which is short sighted and unkind.

There are a lot of factors involved in childhood obesity and I think to be fair she has one very young child, if he really does eat as much as her and she only spends £10 per week then she must be quite underweight/lying. Also 15 mins to cook an evening meal? I always cook from scratch, granted there are six of us but it takes me a minimum of 1-2 hours every evening, sometimes cooking will take me most of the day, so I wonder what the "cooking from scratch" is, she must not be counting preparation times or be using pre-made ingredients. When I cook for just my husband and I it takes between 45mins to an hour normally.

Also bread? Bread takes many hours to make so she must have a bread machine, how many really poor people can invest in bulk buying and bread machines? I don't think she's being entirely truthful or fair.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 18:43:51

And yes I agree she is good for showing 'another side to single mums' but only because single mums are being unacceptably dehumanised but I think she undoes everything by portraying herself as a 'better' single mum and by undermining and attacking other people.

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 18:45:05

Education is a longterm solution and the benefits will only be felt years down the line and ONE of them is the parents

Absolutely. I went to school in a very poor country. We had three hours of home economics a week and everyone's mother had already taught them the basics of cooking and baking (stews, scones).

We learnt how to budget and stretch our money using fresh food from the market. There was no such thing as convenience food. Hardly anyone had a freezer and not that many had a fridge. Ovens were also scarce but most houses had an electric ring.

It wasn't seen as smug or interfering. No navel gazing or class warfare. Just sensible acceptance that a cheap healthy diet keeps you and your family alive.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 18:48:09

Imademarion- was that by coincidence also the time when mothers were basically not allowed to work and expected to spend all day cooking?

That to me is the crucial thing, people by ready meals because they are the cheapest, most calorific quickest food they can provide in the limited time they have... I mean have you ever made a stew? It takes the whole day!

Oblongata Fri 14-Jun-13 18:48:57

It's the 'fair' bit that really tips the balance for me.

A really helpful blog post wouldn't have taken the carping tone she did - although how truly helpful it would have been is moot, since she isn't straight about things in the first place.

Oh well, money in the bank for her. hmm I would personally doubt any book she writes though, after learning about this.

JustinBsMum Fri 14-Jun-13 18:49:14

Thing is very very many people are getting their writings into the public eye who wouldn't have got near a magazine or newspaper a few years ago. And keeping up a weekly/monthly blog must be very hard after the first 6 months or so. The upshot is you get twaddle being written by self-proclaimed 'experts' which isn't worth reading half the time.

<< haven't read the rest of her blog - perhaps it is riveting>>

cornypedicure Fri 14-Jun-13 18:54:09

you can't feed a family of 2 on £10 a week (and buy a chicken?!!)
it's just not possible

FasterStronger Fri 14-Jun-13 18:57:50

the link from the BBC shows that children are overweight and obese at all income levels and this only increases slightly as income decreases.

therefore this weight problem cannot be mainly due to low household incomes.

so why is this thread about any people/children on low incomes being fat due to their low income?

the blogger is correct, overweight children is not because on the price of healthy food - because people who can or could afford healthy food (if they wanted to) can still have overweight children at almost the same rate as those who cannot.

so once more Low household income does not cause weight problems in children as high income households are also affected to almost the same level

AuntieMaggie Fri 14-Jun-13 19:04:35
Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 19:06:22

The blog is about poor people because, as it says in the blogpost, it is a response to someone who went on daytime tv claiming their child was obese because she could only afford unhealthy food.

As I said, I think it is more about time. More families with both parents in work and workplaces increasingly far from people's homes...

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 19:08:05

Faster the thread is about the blog which is about eating for a tenner a week. Rich people presumably don't have to survive on a tenner a week.

My point about lack of education stands though. imademarian's post is really enlightening.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 19:08:08

And more cars on the roads so no playing, smaller houses and gardens, more children travelling everywhere in cars and a culture of consumerism meaning branded food is conferring status.

whois Fri 14-Jun-13 19:15:04

Could I feed myself and a small ahold for £10 for one week? Yes. Would I want to do it long term? No. But you could do it if you absolutely HAD to, and had the time to walk to a big asda or market.

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 19:35:17

offred, not at all, it was in the 1970-1980s.

Most of my school friends' mothers worked outside the home. They ranged from bank clerks to maids to teachers.

There simply were no convenience foods in the shops, apart from in the expensive supermarkets for tourists.

Yes, I have made many many stews! They do take time as traditionally the cuts of cheap meat needed a long cooking time.

They are cheap, nutritious, delicious and, bar the initial prep, cook themselves.

Beats pierce and ping shite into a cocked hat!

DisappointedHorse Fri 14-Jun-13 19:44:28

I'm just not seeing the smug, I'm sorry. I think she makes some very valid points and it is perfectly possible to feed a family well on very little money. It's about educating people which is absolutely the key and what she's trying to do.

I totally agree that money management and real cookery skills need to be taught properly in schools though.

My family had very little money when I was young. It was made worse by the fact that my Mum couldn't cook very well and we existed on freezer food which cost a fortune. My Mum is now a much better cook and admits life would have been so much easier if she'd been able to cook then, unfortunately my Nan can't cook either and still just exists on beans, tinned spam sandwiches and baking fairy cakes.

I taught myself to cook, partly out of fear that I couldn't but luckily found I really enjoyed it. I was shit for years but I liked doing it anyway! A spell of massive financial hardship where I was selling furniture to eat meant I learned pretty bloody quick.

I'm lucky to have an Aldi a couple of miles away and even now that I have no financial worries, I still feed a family of 4 for £60 a week including a wine box. Old habits die hard but I like it, it feels like a safety net.

OTheHugeManatee Fri 14-Jun-13 19:48:00

I'm gobsmacked by some of the reactions on this thread. For crying out loud, this woman has been struggling to get by on no money, has figured out how to feed her child healthily on an extremely limited budget, has dared to talk about it and about how some people spend loads on crap ready meals and get fat, while whinging about their poverty. As far as I can see from looking at her blog, she has walked the walk.

And people are sniping at her because her figure of £10 per week food budget might be out by a few quid??? And how very DARE she go and get a book deal, and maybe have a bit more money, and maybe get herself out of the poverty trap!


If I were more cynical then I am I'd think that a certain subset of MN's compassionate hand-wringers actually prefer poor single mums to look helpless, uneducated, depressed and disempowered, rather than resourceful, articulate and determined like Jack Monroe. Far more gratifying to have the poor looking uniformly vulnerable and in need of patronising excuses compassion.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 19:50:31

I think it's really patronising too OTheHuge

expatinscotland Fri 14-Jun-13 20:09:15

I agree, Manatee.

ubik Fri 14-Jun-13 20:20:14

I can see some problems with home cooking if you are skint - cost of equipment might be a barrier, I suppose.

And how to start building up store cupboard ingredients such as spices and stocks needed to make food taste good.

Also it's hard to change family habits once established, we have all heard the howls of anguish when you present something new and if you are inexperienced cook it might not taste nice anyway.

Also basic cooking skills not handed down - I still get tips from my mother about roasting meat, making gravy etc abd it's great because she gives me a basic nice recipe not something with goji berries and kumquats like these celeb chefs.

There is a fab thread somewhere on mumsnet about posh food which is really very simple and the recipes were fab.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 20:26:52

It's not patronising manatee it's that fact that her whole point is that you can feed an adult and a toddler for £10 per week, I don't think you can and others imply she hasn't been honest about that either.

It isn't that I'd prefer all example of single parents to be the daily fail kind it's that I think, similar to disability campaigns attacking long term unemployed, it is nasty to attack other people, who inevitably have different circs to you in a "I'm the good kind" sort of a way, how is that challenging the stereotype at all?

If she'd have made a helpful post actually explaining how the money and the labour are organised so that people could both learn how to do it from her blog and see how she managed it then that would have been helpful. What she's done is written a judgy post without backing it up in any way and that smacks of "I'm not like those bad ones, don't tar me with the same brush" which really is another way of perpetuating the discriminatory attitudes...

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 20:31:00

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 20:35:44

Totally agree kiriwawa.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 14-Jun-13 20:40:45

There was a study done very recently about the varying fatness of children, where they used postcodes to assess socio economic status. Was on BBC too, but can't remember details.. Anyway it found that the better off kids were actually fatter. I can see this for myself too, as I moved from council Ville to posh land, and the richer kids are fatter. They dont play out, like the kids on the estate did, and they are driven everywhere.
I was once in exactly the situation jack molone was in, single mum, baby, waiting for cash. I am a master at cheap meat free cooking, but still couldn't do it on a tenner a week. And wouldn'twant to. Yeah, for a month, you can go really frugal. But year in year out? Food is a joy to me, and no, having heard this woman on tv, I dont thinkshe does like food much. She struck me as very ascetic.
Whatevs. Its good to cook, and cook healthy stuff, but she is smug as all get out.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 20:56:43

smug seems to mean .."doesn't feed her kid ready meals and shit like I do".... sorry, but the definition of smug as seen on this thread does not bear any resemblance to normality or the English language. Congrats for making me want to leave MN for the first time ever flowers

ubik Fri 14-Jun-13 20:59:51
MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 21:00:05

Thing is Jack is obviously a smart, resourceful, energetic young woman who found herself in difficult circumstances but was able to find solutions.
Many people in poverty are disabled, sick, have mental health problems or addiction issues. There a many reasons why they may not be capable of cooking themselves and their kids a lovely meal from scratch using very cheap ingredients.
Clever, ingenious people are often able to live very cheaply. Not so clever or poorly people often have to go for the easiest option, not the cheapest.

MummytoKatie Fri 14-Jun-13 21:02:20

It's not a great post. The rest of the blog is really interesting but that post is just a bit "well I could do it so if you can't it's all your own fault for being rubbish / lazy / stupid."

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 21:04:43

Reposting without swearing because some delicate soul thought I was de trop because it took me ages to type and I was on the phone to my mum it's an important point.

[I don't think that's terribly fair] hugemanatee. I am a single mum who's lived on benefits.

I think some of you are missing the point of the posts on the thread.

I can't speak for anyone else but it's not her general point that I have a problem with (that actually crap food is err crap) but the patronising, chastising, blaming tone she adopts.

I applaud her blog - I think drawing attention to how hard it is to feed a family on benefits; how it possible to find more nutritious ways of feeding a family on very little money; how meat isn't the be all and end all of meals etc - is absolutely brilliant. And I'm delighted she's got so much coverage.

I don't like this post though - which is what this thread's about.

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 21:06:37

The woman who claims her kids are fat because all she can afford is processed crap to feed them?

I understand outrage, pity, even the blogger's apparent superior smugness. Anger at the system that's failed to educate her.

But the apologists on this thread baffle me. It's just NOT OK.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:09:31

I don't feed my children ready meals, not ever, I just am willing to have sympathy for people who do and to listen to why they do and although I can see why she might be drawn into this judgy kind of post, I think it is smug and unhelpful and it would have been better to use the opportunity to equip others with her knowledge and experience but I doubt it is really achievable strictly in the way she says. I think the post is more about trying to distance herself from association with 'that kind of single mum'.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:11:02

kiriwawa I was that child - mum had me at 16 in 1985 and I spent my early years as a child of single parent family in Thatcher's regime. Still don't think the post is smug - it is harsh but fair. Ready meals are not cheaper than cooking and are a symptom of laziness, not lack of time. I work 70 hours a week and I cook from scratch, if I have no time I batch cook soups etc and keep them in the fridge.
Fair if people admit they can't be arsed to do this, but let's not blame poverty.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:11:56

imademarion - my point exactly, only better phrased.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:12:25

No-one has said it is ok though imadmarion have they, they've said they dislike the tone of the response and think it isn't helpful.

I agree it is theoretically possible to cook cheaply. I do it but am under no illusions about the privileges that allow me to do it; education about health, access to cooking equipment and time saving devices, being a SAHM, being able to bulk buy, being resourceful and knowing how to cook and cook frugally etc.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:14:00

offred plenty of posters saying "oh maybe mother doesn't have time aftr working two jobs"// "maybe they want to feed their kids a treat to cheer them up" etc - read over the thread, there are lots of apologists for this behaviour.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:16:14

But those are reasons not apologies and TBF if you want to achieve anything that will actually help improve the situation and not just moralise smugly you need to understand why people use ready meals.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:17:14

No they are excuses, not reasons. I am exhausted after work but I would never feed my children ready meals.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:17:55

To me it is the equivalent of putting pop/soda in a baby's bottle. Get off your arse and cook a meal.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:18:25

The woman originally objected to did it because she thought they were cheaper and to her they perhaps are depending on how she cooks 'from scratch'. It would have been more helpful if jack had therefore posted how she manages to cook from scratch instead of judging her.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 21:20:22

There are often so many other factors involved than "not being arsed". Can you really not see that?
I am an educated, affluent woman. I cook from scratch and make nice stuff pretty frugally. But I am disabled, I have limited energy and DH picks up a lot of the slack. If by some disaster I ended up being a single parent, then I suspect my energy levels wouldn't go much further than ordering take away.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:20:54

sorry but as a parent you have the responsibility to look at the ingredients on what you feed your child. Anything containing the fat, sugar and e numbers that a ready meal contains is out. The internet is freely available for research in libraries etc and there is no excuse for sitting on a tv show blaming your children's obesity on other people. If my child became obese I would be looking at every cause and trying my best to find out what I was doing wrong, not sitting making entitled excuses.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:23:01

x post with moomin presumably then you would not be sitting on a tv show saying your children were obese because ready meals were cheaper though.

If she had said "I am disabled and I cannot prepare any other food" then, fair enough. But she hasn't done the research or made the effort to find out what is best for her children during their slide into obesity. Obesity does not happen overnight - she had time to realise what she was feeding them did not work and fix it.

Cherriesarelovely Fri 14-Jun-13 21:23:33

I was already to agree then I actually read the blog. I thought it was good. It reminds me of how I used to eatand cook before I got so busy and when I had less money. To be honest it was better in many ways. She's right in my opinion. When I was a kid my family were really hard up and we were never fed rubbish.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:23:43

Can you really not conceive of that fact that there are people who don't know about ingredients, don't understand cooking from scratch beyond making a lasagne using jars and don't have access to the Internet or the level of ingenuity required for that kind of thing?

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:24:47

And that judgy smugging about how they are wrong/stupid/irresponsible actually just doesn't help...

Elquota Fri 14-Jun-13 21:25:41

I'd have been bored stiff learning "tools for life" at school. Get an education, learn to think for yourself and you can figure out the "tools for life" any time.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:26:40

I can conceive of it, yes, but I am not sure that we should be giving them a slot on TV to say how hard they have it. How can people not have access to the internet now? As I said, libraries have it for free. It is lack of effort and interest - if I had a normally sized baby who started getting obese I would immediately think "oh something is wrong - what can I do".. google is the ultimate democracy - anyone can search "healthy food for children" and make an effort.

But it is easier to buy frozen shit from Iceland and sit on TV whinging, isn't it?

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 21:27:28

Look there is always the odd idler. Most people are not idlers though - they lack the skills or the energy.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:28:48

Ok, no I don't think the tv should have paraded the misguided sap around to be humiliated by her obviously incorrect views but this is about the blog response and I think, although I can understand the defensiveness of it, I disagree with the content and manner of it as a response.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:30:37

Why doesn't she run a cooking/budgeting school. That's the kind of thing the new CCG's would consider funding I think if she could demonstrate how it works in practice.

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 21:31:23

But moomin, you'd still be educated if you had a disaster.

So presumably you'd still know that takeaways would drill your energy levels through the floor, not to mention the detrimental effect on your mental health of all that nutritionally bankrupt crap.

Education has got to be the key, either by the state or passed down through the generations.

There are informal cooking classes among the mums at school, stretch a chicken, make a crumble type stuff. Those of us lucky enough to know are delighted to share. But there are plenty offend who stubbornly insist they are delivering an acceptable and cost-effective level of nutrition through ready meals.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 21:32:25

About 16% of adults in the UK are functionally illiterate. It's not as easy as looking a recipe up on the Internet.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:33:35

I reckon the post was a bit OTT, but, at the same time, I think that we are far too prone as a society to being too polite and British to call people out on things.
Childhood obesity is such a serious problem and it should not be brushed under the carpet because everyone is too scared to call a spade a spade.
I also struggle with the idea that every last thing is the state's responsibility.

If people are old enough and "responsible" enough to be adults who are producing children then they should take responsibility for that. I am NOT saying the state should not step in where needed in cases of abuse, but rather that people's first response should be to ask "why aren't the parents doing this" as opposed to "oh, it's lack of education/they didn't know" etc.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 14-Jun-13 21:33:42

But it is not a question of what this blogger did OR ready meals. I have never ever bought a ready meal in my life, but I still couldn't live on ten pounds a week. And i am lucky -i come from a large family that was poor but had parents who could cook - lentils a go go ( think working class hippies with too many kids) i know how to do this. I still sometimes need to eat beef or chocolate to keep from killing someone. So it's more about the day in day out grind of poverty, and overwork that means that living on chick peas EVERY DAY is unrealistic.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:34:30

Yes, mainly because they feel they are being judged Marion, that's why this post is objectionable to me. She's just slammed the door to any mums in the position of the complained about one who might have learned anything from her that could have improved their children's health. It's divisive and she is clearly resourceful and could be a great help if she chose.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 21:34:32

Well yes I'd know I was giving my kids crap, but I still might not have many other options.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:34:55

Yes and 25% of girls and 33% of boys are obese, not all their parents are illiterate....

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 21:35:23

I wrote you a really long post Artemis and my stupid computer ate it.

marian's first post was this:

^Education is a longterm solution and the benefits will only be felt years down the line and ONE of them is the parents

Absolutely. I went to school in a very poor country. We had three hours of home economics a week and everyone's mother had already taught them the basics of cooking and baking (stews, scones).

We learnt how to budget and stretch our money using fresh food from the market. There was no such thing as convenience food. Hardly anyone had a freezer and not that many had a fridge. Ovens were also scarce but most houses had an electric ring.

It wasn't seen as smug or interfering. No navel gazing or class warfare. Just sensible acceptance that a cheap healthy diet keeps you and your family alive.^

I have to also confess that, despite the fact that I would rather walk over hot coals than eat a ready meal, it's the only savoury food that DS will eat. He's got SN and until I discovered he would eat fish fingers, chicken nuggets and chips, I thought he was destined for a life of haribo and biscuits (wet food is too squishy). So obviously I can't afford to be snobby about them because without them, he can't go to other people's houses for playdates.

Except yours.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:36:01

Also, let's face it - ready meals would be WAAAAY more than £10 a week, so there is a middle ground that does not involve being illiterate or buying ready meals

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 21:36:04

Artemis I understand that the state was responsible for ditching cooking/home ec in the first place though? I wasn't educated here so happy to stand corrected.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:38:14

ooh imade not sure - I was taught it at state secondary in early 90's.

also ready to be corrected on ditching of cooking in schools.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:38:37

*1996- onwards...

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 21:40:51

kiriawa I have already said that there are definitely sometimes good reasons to use ready meals/pre-prepped food (disability was actually the example I used above).

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 21:42:17

moomin isn't that a little disingenuous? As an educated woman, are you really saying you are so lacking in resources that you would just resort to feeding ready meals to your children? You couldn't teach them to cook yourself?

If that's true, it's really sad.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:50:41

That's what my mum did Marion when she went back to work.

I was 12 the youngest was 5. My mum used to cook complicated meals from scratch when she was a SAHM but when she went back to work in 1996 she stocked the freezer with ready meals that we could heat up ourselves while she was at work. She didnt have much other choice.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:52:09

I was expected to cook the family meal from age 14 which is largely why I can cook but for those 2 years (and after I left at around 16) we lived on ready meals.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 21:52:50

And my mother is a doctor. She knows full well about health and ingredients.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 21:55:19

Yes of course I am being disingenuous: I have already got the little buggers slaving away for me. (Only joking, my eldest two are in their late teens and perfectly capable of cooking a meal.)
But I imagine there are plenty a lot of people who resort to the crap due to lack of energy. In fact I have a friend with ME who's kids don't eat at all healthily - I wouldn't dream of criticising her.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 21:56:06

He's in MS school. None of his schoolfriends know (at this point) and I'm making the most of the fact that he's really popular now because I suspect he won't be for much longer.

Would you have him over if I told you what he ate?

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 21:57:06

Could I just say that

a) chickpea curry is Gordon Ramsay's favourite Asian dish, by all accounts


b) someone (I can't be arsed to check who) saying that an unemployed single mother in shared accommodation (?) in Sarfend-on-Sea blogging about barely struggling to make ends meet and feed her child is "Living in a middle-class ivory tower" is quite simply THE funniest thing I've ever seen on MN. grin grin

And I've been here YEARS

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 21:59:49

offred, at 12 you could have cooked with her at the weekends to fill the freezer?

At that age, I often made supper. And I've taught my kids to do the same.

Their bedrooms are shitheaps though…

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:01:38

Is she unemployed? Anyway, she is quite obviously from a middle class background, I don't think whoever said that was entirely wrong. She, as I did, obviously benefits in various ways from her middle class upbringing in the situation she's in now.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:03:45

Yes Marion I could and did but there were 6 of us and I struggled to cope with so much responsibility/housework at 14 never mind 12 and I was a significant factor (although there were other factors) in my severe depression, self harm, running away and eventual moving out at a young age.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:04:09

I have a packet of fish fingers in my freezer just for play dates (I think they would be too expensive to feed all six of us on). I wouldn't dream of pushing my lentils onto other people's children.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:04:23

Often is different to every day anyway.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 22:05:06

[frightened of being zapped again]
I said she was educated. I don't know about middle class but I suspect 100 ways of eating vegan food isn't high on the agenda for most people

imademarion Fri 14-Jun-13 22:05:11

Sorry am on kindke its painfully slow and I just read yourcposts Offred which render my response redundant!

I have to bow out and go to bed, thanks for a really interesting discussion.

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 22:06:16

haunted I thought that about the "middle class ivory tower" comment grin

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:07:23

Not sure what makes her 'quite obviously' from a MC background, but it was the 'Ivory Tower' thing that got me. Satan on a unicorn but competitive poverty has reached new heights when the ability to stir a pot of tinned chickpeas and chuck in some dried herbs constitutes an ivory tower...

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:09:23

This class thing really grinds my gears

Do people honestly think that someone cannot possibly be working class if they know one end of a spoon from another/can string together sufficient coherent sentences to write a successful blog confused

Working class people aren't baboons, you know.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:10:03

No, it was her £27k per year job mostly for me tbh.

Kiriwawa Fri 14-Jun-13 22:10:41

Thank you moomin - that's really very comforting. I (quite honestly, not pissing around) live in fear about food on afterschool playtime things. I know the other kids are going to realise that he's really pretty weird fairly soon. But at the moment, I'm wallowing in the fact that they haven't noticed. Or if they have, they think it's cool. It's not going to last long though ...

I'd be really very upset if a parent noticed (and used it as a stick) before their child did. I'd probably forcefeed you value pricerite 'burgerzz' grin

Smudging Fri 14-Jun-13 22:10:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:11:26

Oh I see, working class people can't earn a decent wage. My mistake!

She certainly was job-seeking at one stage in the blog, anyways.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:12:26

Er she is 25 now and her child is 2. There are no "working class" jobs that pay people that young that well are there?

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:13:26

She had this job, I presume, before she had the baby and in her blog she refers to the things it had enabled her to have which she had to sell when her benefits got messed up.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:16:03

A 23 year old who is earning £27k, has clearly got a good standard of education, is intelligent and articulate and resourceful, is it really all that much of a leap that they have a middle class background? Either way the ivory tower comment wasn't me and I don't really agree with it either.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:16:20

What's a working class job FFS?!

I'm from a working class background and was on about that at her age.

Anyway: as I said. It was the MC bit so much as the ivory tower that made me ROFL.

You'd have to be pretty effing defensive about your eating habits to think a living off bag of Sainsbo's value lentils is aspirational.

DamnBamboo Fri 14-Jun-13 22:16:35

She's edited this particular post by removing the

"Your kids aren’t fat because you’re poor. I could make your kids thinner and you financially better off, but you have to be willing to make the effort to learn”'

and thrown in a fairly defensive comment to boot. Not sure what's caused this, but clearly she is rethinking her position on this.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:16:44

kiriwawa my favourite treat is frozen sausage rolls. I would have your DS over simply to steal his food.
My points earlier were more about able-bodied parents of children with no SN, who feed their kids ready meals because they assume that it is cheaper, when in fact it is just easier.
It is clear from the way you phrased your post that you have thought long and hard about what your DC eat - is that true of the mother on the TV show that sparked all this controversy?

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:17:41

Aye, well: we're agreed it was ivory tower thing that grated!

I massively take issue with the assumption that a working class person can't be articulate, educated and resourceful, but that's for a whole nother thread and will make me way too cross for this time at night, especially when I'm all out of gin.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:18:31

Offered, I imagine there are 25 year old plasterers and plumbers earning that kind of money.
But Jack is a newspaper journalist isn't she?

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:18:44

Erm... The whole thing about class is that it is based on your job officially isn't it?

She may well have had 'working class' parents, she may well have had a 'working class' job, on the balance of probabilities I think it is unlikely. At the very least she clearly has skills and attributes and resources that many other people in her situation do not no matter where they came from.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:18:49

haunted I have two bottles of gin that I got as house warming gifts, you're welcome to them! sips wine

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:19:49

BESIDES WHICH, if were middle class what the heck's that got to do with it?

"Yes yes, you could barely feed your poor starveling boy, but you went skiing in the upper sixth and know what Glyndebourne is so you can fuck off" ?!

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:20:47

Offred - no, it's not based on your job. What a hilarious notion!

Oo thanks Artemis <hic>

Slice of cucumber in mine ta

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:21:52


ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:22:49

Now wondering if all friends think am alcoholic... housewarming presents all of a very certain theme...

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:23:12

I do think it is relevant because it is well recognised that money and class effect mobility, education, attainment, literacy, opportunities, resources, aspirations, support structures...

Although it wasn't my point to start the ivory tower thing I think was directed to that, that it is easier for someone who starts with something to manage extreme poverty than someone who starts in extreme poverty of this kind because they have various cushions.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:23:29

If you'd be so good. And a light hand with the tonic, there's a dear.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:26:18

Class is officially based on your job though isn't it? Well the A B C1 stuff is.

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:27:36

Erm I think it is; the type of work and the income you gain are the main criterion, obvs there are some social characteristics but they are difficult to measure, effectively meaning measurable class is highly dependent on looking at people's jobs.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:29:06

Moomin - I'm a writer with a PhD, but that recent BBC class thingy classed me as 'utterly utterly the dregs of society' grin No money, no family money, no property, all that.

I was quite proud. AND I like chickpea curry grin

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 22:30:16

Having been in the position myself, being able to ask my parents to loan me money for a cot, having started out with furniture and some things of value, having had a good education etc i was in a better position than some others to actually survive the instability/poverty of benefits than many others.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:30:59

I have literally no idea how I ended up having this discussion again <stares into empty glass>

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:35:32

Yes we were quite posh on that BBC thing. We are working-class-gone-to-university-and-made-good. But you can take the kid out of the council estate......

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:38:39

<looks pointedly at Atemesia's gin>

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:38:42

I was the dregs on the BBC thing - have 3 degrees and a good job but because I don't own a home or stocks and shares...

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:39:41

moomin more the merrier, I have to get up at silly o clock tomorrow so I definitely do NOT want to drink alone! grin

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:40:26


In my case you can take the kid out of the bedroom full of books and slightly creepy Victorian pictures of naked ladies and...erm...she'll probably stay there.

It honestly is interesting, though - the way the working class is now seen as something to be striven out of ASAP.

In the past - early 20th century for example - no-one would have assumed that working class people would not have an interest in literature, politics, culture - or been thoughtful, articulate, resourceful and clever. DH Lawrence, I hear you cry. Quite right, I reply!

There is a fantastic memoir of a girl brought up in abject poverty in the New Forest during the Depression, and she remembered her father going out to meet the mobile library that came round the villages, and coming home to read to them from Dickens and Karl Marx.

And there's that fantastic scene in Howards End where Leonard Bast goes to the 'Music and Meaning' lecture...

But times have changed. Working class is now an insult, right?

It gives me the SADS.

ArtemisatBrauron Fri 14-Jun-13 22:44:21

So true... when I read Lady Chatterly's Lover for the first time (Mrs Craddock also very similar) I remember thinking how radical it was that a working class man could be portrayed like that - in NI where I grew up, we were portrayed as sectarian scum by the media.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:51:26

Aye. It's sad.

I tend to insist on being working class partly out of sheer mischief (It's prolly not the first thing that would strike you!) and partly because...well....I don't have property, or savings, or assets, or the kind of job where I get private healthcare, and I've never been skiing, and my Dad was kinda born in a slum, really, and my granny was in service. So what if I can play Chopin nocturnes and can recite Tennyson? Doesn't make me middle class. Tennyson isn't going to get me decking and two weeks in the Loire, is it?!

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:51:40

I am fibbing a bit about the council estate. I was brought up in the Welsh valleys in a long tradition of working class intellectualism (okay that sounds a bit pretentious). But my Grandad worked underground from 14, always read a broadsheet, was a big fan of people like Paul Foot and John Pilger.
I'm actually quite glad he's not around to see how dumbed down society is, he'd have hated it

BaconKetchup Fri 14-Jun-13 22:51:52

Haunted it is indeed interesting. On MN it sometimes seems to be assumed that poor people will not be able to read, use a computer, be creative.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:52:33

....and there are now so many identifying factors in this thread I shall I have to have my tenth namechange. WIN!


HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 22:55:44

Zackly Bacon. Which is such a kind of twisted combination of reverse snobbery and quasi-Victorian morality I don't even know where to start confused

On the one hand: you cannot possibly expect those poor dear working class people to cook for themselves, you smug posho! They have not had the privilege of your cossetted upbringing!

On the other hand: fuck off.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 22:57:44

I has a bloke round to fix my gas boiler the other day. He had a knowledgable chat with me about my hardy perennials, admired my piano, and knocked out a bit of Satie. Oh yeah, and he fixed the boiler. I nearly ran off with him.
Shouldn't be remarkable should it?

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 23:03:06

Well FRANKLY Moomin after the council estate debacle I don't know what to believe anymore hmm grin

No it shouldn't be surprising. Although Satie is very easy to play <sniff>grin

Offred Fri 14-Jun-13 23:04:52

Except no-one has said being working class is an insult apart from you. It is certainly not what I've said. I've simply spoken about the advantages having a better standard of living/income measurably bring. I think you are being deliberately obtuse because what you would like is for me to be conveying these sterotypes. You certainly launched into a full on assault before asking what reasoning there was behind my comment.

The BBC's class measurement is not the trad economic classification by the sounds of it.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 23:08:57

Tis grade 5 Haunted. The DCs assure me that's very tricky smile.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 23:14:17

Oh don't be silly, that wasn't a full on assault! Meh, I took issue with your assumption that demonstrating resourcefulness and what-not excludes an individual from being working class. Doesn't seem to me to be all that surprising someone might disagree, but whatever.

Yes moonin it is vay VAY hard and attainment of G5 should be greeted with MUCH praise and treats <hasty>

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 14-Jun-13 23:16:27

Have you read that AS Byatt novel "The Children's Book"? It is quite interesting about working class people embracing education in Edwardian times.

HauntedArmchairOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 23:18:51

I haven't! I'm not a huge fan of hers but everyone is so positive about that one I have it in one of my guilt-piles...I'll dig it out!

starkadder Fri 14-Jun-13 23:36:10

You can't put iPhone sims into ancient Nokias. Different size SIM cards.

expatinscotland Sat 15-Jun-13 00:12:28

The class system and its perceptions will be the death knell of this nation, which is slowly eating itself from within.

expatinscotland Sat 15-Jun-13 00:14:54

So true, Haunted.

Offred Sat 15-Jun-13 10:50:02

That wasnt my assumption though haunted. I read the blog, I explained it was based on her £27k per year career at 23 in the main, yet you continued putting your agenda onto me.

Trills Sat 15-Jun-13 17:54:02

starkadder it's only iPhone 4 and later that use microSIMs, and you can get plastic converters that turn microSIMs back into regular-sized SIMs for a few pence.

Don't try to pick apart stories on technicalities unless you actually know what you are talking about.

TexasTracy Thu 18-Jul-13 11:54:26

Wow, I've obviously not been back to Blighty in a while...when did British people get so freely argumentative? I remember feeling weird in the 90s voicing my opinions on the uselessness of infant potty training and usefulness of mixed feeding...whilst hoping I wasn't offending anyone!

I enjoy the Jack Monroe food writing, especially since poverty isn't the same post-Thatcher-years: you can be doing great one year and slide off the face of the earth financially the next.

My ( 60s ) generation expected to have continual financial progress as long as we were sensible and worked hard. I'm not sure it's the same today in Britain...I don't even remember there being food banks in the UK when I lived there.

chillinwithmyyonis Thu 18-Jul-13 12:13:38

I'm deffo gonna try her fish paste pasta, I've not perused sandwich pastes for years, if something good can come from fish paste the woman is a genius

Dahlen Thu 18-Jul-13 13:28:13

Maybe it's because I read the BBC article about her using foodbanks first, but I'm failing to be offended by her blog. I think the point she makes about people needing to learn to cook is a valid one.

I don't think clever cooking is the complete answer to poor people's nutritional needs by itself, but it's certainly a part of the puzzle. For those saying it's patronising I can assure you that there are plenty of people out there - from all classes - who still don't know that most ready meals are full of crap. The MC are particularly guilty of this with their Waitrose ones which are, of course, a better class and therefore excepted from the ready meals are crap argument. hmm This isn't about class, it's about education about food.

I know someone who doesn't buy ready meals but does eat poorly IMO. She wouldn't know where to start with making her own white/cheese sauce, using a tin of tomatoes and some spices instead of a jar of Dolmio. She simply doesn't have the confidence to experiment unless someone formally teaches her. She doesn't have the confidence to attend a community-based workshop where she could learn these skills either. She's a good mum doing her best to feed her child better but she's ignorant about food.

Many people don't want schools to step in to what they see as a parent's role. I get that. I sympathise with the argument. However, with child abuse on the increase, poverty on the increase, obesity on the increase - leaving these things to the parents - who don't have the skills themselves to pass on to their children - clearly isn't working. All that does is cement the advantages of the better-educated well off. If we want things to change, someone has to start teaching this stuff. Schools are the ideal venue because education for children is compulsory. While we're at it we could extend the school day and solve half the nation's childcare problems as well. We;d have to pay greater tax, but with fewer people suffering diet-related health problems and fewer people unable to work because of childcare problems, there would be more people in work to pay those taxes.

It's not fair to castigate people for not being able to get by in France if you've never taught them French.

Shonajoy Wed 06-Nov-13 17:10:20

She didn't give up her job, when she had her child she asked for flexi time, day shifts, part time, even could she bring her child to work. All her shopping is done at sainsburys using their value products, which she costs individually. I've done a couple of her recipes out of interest and they're pretty bland and studenty but her child seems to be not fussy at all and eats everything he's given apparently, which is good. I'm not mad on her use of tinned potatoes and veg, but apparently this is to save money on fuel. I'm also surprised that the father of the child allows his kid to live in such food poverty, given she constantly praises him and says he's a very involved and caring father. She now has a book deal- I will be interested to see if she still keeps this kind of cooking up now she will have much more money. Also, the book contains 100 recipes- if you follow her blog you can get loads free on there if you're interested, the falafels were actually quite good. I'm not mad on her either, she rubs me up the wrong way and gets very snotty when questioned which I don't think is going to help her cause.

GreenVelvet Wed 06-Nov-13 18:13:42

Moomin, re. Welsh valleys, yes I understood that tradition of interest in intellectual side of things, literature and so forth in all kinds of families. Your average person e.g. bus driver, mechanic could often recite poetry, etc.

It is sad if that has changed ...

Heartbrokenmum73 Wed 06-Nov-13 18:28:30

Bashing 'Jack' again? Seriously? This was done a week/two weeks ago. And you know she's a MNer don't you? Last thread (which was also a nasty, sneery thread) she came on to defend herself. I really hope she does so this time too - some of you are awful people.

The last thread was saying that she 'only played at being poor' and now there are people on this thread calling her a liar. Nasty.

fatlazymummy Wed 06-Nov-13 18:42:10

I made Jack's falafels the other day, the nicest ones I've ever had. And the prices were accurate, for those who want to nit pick or call her a liar.I shop in Sainsbury's as well, so to the person who asked where can you buy pitta breads for 22p?They're Sainsbury basics. You know, the ones in the white and orange wrappers.
If you read this Jack, thank you and keep up the good work.
Should also mention ,there's quite a few other frugal blogs online, with similar pricing and recipes.

Why, why, WHY would someone ignore the massive red "This thread is ancient, are you sure you want to post?" marker and revive a dead thread? Why? Even if it's to be nice, like has happened here.

Better to start a new thread next time, Shonajoy

ThornSayre Wed 06-Nov-13 19:04:54

There is even a painstakingly-drawn zombie!

Still, at least the comments were fair. I am delighted that Jack has been asked to do a web-chat. Should be great smile

Mylovelyboy Wed 06-Nov-13 20:10:03

This blogger is not my cup of tea at all. Im on a budget and you can make decent meals from scratch really cheaply. You dont have to be a trained chief to make a nice home made soup, pasta dish, omlette etc. I have to say that i can quite easily knock up a decent meal out of completely not much at all, that takes not much time whatsoever. I think people have to use a bit of imagination. You can have decent (not cheap value / prepacked shite) food at a cheap rate if you know what to buy. I popped in Iceland blush the other day to get some milk (not my usual shop). I was at the check out and the shit the lady in front had on the counter was unbelievable. Never even heard of the brands and they were not cheap either. Some people need educating.

whats4teamum Wed 06-Nov-13 20:32:21

I apologise if anyone has already mentioned this but she has a nice glossy spread in Waitrose magazine this month.

Shopping in waitrose on £10 confused a week. Good luck.

BMW6 Wed 06-Nov-13 20:37:46

Poor people are not overweight.

If you are fat, you are not poor by definition. You are eating more calories than you are burning.

There is no such thing as a Poor Fat Person.

End of discussion.

Mylovelyboy Wed 06-Nov-13 20:50:54

BMW6 spot on. I am on a budget and do sometimes pop in waitrose to buy their cheaper 'essential range'. I think i am getting a bargin but when it somes to coughing up at the checkout i realise its not cheap at all. Aldi and Lidl for fruit and veg and the butchers for meat. We have a wonderful butchers in our village and the meat is very reasonable for the lovely quality. WHATS4TEAMUM - I bought a piece of Wookey Hole Cheese in waitrose the other day. Cost me £4.75 for a lump. What the hell I would do with the remaining £5.25 to last me the week. I dont think this girl lives in the real world to be honest.

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