We're very pleased to announce that pioneering food blogger Jack Monroe will be coming into MNHQ for a webchat on Wednesday 5 March from 12.30-1.30PM.
Facing head-on the realities of modern Britain as a single mum and responding with a 'make do and mend' way of thinking, Jack has earned a reputation as a fierce anti-austerity activist. She is best known for her blog A Girl Called Jack and is a freelance writer for The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Mirror encouraging people to explore, enjoy and experiment with food, all on a (tiny) budget. Her first book, A Girl Called Jack, has just been published by Michael Joseph.
You can post a question for Jack in advance below, or join us in welcoming her on Wednesday between 12.30 and 1.30PM.
I'm a big fan of the blog! I'm a lone parent to a small boy too so lots of the recipes work really well for us. DS loves the kidney bean, carrot and cumin burgers and my favourite is the pasta with mushy peas (cos I'm classy like that! )
Anyway, when I found myself on a reduced income, after splitting from my ex, I found I had to make cut backs to my food budget and be a bit more creative with recipes. I'm an OK cook but I consider myself extremely lucky that I was taught to cook as a child, by my mum and also my Gran, who was a retired Home Economics teacher and an amazing cook. I think that having these basic cooking skills are invaluable when triyng to feed a family on a budget.
So, how did you learn to cook? Are you self-taught, or did someone teach you?
Hi Jack, I wanted to thank you for articulating so eloquently the issues which can lead to anyone falling into poverty. I went from being in a good job to being divorced, having to give up work because I couldn't afford to stay in central London, pay for childcare and eat. In a month I was on income support and made to feel less than worthless. Things have improved for me, but reading your blog helped me through a difficult time because someone else understood. Here's my question: I've struggled to explain why benefit bashing is wrong to friends, to family, who all seem convinced that it must be the person on benefits' fault that they're in that situation - how do you change attitudes when the media seems hellbent on portraying the feckless poor stereotype (e.g bebefits street)?
I received your book this week and wanted to say thank you for inspiring me to shop cheaper and cook better. I have made the carrot & cumin burgers, lentil bolognese (so so good!) and white choc and tea bread and all were well received. Have the beer and sultana bread proving as I type! Surprisingly, my meat loving DH has really liked the veggie recipes so I am really pleased and feel it's a great way to make him healthier. My questions are:
Can you use tinned lentils instead of dried in, for example, the daal? Or does it change the recipe?
Also, is there a book two in the pipeline? I would def buy it!
As an aside, I've noticed that there's no salt (or pepper) in your recipes. Is this on purpose for health reasons?
Thank you for your really fabulous blog and advocacy. I believe you have changed the terms of the debate.
My question is not really one for answering, and more a plea: will you please make sure to take care of your and your son's financial security with the extra income you're generating? It's amazing that you are willing to give so much away to good causes, but please please do create a buffer for yourself as well.
We've had shit times too, so thanks for speaking up for 'us'.
I would like to know how you handle it when your son doesn't want to eat his dinner?
The hardest thing I found about having a tiny food budget was that my daughter (then 2) would regularly refuse to try New things - I ended up buying her basics frozen sausages etc a lot because I knew she wouldn't be hungry then.
Hi jack, just wanted to say you have given so much hope to families on a low income and who struggle to make ends meet, and it almost seems like in today's society being poor is the worse thing you can be. Your recipes are amazing and when I was struggling they were a big help, and even though things have improved I still like making your recipes. Wishing you and your son all the best. (And I too want to know the answer to the Currie question...)
Hi Jack - I've intermittently read your blog and know how you ended up from a high flier to low income...do you think embracing education and being widely read allowed you to resource cheaper food stuffs and combine that with nutrition?
I only ask because low income is usually synonymous with lower educational standards and it needn't be so
I don't have a question, I just want to thank Jack for all she has done to counter the vile messages this government is spinning out, and to say that I hope she and her son are feeling warmer and happier these days x
My family enjoyed your bolognon so much that we've bought the book and I'm trying to decide where to start... What's your favourite recipe out of the ones in the book, and how did you decide which ones to include?
Jack - I just bought your book, and next week (when my DCs are feeling better) I plan on trying out a few of the recipes for them. (DS1 has disabilities and food issues, so new foods when he is ill are never well received)
I really love that you are not afraid to speak up regarding food banks and poverty. I think so many in the government are dreadfully out of touch with these issues.
I'm not sure if you've seen this movie, but sometimes this whole poverty/food bank situation reminds me of "A Bug's Life" with the government being the grasshoppers taking things away from the poor ants, telling us this is the way it has to be. We ants need to realise that we need to band together and make the government grasshoppers listen, IMO.
What specific positive changes would you like to see from the government over the next couple years?
Hello Jack, welcome to the Vipers' Nest. I don't have a question, I just wanted to say I loved your dignified responses to Richard Littlecock and Edwina Currie. My own daughter would have ripped them both a new one as she doesn't tolerate idiots and corporate shills.