Eating well, tastily and cheap

Jack MonroeI moved house last week. I’m hoping it’ll help speed my recovery up a bit because, for various reasons, the last place was just making me worse. Alas, this comes at a price, and means I’m on a much tighter budget than my already tight budget of two weeks ago.

Thankfully, around the same time, I discovered Jack Monroe’s blog. Not too long ago, she was trying to feed herself and her young son on only £10 a week, with only a Sainsbury’s Local within reach (you can read a powerful account of what that was like here. Already knowledgeable about food, she created filling, tasty, varying meals on this little money. These meals are also quick and easy to make – electricity costs too – and are easily adapted for different numbers of people.

Even if you’re not on a budget, they’re well worth a look. I had also gotten into a bit of a rut – always cooking the same sort of stuff – so they’ve also been great at giving me new ideas. My new favourite comfort fill-me-up food is the creamy salmon pasta, but everything I’ve tried so far has been great (tonight I had the mushroom chasseur using some leftover wine I’d bought my moving helpers – so tasty). I just tweak them depending what I’ve got in.

To find the recipes on her blog go to the ‘below-the-line budget recipes’ category. She’s now a freelance writer and is heavily involved in campaigning, so there are also some interesting posts on all that too.

Jamie Oliver has a similar-ish recipe book/campaign at the moment (Save With Jamie), but it’s not quite the same. He doesn’t think about the electricity costs in making the food, it’s much more fiddly/labour intensive (which isn’t good for ill people like me), and the initial outlay is higher (in one recipe you have to buy £18 worth of meat from the butcher, and that’s without other ingredients, so although the end portion costs are low, it’s too high at the beginning). I think Jamie’s stuff is more for the ‘average’ family trying to save money, which is great for them, but not so useful for a single person already living cheaply.

Jack has a cookbook out early next year, so skip Jamie, it’ll be worth waiting for.

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