i Editor's Letter: Turning austerity into creativity


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The Independent Online


Maintaining a healthy diet in such austere times can be a difficult task for many. With stagnating wages and rising food prices, the temptation to go for cheap ready meals can be too much for some. Others feel they cannot afford to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you find yourself nodding in agreement because you fit into one of these categories, you should take a moment to seek inspiration from Jack Monroe. Jack has just signed a book deal with Penguin. So what, I hear you sigh. Yet another foodie book. But – and here’s the difference – Jack’s recipes are based on her “frugal-but-nutritious principles” that help her survive by spending £5 to £10 a week on food.

Jack lost her job 19 months ago, and after recent cuts to benefits and tax credits, she was forced to move to cheaper accommodation so that she could still afford to work and send her son to nursery.

A quick glance at her recipes reveals a perhaps surprising absence of beans on toast, fish fingers, burgers and pizzas. Indeed, there is not a pre-prepared meal in sight. In their place come casseroles, risottos, tagines, curries, soups, falafels, breads and cakes. Each one made from scratch.

She does this using basic ingredients from her local supermarket, selecting only those on special offers. No, there is no 21-day hung beef, salt-marsh lamb or corn-fed chicken. She does not get weekly deliveries of organic fruit and vegetables (but then how many really do) and the most expensive recipe costs just 53p per person.

She describes herself as “just an ordinary girl making her way in the world”. You may not like all her ideas, but her creativity and determination should inspire us all.

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri