The single mother who turned 9p meals into a publishing deal with A Girl Called Jack blog

Amateur cook’s blog about feeding her family on £10 a week attracted huge online audience

Her carrot, cumin and kidney beanburgers might sound like an extravagant offering at a gastropub. But Jack Monroe, a blogger who specialises in “austerity food”, can make them for just 9p.

Now the single mother from Southend is to produce a book filled with more of her budget recipes after being handed a deal by Penguin. The offer came after her blog, on which she documented her attempts to feed herself and her son on £10 per week, attracted a huge online audience.

While her ingredients may come from the value range, that doesn’t mean her food can’t be haute cuisine. With recipes like jardaloo ma murghi (curry with apricots), they are not exactly microwaveable-ready meals. But at only 22p each, they are meals which, she believes, reflect a more austere time.

“I have friends who have complained about not having enough money for food but then they spend £5 on a convenience meal each night,” she said. She described going to the shop with £6.20 to buy whatever she could from the reduced and value ranges. Her shopping bill for the week came to £4.40. She laid out the food on a bench before coming up with meals she could make with it.

The first, she said, is still one of her most popular recipes: a simple chilli that costs only pennies. “I put some pasta and some tomato sauce together with some onion I had bought. Then, I thought I’d add some beans and make a chilli,” she said. Since then, the recipes have become somewhat more gourmet, but the prices have stayed low. “Posh mushroom, spinach and walnut pasta” costs just 34p, for example.

Ms Monroe, 24, started the blog after a local councillor was quoted attacking single mothers. She wrote a letter to the newspaper, which has since taken her on as a trainee reporter, and started attending council meetings. The blog was originally about politics and surviving on benefits, she said. “It was when I started writing about food that it really took off,” she added.

She also attacked the Government, which she said does not understand the difficulties facing people who find themselves having to rely on benefits.

“It can happen to anyone,” Ms Monroe said. “People quote Iain Duncan Smith’s claim about being able to live on £53 a week all of the time, but they don’t realise that when get that payment you have to cover everything with it. You are not exempt from bills all of a sudden.

“People [who read the blog] think ‘thank God there is someone who is showing us that, while it is not ideal, you can survive’. The blog was just a bit of an outcry, I thought, ‘surely, I can’t be the only one going through this’.”

Lindsey Evans, the cookery publisher at Penguin, said: “Jack Monroe is a fresh new voice for our times and I am so pleased that Penguin will be publishing her first cookbook. Not only has she managed to feed herself and her son on just £10 a week but she has done so by coming up with delicious and nutritious recipes, all within that budget. More importantly, she can now show us how we can do  the same.”

The book is due to be published in March next year and will include more than 100 recipes.

The blog: A recipe for success

Carrot & Coriander Falafels (23p)

Ingredients: 3tbsp vegetable oil, 1 onion, 1 can chickpeas, shake of cumin,  1 carrot, parsley, coriander, 1tbsp flour

1. Peel and finely chop onion; grate carrot. Fry in tablespoon of oil over low heat till softened.

2. Tip into mixing bowl with chickpeas; add chopped parsley, coriander and cumin.

3. Mash till chickpeas have broken down. Oil from carrots and onion will help, but you may need more.

4. Mould into golf ball shapes with floured hands. Fry with a little more oil till golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing specialist merchant co...

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'