Book Review- (2)

My mum got me a copy of A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe for Christmas, and already I am in love with it!

I heard about Jack a while ago, through her work with Trussell Trust, and her writing in the Guardian. I had read that blog post from July 2012 that so eloquently illustrated what food poverty is really like. I had seen her recipes in the Guardian, and loved the fact they showed the cost per person and contained the kind of thing you either have in the cupboard any way, or could easily pick up from the supermarket without spending a fortune.

When I first opened the book, I actually didn’t get to see it for a couple of hours – my mum was busy looking through it, trying to decide which recipe she liked the most!


I eventually got to sit down and read it that afternoon, when my mum was otherwise occupied, watching Jungle Book. I loved the introduction, and knowing that this woman has walked the walk for herself. She’s not sitting there in some posh town house, thinking up cheap recipes while her husband plays golf – she’s played the game where you weigh up putting the heating on, against being able to afford the rent/the council tax/the water bill/food/whatever else. These recipes didn’t come from the idle imagination of someone with more than enough; they came from a woman who was desperate to feed herself and her child – and that is something to which I can really relate.

What I also love about this book is that the recipes are generally suited to either one person with a big appetite, or an adult and a child. I have never come across recipes before, that I could actually cook without having tons of leftovers. The ingredients in these recipes can easily be doubled or tripled if you have more mouths to feed, but otherwise are perfect for just me and S.

With a lot of recipe books, they seem to be selling a lifestyle, or rather the aspiration of a lifestyle. They come with a TV series attached where we watch the star playing with family, smiling with friends, serving their dishes up to happy, beautiful people in a flawless kitchen with all mod cons. We watch the show while we eat our ping meals, and then we buy the book and resolve to start cooking these meals, living this life. It never happens. We can’t find or afford the ingredients for half the recipes in our local supermarket; the books collect dust and we go back to our ping meals. Jack Monroe’s book is different because she’s not selling some aspirational lifestyle. Her recipes were born out of necessity and appeal to one’s sense of frugality rather than aspirations of affluence.

Jack’s list of kitchen essentials is short and to the point: buy what’s cheapest, or on offer that week. Rotate your carbs, with a bag of pasta one week, then rice, then potatoes. She gives advice on which herbs you can grown on your window sill if you don’t have a garden, and which will be most useful, and then gives a short list of equipment you need. This list is refreshingly short and does not involve the purchase of any expensive electrical equipment or fancy kitchen implements. I hate when a recipe says “throw it all in the food processor” and I think, what food processor?

The recipes themselves are easy to follow. They don’t involve ridiculously convoluted methods involving what I can only describe as arsing about. You get the food, you cook it, you eat it. No arsing about required. I love that there are tips at the bottom to advise you how you can amend the recipe or what to do with leftovers.

On Boxing Day, I made the Vegan Banana Bread. It was ridiculously easy, and came out looking and tasting fantastic:


What I loved about this recipe was the tip at the bottom saying that if you don’t want to keep your oven on for a whole hour, you could make banana muffins instead and have a shorter cooking time. I have never come across a food writer before who cares about my electricity bill!

I absolutely love this book, and would recommend it to anyone – whether you’re on a tight budget or not! For me, I hope it’s going to help me to spend less on my weekly food shop, but also to cook some tasty meals for S and I, rather than just opting for whatever is cheapest or closest to hand. Money has been tight since we moved house, and the food shopping has taken a hit as I struggled to keep enough electricity on our key meter or to pay other bills on time. With this book, I am discovering that the dusty cans at the back of my cupboard can make us a nutritious meal that might taste half decent!

Categories: Books

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Tatty · 29/12/2014 at 07:38

What a fab book!

Leandra · 29/12/2014 at 08:00

Great review, will certainly be on my book list now. :)

Hope you’ve had a great christmas x

little mans mum · 29/12/2014 at 20:25

I’ve been meaning to get this book for ages but never got round to it. I’m still cooking the same portion sizes as if my ex was still here, so we’re eating the same meals for 2-3 nights. The fact this book is for 1 adult or 1 and and a child is a winner for me. As well as all the other reasons. She’s got a new book out now as well x

Angela Spicer · 29/12/2014 at 21:08

I’ve heard a lot about this book, it looks good

Claire Jacobs · 01/01/2015 at 22:13

this looks brilliant, i am dashing to amazon right now! lol
Thanks for linking with #singleparentlinky

All about a Mummy · 05/01/2015 at 09:07

Love the sound of this book and the vegan cake looks great! #readwithme

    Vicky Charles · 05/01/2015 at 15:45

    What I love about the vegan cake is that it doesn’t taste vegan! And you don’t need some fancy schmancy ingredient to replace the non-vegan stuff you would normally put in a cake! Genius!

Rachel @ Parenthood Highs and Lows · 05/01/2015 at 10:38

I love Jack Monroe – I follow her blog, and as someone who is rubbish at cooking and on a tight budget, I find her recipes amazing! #readwithme

    Vicky Charles · 05/01/2015 at 15:35

    I’m rubbish for following her blog – I dip in and out. I didn’t even realise she’s since released another book! I love this one though and now I know there’s another it’s on my birthday list!

chantelle hazelden · 05/01/2015 at 11:04

this is one book that I keep meaning to get, heard so many good things about it and I love trying out new recipes. thanks for linking up with #readwithme

    Vicky Charles · 05/01/2015 at 15:34

    I would definitely recommend it – even if you only get it out of the library! The recipes are really easy to follow and involve precisely NO farting about!

FromMummytoMum · 06/01/2015 at 11:13

I haven’t heard of this book!! Will definitely be buying it though, with 2 adults and 3 children on a tight budget we are always looking for new recipes!

    Vicky Charles · 06/01/2015 at 17:05

    I would definitely recommend this. The recipes are so simple and don’t involve random ingredients you couldn’t find on the shelf at your local shop.

Sarah @ let them be small · 06/01/2015 at 20:19

this is a good book isn’t it – I had it from the library and tried a few out.

Kate @ Family Fever · 07/01/2015 at 10:30

Sounds like a great book, especially if you are on a budget. Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested

Kim Carberry · 07/01/2015 at 10:56

This sounds like such a great book….Great for saving some pennies x

    Vicky Charles · 07/01/2015 at 11:02

    Definitely. It’s really inspired me too, to try and make food from the ingredients I have in the house rather than just buy something that will be easier to do!

Colette B · 07/01/2015 at 19:52

Cracking review – really made me giggle (which is saying something when it’s a recipe book!)
Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested and a very happy new year to you x

    Vicky Charles · 07/01/2015 at 19:56

    Ah, thanks! I’m glad I made you giggle!

Stacey Guilliatt · 25/01/2015 at 21:27

This looks fab, I’m going to have a look for it! #triedtested

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