Tweeting for good

A couple of weeks ago I heard that SIFA Fireside could no longer offer breakfasts to the homeless of Birmingham. They needed £10k a year to keep the service going, but due to cuts in funding they had to make the difficult decision to stop this service. At the coldest and wettest time of the year.

£10k is a lot of money to me. It isn’t to a Premier League footballer or a Banker of course whose bonus could fund SIFA for many years. And I got angry.

And I thought about what I could do. So I tweeted.

Tweeting can be good for you

I have read this book and I have hanging around on social media for a while and I know that as well as the trolling, flinging of insults and tweets about doggie do, Twitter can be used for good.

I was already following @buskingbobby whose Socks and Chocs initiative went off the scale this year when this film of him went viral. And yes, he uses Twitter for Good.

Busking Bobby and I had a chat via Twitter about various things I could do that may help to raise funds. I was pretty sure that there were big corporations out there that could sponsor them. Even if only 1 in 10 Brummies donated £1 each, SIFA would have enough money to carry on breakfasts.

I started following SIFA on Facebook and Twitter and asked them what I could do to help. I told everyone in my Social Media world about the work they do by sharing their tweets and posts.

I also tweeted @GreggstheBakers to ask them what they did with unsold yet safe to eat food that they bag up, suggesting they could use this to support charities like SIFA. They sent me a link to this policy outlining their partnership with Fareshare.

Dear Coral

Thank you for contacting Greggs.

I just wanted to let you know that I’ve forwarded your e-mail onto our Charity Team who deal with all charity requests that we receive. I’ve asked that they contact you directly about your request, so they should be in touch with you within the next three weeks.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Remember to quote your call reference number: F1523470 in any
correspondence, as this will assist us in providing you with a
quick response.

Kind regards

Lauren McGettigan
Customer Care Team

I am still awaiting the follow up emaiI. I am hoping they have contacted SIFA direct as I suggested.

Yet I still felt I was not moving on in helping with the issue and I was getting a little frustrated.

Then two things happened this week. SIFA held a silent auction for a meal to two that had been donated by Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill. Just as it was about to close I put my bid in. And then got this.

Remember our silent auction on Friday? Well done @travellingcoral you had the winning bid! We hope you enjoy the meal at @mpw_birmingham!

It is my birthday and wedding anniversary next month, and guess where  I will be celebrating? And the food will taste even better knowing that my money is supporting SIFA, albeit in a very small way.

And last night SIFA were featured on BBC Midlands today. The Worcester Warriors Rugby Club had donated time and money to serve breakfasts there.  At once I dashed off a tweet.

Brilliant news for @Sifafireside on @bbcmtd as Worcs Rugby team are cooking brekkie one a week, come on more companies football teams!

It wasn’t much and I do not know how much difference it made, but it got retweeted by BBC Midlands today who have over 37000 followers.

Today I saw this:

  1. Thank you @WorcsWarriors for your campaign to help us get our breakfast service back! We are re-launching it next Monday! 🙂

  2. Thank you @wraggeandco charitable trust for helping us fund our breakfast service!

  3. Great news!Thanks to your support our breakfast service is coming back to #Birminghams #Homeless next week! #ThankYou pic.twitter.com/e8nYyT9AV3

    Embedded image permalink

And of course I retweeted.

I didn’t do much, but this much I know, I used Twitter for Good.

Cooking with A Girl Called Jack – Spinach and lentil daal

My son The Gamer is a ‘super taster’ which makes meal planning difficult. I am not complaining as he prefers my homemade lasagna to a more expensive one in Carluccio’s.

As I cook for The Gamer, the Mobile Library Man as well as for myself most nights, meals are based around pasta, tinned tomatoes and peppers. This week though, The Gamer is away climbing mountains and paddling canoes and generally getting cold and wet in The Countryside. He has to cook for the group on one night and not surprisingly has copied his favourite recipe for a spaghetti sauce (from this book)Favourite spag bol recipe comes from this book

into an app on his iPod. At least he can cook. He also washes his own clothes and knows how to use a vacuum cleaner. I have trained him well.

The upside of him being away is that I can cook new and different things.  Free from the shackles of pasta, pasta or pasta for four nights I want to eat what I like.

And I am going to cook only recipes from the A Girl Called Jack blog. I have shared her tweets and blogs for ages, shouted at the telly when Eggwina Currie was vile to her yet have only ever cooked one of her recipes, the Creamy Salmon Pasta. There it is, pasta again.

I have had lentils lurking in the store cupboard for far to long, spinach that needed using up and plenty of spices etc in my collection so all I had to buy today was some yoghurt at 45p and pita at 49p for dinner tonight. Both from Aldi (no surprise there).

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I forgot to rinse the lentils, and I bought low fat yoghurt which I won’t do again and added a little bit more water, and used sweet chilli sauce n place of fresh chillies as I like spicy but not hot food. And it was nom. The Mobile Library Man had seconds, and saved some for his lunch tomorrow. Jack says this serves two. So for two read four. And we like our food in this house.

Now what shall I cook tomorrow?

Suggestions please.

Jamie and Jack

Aside

As Jack gets flak for having a job and still writing about food poverty….

travellingcoral

So today, everybody is talking about Jamie Oliver and his rant about poor people (did he really say that?) who choose big tellies and chips over mange tout from the market.

I hope his mom has phoned him and given him a proper telling off. He flunked school and if it wasn’t for the fact that he had parents owned a pub and gave him the opportunity and encouragement to follow a food career, he too could be one of those poor people living on a diet of Kyle instead of Kale.

I like Jamie, I really do, he put his head over the parapet and criticised school dinners, got the government to increase the spend on school meals. Turkey Twizzlers were revealed to be made of pink slime and his books improved my husbands cooking.

He is a bit gobby, he gets angry when children are passed burgers…

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Not Buying It – food I don’t need

We seem to live in a very unbalanced world. We have food poverty side by side with obesity, a whole industry based on making us feel guilty if we choose full fat of anything and while some spend money on food in order to be thinner, the numbers of families dependent on food banks rises. I struggle to make sense of it.

this is what gets thrown away

this is what gets thrown away

And I see food waste every where. Supermarkets are possibly the biggest culprit of food waste. They encourage customers to buy more than they need with various offers, yet apparently one third of the bread we buy is thrown away! Food retailers need to really need to work out how they can support charities more effectively by donating unsold food and not throwing it into skips. I am already on the case on one chain of bakers who throw bags of bread away each day, to see if they can support SIFA fireside to provide breakfast for homeless people in Birmingham. And I am hoping that the recent case where charges were dropped against the men who raided a skip outside Iceland prompts them to work on a policy of working with charities.

surely some of this ccould be used by food charities such as Foodcycle?

surely some of this could be used by food charities such as Foodcycle?

I like food. I like cooking it and love eating it more. Sometimes I think this blog is more about food than travel. Yet faced with food waste by supermarkets and in the home, I am Not Buying It.

Of course I need food, I need to eat, but how many of us have food that we bought and never use or throw away ? I do, which is why I am not going to buy food I do not need.

One of my very first posts was written at Heathrow Airport for Blog Action Day 2011. I was in the food court, reflecting on how much some of have while others starve. You can read it here.

Food poverty is something that makes me really angry, and the past year or so there have been certain politicians who seem to be in denial that his is happening in a first world country. Ian Duncan Smith can, he told us live on £53 a week ‘if he had to’. I tried to and failed, and again I wrote about it here. In fact I banged on about it quite a bit so feel free to explore my blog to read more.

Then there is the annual Live Below the Line challenge. Five days with only £5 for food. Yes, I had a go at this too.  I would not compromise on nasty value sausages and plastic bread, choosing lentils and other cheaper and healthier ingredients, and some rather good Aldi sausages instead. I was spending slightly over the £1 allowed, but eating very well.

My food hero is A Girl Called Jack. I think she has done so much in the last twelve months to highlight the fact that many of us could end up on benefits and experience food poverty. More than that, she is jolly inventive with cheap food to provide nutritious meals for her and her son. Tinned potatoes and carrots are regularly used in this house now as they are cheaper than fresh. Add a tin of beans, some good sausages and an onion and you have a tasty supper. And the Creamy Salmon Pasta at 27p per portion is lovely. 

Another blog I followed avidly in 2013 was A Year Without Supermarkets. No supermarkets at all for a whole year with a budget of £50 per week to feed two adults and one toddler. And they did it. Indeed the average food bill was less than their budget.

So as part of the whole not buying it in 2014, I decided to really trim my food shopping. I have planned meals around what I had in the freezer, fridge and store cupboards and while I would love to say I have avoided supermarkets, I haven’t. But I will not give the big three (Orange one, Green one and Blue one) my money. They suck you in with the BOGOF deals and you end up buying thing you don’t need.

This month I have hosted a 20 year old French student who is studying English. Like most 20 year old men, he has a big appetite. Annoyingly he seems to be able to eat twice as much as I do and still stay slim as does my 21 year old son. The French student loves pasta and bananas. (only 29p a bag) and I seem to be buying a kilo of bananas a day. Thank goodness for my saviour of cheap food, Aldi. I have visited the open air food market in Birmingham a couple of times, and while it is undeniably cheap, I find by sticking to the Aldi Super Six, is more cost effective for me, as is buying the biggest bag of potatoes. The bargain bananas are 68p a kilo. 

Gateway pie

Gateway pie

So what have we eaten? Despite having those lentils and rice that are destined to haunt me (I know I have to use them) I have been experimenting with new recipes. The Hit and Run Tray Bake has become one of my favourite dinners to make as there is absolutely no faffing. To use up the potatoes I made a student favourite layering slices of potato, onion and bacon bits with a cheese sauce. Back in the 70’s the Gateway supermarket in Clifton had a deli counter where they had all the off cuts of bacon and cheese at silly prices so this was how this recipe got invented, I think. Because I had some spinich lurking in the fridge, that got added too. And I also made the Sweet Pea Fish Pie, another recipe from Jamie Oliver. All of these came to less than £1 per portion and the Gateway pie, as I call it, nearer 50p per person. We have had a roast turkey dinner, using up the half price crown of turkey I bought on Christmas Eve. That £55 has of course been supplemented by food I already had in. I am lucky, I have storecupboard staples and a freezer so that when I do see a bargain I can store it for another day.

Sweet Pea Fish Pie

Sweet Pea Fish Pie

I suppose what I am saying is that yes it is relatively easy to eat well on a small budget, if you have some basic cooking skills and live near a place where you can access cheap, good quality food. Not everyone does, of course and and not everyone can afford to buy in bulk which is often cheaper. That said, I have two elderly neighbours who buy the Aldi Super Six and split the packet and the cost. They can’t get through a big bag of carrots alone yet still want to save money. Excellent planning!

Planning  is the key to saving money on food, I list what I have in the house and cook around it buying only additional ingredients when necessary. I avoid the Big Three. If I go to the Green one I always end up being tempted to buy something I do not need. And this is how all this Not Buying It began.

Live Below the Line Lentils

And those lentils are still there

travellingcoral

Day 3 of Live below the Line Week started really well. I made a lentil curry. Using fresh vegetables and lentils and coconut mil from a local independent store this was a very cheap and nutritious meal. It was also really tasty. I am not a vegetarian and I don’t think I ever will be, yet, having no meat days is a the way to eat well on a low budget.

I ate a lot of vegetarian food when I was a volunteer at Lentil as Anything in St Kilda, Melbourne. I really enjoyed my time working there, they are a great team and the philosophy of this social enterprise is amazing. There are no prices on the menu. Instead customers are invited to give what they feel the food is worth and have the opportunity to donate to the philosophy.

The food there is so tasty and filling…

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Reducing waste and saving money

I have now tallied up my receipts for food shopping for the past 7 days. Just under £30 for three adults, eating three meals a day. That works out at under £1.50 per person a day, and we still have some leftovers to cover lunches for a couple more days.

carrots  £       0.49
broccoli  £       0.49
apples  £       0.89
Cauli  £       0.89
cereal  £       0.89
mozzarella x2  £       0.88
fresh herbs  £       1.80
chicken breasts  x3  £       3.95
soya milk  £       0.59
milk  8 pints  £       2.00
broccoli  £       0.49
baked beans x3  £       0.75
sugar  £       0.85
bread x2  £       2.00
FR eggs  £       1.00
tin tomatoes  £       0.31
mince  £       3.69
passata  £       0.29
potatoes  £       1.99
bread rolls  £       1.00
ham  £       4.00
 £    29.24

What we ate.

Breakfasts have been toast, cereal or banana smoothies. Lunches have been a mixture of sandwiches and left overs from the previous nights meal and homemade carrot soup.

For dinners this week we have had: pasta with left over sausages and passata; curry with ingredients from the freezer; greek pie using up the puff pastry and some vegetables; sausages and mash (twice); pasta using up some of the vegetables with mince; chicken coated in breadcrumbs with stale bread and baked potatoes and passata; take out fish and chips. And I made an apple and sultana crumble.

Most of the evening meals gave us at least one leftover lunch.

I find doing exercises like this useful to inform me where I could be saving money. A third of the spending is on meat. The three chicken breasts now seem to be an extravagance, and when they were bashed with rolling pin, one and a half would have been ample for three of us. The ham (on a buy two for £4 offer) made 6 lunches yet I could have got off cuts of ham much cheaper, which I plan to do going forward. As these packs are so big I tend not to buy them as I am worried I won’t use it all before the use by date. With a bit more planning I could just divide it into daily portions and freeze it.

I also need to think more about making double the amount and freezing meals so that when we don’t feel like cooking we have something to fall back on rather than order a take out.

And I need to explore some vegetarian options that we all will like. I really do want to use those lentils.

I am off to Malta next week and I am really looking forward to a week of no shopping or cooking.

Travelling Coral is off travelling again. Hooray. Expect lots of pictures of food.

And the food mountain is reduced

Since shocking myself at the amount of food there was in my kitchen, I am still planning meals around the Food List.

On Saturday night we had Greek Pie.

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This was made with the puff pastry loitering in the freezer, passata bought earlier in the week, onions and garlic from the food mountain, herbs,spices and the other half of 500g mince. It was ample for four portions, served with potatoes, baked beans and broccoli (one of the Aldi super six this week). Cost of pie based on ingredients purchased to make it, 53p per portion. I still have potatoes left from the £1.99 bag, so they will take me well into next week. I am guessing that each serving of spuds is about 10 p per person with milk and butter added to make mash. Baked beans are 25p and brocolli 49p.

I made a chicken dish on Sunday. Pollo impanato alle noci con mozzarella. Sounds a bit fancy, it’s not. Used up bread in breadcrumbs to coat chicken breasts, after I bashed them with a rolling pin. A tomato sauce and some mozzarella cheese and pasta. Of which I have plenty. It worked out at about £1.70 a portion, the most expensive meal I have cooked all week.

The last of the bacon hiding at the back of the fridge was used for Sunday breakfast. Lunch was carrot soup. There are still some leftovers from various meals that will feed us all for lunch the next couple of days. We are really loving our leftovers this week.

I plan to look at the food list and check off what I have used and tally up my food spending for the week at some point. I have definately spent less and it has been satisfying to know that I am limiting food waste.

World War I poster. "Waste not, want not....

World War I poster. “Waste not, want not. Prepare for winter. Save perishable foods by preserving now.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I plan to do now is to donate any unopened items that I don’t think I am going to use to the local food bank. I know that I am fortunate to have so much food and know that others are not so lucky. I cannot afford to waste food yet if I am not going to use it, that is wasteful and I would rather someone who will use it, have it.

This exercise has taught me is to only buy what I need and to plan more effectively. A good store cupboard is the basis to be able to eat well on a budget, but having more than you need is wasteful. Food you don’t use, filling up your kitchen cabinets, fridges and freezer is just the same as filling your living rooms with clutter you don’t need. Building a collection of spices and herbs is acceptable but three jars of pesto with mould growing on them (yup had to bin the pesto) is not. Buying something because it is on offer is fine if you know you need it and will use it, but if you don’t and won’t, that is wasteful and will only add to the kitchen cupboard clutter.

I have used up the pastry, most of the sausages, the cooking apples and vegetables from my list. Utilised the leftovers in the fridge to make budget meals. Leftovers that in the past may have gone off and then thrown away. Yet I have had to throw some food away. On closer inspection the cream and the pesto was past the sell by date and eat by state. I hope this is the last time I have to do this.

Those lentils are still there though. And that is the difference between someone like me who has to keep to a sensible food budget yet isn’t inclined to eat lentils and the person who has no choice as they have no money to buy anything else. And there, by the grace of our employer, the Job Centre, the bedroom tax, the redundancy notice and the mad men in Westminster, go all most of us.

Planning meals around the food hoard

Earlier this week I wrote a post about how shocked I was at the amount of food I had in the house that I wasn’t using. It was written following a discussion on how we would behave if there was a blackout.  I thought that I probably had enough food to survive a short while and decided to do a food audit to see if there was a blackout could I survive.

I was shocked at quite how much I actually had in the house. Here is the food list and my mission is to plan meals around this, limiting my food shopping to staples and ingredients needed to make a meal from what I already had. This week is all about using left overs, store cupboard ingredients and cooking on a budget. More Jack than Jamie.

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Tuesday

Lunch was leftover items from pizza night and ham and bread. No spending on lunch today.

I made carrot soup using up stock and most of the carrots and Apple and Sultana crumble with ingredients I already had.

Dinner

Pasta bake made with pasta I already had, left over passata in the fridge and onions and peppers. I only bought Steak Mince that day, used 250g of 500g. The rest will be used on Saturday.

Spending £3.69. Expensive mince, yet I think it is worth it as goes further as there is so little fat. It fed three adults today and will do so again on Saturday. Just over 60p each for a portion of meat.

Wednesday

Lunch, sandwiches with existing ingredients.

Dinner

Sausages from freezer (10 Black Farmer) with frozen peas and fresh carrots and courgettes from a neighbours allotment. I bought bread, potatoes and baked beans from Aldi.  The bread will last the week for sandwiches and the potatoes will last about a fortnight.

Spending £3.23

Thursday

Lunch was ham sandwiches for two of the family. I had some of the leftovers from last night sausages.

Dinner

I used up the curry kit, chicken breast and prawns, with rice. This meal was made with ingredients I already had, so no spend on meals for those of us eating the curry. I bought butter, milk, a pizza (as one of the diners doesn’t like curry and quite honestly I couldn’t be bothered to make two different meals) and tinned chopped tomatoes for the curry. I ended up using fresh tomatoes that were very ripe instead.This fed two of us and there is a leftovers for lunch on Saturday.

Spending £4.26

Today (Friday) is fish and chips night so no cooking and no shopping.

Lunch for me was left overs of the sausage meal. the others had sandwiches and soup.This fed three for dinner on Wednesday plus two smaller lunch portions for me so feeling very frugally smug.

I am getting to the end of the meat supply in the freezer so it may be a veggie week ahead. Lots of lentils and rice.

If anyone has any meal ideas based on my food list, please share.

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If there was a blackout could I survive?

I have pasted below details of a chat on twitter around community and food (two of my favourite subjects) which was prompted by the programme Blackout. Could we survive? Would people really behave like that? What would we do? 

  1. Steph Clarke ‏@Essitam9 Sep
  2. Where’s the scenes of community coming together? Because they would, there’s always people willing to do good #blackout
  3. Karen Strunks ‏@karenstrunks9 Sep
  4. @Essitam that was horrendous! The only hint of community was the old lady staying in the flat downstairs. The rest were animals
  5. Steph Clarke ‏@Essitam9 Sep@karenstrunks it was an awful portrayal of society. We’re not all monsters.
  6. Coral Musgrave ‏@travellingcoral9 Sep
  7. @Essitam @karenstrunks I agree in my terrace we would support each other i am sure. well we all have keys! and veg and lentils and rice.
  8. Karen Strunks ‏@karenstrunks
  9. @travellingcoral @Essitam it would be very interesting to see who helped who. Just remembered a gas camping stove in the cupboard! 🙂
    1. @karenstrunks @travellingcoral in case of #blackout l I’ve already proposed a massive street party to use up all the perishable foods 😀

    2. @karenstrunks @Essitam pretty sure in my terrace we could cobble something together as we have logs and open fire and they have veg
    3. @Essitam If someone hasn’t syphoned my petrol, I’m coming to your street party! 😀 @travellingcoral

This led me to think about the food I have in the house and whether, like Steph I could plan my meals around what I already have.

Coral Musgrave ‏@travellingcoral9 Sep

the irony is that most of us have enough in store cupboard to make a basic meal if there really was a blackout. #blackout

Steph Clarke ‏@Essitam9 Sep

@travellingcoral I’ve done food calender for this week using what I have in the house. All I needed to buy in was mushrooms.

Coral Musgrave ‏@travellingcoral9 Sep

@Essitam wow that is organised! i need to do a food audit

And of course I invited A Girl Called Jack into the conversation.

A Girl Called Jack ‏@MsJackMonroe9 Sep

  1. @travellingcoral tinned toms essential! 🙂
    A Girl Called Jack retweeted you
  2. 9 Sep:

    if i sent @MsJackMonroe a list of my store cupboard she’d feed a family for a month (may need to stock up on tinned toms) #blackout

The food audit has taken me a couple of days to complete and I am sure there is some things I have missed out. I was shocked at just how much I have. I consider myself good at cooking on a budget, shop almost daily for basics like milk and bread and cook low cost meals, stretching the chicken from Sunday dinner to chicken pie on Monday and make stock with the carcass for soup for lunch for the rest of the week. I hate food waste. I have taken up the Live Below the Line Challenge and have writting about surviving on £53 a week.

Yet I am hanging my head in shame. If you are interested the list is here.

Too much food is clutter.  I have written elsewhere about my mission to simplfy my life by getting rid of stuff that I don’t need and why I need to declutter. I am not saying we don’t need food, of course we do, but buying food because it is on offer and then not using it is wrong and wasteful. It is clear to me that I need to plan better and only buy what we need.

I have this week started to plan around the food list.

Yesterday I used up some of the vegetables and passatta left over from when we made pizza on Saturday. I had a half pack of pasta, so all I bought was 500g of mince, used half of it,  and made this. The rest of the mince will be for another meal later this week.

Pasta with leftovers

Today I bought some potatoes and we will have sausage from the freezer, use some of the fresh veg, with mash.

The carrots have been made into a soup for lunches this week, using up stock made with the chicken from Sunday.

Perishables are the priority as the street party isn’t going to happen unless we really do have a national disaster.

And it looks like I need to find ways of using all that pasta, rice and lentils. And buy some tinned tomatoes.

What would you cook?

Jamie and Jack

Aside

So today, everybody is talking about Jamie Oliver and his rant about poor people (did he really say that?) who choose big tellies and chips over mange tout from the market.

I hope his mom has phoned him and given him a proper telling off. He flunked school and if it wasn’t for the fact that he had parents owned a pub and gave him the opportunity and encouragement to follow a food career, he too could be one of those poor people living on a diet of Kyle instead of Kale.

I like Jamie, I really do, he put his head over the parapet and criticised school dinners, got the government to increase the spend on school meals. Turkey Twizzlers were revealed to be made of pink slime and his books improved my husbands cooking.

He is a bit gobby, he gets angry when children are passed burgers through school gates and I genuinely think he cares about the health and diet of young people. Fifteen gives young people employment training. What is not to like about Jamie?

It seems he has some right wing views about poor people that have upset a lot of us, poor or otherwise. Here’s the thing Jamie, not all ‘poor’ people have big tellies and eat chips. Some rich people do. People may be poor because they have a disability and can’t work. People may struggle because their partner died. Some are poor because they got into debt and got ripped off by loan sharks. What is shocking is that many of these loan sharks companies are legal, advertise on the big telly conveying the message is that Wonga will solve all their problems and Brighthouse has everything you need to have a lovely home. All at two zillion percent interest.

What I am certain of is that no one chooses to be poor. People with good jobs can lose their homes if they are made redundant. Three months away from homelessness. I have been there, have lain awake at night and wondered how I can keep my house, buy shoes for the children and have enough money for the prepayment electric meter. I was lucky as parents stepped in and helped us out financially. Not everyone has parents that can or will.

I am also lucky because I can cook. My grandmother had to feed an extended family on a very small budget and I guess by watching her I learned basic techniques. By the time we had cookery lessons at school, I was capable of making beans on toast, (a recent survey claimed that 1 in 10 are not) and I went to uni with a pressure cooker, a Kenwood Mixer and a recipe book. I ate well on a limited student budget and created Beef Daube in bedsit kitchens. I owe that to my mom, her complete inability to cook made learning to cook a matter of survival or else eat soggy cabbage the rest of my life.

I am lucky that I have travelled. It was travelling that changed my cooking. I wrote a post You Never forget your first Moussaka a while ago, as it was my first trip to Greece that really inspired me to experiment more with food. Since travelling in SE Asia I have cooked more with thai basil and lemongrass. I am lucky that I have a local grower that supplies me with these plants so I don’t have to pay silly Waitrose prices for them.

Jamie thinks we all need to go to our local market and buy fresh cheap ingredients. I don’t have a local market. It would cost me £4 in bus fare to go to the market in Birmingham. If I was living on a minimum wage I could not afford to do that. That is equivalent of buying a veg bag from Salop Drive Community Garden. A valuable community resource which  the council may pull funding on, a resource that not only gives people on limited incomes access to affordable healthy food, but also provides the opportunity for people with disabilities to learn gardening skills. A resource that is under threat due to budget cuts.

I can also buy from The Bearwood Pantry a food co op who buy direct from a farmer. Watch this short film to find out more about what they do. Then there is a couple of enterprising butchers who have recently started to sell loose vegetables since the fruit and veg shop shut down (yet punters still complain it is more expensive than Iceland) which I mentioned in The Tesco Footprint post.

Jamie really has no idea what it is like to struggle to bring up a family on a minimum wage, to not have access to a wide range of affordable ingredients and not have the skills to make a pasta sauce without opening a jar. I have ranted before about the Live Below the Line recipes and I would rather not eat a sausage at all than eat one from a value range, as they suggest, basing their meals around frozen veg, plastic bread and cheap sausages.

And yet, his accusing poor people of eating chips and cheese maybe career suicide combined with his affiliation with The Sun. The ad on my big telly promoting his budget cookery was patronising. With his flash diamante shoes and his cheeky chappy manner screaming ‘I am rich and I can show you benefit plebs how to cook with mange tout from your local markets’ made me want to chuck all his cookbooks in the bin. And The Sun, Jamie. Will you let your daughters flick through the pages to find your recipes? How will you explain Page Three to them? I would have admired you so much more if you had told them that you would not work with them while they still have Page Three. You cannot be motivated by the money, surely? You care about family values yet will encourage people to buy this publication for your recipes? Bring a paper into the home which objectifies women. How do you look your wife, your mom and your children in their eyes when they open The Sun and see tits?

Jamie is a millionaire, from a privileged background. He may have struggled at school and he has worked hard, but he doesn’t have a clue about what is like to manage on a limited budget, he doesn not know what it is like to be really hungry.

But Jack does.  A Girl Called Jack really knows what it is like to be broke and cold and hungry and is angry at how the smug rich think all ‘poor’ people choose a telly over mange tout. She uses easily available, cheap ingredients and transforms them into interesting affordable and nutritious meals. She got flak for using tinned potatoes (they are cheaper than fresh) and has accused of being a foodie snob for using chick peas. And, OMG, she used fish paste in a pasta dish. You would have thought the sky had fallen in. Yet she is adapting recipes from Nigel and Nigella and making them simple and affordable. She didn’t feed her son crisps and watch her big telly eating chips when she was unemployed and had less than £6 to feed herself and her child for a week and she doesn’t now she has got a job and a book deal. Because she knows that hunger hurts and her recipes and her campaigning is telling it like it really is.

Expect to see more ‘poor’ people in the country, Jamie, as the bedroom tax hits, as more jobs go in the public sector, as companies out source employee services to Romania. People get made redundant, clever, talented people are losing their jobs. They apply for 10 plus jobs a week get interviews weekly, and rejection letters daily.

We do not need Wonga, we need financial education in schools and more credit unions. A number of library services have blocked access to applying for loans on line and are providing information about managing money and information about credit unions. I just hope that these resources don’t close too.

We shouldn’t need food banks. We need access to affordable food, decent wages and people like Jack.