Jack Monroe's Chilli

Jack Monroe

Meet the self-taught cook who’s changing how people think about food on a budget.

Hi Jack, what inspired you to cook, and then to blog about it?

I’ve cooked for years, I left home in my late teens and started to teach myself to cook and I suppose it just grew from there

You’ve spoken about your struggles as a lone parent on benefits… at your lowest point, what was your worry?

Losing my home and losing my son. I managed to keep my head just above water keep myself fed, clothed, clean, happy and we’ve done alright. But that was my biggest fear and it’s a really dark fear and it just gnaws away at you as well.

Did you borrow money?

No. I was offered pay day loans left, right and centre. I don’t know where these people get your details from but I had letters dropping through my door several times a week. They said ‘We know you need a bit of money, do you want some?’ I was like, ‘No, I don’t’ Because even at my most desperate point I couldn’t borrow money that I knew I wouldn’t be able to repay.

According to our survey 1 in 12 readers has used a food bank does this surprise you?

No, several of my friends are food bank users and I think the fact that it is becoming so normal is a terrifying indictment of the state this country is in.

What’s your favourite food?

I really love food, it’s really hard for me to just pick one, but I think it’s got to be peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of those things that I could eat a few tablespoons of and call it a meal, because I’m just like ‘I love peanut butter!’.

Have you got any tips for our readers on savvy shopping?

Make a list before you leave the house of what you’ve got already. I’m a bit obsessive and sort my list into proteins, carbs, fruit and veg, and dairy products. So I see what I’ve already got and then buy things only where I need them.

Click here for Jack’s Best Ever Chilli Recipe, and visit Cooking on a Bootstrap for more of Jack’s recipes and blog.