Workshy Scrounger

Tag: jamie oliver

£1.8 per portion – you call that saving?

Jamie Oliver is working hard on garnering publicity for his new tv show by attacking families with big tellies and workshy Britons and it seems to be working.

Just have a look at the guide to the first episode: brisket, fish pie and Chicago pizza. Sounds expensive? It’s not!

All of the recipes in this episode cost a mere £1.80 per portion.

Starting with our standard fare of waffles, chicken burgers and peas of 55p through all the pizzas and frozen ready meals available for about one pound in my local supermarket – there are loads of ready meals that are cheaper than his money-saving meals. Perhaps not as healthy and nutritious (or nice) but they are half the price. So myth number one – cook from scratch to save money is busted.

We do cook from scratch when it makes financial sense. In fact, the waffle-burger combo is the only ready meal we buy regularly. There are also some 10p bargains to be had (like posh meals in small portions reduced from a fiver) but it cannot be relied upon. Most of the time, though, we do cook. We never buy branded stuff. We always shop around. We do things by the book and have £1.9 per person a day. We still struggle, even though it’s much more than other people have to spend on themselves.

I was going to watch the programme but now I am not going to bother. I, too, can cook up a storm for that kind of money. Imagine – a meal for two for £3.6. We could have meat and everything. Mind boggles. I refuse to be manipulated by a millionaire’s media machine into getting upset because it will harm me and will not change anything. This is the last time I ever mention Jamie Oliver or any of his schemes until he really does his job and comes up with a meal that costs 50p or less per portion.

I am forgetting he is a celebrity chef, not an austerity chef. He shot down our protests by saying that we could afford it if we didn’t have the massive telly. I don’t have one because I cannot afford the tv licence. I imagine if my old telly broke and I relied on it, I would have no option but to buy a flat-screen. That’s the only thing you can get nowadays. Not even bailiffs view tvs as a luxury these days. We need Lord Woolton back. Jamie, with his Ministry of Food, is a travesty.

I really hoped that someone like Jack would be given a tv programme. Someone who knows what it is like. Someone who has cheap recipes to offer that do not require a three-acre vegetable garden or access to the mythical cheap market, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Who cannot chop an onion in thirty seconds flat (apologies if you can, Jack). Whose oven takes more than five minutes to heat up. Who compares the cost of tinned and fresh potatoes including the savings in energy when it comes to cooking the former. Someone I can actually relate to.

All talk and no action

Salford council, where obesity rates among final-year students hit 23%, is considering a ban on chippies selling hot food until after 5pm if they are located within 400 metres of a school, Guardian reports.

It always gives me a funny feeling when the authorities pick on one element of a problem and insist that they can offer us a wholesome solution. The problem is more complex than that:

– fruit and veg prices are exorbitant – yes you can get value veg and it is absolutely tasteless. Value range does not include “luxuries” like celery, courgettes or spinach. You are basically reduced to subsisting on potatoes, carrots, onions and mushies.

– processed veg is much cheaper – a pound of potatoes works out more expensive than a pound of oven chips.

– celebrity chefs do not help. Jamie, despite his school meals campaign, has recipes that are expensive and high in calories. I struggled to find a recipe in his 15-minute meals that would cost less than £10 (with shopping around) for four portions. Give me any meat and I, too, will create a masterpiece. Unfortunately, our diet is mainly vegetarian due to money constraints. We cannot afford posh veg either (see point one). Basically, we eat red pasta, white pasta, rice with veg and rice with beans. Exciting stuff. Sometimes we splash out and have steamed veg.

Back to the story: the kids will just get their chip-fix from the school cafeteria or home dinner. It’s not fat or sugar that makes us fat. It’s our choices. Nobody thinks that horse burgers and chips are a healthy option. A generous helping of peas notwithstanding. Our choices are largely dictated by our financial situation and no amount of campaigns is going to change that. The lack of money makes obesity more common among the poor. Trying to deny it is like insisting that Ethiopians are actually anorexic and their problems have nothing to do with lack of food.

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